‘Shirkers’ (2018) is paradoxically, a documentary on a movie titled ‘Shirkers’ (1992), that did not come fully into being. The result is a full film on a half film, a film within a film, on love of films and filmmaking. Even though the original ‘Shirkers’, a ‘half-film’ due to its lost soundtrack, can only be seen in bits and pieces but not heard in the updated ‘Shirkers’, it was compellingly put together enough, with its origin, mystery of its disappearance and rediscovery, to be a feature film on its own, to even become award-winning. What sweet irony! Now, what if it is remade, difficult as it might be, or dubbed over?
With the original footage shot somewhat half a lifetime ago, its reels had gone went missing for 20 years, ‘spirited’ away by its director for no clear reason, leaving both haunting questions and heartache for its young filmmakers. Seeing its fragments leaves the audience wishing to see how it could had been, while sharing the heartbreak on the loss. If an absent film can make us miss it, how much more so did its actual makers miss it, who knew fully of what was present? Empathy with the irrecoverable labour of love and the sense of loss perhaps resonated strongly with all film lovers.
Though the probable cause of the theft was explored in terms of bizarre human failings, the theory that it was a hidden lesson was also shared. What most valuable in filmmaking for filmmakers is not the finished film itself, but the process of making it. As an extreme point, even shooting without film does ‘not’ matter, as shots are captured in the consciousness of the mindful filmmaker. Framing a picture is itself an exercise of mindfulness, registering scenes with unlimited ‘film’ of the Alaya consciousness, that loses nothing in high resolution of all senses, including thoughts and emotions.
In this sense, are we not all filmmakers of the true stories of our lives now? Raw, honest, unedited, but still subject to reflective and karmic review in good time! No experience is ever truly lost. Everything is reclaimable, when we recall past moments of past lives eventually. If so, why waste even a second of life? Make a meaningful film by living a meaningful life now – from moment to moment. Nothing ever really goes to waste, as long as we can review and relearn what was missed. Even experiences deemed terrible can prove worthy and enlightening upon hindsight.