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Friday, March 3, 2017

A Fire in My Belly

A Fire in My Belly is a silent black-and-white and color film shot on super 8mm film. The super 8mm film is the perfect medium to convey the complicated and unsettling images used by creator David Wojnarowicz, due to its stylish grainy look. It runs for approximately 13 minutes and is complemented by an additional 7 minutes of added footage that was later discovered in his private collection. The film images are during the first 13 minutes paint a violent portrait of the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Throughout the duration of the first half, we are presented with scenes of ordinary life in Mexico: livestock passing through intersections, headlines detailing the latest homicide, wrestlers fighting each other, roosters fighting to the death, and the killing of bulls during Bullfights. In painting this portrait, Wojnarowicz conveys intense feelings of aggression, rage, and violence that spawn from the individual and manifest themselves into the greater culture.  The images seem to rail against the violence and aggression of society, especially when connected to the second half of the film which is comprised of Catholic images, Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, Jesus Christ, and himself sewing his mouth shut. From my perspective, I believe these images when combined in this manner display a double-edged sense of penance and criticism of religion. It invites us to question violent cultural practices and forms of entertainment within our society but it also portrays the hypocrisy of religion. On the one hand, it claims to provide penance and preach against the evil nature of humankind; but the institution itself is responsible for so much violence and hatred against people of queer identity.

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