Image detail from The Time We Killed is courtesy of Artist Jennifer Reeves.

Film by MFA Alumna Jennifer Reeves featured in

Collaborations: The Time We Killed

Moving Picture Alphabet Series

15 February 2013, 7PM

University of Chicago, Film Studies Center, 5811 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60637

Introduction and Q&A by poet Lisa Jarnot and filmmaker Jennifer Reeves.

The Time We Killed is described by its director as a work of “true fiction.” Shot in 16mm, the film tells the story of an agoraphobic writer trapped in her Brooklyn apartment, ranging through memory, fantasy, and dark ruminations on contemporary geopolitics in a hybrid blending of documentary material, scripted scenes, and improvisation. The protagonist is played by the poet Lisa Jarnot; her poetry, written in the voice of her character, is interspersed throughout the narrative.

(Jennifer Reeves, 2004, 16mm, 94 min)

Lisa Jarnot studied at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Brown University. She has edited two small magazines and is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: Some Other Kind of Mission, Ring of Fire, Black Dog Songs, and Night Scenes. Her biography of the San Francisco poet Robert Duncan was published by the University of California Press in 2012 and a Selected Poems will be published by City Lights in 2013.

Jennifer Reeves is a New York-based filmmaker working primarily on 16mm film since 1990. She does her own writing, cinematography, editing, painting and sound design on subjective and personal films that incorporate optical-printing and direct-on-film techniques. Reeves explores themes of memory, mental health and recovery, feminism and sexuality, landscape, wildlife and politics.

Moving Picture Alphabet Series

Poets have long been drawn to the formal qualities of cinema––its motion, its scale, its imagery, its temporality. The poet Vachel Lindsay found in film the purest expression of “the human soul in action”; Frank O’Hara famously pleaded, “Mothers of America / let your kids go to the movies!” What’s far less discussed is the influence of poetry on filmmaking. This series attempts to redress this imbalance with films that encompass a wide variety of interactions between filmmakers and poets. Over the course of four Friday evenings, the contours of the “poetic film”––an overused and underexamined term in critical discourse––will resolve into a fuller historical specificity. Receptions will follow the screenings.

Curated by Richard Davis (Ph. D. student, EALC/CMS) and Stephanie Anderson (Ph.D. student, English) as a project of the Film Studies Center Graduate Student Curatorial Program. Co-sponsored by The Arts Council, The Film Studies Center, Renaissance Society, Chicago Studies, Poetry & Poetics Workshop, Poem Present and Mass Cultures Workshop.



(Jennifer Reeves, 2004, 16mm, 94 minutes)

Writer, Director, DP, Editor, Sound: Jennifer Reeves
Co-Producer: Randy Sterns
Starring and Additional Writing: Lisa Jarnot
Music: Zeena Parkins, Pitt Reeves, Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, Eyvind Kang, Elliott Sharp with Christian Marclay
With: Valeska Peschke, Rainer Dragon, Susan Arthur, Jennifer Reeve

The Time We Killed portrays the inner life of a writer unable to leave her Brooklyn apartment on the brink of the US invasion of Iraq. Robyn Taylor tries to kick her growing agoraphobia by re-imagining her past and contemplating world events of the present. As Robyn begins to overcome the amnesia that afflicted her as an adolescent, she fears coming down with “the amnesia of the American people”.

As Robyn escapes into reveries of another time, an intricate film montage brings to life the friends, animals and places she once loved. The talking cure of psychoanalysis is evoked as Robyn voices her personal history, fantasies and observations with a wry sense of humor. As Robyn recounts her jump from a bridge, which left her with amnesia at the age of seventeen she muses, “the bridge wasn’t high enough”. Recollections of her days in a mental institution seem to predetermine her present-day compulsion to lock her self indoors. And as Robyn becomes increasingly disconnected from the world, flashbacks of her childhood visit her for the first time. Finally, the horror of the US military “shock and awe” campaign brings to light the terrible cost of self-absorption and passivity, and shakes Robyn out of her self-made isolation.”

Documentary material, scripted and improvised scenes are interwoven to create this hybrid film of true fiction. The Time We Killed is ultimately a personal story about phobia and coming to terms with the fragility of life in a time of war.

For more about MFA Alumna Jennifer Reeves' films, please visit:


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