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NETTLES a film by RAVEN JACKSON. 2018. USA. 25 min. A collection of six lyrical chapters from stinging moments in the lives of different women and girls.

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In her thesis film from NYU, poet-turned-filmmaker Raven Jackson already demonstrates an assured style that sets her apart from her contemporaries. Much like her poetry, her approach to cinema involves capturing moments with such detail they feel both deeply personal and inherently familiar. To coincide with her feature debut All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt — a rich portrait of mid-century rural Mississippi, currently playing at the 61st New York Film Festival and to be released in U.S. theaters by A24 on November 3rd —we present Nettles, a brief six-part anthology of “stinging moments in the lives of different girls and women.”

 

The “micro-shorts” in Nettles are all anatomically related, with Jackson reserving each one for a different body part. Assembled together, these characters and their stories reveal a tapestry “showing the many layered aspects” of women’s lives. In choosing to “work with a diverse range of women of different ages and different backgrounds,” Jackson’s emotional close-ups of women from all walks of life develop a complex understanding of what womanhood can mean for anyone embodying its conditions.

 

 

“When I was writing Nettles I really wanted to explore moments we think of years later even if we don’t know why. Ones that stay with us like a thorn in our side — moments with teeth. That’s really what drew me to making this film.” RAVEN JACKSON

 

Jackson’s tight frames channel the specificity of each moment by emphasizing gestures and glances. As Richard Brody wrote about All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt in The New Yorker, her compositions “convey and respect the mysteries of inner life […] with a nearly metaphysical glow.” This supreme attention to detail awards her cinematic project a rare dimension of compassion. With Nettles, as well as her soon-to-be-released feature debut, Jackson proves herself a first-rate observer of the human experience, showing a remarkable ability to identify the shared sensations, rituals, and moments that bind people together.

 

Raven Jackson is an award-winning poet, photographer, and filmmaker. She is a fellow of the famed Black poetry organization Cave Canem and holds MFAs from New York University’s Graduate Film Program and the New School’s Writing Program. In 2019, Jackson participated in Film at Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy during the 57th New York Film Festival. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt was a standout at Sundance, and has garnered acclaim among audiences and critics alike.

 

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.

Credits for
NETTLES
cinematography
Jomo Fray
produced by
Maria Altamirano
edited by
Raven Jackson
production design
Ali Kashfi
sound design
Miguel Calvo