Intimate Distances

61 mins: 4k digital film
filmed on location in Astoria, Queens, NYC.
Reviews, May 2020
Filmmaker Magazine (english) 
filmexplorer (english) 
desistfilm (spanish)
caligari (spanish)
Roger Koza (spanish)

“Coming at a time of greater isolation than the modern world has known, INTIMATE DISTANCES feels like the panacea we needed. Casting director Martha Wollner searches for an actor for a feature film, and in doing so she takes to the streets of New York. What follows is a series of interactions between strangers, both fearful and compassionate, as the intimate direction of Phillip Warnell brings us up close with the kind of human connection we are currently unable to reach.”
Toisto.net

“Did Martha finally cast someone? The question should not be taken as rhetoric, for a crime has titillated our curiosity throughout the film. An indirect crime, actually, because we could only project the imagination of a crime on the future film where the casted person would embody the criminal. Moreover, we also project the “criminality” on the passers-by in our accompanying Martha in her job. Insofar as the apparent concentration of Intimate Distances is on the process of casting instead of the final choice in casting, we will focus on our projection of criminality on people more than on the effective aptitude the persons could have in expressing criminality. In this way, we are not only aware of being the cinema-makers but also of being the makers of criminals”.
Film Explorer, Switzerland

'all that is unintelligible is criminal in substance'

Martha Wollner, legendary casting director (best known for her work with Albert Maysles), roams the streets of New York in search of an actor to play the role of a criminal in a fictional film. In a world in which it is no longer customary to interact in the public space, she dares to talk face to face to strangers. There are those who flee and those who fall into the arms of Martha, who has turned this practice into a form of life in which human encounters, sociological analysis and artistic work are all intertwined. Simultaneously, we hear the voice of a former prisoner recounting the crime that inspired the film. Reality and fantasy then come together like necessary doubles. The camera, set up at a certain distance from the bodies, gives us an image reminiscent of that of surveillance systems, whereas the sound proximity of the conversations invites us to plunge into a framework of unexpected confidentiality. Intimate Distances challenges our definition and understanding of distance, as well as our relationship with urban space, and reveals a growing intimacy between strangers.
Elena López Riera

world premiere in april 2020 at Visions du Reel, Switzerland
in the ‘burning lights’ competition
Visions du Reel
Phillip Warnell’s ‘carte blanche’ contribution to Visions du Reel: excerpt from Jean Genet interview

made with the participation of:
Martha Wollner
Laura Coxson (co-producer)
Jarred Alterman
Michelle Agnes Magalhaes
Juan Soto
Philippe Ciompi
Alex Grigoras
Myrto Farmaki