On July 8 TEST SITE will be broadcasted twice on Documentary Channel.
Jesper Wachtmeister discusses ”Test Site,” the outskirts of civilization and the desert mentality.
Test Site has been Officially Selected to Full Frame Documentary Festival April 14-17 2011.
Deserts are harsh, forbidding places, yet they are also the birthplace of the world’s dominant religions, blank slates where countless novels and screenplays come to life, and vast expanses to test the limits of technological ingenuity. But to say this is a film about deserts is overly simple—it is a film about people, and about what happens inside the minds of those people when they inhabit desert wildernesses.
In this series of vignettes set in various deserts of the American West, we meet folk singers and rock and electronic musicians who have gained inspiration from their time there, people who seek spiritual enlightenment, and others—like marginal squatters or men who drive dune buggies at top speed—who use the expanse as an escape from civilization. But the film goes beyond being a sum of its parts; subtle editing puts the stories in conversation with one another until a common, humanizing theme emerges. AK
TEST SITE is a film about what goes on in the outskirts of civilization – where freedom is given, and taken, to express and experiment in ways not permitted in the urban world.
Temporary communities, artistic experimentation, nuclear tests, musical- and spiritual exercises where noise, size and laws don’t matter. A place that permits experiments of all kinds. Speed, art, science, weapons, music, religion, and law – it s all going through the test here.
We meet folksinger Katie Lee, medicine man James ”Flaming Eagle” Mooney, archaeologist David Nichols, Karen ”dezert nymph” Reynolds, ex-homicide detective Pat Dingle, writer William L. Fox, Area 51 expert Glenn Campbell, bar owner Pat Laudenklos, artist Bobby Furst, desert rave organizer Willy (Electronarcosis), musicians Mario Lalli and Tony Tornay from Fatso Jetson, drummer Johnny ”Sticks” Hilliard and poet Richard Corsano.
A film that will make you question our modern comforts and rules, and what we consider to be a normal way of living.
Television and media Chronicle in DN, Oct 19, 2010
(TRANSLATED FROM SWEDISH)
The interviews are trimmed to perfection, the photo among the finest I’ve seen. ”Test Site – North American desert culture” is pure television poetry.
In the fall you can stand and look at a tree. In those seconds that pass between when the leaf gives up, lets go and with a worthy slow motion somersault flies down towards the ground, one has time to breathe.
One should remain there. Not go home, pour up the potato chips, loosen the belt and throw oneself down on the couch. And turn on the TV.
In the autumn television means new initiatives and restarts, and that is fine, but no matter how franticly one presses the remote control – forward, backward and forward again and back again – you end up at a gala, a game, a quiz show or a competition in which the perhaps least talented will compete to become the kingdom’s biggest star for a month or two, perhaps a year.
No exception this weekend. And fast it went; there was laughter and shouting. But did I manage to catch my breath? Nope.
But then SVT’s ”K Special” and Jesper Wachtmeister’s ”Test Site – North American desert culture” came on the box.
And everything stopped.
The North American desert may seem frighteningly scalding, one can associate it with mafia murders, snakes, dehydration or American Indian attacks, nuclear weapon experiments and UFO cults, a devastating boredom – to many things – but not to the world’s most attractive place. This is brought to a change by Jesper Wachtmeister and photographer Thomas Hencz. For an hour, people talk about what brought them into the desert, what made them stay or kept them coming back. We meet philosophers and fuzzy religious, UFO-convinced, artists, techno DJs, racing enthusiasts and ordinary, completely lucid people. People escaping work, the city, stress, the law, family, or just themselves. People who have found a home in the desert, for a weekend or forever. Physically or spiritually.
There are so many characters who pass by to explain in the film, and yet everything comes across so incredibly calm and quiet. As if the desert itself has reduced the pace.
The interviews have been cut to perfection, the photo is among the finest I’ve seen.
This is pure TV-poetry. What a completely amazing movie.
They all testify to the same thing. To the love of the quiet expanse, or the starry sky which one might experience in real life for the first time out here. To a different rhythm, or to ”live more in one’s own head.” Some have built entire communities, others lie in solitude enjoying a warm pool of water on a rock, others are dancing, collecting scrap metal into works of art, look for God, see UFOs, run a diner, live in a caravan, sit and stare, do anything – much like everywhere else. But they’re talking about a balance, a different tolerance, and – despite or because of the barren, arid, empty landscape – a very different kind of wealth. ”Actually, maybe it’s not that you see things out here, it’s rather that you think things,” someone summarizes.
And you can see it in their eyes, you hear it when they talk. They have time to breathe.