Displacement and trauma. Making meaning. A retrospective.

OFFICIAL TRAILER

Never before have so many people been affected by displacement,
having fled persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations

Conceptual artist Emma Willemse works with the powerful and universal themes
of home, displacement and the traumatic experience of the forcibly displaced

1.4 Blackmagic Production Camera 4K_1_2017-11-29_1501_C0013_000544 regraded wide

Synopsis

An artist explores in her work the nature of the traumatic experience of the loss of a home. Rooted in the personal experience of displacement she has suffered herself, her work resonates in her own country with its history of forced removals and around the world in an age when record numbers of people have been forcibly displaced by conflict, violence and human rights violations.

 

Documentary
101 minutes
English
UHD 4K
South Africa
Director: Victor van Aswegen

Emma Willemse is a South African conceptual artist who has in her work across a number of genres and media for more than a decade been dealing intensively with the themes of home, the loss of a home and displacement. Apart from the Western Cape where she is based, she has exhibited in Dakar, Florence, Johannesburg and Paris, and her extensive body of work includes moving, magisterial pieces featured in the film.

Often working with the traces of habitation left by the displaced, the marks remaining on the landscape after the departure of those who are now absent, she has sought to explore the connections between land-and-home, identity and memory, and how the trauma of displacement from a home manifests in fractures, lacunae, absences in memory and identity.

Her interest in these themes stems from a personal history of losing several homes in the 1990s, and her work is focused on the subjective experience of displacement. Tracing the arc of her creative output over the years, Displaced reveals the origins of the sequence of artworks in her life story: the creative impulse arising from personal experiences, events in the domestic sphere triggering the development of concepts that are ultimately embodied and expressed in works of art.

Contextualising her oeuvre against the searing local and global realities of displacement, and articulating the harrowing psychological impacts of loss of home, place and land, the film is an empathetic engagement, refracted through art, with the traumatic experience of the forcibly displaced.

Through scenes of the artist at work, cinematic set pieces presenting her work, and interviews with academics, gallerists and critics, the intriguing relationship between materiality and meaning is explored: how we imbue objects with meaning both in the artmaking process and in life, how the layers of meaning can then be unpacked in almost archaeological fashion, and how the deep engagement with an accomplished, richly layered work of art can rank among life’s most rewarding experiences, deepening and enhancing our high-level understanding of the world, and helping to guide our actions through its manifold, daunting complexities.

Through images, words and music, concepts and reflections, story and feeling, Displaced explores a universal human experience and one of the major themes of our time.

DISPLACED

Festivals

Athens International Digital Film Festival
Award Winner
2021
Greece

AltFF Alternative Film Festival
Winner: Best Documentary
2021
Canada

Vesuvius International Film Fest
Winner: Grand Prix of the Jury • Finalist: Best Director
2021
Italy

Reykjavik Independent Film Festival
Winner: Best Feature Documentary
2022
Iceland

Couch Film Festival
Winner: Best Feature Film • Nominee: Best Director • Nominee: Best Cinematography
2021
Canada

Accord Cine Fest
Winner: Best Documentary Feature
2021
India

Pure Magic International Film Festival
Winner: Best Documentary
2021
Netherlands

Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift
Finalist
2021
Canada

Beyond the Curve International Film Festival
Finalist
2021
France

New York International Women Festival
Finalist
2021
USA

Director's Cut International Film Festival
Finalist
2021
Canada

The International Festival of Films on Art
Official Selection
2022
Canada

Hollywood Indie Film Awards
Official Selection
2021
USA

Älvsbyn Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Sweden

Eastern Europe Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Romania

Madrid Indie Film Festival • MADRIFF
Official Selection
2021
Spain

Toronto Lift-Off Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Canada

Sands Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
USA

The Jozi Film Festival
Official Selection • Honourable Mention
2021
South Africa

Barcelona Indie Filmmakers Festival • BARCIFF
Official Selection
2021
Spain

València Indie Film Festival • VALÈIFF
Official Selection
2021
Spain

Wallachia International Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Romania

Los Angeles Lift-Off Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
USA

International Migration & Environmental Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Canada

Frostbite International Indie Fest
Official Selection
2021
USA

Kalakari Film Fest
Official selection
2022
India

Sydney Lift-Off Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Australia

Melbourne Lift-Off Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Australia

Switzerland International Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
Switzerland

London Lift-Off Film Festival
Official Selection
2021
UK

Toronto Film Magazine Fest
Official Selection
2021
Canada

Mosaic Film Festival of Arts and Culture
Official Selection
2021
Canada

Sweden Film Awards
Semi-finalist
2021
Sweden

Luleå International Film Festival
Semi-finalist
2021
Sweden

Boden International Film Festival
Semi-finalist
2021
Sweden

Stockholm City Film Festival
Semi-finalist
2021
Sweden

Madrid Film Awards
Semi-finalist
2021
Spain

Dumbo Film Festival
Semi-finalist
2021
USA

NewFilmmakers New York
Semi-finalist
2022
USA

Screen Power Film Festival
Nominee: Best Director • Best Music • Best Documentary Film
2021
UK

Golden Nugget International Film Festival
Nominee
2021
UK

Sotambe International Film and Arts Festival
Nominee
2021
Zambia

Sevilla Indie Film Festival
Nominee / Bronze Award
2022
Spain

London International Monthly Film Festival
Honourable Mention
2022
UK

London Rocks Film Festival
Honourable Mention
2021
UK

Jury feedback

“Like all great art the film operates on many levels”

“The vocabulary describing fine art is often abstract, self-indulgent and annoying. One of the great strengths of Displaced is that it cuts through, deconstructs and makes concrete that conversation. Like all great art the film operates on many levels. It is a wonderful and clear description of the development of Emma’s work; a beautiful piece of visual art in itself; a thoughtful examination of the relationship of art to social and political issues and challenges; an analysis of the psychological impact of displacement. The music is terrific and the expert commentary – almost exclusively from a group of intelligent and articulate women – holds our attention as an audience, teaches and enlightens us.”

“Has a distinct filmic voice”

“Has a distinct filmic voice, really gets one to engage with Emma’s art, the interviewees work not only with information but bring a meditative quality which places you in a space to experience the art. I also appreciated the silences in the film and the music.”

“An important film for our time”

“An important film for our time. Explores themes of displacement and loss at both the personal, micro and macro level. It provides vital commentary on the displacement and painful predicament of refugees around the world. I found it to be an elevated and cerebral visual sculpture pregnant with meaning. It provokes important discussions on human displacement, loss of home and fragments of our memories.”

“An elevated and cerebral visual sculpture pregnant with meaning”

– Jury members, 2021 Jozi Film Festival

International release

Release date
11 December 2020

Released on Vimeo On Demand in territories
Africa • Middle East • Asia • Australasia • South America

Coming soon
Europe • North America

Release roll-out in key European and North American territories after continental and national premiere festival screenings

World premiere
1 October 2021
The Jozi Film Festival • Johannesburg, South Africa • 10th edition opening-night film

GALLERY

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