black and white image of bats

A feature-length ode to night and nocturnal life in which darkness and dream worlds emerge as sites of resistance to 24/7 capitalism.

The Cave Without a Name

by UnionDocs

  • $75,000.00

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We are raising funds to complete production! We developed The Cave Without a Name through the Venice Biennale’s 2022-2023 Cinema College and have begun filming with grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Northwestern Buffett’s Climate Crisis + Media Arts Global Working Group. Your donations will help us keep going!

Night, outdoors, with small orange lights.PRESS

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The Cave Without a Name is a feature-length essay film exploring night and nocturnal life, drawing evocative connections between creative and scientific exploration. From an astronomer studying light pollution; to a punk band’s anti-capitalist screams; nightscapes of a dark sky city; rest activists; and the evening emergence of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats from Bracken Cave, the largest mammal colony in the world; The Cave Without a Name charts an obscure and unconscious realm of possibility, where darkness and dream worlds emerge as sites of resistance to 24/7 capitalism.

While capitalism has polluted night skies with light and pushed many into exhaustion through overwork and sleeplessness, THE CAVE WITHOUT A NAME shows that the night’s wonders–bats, stars, dreams, rest, and punk rock– are key to healing the damage that capitalism continues to cause. With a dedication to care and wonder, THE CAVE WITHOUT A NAME explores night and its darkness as a potential salve.  

Organized conceptually and associatively, THE CAVE WITHOUT A NAME uses montage to cull together a wide range of nocturnal subjects and participants. Dark sky parks and cities provide havens for animals and stargazers alike. Nighttime punk performances emerge as a symbol of night’s creative reserves, echoed by the generative night activity of Mexican Free-Tailed bats. The figure of the cave emerges as both a literal space and a metaphor for the human psyche–a site of dream, alterity, and possibility, made dimensional through images of stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones. Descriptions of dreams interweave with the ideas of astronomers and sleep psychologists, guiding viewers through powerful reserves for thinking outside the regimented contours of daily life. 

By culling together disparate threads, THE CAVE WITHOUT A NAME ultimately sheds light on the ways that sleep, darkness, and dream worlds create opportunities for liberatory thinking and living in what can often feel like a stultifying present.

The Cave Without a Name

Directed, shot, and edited by Jessica Bardsley

Produced by Nevo Shinaar and Caitlin Mae Burke

Additional cinematography and production by Peixuan Ouyang

Sound design by Jacob Ross

Score by Sweeping Promises

Snow covered road in the dark.

Flashlight shining in front a cave at night.

JESSICA BARDSLEY is an artist-scholar working across film, writing, and studio art. Her films have screened within the U.S. and internationally at festivals like CPH:DOX, Sundance, Visions du Réel, EMAF, RIDM, True/False, and on the Criterion Channel. She is the recipient of various awards, including a Princess Grace Award, Grand Prize at 25FPS, the Eileen Maitland Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Short Film at Punto de Vista, and numerous Harvard Film Study Center fellowships. Her first feature film, The Cave Without a Name, was a finalist for the 2022-2023 Venice Biennale’s Cinema College. She received a Ph.D. in Film and Visual Studies from Harvard University, an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a B.A. from the New College of Florida. She is Assistant Professor of Experimental Film and Media at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. A greater portion of your donation goes to the filmmakers if you mail a check to UnionDocs with “THE CAVE WITHOUT A NAME” in the memo line.
The address is:
352 Onderdonk Ave.
Ridgewood NY, 11385


Name Donate Amount Date
Northwestern Buffett’s Climate Crisis + Media Arts Global Working Group $5,000.00 August 07, 2023
NYSCA Grant $10,000.00 February 15, 2023