Dir. Sofie Benoot, Liesbeth De Ceulaer & Isabelle Tollenaere - 2019 - Belgium
In the desert of Southern California lies the unfinished city of California City. It was a predesigned city, originally intended to mirror Los Angeles in size and population, but it was never completed. At the centre of VICTORIA stands Lashay T. Warren, who left behind his turbulent past in LA to make a fresh start within this grid of thousands of crumbling streets.
Lashay willfully makes his way through the vast city on foot. He takes shortcuts across the empty lots and trespasses through the golf course. He reports about his encounters with his new and unfamiliar home in a diary, just like the early pioneers did, when they entered a foreign desert country. Sharp-witted and playful, the diary fragments show his wonder at his new desert surroundings, his efforts to obtain his high school diploma at the age of 26, and his absurd and endless job maintaining the disappearing streets of California City. But they also reveal thoughts about the past and show how Los Angeles – despite the chosen distance – still remains a looming, dark presence.
If I keep things in motion, everything will be alright, everything in life will be straighter, writes Lashay in his diary. His walks become less purposeful, merely guided by curiosity, the stimuli of the landscape and the rhythm of his footsteps. VICTORIA is a film evoking a wandering, in which elements of the real and the imagined are interwoven, and in which Lashay T. Warren – like a contemporary pioneer – draws up his own path and leaves behind his mark.