Cinema Review: Down Claiborne

Posted November 4, 2019 in Cinema Reviews

BIMM nov 13 – dec 15 – Desktop

Down Claiborne

Director: Moira Tierney

Release: 7 November (IFI, 6.30pm)

In Down Claiborne, Irish film artist Moira Tierney explores the historical and political underpinnings of the artistic traditions of Mardi Gras Indians in Tremé, New Orleans. Filming on super 8mm and 16mm, her examinations sit firmly within the realm of experimental. In 2012 and 2013 Tierney did some filming with the Mardi Gras Indians and later returned to film a mural painted by a local barber, which analyses Hurricane Katrina and makes historical connections with slavery.

She also shoots underneath a controversial highway where the locals have, in a way, reclaimed their territory by covering the highway pillars with scenes from local history (relating to slavery and the Civil Rights movement) and culture (the Mardi Gras Indians and iconic local musicians).

“I wanted the sound track to add layers of information to the image, without providing an authoritative ‘explanation.’ It was necessary to fill in the gaps in the official histories and I had the idea of the exchange of information via less linear circuitry,” says Tierney.

Thus, Down Claiborne has a somewhat meditative feel to it, often times filled more with silence than pronouncements, more in tune to the output of D.A. Pennebaker than David Simon. There’s a  timeless, tranquil, beauty to the wash of imagery and its understated overlap with a narrative which allows you to imbue thoughts and questions into the moving images.

When Tierney embraces sound, it comes in the form of spoken word, contemporary jazz, Mardi Gras songs, and a voiceover by Big Chief Kevin Goodman.

Down Claiborne is a free-styling, arthouse, collage of a community still under the cosh of its troubled history – a place mis-shaped by joyous creation and chaos.

Words: Michael McDermott


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