Circle in the Sand

Michael Robinson

2012 | 00:45:45 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | 16mm film

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Landscape, Magic, Nature, War

In a broken near future, a band of listless vagabonds ambles across a war-torn coastal territory, supervised and sorted by a group of idle soldiers. Rummaging, stuttering, and smashing through the leftovers of Western culture, these ragged souls conjure an unstable magic, fueled by their own apathy and the poisonous histories imbedded in their unearthed junk. Suspicion, boredom, garbage, and glamour conspire in the languid pageantry of ruin. Feel the breeze in your hair, and the world crumbling through your fingers.

Filmed in Northern California and Central New York, with performances by Julia Austin, Rachel Bernstein, Hajera Ghori, Douglas Martin, James McHugh, Gennaro Panarello, and Chad Southard, with costumes and sets by Dana Carter. Supported by The Wexner Center Film/Video Residency Award, Circle in the Sand is a project of Creative Capital.

“Michael Robinson’s Circle in the Sand invokes the cosmos with generous throws of glitter. With a strikingly costumed cast wandering the post-apocalypse, the film plays like a zonked L’Avventura (1960). Three sparkle-eyed women walk the California coast, while a forlorn troupe of military men wait on patrol. The ladies unearth misbegotten artifacts of a forgotten world in the sand: anonymous Yelp reviews, skipping Counting Crows CDs, and dayglo nails are just the beginning. Stretching beyond the short format, Robinson’s imagination remains prodigious in the particulars. The credo bookending the film—‘We wanted to destroy knowledge but within knowledge’—does nicely as a description for the collagist’s quixotic task.”

-- Max Goldberg, for Keyframe/Fandor

“Robinson who is well-known for his humorous, campy, and engaging works of media collage, serves him well in this lengthy narrative, allowing him to smoothly mix together highly contrasting styles: the post-apocalyptic dystopia of Leslie Thornton’s Peggy and Fred series; the sparse landscapes of Antonioni; the surrealism of Maya Deren and David Lynch; the campy antics of Jack Smith; and the hushed serenity of Kelly Reichardt.”

-- Felix Bernstein, for The Brooklyn Rail

Pricing Information

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Prizes + Awards

Jury Award, 51st Ann Arbor Film Festival


New York Film Festival
New York, NY

Exhibitions + Festivals

Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI, 2013

Video Fest (Formerly Dallas Video Fest), Dallas, TX, 2013

Queer City Cinema, Regina, Canada, 2013

57th BFI London Film Festival, Experimenta, London, UK, 2013

International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2013

New York Film Festival, Views from the Avant-Garde, New York, NY, 2012

Wexner Center for the Arts, March 2013

Cornell Cinema, March 2013

Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, April 2013

Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001


Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001



Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung