Tether is an experimental narrative feature-length film that unravels the complex knot of individual and universal experiences of the global pandemic and recent political and social unrest.
The film was conceived as a response to the swirling universal experiences that were and continue to unfold around us and is an experiment to see if such a film can be created solely by one person.
Set in an undisclosed society the film ebbs and flows between time, rooted in the historical while traversing through an alternate timeline to our own. The film takes place within one room where a lone telephone operator, spends his days dutifully answering the telephone and listening to callers. Above the only desk and chair in the room, hangs a web of cables and phone lines crisscrossing like veins and arteries that feed into the wall behind the desk over the Operator’s shoulders. These conduits bring the outside world, ravaged by pain and suffering, frustration and doubt to the one phone and operator that waits patiently and listens to what others need to say. He is a silent therapist, a help desk with no solutions. He provides an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, all the while going mad with no way to express his own feelings and the burden of knowing everyone else’s problems and fears. As the film progresses a relationship of sorts develops between the Operator and a caller. This relationship is tested through a variety of mishaps, technical challenges and personal feelings that are often irrational and just out of reach of understanding.
The power of mediated technologies to facilitate interpersonal connections and our inability to fully connect through these same mediated technologies is the conceptual foundation for the film. The struggle between isolation and interconnectedness anchors Tether in the present.
Connections, both ephemeral and hardwired, the connections we don’t know about, and the connections purposefully made all play roles in our understanding of the main character and shed a light on who we might be as individuals and a society.
Tether explores and questions forced and chosen isolation, moving fluidly between individual experiences and the larger social/political ramifications. What happens when we retreat? When is isolation beneficial and how long can that isolation be sustained before an understanding of our interconnectedness brings us back together? Compromised brain function and memory loss such as those associated with Covid, physical maladies and mental decay, paranoia, claustrophobia and entrapment frame the actions of the Operator.
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This project has been generously supported by:
Tether is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
Tether has also received generous funding from the Keep New York State Creating Project Grant administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (RSCA) project grant from State University of New York at Fredonia.