Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman

Last Things
2023, 50min, 16mm digital transfer

Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks and various future others. The geo-biosphere is introduced as a place of evolutionary possibility, where humans disappear but life endures.

The project originated from two novellas of J.-H. Rosny, the joint pseudonym of the Belgian brothers Boex who wrote on natural, prehistoric and speculative subjects—sci fi before it was a genre. The film takes up their pluralist vision of evolution, where imagining prehistory is inseparable from envisioning the future. Also central are Roger Caillois’ writing on stones, Robert Hazen's theory of Mineral Evolution, Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star, the Symbiosis theory of Lynn Margulis, multi-species scenarios of Donna Haraway, Hazel Barton’s research on cave microbes and Marcia Bjørnerud’s thoughts on time literacy. In one way or another, these thinkers have all sought to displace humankind and human reason from the center of evolutionary processes. Passages from Rosny and interviews with Bjørnerud form the film's science-fictional / science-factual spine. Stones are its anchor. To touch stone is to meet alien duration. We trust stone as archive, but we may as well write on water. In the end, it’s particles that remain.

Director / Camera / Edit / Sound Design: Deborah Stratman
Producers: Anže Peršin, Gaëlle Boucand, Deborah Stratman
Sound Engineer: Simon Apostolou
Voices: Valérie Massadian and Marcia Bjørnerud
Music: Thomas Ankersmit, Olivia Block, Nicolas Collins, Brian Eno, Okkyung Lee, Matchess, Sacred Harp Singers of Cork

World Premiere: Sundance, January 2023
International Premiere: Berlinale, Feburary 2023

New Cinema Award - Berwick Film and Media Art Festval, UK
Prix du Court-Métrage (Short Film Prize) - Cinéma du Réel International Documentary Film Festival
GreenDox Award - Dokufest International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kosovo
Audience Award - 25FPS Festival, Croatia
Best Direction - Black Canvas Festival de Cine Contemporaneo, Mexico
Avant-Garde Award – Science New Wave Festival, USA
Honorable Mention, Science New Wave Award – Science New Wave Festival, USA

"An entrancing blend of hard science and ephemeral existentialism"
- Michael Fox, KQED

- Robert Koehler, Cinema Scope, pdf

"...not only are we a blip in cosmic history, but history itself [is] a blip in the universal organization of matter."
- Michael Sicinski, Cinema Scope, pdf

"Talk about rejecting empathy: Stratman’s haunting, iridescent work of science-nonfiction actively decenters the human perspective, narrating the history and the speculative future of the universe with rocks as its protagonists. The idea that minerals evolve over time—and preserve records of our world’s many lives—drives Stratman’s inquiry, which, as is often the case with her work, is at once dryly analytical, politically urgent, and cinematically riveting."
- Devika Girish, Film Comment

"It’s storytelling, but not as we know it; thankfully it comes in peace."
- WJ Quinn, The Quinntessential Review

"This is speculative documentary at its most bracingly geological."
- Ben Nicholson, The Film Verdict (registration required)

"In refuting tendencies of anthropomorphic thought, the film becomes an empowering reminder of our own insignificance. Yet any hint of didacticism shrivels away in Stratman’s hands; instead, she embraces pleasure in the unknown and the sprawling ambiguity of the universe."
- Ryan Akler-Bishop, In Review Online

"Adopting a polytemporal worldview requires not just recognizing a plurality of times, but also acknowledging the force field between them."
- Miriam Matthiessen, Tone Glow

"how to reflect on the consequences of the human by subtracting the human from the equation"
- José Sarmiento Hinojosa, Desistfilm

"the disparate pieces comment on the interconnectedness of things, and of their collective mortality, without a hint of sentimentality"
- Sarah Welch-Larson, Bright Wall/Dark Room

"at once a test and exploration of what people are able to perceive"
- James Hanton, Outtake Magazine

"you may conclude midway through the screening, none of this really matters, and when we consume our life on this planet we’ll only be a thin layer of dust that covers the rocks"
- Irina Trocan, Desistfilm

"tempers our collective anxieties about climate change with the reassuring knowledge that long after humans have ceased to roam the planet, life will find a way to endure."
- Patrick Gamble, Alt Kino

"A hypnotic and visually variegated contemplation on the “prehistory of prehistory"
- Saelyx Finna, Redefine Magazine

"an avant-garde essay film concerned with the histories and stories embedded in the geo-biosphere, subtly pointing to the pretension and myopia of human superiority over the natural world."
- Joshua Minsoo Kim, Tone Glow

"explores the origins of life from the perspective of rocks and other geologic matter in a fashion combining science, poetry, and speculative fiction with audio-visual textures (16mm film, microtonal soundtrack frequencies) of uniquely synaesthetic force."
- Jordan Cronk, Mubi Notebook

"less interested in definitive answers to large questions about our planet’s continuing evolution but instead contemplates what it means to make a resource out of the natural world and how to combat this tendency in favor of non-anthropocentric pursuits."
- Caitlin Quinlan, Reverse Shot

"Rather than observing the rocks, we are invited to feel what it might have been like to exist with them as the earth threw life in and out of turmoil over millions of years."
- Erin Evans, The Michigan Daily

"the film in actuality is a gorgeous, almost dystopian exploration of history as a geological survey."
- Joshua Brunsting, Criterion Cast

"floods the screen with a stream of extraordinary images, colours and shapes that are as visually captivating as they are intellectually detonating."
- Sukhdev Sandhu, Prospect Magazine

With the support of:
Deborah Stratman
Centre national des arts plastiques
Deborah Stratman
the TËNK platform

Deborah Stratman
UnionDocs Center
for Documentary Art
Deborah Stratman
and with participation of the CNC

Shifting Foundation
Deborah Stratman
University of Illinois at Chicago

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