Presented By:Celia Rowlson-Hall
In her first feature-length film, Celia Rowlson-Hall tells the story of a modern day Virgin Mary’s pilgrimage across the desert landscape of the American southwest. Liberating her film almost entirely of the spoken word, Rowlson-Hall positions movement as its central mode of communication. In doing so, she challenges her audience to actively engage with open interpretation of the symbolism she has packed into the film. Ambitious viewers will undoubtedly find that MA is a singular vision, deserving of their attention.
From the outset, we are thrust into the burning colors of the summer desert, where we find the titular Ma (Rowlson-Hall) battered by the weather and near physical collapse when she is picked up by a retro-styled man named Daniel (Andrew Pastides). They drift together between barren motels, having chance encounters with strange, sometimes hostile characters, on their respective paths out west. Along her journey, Ma struggles with her self-identity; a struggle compounded when she delivers a possibly divine infant.
Whilst a forcefully modern work, MA harkens back to the weight expected of images in early cinema— the potency of performers’ every movement in the silent era and the unquestioned power of juxtapo- sition that editing enjoyed prior to Hitchcock’s Rope. In this quiet, visceral film, which had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Rowlson-Hall’s approach encourages us to scrutinize every image and every movement as a way to unravel her narrative, beyond just watching it. (Mitchell Goodrich)Director Bio
Celia Rowlson-Hall graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts with a BFA in Modern Dance and Choreography. She has choreographed for directors such as Gaspar Noé and Lena Dunham, and bands such as MGMT, Chromeo, and Sleigh Bells. Celia has written and directed over 50 short films and videos that have screened at festivals such as SXSW, MDFF, and Rooftop Films. She was named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015.