“LOSS IS SOMETHING THAT IMPACTS US ALL AND EACH VIEWER WILL ATTACH THEIR OWN PERSONAL HISTORY TO THE STORY.”
The film follows the point of view of the eldest of the two girls, Fartuun, who tries to find comfort in her new shelter and attempts to reassure her mother through a voicemail. Yet there is an obvious contrast, or as Caitlin states, “a deliberate misdirection between what the viewer sees and hears.” As the story unravels, the messages to her mother change; slowly the viewer comes to question if what s/he sees is the past or the present, as the tragic outcome of this trying journey is slowly revealed.
Caitlin Black was educated in Fine Art, and her influences are relevant to more than her aesthetic: for Middle Passage, she explored the works of Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat, who brings together political and psychological elements of female experiences. Indeed, one cannot help but notice the feminine point of view of Middle Passage, to which Caitlin Black adds some element of explanation: “I’m interested in creating layered and complex characters, and I think there is a real lack of female presence in the film industry. In a way, it is this absence that drives me to make thought-provoking work.”
Through the repetition of the voicemail, Caitlin Black and Louise Seun Ogunnaike also reveal a sense of loss and uncertainty of one’s future, to which viewers can relate: “Loss is something that impacts us all and each viewer will attach their own personal history to the story,” she explains. The visual transcription of loss and isolation conveys a poetic, almost romantic aspect to the video, all the more perceptible as the visuals seem to sublimate the harsh reality of refugee camps.