“Coastal Fire: A Common Diary” depicts the emotional fallout from the 2016 US presidential election on a personal and societal level. Documentary footage and dreamlike imagery combine to capture the zeitgeist of a population teetering constantly on the edge of revulsion and resolve.
How loud must the alarm be? The 2016 election caught far too many of us by surprise. In my case, while floating on an invigorating circuit of newcomer film festival success and preparing to switch into distribution mode for “Spectratta,” the night of the 2016 US presidential election was like an electromagnetic force that instantly smashed everything to the ground, leaving smoking craters where creative projects and the will to interact with the world had been. Overwhelmed with shock and grief and unable to work, I retreated into the language of chamber music to find some sense and healing. The resulting “Coastal Fire Suite” was clearly the right path, but it needed to go further.
Throughout the next three years of online and (new to me) street activism, I collected footage from my travels and imagery from my nightmares to bring visual form to the painful evolutionary path of our identity as a country, and our struggle to even recognize the need to find any white racial identity outside of the horrors of the supremacy structure on which it is built.
Disbelief, fear, disgust, grief, resentment, resolve and empathy are steps along the circular journey. Coming up now on the next most critical election cycle of our times, I offer from the West Coast a funeral wake, a validation, a confessional and a battle hymn seeking the way forward.
Susan Maughlin Wood of Punchbeam Music, LLC is an award-winning composer of concert, game and film music who began stepping out as a filmmaker with the award-winning festival short “Spectratta.” As a past President of Seattle Composers Alliance, she also juried film soundtracks for Local Sightings and Puget Soundtrack at the Northwest Film Forum.