An Experimental Horror Film Marries Grotesquery and Feminist Poetry [Premiere]

Filmmaker Leila Jarman and artist Chelsea Bayouth's film 'A Dream of Paper Flowers' creates a surreal portrait of the female experience and stars a "giant lactating tit slug."

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Mar 31 2016, 4:15pm

Screenshots by the author

A Dream of Paper Flowers from Leila Jarman/Mad-as.hell on Vimeo.

A “giant lactating tit slug” serves as the star of the short film A Dream of Paper Flowers, which premieres today on The Creators Project. The slug and the film are the creations of filmmaker Leila Jarman and puppet artist and poet Chelsea Bayouth. Jarman and Bayouth have teamed up with artist and producer Luka Fisher, artist MRK, digital artist Mike Leisz, cinematographer Spencer Rollins, and electronic musician and head of Proximal Records Sahy Uhns to create a work that combines puppetry and poetry, black-and-white filmmaking, and electronic sound design, into a surreal portrait of the female experience. 

The film is utterly abject. Close-ups of the film’s “star” pan across leaking conic growths, patches of rough hair (human hair?), and hills and valleys of uneven, alien skin. And yet, these images are also clandestinely beautiful: filmed in black-and-white, their harshness becomes softened and the precise detailing of their designs comes to the fore. As the film progresses, Bayouth’s beast begins to pulsate with greater intensity and, with a final, natal push, MRK emerges, naked like a newborn and covered in a tangling of material that harkens strongly of the organic gore of childbirth. 

Behind the action runs a score and sound design produced in collaboration with Leisz and Uhns. Inspired in part by the first ever completely electronic film score composed for cult favorite Forbidden Planet, Uhns uses his own generative synthesis sound system, a.k.a. “Little Devil,” as the voice for the film’s abject protagonist. Built upon this narration is a score of sounds produced by Uhns from the recording of organic phenomena, “such as the warping of burning wood submersed in water.” Says Sahy Uhns, “It was important to remove the vocal of its relatable contexts so that the source of the vocal felt somewhat fluid, as if it was sometimes emanating from the beast and sometimes sounding like a thought within the character's head.”

See all these elements of A Dream of Paper Flowers collide in the film, shown above. 

Click through to visit the websites of Leila Jarman and Chelsea Bayouth

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