Collective: Unconscious

A man and his grandmother hide out from an ominous broadcast. The Grim Reaper hosts a TV show. The formerly incarcerated recount and reinterpret their first days of freedom. A suburban mom's life is upturned by the beast growing inside of her. And a high school gym teacher runs drills from inside a volcano. What happens when five of independent film's most adventurous filmmakers join together to literally adapt each other’s dreams for the screen?


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  • ★★★★½ review by Martin Jensen on Letterboxd

    Collective:Unconscious is the rare anthology film where each segment is equally strong. Held together by dream logic, it connects universal, primal fears (loneliness, social humiliation, motherhood, death) and familiar forms (black and white 'art film', music video, teen drama, '90s game show, horror film) with the bizarrely specific details personal to each dreamer/director. At the same time, we don't dream in a vacuum; across all the segments there are undercurrents and sometimes overtones of social critique along gender and racial lines. It is a wholly unnerving, disturbing, even profound insight into the subconscious, an experiment I hope will be repeated.

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  • ★★★★ review by Sean Hillary on Letterboxd

    MDFF 2016

    Saw this again, such a great experience. Eager to return to it more and more. Might be my favorite of the fest...

  • ★★★★ review by Colin Stacy on Letterboxd

    "The pretext of Collective:Unconscious is to explore the minds of art’s dream-crafters. The thesis is that cinema is inextricably tied to dreaming and unconsciousness. This has been a theoretical reflex of filmmakers since the medium’s inception, maybe best summed up in the André Bazin quotation that begins Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt: 'The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with out desires.' The narrator-psychologist whose hypnosis seams Collective:Unconscious’s patches together asserts the same notion. Cinema is the projection of our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds. Yet the single psychological thread teased from each film is one of anxiety. Desire is implicit in the anxiety.

    The 21st century has increasingly dived into a state of dread. There’s an apocalyptic sense to this collaboration that contemplates that, at any moment in the present, our collective psyche could collapse. The paranoia is not necessarily derived systemically or from a source outside ourselves – though those may be the catalyst; instead it comes from within. The mental paranoia of our time is in us. The end of all things feels near. At least, our psyches constantly flirt with that precipice."

    My review from DIFF can be found here at Reel Spirituality:

  • ★★★★½ review by Nate Ezell on Letterboxd

    One of the most original anthologies I've ever seen. These films were so different, but not thematically or jarringly so. They were all good. They all spoke to different archetypes, but also they all had a very grounded, and accessible story (and emotion and cultural role) to tell. It was Black Mirrorish in a way, but original and not leaning on bleakness. There is reality here. And some ugly truths. My wife and I are going to be talking about these films for a while.

  • ★★★★★ review by Mac on Letterboxd

    Was initially put-off by the third section and what seemed like unnecessary talkiness. Quickly got back on board — everything is beautiful except for the frame interviews.

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