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Kersti Jan Werdal

Lake Forest Park

Fiction expérimentale | 16mm | couleur | 60:0 | USA | 2021

Through the showery urban and sleepy suburban landscapes of the American Pacific Northwest, Kersti Jan Werdal’s Lake Forest Park follows a group of adolescent friends in the wake of a mysterious shared loss. Specificities regarding the event are minimally disclosed in the beginning of the film, allowing seemingly mundane vignettes to dovetail while charged with the subtext of confusion and grief. Traversing the choppy waters on the Seattle ferry, in tender moments of care and conflict between young people, and among the troubled institutional spaces of home and school, Lake Forest Park meditates on the loss inherent in the transition of things. As long takes unfold through shifts in light or the subtle progression of off-screen sound, the film reflects T.S. Eliot’s  thought that the essence of change is gradual and often unremarkable - the greying of the sky before a shower - more of a whimper than a bang.

Kersti Jan Werdal is a filmmaker and photographer based in California. Her film work centers around collective memory, hidden truths within cultures that experience(d) erasure, and place. Demanding the audience take a direct role while viewing, she typically situates specific plot-points opaque, and prefers to pivot away from the expository. Werdal questions the Western way of seeking to understand different people and cultures through reduction or encouraging others to explain themselves, and considers this problematic. Her films focus on off-screen sound and framing of the subject to tell a story, while often working within a structuralist form. She is influenced by "cinéma vérité" style filmmaking and frequently shoots observationally. However, she subscribes to the notion that all filmmaking is inherently subjective, and therefore narrative. Her film-essays incorporate archival footage, still photography, text, and music. She frequently works in Washington State, where she was born and raised, incorporating landscapes and histories of the region. She holds a BA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University with honors, and an MFA in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts.