Director Kahlil Joseph has released another beautiful short film entitled Wildcat, once again tapping into the sonic artistry of Flying Lotus to produce the score. Last time these two worked together for Until The Quiet Comes, a short film created in conjunction with FlyLo’s excellent album of the same name, the pair’s efforts were commemorated with critical acclaim and a Sundance Award, so expectations may be high here. That’s okay in this case – because Wildcat is equally – and differently – phenomenal. Exploring the world of African-American rodeo performers in Grayson, Oklahoma (formerly Wildcat, OK), the short film follows a black American subculture widely unseen by the rest of the country, at least in popular culture or fine art contexts. On choosing such a place of inspiration, Joseph told online magazine Nowness,
“Black people are light years more advanced than the ideas and images that circulate would have you believe. The spaces we control and exist are my ground zero for filming, at least so far, and there are opportunities for me to tap into the energy.”
Joseph’s stunning cinematography almost reads more like a series of thoughtful photographs, leaving the film just as visually engrossing as the subjects themselves. The director, who is also a part of Los Angeles film collective What Matters Most, has a style that evokes a dreamlike quality throughout his body of work. In Wildcat, he weaves images of a young woman dressed in white, representing the spirit of Aunt Janet, the woman considered by members of the Grayson community as the founding mother of the annual August rodeo where Joseph shot the film (and to whom the film is dedicated).
Clearly, Wildcat is superb on many levels, but without mentioning Flying Lotus’ light-handed touch in scoring the film, we’d be doing both the producer and the filmmaker a disservice in ignoring one of the most successful elements of the film. Usually, a mark of a thoughtfully crafted score is the imperceptible melding of sound and image in such a way that the two distinct elements become perceived as one in the mind of the viewer. Wildcat and Flying Lotus’ skillful production, achieve something entirely different, however – moments such as rain hitting a windshield while FlyLo’s orchestral strings play contrast harmony against visuality in a way that can’t help be noticed. Watch Wildcat in its entirety below.
shouts to Nowness