Home in the Air is a film by Spanish filmmaker Elena Vilallonga that will be playing at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, January 28th, 2022. Usually when something is referred to as being “in the air” it is something that is nostalgic or contagious in some way. In the case of this film, it actually refers to a home that is suspended in midair; Hogar Al Aire. It is a film that follows the lives of two turtledoves who work together to start a family. The images presented are juxtaposed with the sound of a narrator describing a typical life cycle. What’s interesting about this film is that the narrator could simply be narrating the day-to-day happenings of these birds, or their words could be interpreted as revealing a deeper truth about the universality of the experience of life on Earth.
The film begins with the juxtaposition of bird sounds, narrative speech, and children singing, as images of birds [flying and interacting] flash across the screen. This introduction provides a particular experience for the viewer that perfectly sets up everything they are about to watch unfold on-screen. The use of the children’s laughter is an interesting way to help the viewer see a representation of humanity in the birds themselves [who we quickly learn mean to start a family]. In this way, we are able to see the turtledoves as valuable; they are a piece of this earth that mean to navigate life in their own way, just as we do.
Something else that lies in this introduction that is a precursor to the rest of the film is when the narrator describes her definition of ‘home’. She says that “her home used to be the stage, and now she has found a way to settle down.” The film follows the birds as they court each other in the sky, accept each other as mates, and find a windowsill to settle down on and begin their family. The viewer soon finds out that the windowsill that they choose to build their home on is a space that is simultaneously used by human beings. Home in the Air, then, quickly becomes a commentary on the beauty that lies in our ability to harmonize with nature. What’s particularly interesting is that its’ subject, the turtledove, is usually otherwise seen as commonplace, or just another part of a city-scape, as a pigeon would be in NYC; something invaluable or neglectable.
It seems that the main takeaway from this film should be that family is family and, in fact, all families are family with each other. A mouthful, yes, but it’s an important concept to consider. These turtledoves live a life in constant flux, and the windowsill that they built their home on, which happens to belong to another group of beings who are already using the space as their home, is representative of something greater. The humans that shared their space with the birds in this film are providing them with a home that gives the turtledoves a much-needed break from the sky and provides them with a moment of rest.
Home in the Air? Yes, if we look up to those who live in flight, we can see ourselves in a different light. We have a home in the flight of a bird because our experience, as malleable and adaptive beings, is reflected in the ways in which birds have learned to navigate the world. As the narrator says in the closing statement of this film, “To live is to use gravity as a springboard, knowing that we’re all winging our way to oblivion.”
Here is Elena Vilallonga's Introduction to the screening of Home in the Air at the Spring 2022 New Jersey Film Festival.
Home in the Air screens at the Spring 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on January 28 as part of the Experimental Film Program! To buy tickets to see it click here.
The New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2022 will be taking place on select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between January 28 and February 20, 2022. As a result of COVID our Festival will be a virtual one again this Spring. All the films will be available virtually via Video on Demand for 24 hours on their show date. More info is available here.