Holding Back the Tide

NR / 1hr 17min


Lark Theater Mon, Apr 15 7:00 PM
Film Info
Event Type:Special Screening
Release Year:2023
Genre:Hybrid/Experimental Documentary
Production Country:USA
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Emily Packer
Cast:Dragonfly//Robin LaVerne Wilson, Aasia Taylor- Patterson, TL Thompson, Hannah Rego, Meghan Dolbey
Screenwriter:Emily Packer, Josh Margolis
Music By:Melissa Guion, Abby Swidler (original score)
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Join us for a special screening with director Emily Packer and producer Trey Tetreault on Monday, April 15 at 7pm

Holding Back The Tide is an impressionistic hybrid documentary that traces the oyster through its many life cycles in New York, once the world’s oyster capital. Now their specter haunts the city through queer characters embodying ancient myth, discovering the overlooked history and biology of the bivalve that built the city. As environmentalists restore them to the harbor, we look to the oyster as a queer icon, entangled with nature, with much to teach about our continued survival.

“HOLDING BACK THE TIDE is a testament to the power of cinema….Emily Packer has emerged as one of the industry’s most exciting new voices.”
- POV Canada’s Documentary Magazine

“A quirky, lyrical love letter to oysters in NYC, this engaging documentary plumbs the history of the bivalves, their pollution-fueled decline, and their inspiring revival, finding poetry and charm in an unlikely subject”

“Whether you are a lover of the ocean or a determined cinephile, you will find "Holding Back the Tide" to be an enthralling way to think about our place on this troubled but somehow joyful place called Earth.”
- Lynn Sachs, Filmmaker

“A treatise on how oysters might save us environmentally and socially”
- Boulder Weekly

SYNOPSIS: A woman swallows a pearl. A subway car falls to the ocean floor. A deluge bursts through the cracks of New York City. In every borough, oyster shells are pried open and carefully returned to sea. A chorus of farmers, diners, sous chefs, fishmongers, activists, and landscape architects colloquializes the oyster’s many lifecycles. These educational snapshots about the bivalve’s ecological role, mating habits, communal living, and historical presence take on new meaning and flirt with the mythic. Underwater dances and poetic addresses blend the human and nonhuman worlds. The oyster as a water filter, carbon capturer, storm barrier, and habitat maker transcends its environmental promise and becomes a queer icon of New York City’s unlikely survival story.

Retracing cyclical ecologies for the largest metropolitan area in the United States calls upon an existential reimaging of a sustainable future. Out with the narratives of bootstraps and capitalist urban individualism; in with the water-bound, the intergenerational, the queer collectivity. Once New York City was built by the oysters. Now, it is built anew.

Screening with the Filmmakers - Monday, April 15 at 7pm

Emily (she/they) is an experimental filmmaker and editor with an interest in geography and hybrid formats. Their directorial work has been screened at film festivals and theaters across the country, including at Anthology Film Archives, BlackStar, DOCNYC, and others. Emily’s short film By Way of Canarsie, which she co-directed with Lesley Steele, is streaming on the Criterion Channel and was a part of POV Shorts Season 6. Her archival film Too Long Here, which Criterioncast called “a fascinating, important work” about the inauguration of an international park, has been used as an advocacy tool for its preservation. As an editor, Emily’s work has been featured in the New Yorker, PBS, and on Vimeo Staffpicks. Her feature film editorial experience spans indie narrative, experimental nonfiction, historical arthouse fiction, and personal essay film. In addition to her editing and directing work, Emily serves on programming committees for film festivals in New York City. They were a fellow in the 2018 Collaborative Studio at UnionDocs in Brooklyn, and are a proud alumna of the anomalous Hampshire College. Emily collects voicemails for future use; consider yourself notified.

Trey Tetreault (he/him) is a producer, director, and production specialist, with experience in film & tv, theatre, live events, advertising, and publishing. Film & TV Credits: Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’, Saturday Night Live, Holding Back the Tide (feature), The Tunnel (short), The Missed (short), I’m Fine (web series) Theatre Credits: Love All (La Jolla Playhouse), Laramie…10 years Later (TheatreLab NYC), Last Room (NYC), Awake in the Dark (NYC), Days of Rage (NY workshop)..