Single Channel. 72 minutes.

As Láthair opens in the final few moments of life. A visually rich and innovative reworking of the Western genre, the film uses a fragmented, episodic narrative to tell the story of a fugitive and a bounty hunter who are locked into pursuit over the brutal landscapes of Baja, Mexico. Using a hypnotic, dreamlike visual style, and a lyrical narration based in Irish folklore and history, this experimental film parallels rich multi-layered depictions of Western bravado with narrated stories of displacement and removal. In examining both the Western and the West, the film intensifies the forgotten moments of tragedy found beneath the veneer of recorded history.

Against the stunning backdrop of the desolate desert locations of Baja, a series of scenes are played out, through which we become aware of past debts and mistakes, ghostly echoes of which persist. We travel from small bustling market towns to isolated deserted villages, passing between worlds, from a secluded oasis in the center of the desert to the floor of an immense dry lakebed. On this parched plain as the characters on screen stand opposite each other for their final conflict, the last pieces of this intricate puzzle come together.

The images on screen are paralleled by a narrator’s voice; a wise woman based on the character of the traditional Irish storyteller. Her stories give a voice to those not included in the history recorded by the camera, those communities who once inhabited the places in which the film was shot, those displaced by Western expansion. The narrator recounts these stories of long forgotten communities with a sense of tragedy which provides a counterpoint and parallel to the actions of the two characters on screen.

Ultimately, these elements come together to examine how our history of organized civilization is also a history of violence and exclusion. The colonial history of the West and the history of cinema are presented side by side to allow points of intersection to develop.

* Translation Note: As Láthair is an Irish term which translates as absent/out of place.