// Presented as part of June's Best Undistributed Series //
Ben Rivers / UK, 2016 / Locarno, Ibn Arabi, London, New York, Rotterdam, Toronto / 95'
Filmmaker Oliver Laxe is directing his latest film on a remote set in the Moroccan Sahara. A caravan of travelers wind through the vast, beautiful landscape, proclaiming "The sheikh is dead"— until someone calls cut. Meanwhile the desert is littered with the remnants of abandoned sets, recalling films from decades past. Suddenly, the filmmaker jumps into his 4x4 and takes off into the landscape of wild nothingness, becoming a character in another story of subjugation that can end only in violence and madness.
A singular exploration of authorship and anthropological exploitation within Morocco's wild Atlas Mountains and much-filmed desert, Ben Rivers' feature film debut collapses fiction and documentary, dream and reality into a stunning meditation on the nature of filmmaking itself. The Sky Trembles and The Earth is Afraid and The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers premiered at Locarno, Toronto, Rotterdam and New York, and was nominated for Indiewire Critics' Poll for Best Undistributed Film, for which it won 5th place.
"Here is a challenging, cerebral slow-burner from the artist and film-maker Ben Rivers. It unfolds calmly, blankly, then contorts into violence: part drama, part opaque essay film on the nature of orientalism. This is a free adaptation of Paul Bowles's 1945 short story A Distant Episode; there are also echoes of Lawrence and Kipling"
- Peter Bradshaw, Film Review, The Guardian