I Die of Sadness Crying For You is for all those interested in how music, and the sound of a voice, can take us on journeys no other art form can.
Melodrama, Melancholy, Musicby Joel Whitaker
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
For the opening moments of Nina Danino’s I Die of Sadness Crying for You we are engulfed in darkness, our only companion a voice singing sorrowfully. Soon we are introduced to the voice, it is Copla, a form of Spanish lyrical song in which a woman emotionally expresses deep melancholy. The voices are quickly coloured by archive footage, ranging from black-and white-Spanish cinema all the way to 1990s VHS footage. The narrator, neutral in tone, sets out our course, we are to find the women of Copla through these images.
In some senses I Die of Sadness Crying for you is a fairly typical essay film, it sets out its goal and while it may never be able to fully accomplish it, it presents fascinatingly interesting points about Copla. However, in other ways the film is far beyond the realms of an average essay film, Danino’s own personal connection with the music, recalling her mother singing the songs, adds extra depth to the journey the film takes you on, as does the almost philosophical approach Danino takes to the “women of Copla”, as though they are characters from a Greek tragedy, icons just out of reach.
For those who aren’t familiar with Danino’s work, the film may seem slightly strange, the way in which she presents the film in such an academic fashion, as well as allowing the music, as opposed to the journey, to take centre stage can make the film feel almost cold in tone, especially compared to the vivid emotional energy Copla brings.
However, those who are familiar with her work will be acquainted with her preoccupation with sound and voice. Her work with Sainkho Namtchylak in Tenemos (1997), or Shelley Hirsch in Now I am Yours (1993), give further insight into how central sound is to understanding Danino’s work, and I Die of Sadness is a chance for her to evaluate that which has been ever-present in her work for a number of decades.
Though presented in the Experimenta strand of the London Film Festival, I Die of Sadness Crying for Youis an accessible, exploratory film, and well worth seeing for all those interested in how music, and the sound of a voice, can take us on journeys no other art form can.
I Die of Sadness Crying for You screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 5 and 11 October 2019.