Evan Bode’s short film Out of Frame will be showing in-person at 7 pm at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 22, 2023, and online for 24 hours. Using a thoughtful combination of animation and live-action, Bode’s visuals grasp the viewers’ attention, allowing them to hone in on a touching story of power, queer identity, and liberation from social norms.
Bode’s film opens with the threatening silhouette of a gallery curator hanging a new piece of art on a white wall. After placing it, the faceless figure menacingly nods at the painting, asserting his dominance over it and its contents. The picture displays a young person with a telescope and a globe. Hanging on the opposite wall is another painting featuring a young person with a lantern and the moon in the background. Shapeless figures examine and scrutinize these paintings in the gallery room as the subjects of the art try their hardest to stay confined within their frames. Through the sea of observers, the young subjects of the two paintings look at one another, finding solace in their shared feelings of imprisonment. Once night falls, the paintings begin to communicate, planning their escape from the borders in which they are confined.
The objects in each painting reflect the spirit and personality of the subject; the subject with the telescope and the globe reflects their search for adventure and their inherent tenacity. They are the first to rebel against the curator, and they remain defiant after countless attempts by the curator to control them. The other painting features a young person with a lantern and acts as a guide and voice of reason. At first, they are anxious about the other painting’s defiance, not wanting to draw attention to themselves in fear of being punished by the curator.
Bode masterfully immerses the viewer into his world, using music to create nonverbal story cues that drive the film forward. When the curator enters the gallery room at night, intense music begins to play, signaling the evil of the curator and emphasizing his antagonistic role. Serving as a metaphor for oppressive social constructs, the curator aims to keep the subjects of the paintings confined to their frames to control them. When one of the paintings is caught moving by the curator, the other painting moves to distract him from punishing their friend. Feeling like he’s losing control, the curator rips the painting from the wall and attempts to paint over it. The painting is defiant, refusing to let the curator change its contents and marking the start of their revolution against the curator. However, the curator covers the canvas in black, silencing it.
Desperately wanting to save their friend from evil, the painting left in the gallery forces itself off the wall. Lost and fragmented, the paintings lose hope, feeling defeated by the oppressive curator. Against all odds stacked against them, the subjects of the paintings reunite and regain the sense of power that was stripped from them. In a stunning display of multimedia visuals, surreal animation visually brings the pair together – a sea of yellow-colored wind and waves brings them together. The subjects of the paintings serve as a metaphor for queer identity; they no longer want to shy away from who they are and are standing firm against societal oppression, as represented by the curator.
Representing the struggle of the LGBTQIA+ community, the paintings are silenced despite countless efforts of revolution. Despite the difficulty, the paintings, like the queer community, refuse to accept defeat; their fearless resiliency inspires change and gives young people hope for an accepting future. Bode’s brilliant multimedia visuals highlight the messages of resilience and queer power.
Out of Frame will be playing along with the short film June and the feature film Hole in the Head at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 22, 2023 – Online for 24 Hours and in-person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. Evan Bode, Director of Out of Frame will be on hand to do a Q+A as well. For more info and tickets go here.