A Moving Image

Viviane Vagh

Screening format
Shown in Compétition #6.



A single image in movement, a boat passing in front of the sun setting in winter time in the waves of the Baltic sea, surrounding the island of Gotland. Camera in hand, all of Cinema’s history and magic resonates within me in front of this metaphorical spectacle. The emotion when the alchemy occurs between shadow and light, like in a cinema, where the dark rooms brightens with the images of the film, thanks to the projector’s light.

Text from the selection committee

A single moving image, a sun setting in winter in the waves of the Baltic Sea, sometimes playing hide-and-seek with a boat, nourishes a reflection on cinema. “To make a film is to put chaos in a bottle, as Van Gogh used to say,” you hear, or “to empty oneself of one’s impressions as a projector empties himself of his images. Here sound and image are disjointed and sail in parallel; there is no question of cancelling one by the other. This hypnotic shot keeps the attention alert in order to collect the various forms of creative processes enunciated by the filmmaker: we are close to essayist cinema.

Translation made by the translator www.DeepL.com/Translator

– R.B.

Director's note

“It stayed

Where I saw it

Then it moved a fraction

To the left and then twice that

Distance again further and further

It disappeared

Then just faintly

A corner of it just a fraction

Was visible if you peered

Very very closely

And just as quietly”. (Michael Snow)


I remember Michael Snow’s films and his philosophy on film-making when I watch the images I had filmed of a boat passing in front of a setting sun on the island of Gotland a few years ago. That one and only image, over and over in a given time lapse, a stretching and shrinking of time or the mysterious and intensity of the first (Lumière) films: a crowd coming out of a factory or of a train entering a station, these images had the power of a whole story, a whole ‘realistic fiction’ in itself! 

Capturing time in one single moving image (is that not what films are made of single images, single frames!) It is as if an essential piece of life is captured, like that setting sun, before it disappears in its original movement, creating the night before it rises again bringing the day (like in a dark theatre room before a film is projected and lights it up again bringing life to the room with the films projected images). Concentration on one image like a meditation to stay in the moment without thoughts, forgetting oneself… In one sequence, obsessively/mesmerised… Like plunging into the real physical world through a film as does the sun when it plunges into the sea on its  course to the other side!!

Voice and images … the slow and hypnotic way of saying the text brings more weight to the time factor music between the text stretches time into the dream time … rhythmic alternation of voices and music a different perception of the images, the sun will disappear and the boat passing in front of the sun will disappear out of the frame.

Time factors how does a 4.7 minute film feel longer? .. Metaphorically a sunset is also a symbol of loss… making this  film during the confinement period in March, April, May 2020… I had filmed these images around the same months when on Gotland Island during the same time end of Winter beginning of Spring … when the sun takes a longer time to set way up north… A confinement period has a strange effect on our linear time, we lose the notion of time space and day… I suppose it is the same on the island, there is a sense of confinement on this piece of land surrounded by the water of the sea, where waves in their monotonous rhythm sound a breath like movement as in a meditative state, and time and space as we practise it in a “usual” day disappear… Thus this one single image takes on a gigantic expression and importance, captured by the camera, to be projected over and over as the rising and the setting sun. (printed in 3, no. 4 (March-April 1971) of the ‘take one’ magazine). 

“My films are made for attention, contemplation, meditation, and if they are met in those sorts of ways some very rewarding and subtle sensory, sensual and psychic states can be experienced, so please don’t riot until intermission. They’re often met appreciatively”. (Michael Snow)

– Viviane Vagh