The other filmmaker I spoke with this week was Terence Nance. Who will make a Skype appearance at Miami’s O Cinema Wynwood tonight for his feature debut, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, which happens to be a “New York Times Critics’ Pick.” In this surreal documentary exploring his relationships with several women in his life, Nance explores an array of feelings within feelings. It’s mostly about love, but it’s also a rather kaleidoscopic mélange of film styles. It’s confessional and poetic, as it dives into an array of movie-making’s properties, from the music he has composed to the variety of flashy animation techniques he employs. The movie also reveals a subtle grasp on the essence of filmmaking, finding meaning in the gaps of editing splices. The hyper-elemental aspects of film and the various styles he employs speak to the complexity of his subject. It’s like an easy-to-digest experimental film because of the relatable quality of falling in love.
There’s one witty moment where his surrogate (he also plays the protagonist: Terence Nance) is captured during a time-lapse sequence editing footage in his home studio. It reveals a new perspective on a lover, having to dwell on her in retrospect, long after the relationship had ended. It’s one of several moments that could leave the audience to wonder about the film’s autobiographical character. Nance, however, admits the most difficult part of the movie was the process of filmmaking, and it overshadowed any sentimentality he had over the subject. “I guess the actual making of the movie wasn’t super emotional at all,” he says, speaking over the phone while visiting his cousin’s Brooklyn home. “It was very much about the actual, functional formality of what you have to go through to make any feature film. You know, the logistical nightmare of that was very trying, but from an emotional perspective it was unremarkable,” he pauses for a laughs. “The story I was telling was about an emotional coming of age or coming into self-awareness that did happen but that happening preceded the production of the movie on some level. So I was just trying to make a movie with no money,” he laughs again, “which is difficult for anyone.”
Beyond the varying styles of filmmaking employed by Nance in An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, the movie also features a verbose voice-over narrator speaking in the second person perspective in an attempt to incite empathy from the viewer. “One of the original concepts was to break down the voyeuristic relationships that audiences usually have with films,” Nance explains about this creative decision. “You’re watching a movie about characters and cultures that are not your own. You’re a voyeur to that, that space, so I wanted the experience to be participatory, so I’m assuming that these experiences vary in different degrees, and when you speak in the second person, it’s very direct, an allegorical way of making the viewing experience participatory as opposed to voyeuristic.”
We spoke much more about the film, and— most importantly— about his Miami connection with the Borscht Film Festival and his voice portrayal of Miami Heat star Chris Bosh in the notorious short film “The Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse” (watch that craziness here). You can read about all of this in my article for “The Miami New Times” arts and culture blog “Cultist,” jump over to it through the image below:
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty premieres in Miami on Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m., O Cinema Wynwood. Director Terence Nance will Skype in following the premiere screening for a Q&A with the audience. The film plays throughout the weekend.