Esther Johnson

2004, 10:00 minutes, Colour, English


This short experimental documentary is a layered audio visual look at the past and present of Buffalo's old Hotel Lenox. The hotel is a space in which time stands still, an atmospheric place of mystery with many stories contained within its weathered walls. Through stunning static compositional shots, we are taken on a journey through the hotel's interior of faded 1920's Art Deco versus shabby retro Americana. The journey is accompanied by the voices of two employees re-telling tales of 'now' and 'then' as perceived by themselves. The absence of human forms adds to the stasis of such a place and the evocation of sadness in a place entrenched in the past with a jaded and uncertain future. There is a strong emphasis on architecture and familiar minutiae detail which characterizes the places we inhabit. These details are also integral in evoking strong imaginings of the past in the case of Hotel Lenox, a particular 'Grandness' slipping into derelict seediness. Lenox is a mysterious and enjoyable short showing a mature and insightful take on themes of public and private space, old architecture versus new and the alienation of such 'non-places' (as coined by Marc Augues). The short is also a clever and original study into techniques of documentary and the relationships between sound and image, fact and fiction.

Lenox was made whilst the director Esther Johnson was completing an International Filmmakers Residency at Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo, New York.

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