Knots and Holes. An essay film on the life of nets

Director’s Notes:

“Nets are all around us. They materialize such principles as connecting, filtering and patterning. Which is why anthropologists might want to have a closer look at what people do with them and what they do with people. In Bahia, Brazil, I sought out places where people work with nets. I recorded the conversations, emotions and sensations that occur in the presence of nets. I went on a fishing trip with Tico. I spoke with evangelicals, explaining the parable of the fishing net. I hung out with the boys from the Candomblé religion, who have their shirts made of lace. I shivered as I learned how lethal the introduction of a grid may be. I smiled when I heard how a fat man in tight jeans became a frolicking mermaid. And I never stopped wondering how the principles of filtering and patterning play themselves out in my own life – as a filmmaker, as an anthropologist, as a-gay-man-in-love. Keeping alive the tension between openness and closure, knot and hole, grasping and caressing, this film invites its audiences to ponder the observation that all we humans ever do is to impose structures onto life and being, then to find out that neither life, nor being, follow our designs.” – Mattijs van de Port

Mattijs van de Port

Mattijs van de Port is a professor of anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. His first documentary, Saborear Frutas Brasileiras, on eating Bahian fruits, was shown at the RAI Ethnographic Filmfestival in Edinburgh, and theorized, with Annemarie Mol, in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2013). His essay film The Possibility of Spirits, using footage from 6 years of filming in Bahia, was completed in 2016. It was selected for many ethnographic film festivals including Ethnofest, and awarded the Samodiva Award for “Best Film of the International Film Festival of Ethnographic Films 2017” in Sofia, Bulgaria. In
Knots and Holes, an essay film on the life of nets (2018), he explores what becomes of theory
in the medium of film.