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The Two Sights

  • Director

    Joshua Bonnetta

  • Canada, UK / 2020
    90 minutes / Original version with German subtitles

  • Original language

    Gaelic, English

The closing titles say The Two Sights was “collected” on various islands of the Outer Hebrides from 2017–19, but what does the film gather? There are the images, captured on a 16mm camera, which survey all this ravishing landscape contains, taking in its rocky cliffs, beaches and plains, alighting on its flora and fauna and the houses and ships sprinkled over it, picking out currents, reflections and shifts in light. Then there are the sounds, recorded with the mic visible in the first shots, keening birds, the roaring wind, the crashing, gurgling, trickling of the water. In voiceover, a whole anthology of tales can be heard, narrated in both English and Gaelic, stories of dog skeletons, drowned villages, and family members passing away, although songs, silence and the shipping forecast are just as at home there. But like any great collection, it’s not about the individual elements, but how they overlap, about how the crow hanging on barbed wire conjures up another story never told, about how the ripples seem to reverberate along with the woman’s harmonies, about how each anecdote floats over the rushing air. Sight by eye, sight by ear, two sights that ripple and flow together. (jl)

Joshua Bonnetta (b. 1979) is a Canadian artist and filmmaker working in sound and moving image across installation, performance, and theatrical exhibition.

Watch the trailer.

Press Comments

"The Outer Hebrides was ​long ago once thought of as a place of seers​,​ who were known to have the gift of Second Sight​:​ an ability to foretell future events. These prognostications were revealed to the seer in the form of visions or otherworldly sounds. Sometimes they took the form of portents derived ​by augury read from animals, bones, or weather patterns foretelling what has yet come to pass. ​ Using these stories as a starting point​, THE TWO SIGHTS, ​​is a portrait of a rapidly changing maritime environment​ with its acoustic ecology and culture in flux in a time of uncertain futures​​​. Long take Super 16mm cinematography, interwoven with site-specific field recordings and interviews​ collected from ​the disappearing oral histories​​ of several Hebridean communities​ are collaged to explore the relationship between place narrative​, ​environment​,​ and the reciprocal influences they exact upon one another." cineuropa.org

"The Two Sights Hypnotically Ruminates on Corporeality and Oblivion. With his first solo feature, Joshua Bonnetta is again contemplating death and the traces it leaves behind." Carson Lund, Slant Magazine

"The Two Sights searches through its chorus of voices and portraits of landscapes, a tertiary space between conscious and unconscious experience. Sound becomes the driving force in this experience. The film presents us with the possibility that sound might transcend our perception of reality. Regardless of supernatural belief, it has a massive impact on how we navigate the world. More than just a documentary about the second sight, Joshua Bonnetta’s filmmaking, therefore, becomes a document of a soundscape that is slowly being lost and might never be recovered." Justine Smith, POV Magazine

Canada, UK 2020. Length: 90 Min. Shot on Super 16mm. Available as DCP or file. Languages: Gaelic, English. Language version: OV with German subtitles. Writer, Director, Cinematography, Editing, Music, Sound & Sound design: Joshua Bonnetta. Sound mixing: Josh Berger.

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur