At Sea

Wednesday, January 10, 2024 - 7:00 pm

Before the days of containerized shipping, 18-year-old Peter Hutton, consumed by wanderlust, enlisted with the merchant marines. For 12 years he travelled the world, intermittently attending art school: ​“Being on the ship forced me to slow down, and allowed me to take time to look.” What emerged from his sea adventures was a distinctive style of slow cinema, composed of silent ​“contained-within-the-frame juxtapositions” (Warren Sonbert). His penultimate film, whose title At Sea evokes a sense of lost perspective, is a parable about modern shipping told by three container ships. The first, under construction in a mechanized shipyard in South Korea operated by anonymous workers; the second, shuttling commodities across the northern Atlantic manned by a skeleton crew; the third, stripped manually for scrap metal by impoverished shipbreakers on a beach in Bangladesh—a sequence that switches suddenly from colour to black-and-white, with a kicker of a final shot.

 “‘We start in the future, and end in the past.’ Or rather, we travel to the two sides of our present—the sleek, efficient surface of global capitalism, and the frightening poverty and desperation of the legions of humanity that keep it running.” Andrew Gustafson

 “Taken as a wordless critique of modern global capitalism, an elegiac reflection on the passing of time, or an exercise in pure sensory immersion, the film is an overwhelming experience, in keeping with its epigraph from Joseph Conrad: A man who is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea…”   NYFF 2013


At Sea
Peter Hutton
60 min. 16mm

Programmed by Michèle Smith