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History's Future

Fiona Tan (Family Affair Films) 2016

Na een overval waarbij hij zijn geheugen verliest, verlaat een man die wij leren kennen als ‘MP’ (Missing Person, gespeeld door de Ierse acteur Mark O’Halloran) zijn thuis en begint aan een reis. Tijdens zijn omzwervingen van land tot land en een serie van vreemde, verlichtende en soms komische ontmoetingen, verwerft MP nieuw inzicht in de complexiteit van gevoelens die aanwezig zijn in het Europa van de 21ste eeuw.

Directors statement.

Are we living at the end of an era?
History’s Future asks this question, and examines its possible meanings and possible answers, via the story of an amnesiac man’s odyssey through the contemporary West – a social landscape plunged into economic and philosophical crisis.
A complex and challenging cinematic venture, Fiona Tan’s History’s Future is a hybrid film – part fiction, part documentary and wholly exploration. It will be an attempt to examine the contemporary Western condition – with the film’s own multiple, protean form reflecting the fragmentary, ever-shifting state of what sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has called our ‘liquid times’.
History’s Future is at once narrative and essay – combining reportage, archive material and drama to tell the story of one man searching at once for himself and for the meaning (the past, and the possible future) of the world he inhabits.
The film is built around the quest of a man known only as MP – standing for ‘Missing Person’. Stripped of his memories by a traumatic and violent assault, MP refuses to accept the identity that he’s been told is his. Rejecting the consolations of a wife, a home and a stable identity, he sets out on a lonely voyage into an unknown world.
Attempting to find out who he is, forever in search of a lost identity that eludes him, MP discovers a complex, troubled world; he sees it as if for the first time, with the eyes of a beleaguered innocent.
But what seems a journey without hope in fact reveals possible new beginnings. The film may start with the notion that we’ve reached the end of an era, but through MP’s quest we learn that dead ends may lead to new beginnings. For a man with no history, there can only be a present – and beyond it, possible futures. If we are at the end of an era, what should we keep? What should we take with us and show to future generations? And if this is the end of a cinematic era, what may future films look like? This film will be Fiona Tan’s personal attempt to map some key features of the early twenty-first-century Zeitgeist – the moods, fears and hopes of contemporary Europeans and Westerners. The journey of protagonist MP is a personal search, but at the same time, a search for the answer to a question that concerns us all: What are these times we are living in?


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Fiona Tan is an artist working primarily with film and video. She is best known for her skillfully crafted and moving installations, in which explorations of identity, memory and history are key.
Fiona Tan initially became known for a body of work that relied on the use of archival films, questioning the observer and the observed and challenging the assumptions of the colonial past. Portraiture has been explored in various works combining an analysis of its art-historical and sociological context with how time influences our perception of those portrayed. Recent works concentrate on how memory is connected to images in our mind and on how inaccurate and yet creative memory can be.

Tan has participated in many international exhibitions including the Documenta and the Biennales of Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Sydney and Yokohama. In 2009 Tan represented The Netherlands at the Venice Biennale. Her work is represented in numerous international public and private collections including the Tate Modern, London, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the New Museum, New York.
Fiona Tan lives and works in Amsterdam. She is represented by Frith Street Gallery, London, Wako Works of Art, Tokyo and Peter Freeman Inc., New York.

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C'est Déja L'été

Martijn Maria Smits (De Productie) 2010

History's Future

Fiona Tan (Family Affair Films) 2016

Stones Have Laws

Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan, Tolin Alexander 2018


Metahaven/Rob Schröder (Dutch Mountain) 2018

Silent Ones

Ricky Rijneke (Rotterdam Films) 2013


Melvin Moti (KeyFilm) 2020


Erik van Lieshout (Popov Film) 2013


Dick Tuinder (Column Film) 2009

Nummer achttien

Guido van der Werve (Smarthouse Films) 2017


Sonja Wyss (SNG Film) 2008

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