Milking and Scratching: Hand Made Films by Naomi Uman

Naomi Uman left her job as a chef to Malcolm Forbes and Calvin Klein to serve us. She gives us Milking and Scratching, a savory platter of two documentaries and three experimental films, providing much food for thought. Documentaries Leche? and Mala Leche? contrast the lives of Mexicans. Leche? depicts a family as they eke out an existence as dairy farmers. It’s filmed in black and white with a voiceover narration and intermittent captions on a chalkboard. The grainy film stock was a good choice to capture the antiquated way of life. Though filled with hardship, it retains a pleasant harmony. Conversely Mala Leche? captures the lives of Mexicans who illegally immigrate to the United States. It’s filmed on sharp full colour film with no narration, just typewritten captions. Life seems harsher and less fulfilling in Mala Leche? as Uman shows several families struggling in the industrialized economy of their new home and with little or no education. The simpler life in Leche? seems comparatively idyllic. Removed? is old ’70s porn footage with the woman scratched out so the man is seen having sex with an empty space. Old material is subverted to express a completely different meaning from its original intent. The remaining Hand Eye Co-ordination and Private Movie, though erratic, offer visual poetry like Removed?, rife with inferred meanings. This reviewer will hazard a guess that the former is about getting a tattoo while the latter is about love affairs; both are told via indirectly related audio and video footage, offering up a story in a challenging yet scintillating way. Once Uman’s works are devoured, any person with an appreciation for experimental films and sharp documentaries will surely crave more artistic works from this talented director. (I. Khider)

Dir. Naomi Uman, DVD, US$24.95,