The Wheel, a haunting new film by Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Emma Elizabeth Tillman, will premiere online on 19 February 2021. Shot on location in the California desert in 2018, it is a depiction of one woman’s experience of radical compassion in the face of death.
At the opening of the film, Clay and Rose languish in the quiet moments after sex in a hotel room. As the conversation turns to near death experiences, Clay tells his story of a rodeo accident in which he nearly lost his life. The second storyline of the film reveals Rose’s terrifying brush with death.
This complex, thought provoking film offers a hard look at human behaviour and one woman’s unique response to an unthinkable situation. However, each character’s archetypal perspectives on suffering, empathy and liberation drive the film through its examination of justice in the context of human frailty, towards its achingly ambivalent conclusion.
In 2018, Tillman began work on what would become, The Wheel. On writing the script she says, ‘The stories in the media at the time made me want to write something that was rooted in the specific wisdom of women, or of the feminine in general. Taking that idea to its most extreme conclusion was revealing for me in a variety of unexpected ways.’
The film’s title has a symbolic meaning. The wheel is a multifaceted concept and exists in several contexts. In the Tarot, The Wheel of Fortune is one that communicates that life is made up of opposites, and that the cycle is one that we cannot control. The Dharma Wheel in Buddhism is an important symbol that represents the wisdom and awareness needed to dispel ignorance, while the rim represents the state of consciousness required to hold everything together. These ideas are represented throughout the film in their own way.