HOLY GOD HOLY MIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL HAVE MERCY UPON US
THE SHORT FILM
HOLY GOD HOLY MIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL HAVE MERCY UPON US is a haunting short film from Bending House. A silent, horrific meditation on human desperation, the film's storytelling strips bare cinematic conventions, creating a new and shelterless experience as we follow the characters through the shadows of the world.
Audrey Speicher (to.get.her) is wild and enigmatic as the film's protagonist, a woman returning home after her estranged father's recent death. When she encounters a barefoot girl alone in the nearby forest, she is given the chance to speak with the dead.
OFFICIAL SELECTION :
NoBudge Films (2013) www.nobudge.com
Indie Grits Film Festival (2013)
Cucalorus Film Festival (2014)
Directed by Robert Hillyer Barnett
Written and Produced by Robert Hillyer Barnett & Diamando Proimos
Robert Hillyer Barnett
Excerpt from NoBudge Issue 3:
"Barnett’s extraordinary and masterful short lurches towards a new way of expressing the mysterious facts of the world. It is deeply elliptical, extraordinarily paced —
it articulates the moves and trance-states, the pagan devotions, dead loves, mountain hum in ritual candle terror, after-death, the hold and any-release, flash in the mirror makes you wonder what the point of exposition is in other films designed for rewatching — Why shouldn’t all movies be?
Rivette: “Why make it simple when you can make it complicated?”
Barnett: “I was the dead in my body at night. They take me to their old lives.”" - Craig Keller
HOLY GOD HOLY MIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL HAVE MERCY UPON US was shot on a cold weekend in December around the Blue Ridge Mountains of Banner Elk, N.C. Pulling together a group of friends (kind enough and willing to work for free) and a budget that covered the rental of a cabin and food, the shoot consisted of days and nights hiking up and down frozen mountain trails with only two flashlights and wholly improper winter attire. The notion that the dead linger in the depths of the world and can be called upon by the insatiable desperation of a living being was a moving thought that seemed to resonate with the harsh setting of winter in the mountains.
Each shot of the film was meticulous and we shot little to no coverage. In place of a score, hard wind booms and room tone were used to emphasize the quietude of isolation. All lighting is natural or found. The outdoor night shots were lit by moonlight thanks to the sensor of the Sony FS100. To help portray the lonely death of her father, we used a real scientific cadaver of a cat, which hauntingly rode in the car with us the entire way.
The idea for the film came from stories of the superstitions and traditions found in the culture of a small island in Greece, where the deceased are treated with hallowed care, and the religion’s tales are known to manifest themselves. The extended title comes from the Eastern Orthodox Churches’ prayer during their Mass, in which they call upon God for forgiveness, to cleanse them of sin. I found a sort of poignant, dark humor in a literal interpretation of the hymn: what if the call to the heavens was a different act of submission? What if it were humans begging for sympathy and alleviation from the constant pain of life? Thus, the beginning of the film’s story, where the protagonist has experienced shattering loss and will attempt anything to resurrect what is gone. We decided to use this prayer as the spoken words for the ritual in which possession occurs. The protagonist speaks the prayer as an answer to her agony and confusion, but her answer is only met by more misery and destruction.
Instead of relying on a typical festival run for our atypical film, we were given the opportunity to premiere the film on NoBudge.com - a site created by actor/director Kentucker Audley as a means to illuminate overlooked and interesting films created out of passion with little means.
Thanks to the success of our NoBudge premiere, we have been selected to show the film in the Cucalorus and Indie Grits film festivals, both of which showcase the overlooked cinema of the southeast.
*photos by Kyle Gerardi