In Order Not To Be Here

Deborah Stratman

2002 | 00:33:00 | United States | English | B&W and Color | Stereo | 4:3 | 16mm film

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Architecture, Crime or Violence, Environment, Mental Landscape, Surveillance

An uncompromising look at the ways privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine our environment. Shot entirely at night, the film confronts the hermetic nature of white-collar communities, dissecting the fear behind contemporary suburban design. An isolation-based fear (protect us from people not like us). A fear of irregularity (eat at McDonalds, you know what to expect). A fear of thought (turn on the television). A fear of self (don’t stop moving). By examining evacuated suburban and corporate landscapes, the film reveals a peculiarly 21st Century hollowness… an emptiness born of our collective faith in safety and technology. This is a new genre of horror movie, attempting suburban locations as states of mind.

Original electronic music by Kevin Drumm.

“In an interview a few years ago, experimental filmmaker Deborah Stratman listed Barbara Loden and Jon Jost among her key influences, and the impact of both these diffident figures, icons in an increasingly evanescent hardcore avant-garde filmmaking tradition, is evident in Stratman’s latest film [that] continues her forbears’ tendency to bring cheerfully enigmatic formal verve to their scornful disdain of American hypocrisy. Stratman’s film employs the codes of surveillance footage--black-and-white images shot from a helicopter at night, for example — to question notions of personal safety, next to the frightening facts of an increasingly omniscient, panoptic government. The filmmaker deftly mobilizes our fears as the vulnerable inhabitants of peaceful homes that attract thieves and crazed ax murderers, while at the same time prompting worries about encroachments on civil liberties… This uneasy but graceful combination is no easy feat!”

— Holly Willis, LA Weekly

Pricing Information

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Prizes + Awards

Vila Do Condo International Short Film Festival 2003, Grande Premio Experimental

Humboldt International Film Festival 2003, Best Experimental

Ann Arbor Film Festival 2003, Best Experimental and Best Narrative Integrity

Media City Film Festival 2003, Honorable Mention

Cinematexas 2002, Gecko Award for Best Short Film

Chicago Underground Film Festival 2002, Best Experimental

Thaw Film/Video Festival 2002, Best of the Festival


Thaw Film Festival
Iowa City, IA

Exhibitions + Festivals


VideoEx (Zurich, Switzerland), 2005


Related Content

Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001


Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001



Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung