Alejandra Canales top image

A Silence Full of Things

Alejandra Canales

Alejandra Canales’s A Silence Full of Things Video“To be Greek one should have no clothes; to be mediaeval one should have no body; to be modern one should have no soul. Oscar Wilde

Political torture continues as a practice used to undermine the “enemy.” As spectators, most people can look away or turn it off. Others live with marked bodies and memories triggered by everyday smells, sights, and sounds.

The central question behind this work was how to make a film about someone’s experience of torture. What kind of strategy and what kind of filmscape could embed the sensorial experience? What are the images and sounds? Furthermore how does one make the boundaries of documentary permeable? To be able to look again and ask new questions.

A Silence Full of Things gave me the possibility to touch on the issue of political torture from a new perspective: the memory of the senses. From there a filmscape was created that proposes new relations between testimony, sensorial memory, image, sound and the sensorial entanglements of the audience.

The film juxtaposes the poetic beauty of intimate imagery with a story about the physical, emotional and psychic wounds of political torture. Miriam narrates and performs her story. It is in this deliberate theatrical performance where shifting relations occur and the story becomes individual and universal at the same time.

A Silence Full of Things is self-conscious about strategy, form, style, and effects. The internal composition of the film is made up of a relationship to close up images in order to arrive at the core of the pain through the beauty of the voice and the images: the fragility and delicacy of the lace, the yellowness of the day of the capture, and Miriam’s look to the audience at the film’s closure. Her face leaves us imagining being hit in the stomach. We cannot escape being affected by her expression.

What, when and how we imagine documentary films to be saying are other matters. A Silence Full of Things leaves a sensorial mark, and it open questions on how we read the gestures, the signs and the words.

Educated in Australia in performance, television, film and video production, Alejandra Canales is currently completing her Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney. She has taught at the University of Western Sydney and at various community organizations. Her films have been shown at festivals internationally where she has gained recognition from the Film Critics Circle of Australia, and the Women’s International Film Festival among others.

Alejandra Canales can be reached at

Back to top