Having recently directed the ghost drama The Eternal Daughter, Joanna Hogg continues to probe her cinema’s relationship to ghosts and memories. In Présages, a cinematic postcard from Los Angeles in the winter, Hogg ruminates over “a story that hasn’t revealed itself to [her] yet” while exploring the city’s empty hotels and abandoned cinemas. The short was made as part of the Centre Pompidou’s “Ou en êtes-vous?” film series, which asks filmmakers—including Kelly Reichardt, Richard Linklater, Jafar Panahi, Barbet Schroeder, Jean-Marie Straub, and many others— to produce a personal free-form film that asks the question “Where do you stand today?”
“My profession is to look for drama … But I am fearful of the drama happening to me,” Hogg confesses in voice-over. Moments earlier in the film, she recounts experiencing what appears to be a paranormal break-in into her hotel room. Paired together, these moments suggest that the quest for stories inevitably invokes the past.
“There is so much history here and maybe it’s the constant regeneration that creates layers of ghosts, the layers of the past. But I am interested in what this place is now and that it has these reverberations from the past.” JOANNA HOGG
Hogg’s interest in the past, which she has explored from a more personal perspective in films such as The Souvenir, finds itself constantly peeking its head throughout Présages. To see Hogg flip through her notebook and hear her reflect on her childhood home is to witness a filmmaker immerse herself in an introspective bout before prepping a new project. Présages is not only an inside-look at Hogg’s writing process, but an invitation to look at the world from her perspective.
Born in London, England, in 1960, Hogg has made a series of emotionally cutting films about family matters and memories of the heart. Her two-part film The Souvenir is a rich study in romance and its fallout, while her recent Tilda Swinton-led The Eternal Daughter adorns a mother-daughter drama with elements of fantasy to wondrous effect. If Présages is any indication, her next film will be set in “modern Los Angeles.”
Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer. Special thanks to the Centre Pompidou.