Filmmaker Solomon Nagler's first feature film debuting in his hometown. (courtesy Sol Nagler)
In my mind what truly shocks someone is when you play with duration and time.
—Solomon Nagler, filmmaker
Sitting in front of a sunny window in Stella's at the Plug In, just a
block from his former high school at the University of Winnipeg,
filmmaker Solomon Nagler is feeling a little bit sentimental.
"Winnipeg was my film school. I feel like, in some senses this was a film that was meant to be shot in Winnipeg but it was shot somewhere else instead."
That's because Nagler now lives in Halifax with his wife and son, where he teaches film at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. But every year, he makes the trek back to Winnipeg for about a month, to hang out with family, teach workshops at the Winnipeg Film Group and curate the WNDX film festival.
The film was shot in eight days, five of which the cast and crew spent living in the bunker where they were shooting. Shots are held, intentionally, for a long time and there are only about four sentences of dialogue.
"It's something where all of a sudden you get wrapped up in space. Rather than relying on dialogue, you're relying on gesture. Which is what cinema is all about, it's about gesture, not necessarily what people are saying. They're conquering space or space is conquering them," he explains.
For Nagler, it's about creating an emotional resonance that's transcendent, and hopefully, a bit unsettling.
"A lot of people mistake this idea of transgression as being something that has to be overtly shocking in terms of sex or violence but that is just so ubiquitous and it seems like everybody is playing that card," Nagler says.
"In my mind what truly shocks someone is when you play with duration and time. Nowadays in terms of attention span and really taking time to concentrate on people, faces, on space, that is something which is really challenging to make people do. People feel really uncomfortable when you make them sit through a shot that's 10 minutes just of somebody doing a minimal amount of activity."
Nagler is looking forward to his first hometown screening of Gravity and Grace, and is interested to see how people who've known him the longest respond.
"This film community is the film community I feel closest to. For me to show it here is probably one of the most important screenings. It's very sentimental to show it here, so I'm happy."
Gravity and Grace screens at Cinematheque June 7, 8 & 14.