// Presented as part of Filmatique's American Indie Series //
Spotlight on Ma
Celia Rowlson-Hall / US, 2015 / Venice, AFI Fest, Ashland, Denver, Jerusalem, Maryland, Melbourne, Milwaukee, Munich, Rotterdam, Sarasota, Sidewalk Film Fest / 80'
A woman appears in the desert, dressed in a pink t-shirt and cowboy boots. She hitches a ride along a vast, abandoned road en route to Las Vegas. Suddenly in an urban wasteland, she moves across filthy motel rooms, swimming pools, the hood of an Oldsmobile. She encounters characters and landscapes at once terrifying and sublime. She is a body in motion.
A modern-day vision of Mother Mary's pilgrimage set against the scorched vista of the American Southwest, Ma deconstructs female corporeality and vis-à-vis a journey that is once visceral and surreal. Dancer-choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall's feature film debut premiered at Venice's Giornate degli Autori, Rotterdam, Maryland, Munich, and Ashland and AFI Fest, where it won the Audience Award.
"Part movie, part dance performance, part bizarre Nativity play, Ma is the kind of picture that rarely sees the outside— or even the main stage— of a film festival... Alternately sexy and silly, galvanic and gentle, Ma is best enjoyed as a slide show of visual blessings and, sometimes, bafflements. Whippet-thin and androgynous, this Virgin is a feral innocent, writhing across stony wilderness and motel carpeting like an ecstatic invertebrate. And Ms. Rowlson-Hall can really move: back-bending in slow motion or cavorting in men's underwear, her bruised and abused body seems often more in need of an exorcist than a midwife"
- Jeannette Catsoulis, Film Review, The New York Times