Feast of the Epiphany is all about the process.
In this experiential, collaborative venture from film critics Michael Koresky, Jeff Reichert, and Farihah Zaman (best known for their work on the film website Reverse Shot) we are forced to consider method and growth throughout both components of the two-part film. Adopting an exploration of storytelling models and characterization, the directorial team for Feast worked with every detail to bring together a film model you might not be accustomed to but will help you to better appreciate both narrative and documentary storytelling.
We open up on a montage of various people explaining their backgrounds to a camera, and then seamlessly the clips become the same people auditioning lines from a screenplay. The continuous relationship between realism and fiction during this sequence, in retrospect, initially sets initial the tone for the rest of the film. After the opening scene were led into the story of Abby (Nikki Calonge), your typical Brooklyn millennial who we follow working to prepare for a dinner party.
Our focus during Abby’s story is often drawn to the food. We watch her plan out the meal, buy the vegetables, work tirelessly in the kitchen all day. For a bit, it almost seems like any of her personal issues take a backseat to this dinner party. It is once the guests arrive that suddenly we watch Abby forced to deal with the real-life problems at hand. Every character in this story is played by an actor recognizable from the film’s opening audition sequence, and during this narrative, the film almost reads like a play. At this point we the audience have seen the process behind bringing this story to life, and now we’re watching it less as an audience and more like we played a part in bringing it together.
Halfway through the film, we abandon Abby and her friends and suddenly the story becomes a documentary about life on a farm, complete with interviews and all. Possible audience confusion is utilized well as a tool here. Viewers would be desperately searching for a connection between the two stories, and familiar shots of vegetables are thrown in that associate both parts of the film on a certain level. The documentary in Feast works to enhance the narrative and vice versa.
Even if the content of Feast of the Epiphany doesn’t particularly suit your interest, on a larger scale the film will have you considering what goes behind a story. Feast’s unique form is definitely one that audiences will find perplexing, but it also adheres to a model that will allow people to further examine cinema itself as a mode of storytelling.
We screened the film at the 2018 BAMcinemaFest.