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Collective: Unconscious

The brainstem helps to control sleep. In sleep, the unconscious mind dreams. In the film COLLECTIVE: UNCONSCIOUS, Daniel Ryan speaks in a slow and steady voice: close your eyes, take a deep breath, visualize yourself in a movie theatre alone starring at a screen. A screen, according to Ryan, with its flickering colors and moving images, induces a state of low-level hypnosis. He is speaking to five independent film directors—four of whom are women. They are: Daniel Patrick Carbone, Frances Bodomo, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein, and Lily Baldwin. What each filmmaker dreams becomes a short film. COLLECTIVE: UNCONSCIOUS is conceived and executive produced by Dan Schoenbrun and is composed of five short films. The directors paired up to realize each other’s dreams.

In Freudian analysis, one way to begin analyzing a dream is take a specific image and deconstruct its elements. Then, the therapist and patient associate to those elements. Frances Bodomo speaks about a dark corner in a room. Ryan, the therapist, replies, “shall we illuminate it?”

Though the tropes of anxiety dreams are present—gym class, a baby crying—the five dreams of these directors tell their own weird narratives. They present odd circumstances (a game show which kills African American children, or a woman who seems to be mutating) and are each shot in different formats.

Google, the world’s constantly growing brain, has taken its own approach to the images the unconscious mind generates. As reported on Science & Film in 2015, Deep Dream is an algorithm which “tweaks Google image recognition software so that when images are fed into it, the network looks for patterns and spits out a variation that represents what it thinks its seeing in the original image.” The results are mutated images—strange and without narrative.

COLLECTIVE: UNCONSCIOUS made its theatrical premiere as part of IFP’s Screen Forward program at the Made in NY Media Center in Dumbo, Brooklyn from August 5-11. The film is being released on BitTorrent Now where it is now available to stream and download for free.

Director Frances Bodomo has received Sloan support for her short film AFRONAUTS which she is currently adapting into a feature. Stay tuned to Science & Film for an exclusive interview with Bodomo.