A still from Sufjan Steven's city symphony The BQE

Sufjan Steven’s 2007 creation The BQE is a film originally commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the New Wave Film Festival. Using the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (Interstate 278) as its subject matter, The BQE is at heart a city symphony film similar to Man With a Movie Camera or Manhatta. However, while those films focus on the visual aspect, The BQE relies more on the accompanying music. Here, the images are choreographed to the composed symphony and not the other way around. The film is presented in 3 channels allowing for multiple images to be displayed at once side by side. This complexity of image reflected in the highly layered and intricate musical work. The result is an immersive film that makes one feel that they are dancing with the ebb and flow of traffic. Within the film there are also three interludes where super heroines with hula-hoops appear. While not explained in the film itself, they are part of a body of work that accompanies the film including a graphic novel and 3-D View Master reel. Their presentence reflects Steven’s whimsical side and notoriously off-beat sense of humor.

-David Pokorny

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