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The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

Ben Rivers
United Kingdom 2015 / 98’

A cinematic labyrinth in which it is difficult to determine whether you are watching a documentary, a fantasy, or an adaptation. The action gets under way at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, where Spanish director Olivier Laxe (director of the Cannes award-winning All Are Captains) is shooting his latest movie, Las Mimosas. We see his challenging relationships with locals hired to work on the set, problems resulting from the secluded location, and the troubles the porters are having with the mules. Monumental nature casts a silent shadow over these ridiculous human affairs. However, "your two eyes are not brothers," Rivers promises in the title. Suddenly, "a film about a film" and cultural barriers turns into a cruel nightmare. In a fit of frustration, Laxe flees his own set and is captured by desert bandits. Crippled and dressed in a grotesque suit of chainmail made from tin cans, he is turned into a living puppet who is put on display at markets to the delight of the crowds. The atmosphere thickens. As it turns out, we are no longer watching a documentary, but instead a contemporary adaptation of Paul Bowles' short story A Distant Episode.

Ewa Szabłowska

Ben Rivers

A filmmaker and artist, Ben Rivers was born in 1972 in Somerset, England. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Falmouth with a specialization in cinematography and 8 mm film. For 10 years, he ran an avant-garde cinema in Brighton, where he met director Ben Russell in 2006. As part of the We Can Not Exist in This World Alone project, they presented their work together in Australia and New Zealand, among other places. His feature-length debut, Two Years at Sea, which captured a FIPRESCI in the Horizons section at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, was also screened at the New Horizons International Film Festival. His next film, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (co-directed by Ben Russell), was screened in the International Competition at New Horizons in 2014.

Selected filmography

2006 This Is My Land (short)

2008 Ah, Liberty! (short)

2009 I Know Where I'm Going (short)

2011 Slow Action (short)

2011 Dwa lata nad morzem / Two Years at Sea

2013 Zaklęcie, które odpędza ciemność / A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

2015 Niebo drży, ziemia boi się, a oczy nie są braćmi / The Sky Trembles, The Earth is Afraid and Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

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Cast & Crew

director Ben Rivers
screenplay Ben Rivers
cinematography Ben Rivers
editing Ben Rivers, Benjamin Mirquet
cast Oliver Laxe
producer Ben Rivers, Jacqui Davies
production Artangel
sales Artscope
language English, French, Arabic
colouration b&w