Filmmaker Miko Revereza closes the door on sharing memories as an undocumented immigrant with Nowhere Near, an extension of his multi-film project exploring his strained relationship with the country where he was raised and to which he can’t return without facing legal repercussions. Though his past films and their titles allude to his traces on Earth––like the government’s surveillance of his phone in his travelogue feature debut No Data Plan (2019) and the significant years of his family’s life in the short Disintegration 93-96 (2018)––Revereza (who currently lives in Mexico) recently told Reverse Shot that the film industry is “at a moment of exhaustion” with inclusion. He also cogitated on “who [has the authorship to] make a certain film? … Does that mean the burden is on excluded populations to show their burden?”
Nowhere Near is the years-long apex of Revereza’s personal, diaristic oeuvre of his family’s intricate path to the U.S. In the film, he links his history with the U.S. occupation of and the Spanish empire ruling his native Philippines. Revereza predominantly appears off-screen, as he is the film’s sole camera operator, and his physical appearance manifests in authority-issued photos. But his auteurship and oft-humorous remarks yield intimacy with the California neighborhoods he once considered home, and his trips to Pangasinan and the Midwest. Acknowledging this is his last personal film, Revereza negotiates how to present his family onscreen when he admits he is “borderline interrogating” his mother––before it becomes funny and she mixes up 9/11 with 7-Eleven. It’s a tender moment as Revereza centers care and trust when revealing tragic events with his family.
Periodically, Revereza (inadequately) plays the clarinet to express grievances with his situation. It corresponds with images of his family, files signaling his and his family’s presence, narratives from the Phillippines, and other U.S. and Filipino geographic markers. The sequences are reminiscent of D.A. Pennebaker’s short Daybreak Express, in which the filmmaker showed fondness for New York City’s cosmopolitan beauty through a jazz soundtrack. To juxtapose the typical montage, Revereza squelches the utopian-like Americana many have in their minds through his and Kevin T. Allen’s elusive sound design, unveiling the incubuses he received from registering into different systems.
Revereza melds various aesthetics (including observation, talking heads, and home movies) to absorb the artistic and philosophical hermeneutics he grew up with. Notwithstanding the connections between ordinary and societal concepts, such as the similarities in a cut towards film and human bodies, Revereza’s numerous techniques obfuscate the emotional impact people should feel when he unravels his maneuvering of the nation’s bureaucratic atmospheres. But his purpose is to disrupt the feeling of being conformed to the predominantly white audience’s relaxed life, where they have the luxury of being apolitical in many situations. Revereza posits a space to interrupt narrative and cohesiveness and assembles moments that lack a fixed ending.
His meshing of styles challenges “a perfect cinema,” a Eurocentric perspective in highlighting topics gorgeously and does not precisely correlate with one’s lived experience. It may not necessarily be reflected in its editing transitions, but the director is conveying a desire to have his audience accept unsound fragments. Conceding individual elements makes one comprehend ourselves better and heal from inner scars. Nowhere Near is a spiritual, visceral journey that parses metaphysical spaces and reality to accentuate the freedom of traveling and movement in the DACA era and a remarkable final chapter of Revereza’s early artistic phase.
Nowhere Near made its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival.