As we live our lives in minute-after-minute sequential time, we know that something else exists beyond its borders: the all-at-once ceremonial time, the time of ecstatic fire that pierces the membranes separating the now from eternity. Kevin Contento’s first feature is an invocation of ceremonial time, performed by several friends (many of whom worked with Contento to devise the film’s script) and played out amid the cane fields of south Florida.
For these teen boys, who are high school footballers, JROTC cadets, and weekend rabbit-hunters, the leap into ceremonial time is made via their discovery of the 12th-century Persian poem of the title, in which the world’s birds gather to seek out their king. As the poem’s stanzas flow on, their present-tense life is infused with the past; they become Silk Road merchants, desert water-bearers, sainted martyrs. The Conference of the Birds exists within this metamorphosis, capturing its central band of seekers in their plain-clothes reality and at the same time wrapping them in robes of myth. -Jonathan Kieran
DIRECTED BY Kevin Contento
CAST Jean Voltaire
Roy Thompson Jr.
Tavion Jamal Dent
Taylor Armani Dent
This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.