The Color Red Bleeds Blue by Kerry Laitala

Part of our ongoing Film Portal series, Gina Marie Ezzone brings us Kerry Laitala’s psychedelic film, The Color Red Bleeds Blue.


Experimental filmmaker Kerry Laitala explores the properties of celluloid and projection in The Color Red Bleeds Blue (2011).  Two projectors, freed from the projection booth, are placed alongside the audience in the gallery or theater. Laitala projects 16mm Kodachrome footage from both projectors, while she uses objects to refract, multiply, and transform the imagery on screen. For instance, she turns glass prisms and spins colored discs in front of the projector lens to manipulate the light as it projects onto the screen. Accompanying the film performance is a meditative soundtrack of ambient whirs and hums. The audience watches as the images dance, multiply, blur, twist, and re-color right before their eyes.  Never the same performance twice, The Color Red Bleeds Blue is an expanded cinema piece that plays with optical illusion, the properties of light, and the properties of film.

Cinephile Interest

An homage to Jordan Belson and Paul Sharits, The Color Red Bleeds Blue stands out as a unique celluloid film in an otherwise digital-age.  Kodachrome is no longer available to photographers and filmmakers, and 16mm as a first choice medium has steadily decreased over time with the increased accessibility to digital cameras.  Laitala’s work as an experimental filmmaker primarily utilizes celluloid for its material properties: the chemical process of exposing emulsion to create an image, the illusion of film projection, and the decaying process of film over time. The Color Red Bleeds Blue allows Laitala to exploit the material properties of film as a mode of visual entertainment.

Laitala draws from Tom Gunning’s theory of “cinema of attraction”: early cinema served as a purely visual experience meant to entertain through spectacle.  He argues that over time rules established taboos (such as breaking the fourth wall) and narrative became a focal point shaping how people made or reacted to films. However, like most “rules” applied to the arts, mainstream and experimental filmmakers purposefully break them. Laitala and other expanded cinema artists strive to free film from the shackles of the narrative and reveal it for its material and exhibition properties.  Audiences engage with the screen, move around the gallery space, and interpret the film at their own free will.  It does not matter whether they see the beginning, middle, or end – all that matters is that they experience some part of it.  Ultimately, The Color Red Bleeds Blue harkens back to cinema’s beginnings as a mode of visual entertainment and optical illusion.

Enjoy a psychedelic adventure with The Color Red Bleeds Blue on Vimeo.

Author: Gina Marie Ezzone is a senior at Denison University where she studies Cinema and Queer Studies. She is the president of the Denison Film Society where she works as a programmer and projectionist. This summer she was the Programs Assistant Intern at Facets. Check out her work on Vimeo.

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