Where Is Where?

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila has worked with multichannel formats since the 1990s, and her precisely structured, one-hour-long, split-screen depiction of a real incident that took place during the Algerian War of Independence from France resonates alternately with poetic imagery, literal history, and symbolic references.

Where Is Where? is an experimental narrative that relates an incident that took place in the late 1950s. As a reaction to the atrocities of French colonial repression, two young Arab boys killed a French friend, a boy of their own age. Utilizing both the fictive reality of the film itself and a theatrelike set, the narrative mode breaks with traditional story time and framing to advance a complex flow of imagery and ideas. The overall collision of narrative lines comes through the perspective of a European poet: visited by Death, he gradually investigates the past to reveal the importance of the event for the present day.

At once hauntingly elusive and very direct, the film artistically challenges the norms and preconceptions of reading and storytelling as well as depicting the clash of cultures and societies. Evocative and dense, Where Is Where? is ultimately a condensation of the mists of truth, a gathering of the fragments of knowledge, and perhaps a conduit for an alternate perspective.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


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