Why do you want to survive?
A film by Jenny Perlin
Produced by Jenny Perlin and A. S. Hamrah
HD, color, sound, 92 minutes, US, 2021
Bunker investigates the lonely lives of American men who have decided to live in decommissioned military bunkers and nuclear missile silos, and follows the process of building and selling these structures to the wealthy and not-so-wealthy alike.
More and more American men are deciding to live alone in decommissioned military bunkers and nuclear missile silos, even as an upscale industry begins to cater to “preppers,” people who fear the imminent breakdown of society and the destruction of the United States. In Bunker, filmmaker Jenny Perlin journeys by herself into the middle of America to meet such men, and the builders and salesmen who cater to them. The film, shot in verité and slow cinema style, follows a uniquely American path, going from undisclosed location to undisclosed location, from the headquarters of a bunker construction firm to the homes of men who have cut themselves off from society, and then to a newly constructed isolated retreat and an upscale nuclear missile silo where developers claim they can re-create New York City life hundreds of feet underground. Investigating toxic American myths, including self-reliance, masculinity, home safety and security, and family life in a time of climate crisis, economic upheaval, and political strife, Bunker reveals pathological inner workings of a American phenomenon on the rise.
Jenny Perlin makes 16mm films, videos, and animations. Her films work with and against the documentary tradition, incorporating innovative stylistic techniques to emphasize issues of truth, misunderstanding, and personal history. Her projects look closely at ways in which social machinations are reflected in the fragments of daily life. Perlin’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and film festivals, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival, and others.
A. S. Hamrah is the author of the book The Earth Dies Streaming: Film Writing, 2002-2018 (n+1 books), which was named one of 2018’s ten best books by New York Magazine. He is the film critic at The Baffler. Previous to that he was the film critic for n+1 and the editor of the magazine’s film review supplement. His writing appears frequently in a number of publications including Bookforum and Harper’s. He has worked as a movie theater projectionist, a semiotic brand analyst for the television industry, a football cinematographer, and for the film director Raúl Ruiz. In 2020 he won the Lotos Foundation Prize in Non-Fiction Writing.