“I feel that, in many ways, North American lifestyle is a spiritual void. I think we need to work on discovering something greater, and share our investigations with each other,” said Ryan Klatt, a local artist and student at the University of Manitoba’s school of art. He recently explored this idea in a short-feature film, entitled Yasmina’s Yatra. The film, which is set to premiere this Thursday at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, is performed in the languages of Hindi, Ladaki and Spitian, with English subtitles.
“I would like people of different faiths to come together and observe each other, in a beautiful way. I want to engage dialogue surrounding the role of spiritual paths,” Klatt said of the work. “I try to create something for everyone. Although this film is loaded with symbolic references and meaning, the simple beauty of the images and sound are an avenue for those who are not interested in intellectual dissection.”
Dream-like in narrative and rich in imagery, Yasmina’s Yatra was shot completely on-location in central Asia.
“As I traveled through Little Tibet five years ago, I was struck by the other-worldly qualities of the landscape. I knew that I must produce a work here. While in Asia I developed a fascination for the mysterious and exotic,” Klatt explained.
The film follows a young woman named Yasmina as she journeys through the high altitude deserts of central Asia and into the afterlife. Like his protagonist, Klatt also journeyed through these deserts to create the piece. He describes his inspiration as coming from his travels, and the differences he observed in cultures surrounding death.
“Death took on new meaning as I watched the cremation of a young girl, her face melting off her skull in the cheerful morning sun as people bustled around. Perceptions of death and afterlife vary so vastly; 10,000 virgins are awarded as recompense for a noble Islamic death, yet in the secular West a quiet suicide is regarded as a criminal act,” he said.
The trailer, viewable at Klattgallery.com, suggests that the film might seem confrontational to some. But Klatt says that his intention is not to comment on any group or situation. Instead, the artist’s hope is that a dialogue on the subject of faith will occur as a result of this film, and that it will be a memorable and informative experience for the audience. Indeed, the images and themes are meant to be contemplated by those interested in personal views of faith and mysteries of the afterlife.
Yasmina’s Yatra plays at 8pm on Feb. 11 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the Muriel Richardson Auditorium.