To Pick a Flower

Philippines, 2021, 17′

Regia Shireen Seno

  • Best Short – Punto de Vista FF

My mother used to tell me that our dining table was as old as I am. I wonder how old the tree was when it was cut down to be turned into our table. I am fascinated in this kind of transmutation from the natural world to the human one, and how a tree takes on new lives long after it has been cut down. This video essay incorporates archival photographs from the American Colonial Era in the Philippines (1898–1946), exploring the sticky relationship between humans and nature and their entanglements with empire. Taking plants and trees as starting points, it aims to reflect on the intertwined roots of photography and capitalism in the Philippines.

Visual artist and filmmaker Shireen Seno was born to a Filipino family in Japan. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Architectural studies and Cinema studies. Her films have been presented at New Directors/New Films at MoMA and Film at Lincoln Center, Yebisu International Festival of Art & Alternative Visions, Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, Tate Modern, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Portikus, NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore, Taipei National Center for Photography and Images, Museum of the Moving Image, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul, Museum of Contemporary Art & Design Manila, and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai. Her first full-length film, BIG BOY (2013), had its international premiere at the IFFR and won Best First Film at Lima Independiente. Seno’s second feature, NERVOUS TRANSLATION (2018), won the NETPAC Award at Rotterdam, Asian New Talent Award for Best Script Writer at Shanghai, Critics’ Prize at Olhar de Cinema, Jury Special Mention at Vladivostok, and Silver Hanoman Award at Jogja. Her last short TO PICK A FLOWER (2021) was selected for NYFF Currents and DOK Leipzig and won the award for Best Short Film at Punto de Vista FF. Seno is a 2022 Film Fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin program.