If From Every Tongue It Drips succeeds in exploring the in between spaces of language. This is a lofty thing that a film tries to achieve but it does so for the most part. Of course, since this is a feminist hybrid documentary, it’s likely that viewers will experience some whimsy here. One of the ways it brings out that experience is through closed captioning, which is more descriptive here than in so-called regular movies.
The documentary, though, isn’t just director Sharlene Bamboat dicking around with closed captioning. After all, she uses that element to comment on the limitations of history, specifically on a feminist queer South Asian context. Through home movies she captures two queer South Asian women as they do things like transcribe what looks like feminist TED talks. It also has it share of archive videos of musical performances, the subtitles explaining emotions within those spaces.
When I write about how the documentary’s successes ‘for the most part,’ there is an implication of its shortcomings. Those shortcomings appear when it tackles quantum physics, a topic it brings up in connection to South Asia’s decolonization and the codification of language that takes place within that postmodern process. This comes across as esoterica, which becomes more apparent when they barely touch on that topic. Its exploration of the in between also has limits.
It’s also interesting to see and re-watch If From, and its rigid moments become more apparent upon repeat viewings. Viewers see more inside spaces during the first half and more outside spaces during the second. Regardless, the documentary gives us a lot to think about, specifically in the kind of erudition that comes within a feminist queer lens. It also provides so much context that I hope lasts longer than an ephemeral experience of language.
- Release Date: 11/12/2022