Three Minutes: A Lengthening

Three Minutes: A Lengthening isn’t exactly an inaccurate title, but there’s a lack of engagement with that sense of duration in this dissection of home-movie footage shot in a Polish Jewish village in 1938. As director Bianca Stigter looks at these fragments over and over, proceeding in strangely disconnected leaps between subject, form and otherwise, I couldn’t help but think of Ken Jacobs’s Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son. I’ve never seen it, but its exclusive repurposing of a single film sequence sounds like it offers a much more formally incisive view. Stigter (in her directorial debut; the mid-length film passes by reasonably quickly) doesn’t necessarily avoid this: aside from frequent cut-ins, the only times the film veers from full-frame archival footage are larger grids of faces, isolated moments across these frames that attempts to connect a larger sense of these real people. But the frequency of voiceovers, the degree to which personal accounts fail to deal with the actual implications of these moments lifted out of time — not three continuous minutes, which dilutes a claim to Bazinian reality that might buoy this otherwise — makes this an unfortunately unilluminating experience.