The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film & Media Festival screens work by students, professional anthropologists, and professional filmmakers at the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference. This year’s festival is hosted in the beautiful city of Vancouver, and I can’t wait to present my film alongside other works of visual ethnography at such a critical event. This year’s theme, “Changing Climates,” invites anthropologists and their collaborators to examine how we engage with communities around issues of change over time, including climate change, to envision and build a more equitable future.
I am inspired by my friend Lizzy Hogenson and her film Dani, a claymation documentary short about a daughter delivering the news of her breast cancer prognosis to her mother. The intricacies of their relationship are painstakingly handcrafted, one subtle movement at a time, from yarn, beads, cardboard & felt. These fragile elements are bound together by the hard work of producer Kyle McClary, editor Robert Panico and original music & sound editing by Ricky Berger. An official selection to this year's Oscar-qualifying Palm Springs International ShortFest, I'm eagerly awaiting to see it on the big screen next week!
About the program: Eyes and Lenses is an annual, 4-day ethnographic film festival organized by the Student Research Group of the Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology Institute of the University of Warsaw - “Etno,” and the Witold Dynowski Ethnographic Workshop Association (Stowarzyszenie Pracownia Etnograficzna). Accompanied by discussion panels and meetings with artists, an international program of shorts and features are shown in cooperation with leading centers of visual anthropology and preeminent ethnographic film festivals, such as the Royal Anthropological Institute, Granada Center for Visual Anthropology and Lomonosov Moscow State University. This year's program, June 7th - 10th, will be held at Służewski Dom Kultury in Warsaw, Poland.
Ghost Tape #10 will be screening on June 10th as part of this year’s festival.
News of my film’s first language translation outside of the United States came as a warm surprise earlier this week. Screening at the Eyes and Lenses ethnographic film review in Warsaw on June 10th, Ghost Tape #10 will accompany of a program of films “shot by anthropologists with film intent and by filmmakers with ethnographic sensitivity.” I’m honored by the opportunity to share my work with a Polish audience thanks to the "Ethno" Scientific Club of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Warsaw, and one translator in particular, who wishes to remain anonymous. To you, I humbly thank you for your labor and attention to detail!
About the festival: “In the over 10-year history of the review, we have shown several hundred films . Among them were the classics of the ethnographic film (Jean Rouch, Jacek Olędzki ...), and the latest films shot both by ethnographers grabbing the camera and filmmakers endowed with ethnographic imagination. We try to make every next edition surprise our viewers.” (From Eyes and Lenses)
2019 screening will take place at the SŁUŻEW CULTURE CENTER - Warsaw, Poland, June 7th-10th.
When you’re lucky enough to find yourself riding waves of laughter with a cinema audience, it’s a sublime experience. This was animator Bryan Lee’s gift to those who gathered for a screening of the USC Cinematic Arts - John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts’ fourth-year final projects on May 11th, 2019, his film capping the evening and his cohort’s four-year program with raucous laughter. Cage Match, a devilishly clever ode to the resilient spirit of innocence, was one of my favorite films. Animated with BIC Round Stic ballpoint pens with a childlike fury, its deceptively mischievous surface (complete with hulking, chicken wrestlers and a frenzied Japanese language-speaking game show host) masked Lee’s tender exploration of what it means to preserve one’s sense of wonder and belonging in this world. Hilarious and heartfelt, Lee executes his distinct style with handcrafted innovation and heart.
Bryan Lee is an animator, story artist and designer in Los Angeles, CA.
It is my profound honor to count Ghost Tape #10 among the incredible, award-winning films at the 2019 Athens International Film + Video Festival. Awarded a Special Jury Prize, the “Alden Award,” from a guest panel of renowned artists and filmmakers, I was moved by this unexpected surprise early this morning. One of my favorite destinations for humane and invigorating experimental and documentary works, AIF+VF continues to inspire me with their lovingly-crafted shorts blocks, as delicate as ever, this year…definitely not to be my last! Special thanks to Festival Director David Colagiovanni and 2019 Jury Members: Laura Harrison, Lynne Sachs, Chris Sullivan & Jodi Wille.
2019 Athens International Film + Video Festival - Award Winners
Documentary Short Award: Stone Engravings and the Three-Colored Chickenpox Tale by Vinícius Lopes & Luciana Mazeto (Brazil)
Narrative Short Award: De Terugkeer van Sooi Dingemans by Marc Bryssinck (Belgium)
Animated Short Award: Egg by Martina Scarpelli (France)
Experimental Short Award: Goodbye Fantasy by Amber Bemak & Nadia Granados (Mexico)
Black Bear Award (Best use of sound): Pain is Mine by Farshid Akhlaghi (Australia)
Film House Award (For visionary filmmaking): Shooting Crows by Christine Hürzeler (Switzerland)
Alden Award: Ghost Tape #10 by Sean David Christensen (USA)
Narrative Feature Award: We Are Thankful by Joshua Magor (South Africa)
Documentary Feature Award: A Thousand Girls Like Me by Sahra Mani (Afghanistan)
Special Jury Mentions:
Fest (Animation) by Nikita Diakur (Germany)
Elder Abuse (Experimental) by Drew Durepos (USA)
I Have Sinned a Rapturous Sin (Experimental) by Maryam Tafakory (Iran/United Kingdom)
Fauve (Narrative) by Jeremy Comte (Canada)
The Academy Award-qualifying Athens International Film + Video Festival awaits Ghost Tape #10 next month. I’m honored to be included in this year’s documentary program, alongside AIFVF’s 46-year legacy of finely curated shorts & features. Very special thanks to the faculty & instructors of the USC Center for Visual Anthropology MVA for their support - my film wouldn’t have been possible without their guidance and patience.
Since 2007, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has been providing a home for artists to share their creative voice in an environment that supports truth in cinematic storytelling. In addition to their monthly film festivals, DocuSlate, a entire day of documentaries, was added to their yearly programming in 2016 to increase awareness and widen opportunities for representation of true stories and personal narratives on screen.
Last December I enjoyed sitting down with NFMLA Board Chair Danny De Lillo for a discussion about my creative process behind The Duel, and the unique challenges inherent in “translating” someone else’s truth. As an artistic custodian of my own family experiences which have been transmuted into past works, making these connections during our discussion was illuminating for me, and helped me better appreciate the delicacy required for handling something as fragile as memory itself, especially when it belongs to someone else.
About: "NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) is a non-profit designed to showcase innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment professionals and film goers with a constant surge of monthly screening events."
Joined by six shorts from around the world, I'm honored to share The Duel with its first live audience outside the United States as a part of the International Shorts Program at the Victoria Film Festival in British Columbia. Among the dazzling offerings this year are familiar works I've screened with before, such as director Denis Côté's A Skin So Soft, (SF DocFest) along with delightful surprises such as the latest Studio Ghibli film, Mary and the Witch's Flower. (Meari To Majo No Hana)
Though the responsibilities of grad school will bind me once again to Los Angeles, I wish I could visit Canada again. The last time, I was 16-years-old, traveling as a guest of the Toronto Teen Film Festival with my mother. I remember sipping a chocolate milkshake as cold as the afternoon at a Dave & Buster's in the shopping complex of the AMC Theatre where my film was screened. I felt worldly. It's been a blessing to have this film travel across my homeland, and though I wish I could visit each new city it finds a new home in, I'm thankful for the audiences who gather to welcome it in my absence.
This past summer at the Marfa Film Festival, I had the honor to the share the screen with this film. Jay Hollinsworth's "The Art of Emptiness," its namesake taken from the song by Torrejón, follows a retired president in Texas who has taken up oil painting. Cleverly using subtle gradient shifts and trembling line work, the film binds together a string of vibrating static shots that betray the bucolic scenery with their sense of unease.
Gathered inside the Crowley Theater, its tin roof trembling against an angry thunderstorm, the audience absorbed the plaintive guitar of the song and the retired president's eyes tightening at the unease of the task before him; What to make of a blank canvas? While raindrops scattered like needles above me, I was thankful for the company of Jay's film, even though it couldn't keep away the storm.
A wonderful night of films and making new friends at an outdoor screening in Reseda, presented by NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. None of us were ready for this picture, and Drew's shirt commands the frame. Special thanks to Executive Director Larry Laboe and to the hard-working staff of NFMLA, who set up the event, braving record temperatures that afternoon and a city-wide power outage. Unreal! I can't speak for all the filmmakers pictured above, but I deeply appreciated it, and I think the row of smiles speaks volumes.