essay film, 78 min.
Vienna, Los Angeles, 2017
2K/DCP/Color/Sound 5.1

companions: Nora Sweeney, Behrouz Rae,
Sonja Bertucci, Andy Rector, Ben Neufeld

show synopsis

The point of departure for Tarpaulins was a colorful disturbance on the cityscape of Los Angeles: a home in the distance festooned with a giant striped tarp. These are termite fumigation tents and filmmaker Lisa Truttmann follows their story on a two-year long investigation as she hunts down the tents, the homes, the termites inside and their traces. As the film goes on, the termites soon become our allies, guiding us through Los Angeles’ neighborhoods on their own terms. Questions of life and death, profit and loss, home and un-home, macrocosm and microcosm are brought to the fore in pursuit of the city's tiniest inhabitants and their exterminators. The tents become temporary sculptures, beasts heaving in the wind, skeletons dressed and stripped by workers we see. Wooden structures, soon to be homes, become eroded landscapes after an attack. And there, underneath the colorful mantle and its function, Truttmann elicits revelations of the uncanny.

In a constant dialogue we hear the voices of workers, exterminators, entomologists, chemists, city planners, fellow travellers and literary authors. Contemplation is thrown into a zig-zag while an alter ego questions its own ideas and their making. Little by little the visual, political, social and economic relations of humans and nature unfold, anchored in a personal itinerary that is the framework for everything else to follow. As an essay film, Tarpaulins is a subjective view on a place and a circuitous conversation, embracing “unkempt activity”, restless labor, meandering thoughts and obsessive wanderings.

show dialogue excerpt

– Do you think they're beautiful?
– I guess, some of them.
Why? You wanna talk about beauty?
– No, I just wanna know what they are.

show credits

Experts: Mads P. Sulbaek Andersen, Alejo Obeso, John Ruddock, Michael Rust, Robert Schwartz; Additional Voices: Sonja Bertucci, Verena Dürr, Ben Neufeld, Andy Rector, Tamara Rosenblum, Lisa Truttmann; Hands: Nora Sweeney, Behrouz Rae; Tent Hunters: Ruben Acevedo, Bertha Alicia Aguilar García, ­Rebecca ­Baron, Manuela de la Borde, Betzy Bromberg, Alexi ­Gehring, Joshua Gen Solondz, Silvia Kochinski, Laura Kraning, Valentina ­Pelayo, Luciano Piazza, Behrouz Rae, Nora Sweeney, Heather Trawick, Solomon Turner, Elizabeth Webb.

Supporting Filmmaker: Nora Sweeney; Sound Recordists: Sonja Bertucci, Pin-Hua Chen, Ben Neufeld, Behrouz Rae, Andy Rector, Jacob Rimler, Jessica Smith, Nora Sweeney; Production Advisor: Nora Friedel; Technical Advisors: Gordon Kurowski, Paul Kyle, Ben Neufeld; Sound Mix: Aidan Reynolds; Voice Coach: Ben Neufeld; Interview Transcription: Andy Rector; Subtitle Translation: Bertha Alicia Aguilar García; Mentors: Thom Andersen, Rebecca Baron, James Benning, Chris Hill, Gary Mairs, Bérénice Reynaud.

Thanks to: John Ruddock and Jennifer Dee, Ruddock’s Termite Control; Alejo Obeso, Felix Obeso and the workers of his crew; Katya Arata Quiroga, Angela Quevedo and the crew of Circus Vargas; Ruben Acevedo, Yair Agmon, Natalia Almada, Thom Andersen, Bertha Alicia Aguilar García, Vivian Bao, Rebecca Baron, Amy Basen, Heather Beckmann, Duane Bennish - Elastec, James Benning, Kevin Berritz, Sonja Bertucci, Simone Bliss - Austrian Consulate General Los Angeles, Betzy Bromberg, Antonina Clarke, Sílvia das Fadas, Manuela De Laborde, Nora Friedel, Harry Gamboa, Joshua Gen Solondz, Jill Godmilow, Tian Guan, Manuel Hartmann, Charlie Hayes, Chris Hill, Michael Ned Holte, Adele Horne, Edgar Jorge-Baralt, Becka Klauber Richter, Silvia Kochinski, Laura Kraning, Nicole Krenn, Gordon Kurowski, Paul Kyle, Matthew Lax, Taeho Lee, Sharon Lockhart, Gary Mairs, Ben Neufeld, Christina C Nguyen, Patti Palmer, Luciano Piazza, Stefanie Pichler, Leighton Pierce, Charlotte Pryce, Behrouz Rae, Andy Rector, Bérénice Reynaud, Mike Rice, Jacob Rimler, Diego Robles, Tamara Rosenblum, Michael Rust, Ines Schaber, Robert Schwartz, Matthew Seidman, Terry Spraker, Lana Sharp, Zanete Skarule, Deborah Stratman, Mads P. Sulbaek Andersen, Nora Sweeney, Frieda, Ingrid, Erwin, Nina, Vera Truttmann, Alfredo Valle, Elizabeth Webb, Jonathan Weisburst, Louie Weiss, Billy Woodberry, Gerald Zahn, Anna Zwingl.

Supported by: CalArts, Bundeskanzleramt Österreich, Land Niederösterreich, Stadt Wien.


Essayfilm, 78 min.
Wien, Los Angeles, 2017
2K/DCP/Farbe/Ton 5.1

Begleiterinnen: Nora Sweeney, Behrouz Rae,
Sonja Bertucci, Andy Rector, Ben Neufeld*