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Jun 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Sonic Truth: Shorts and Excerpts from the 2011 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar

with Gibbs Chapman, Lillian Schwartz, Frank Scheffer, Tanya Sleiman, Volker Goetze

This program will present work-in-progress and shorts by artists presenting at the 2011 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, “Sonic Truth,” programmed by Dan Streible. All filmmakers will be in attendance to present their work. MoMA will also be running a post-Flaherty showcase with Les Blank: Ultimate Insider.

The audio dimension of documentary operates in several ways: as an element to confirm the fidelity of visual evidence (synch sound), as the conveyor of narrative (the voice-over), as evidentiary recording (the interview), and as a creative tool to counterpoint images. Sound recording and design can help capture a cultural environment, sculpt a sense of place, or evoke a historical period. But add music to the mix and contradictions arise – either moments of truth are powerfully underscored or the truth claims of documentary fall into question. The Seminar work will bring together a diverse group of filmmakers working in nonfiction and hybrid media to examine the sound and musical elements of their work. -Robert Flaherty Film Seminar


Mother Mortar, Father Pestle

Gibbs Chapman, 2008

A black and white and gray-area film about the fallibility of perspective, a weekend seminar on the irrelevance of human achievement in geologic time, and a 26-step program seeking to correct the behavioral dysfunction known as “religiambition.”

The Artist and the Computer

Lillian Schwartz, 1976

The Artist and the Computer is an introductory informational film that dispels some of the “mystery” of computer-art technology, as it clarifies the necessary human input of integrity, artistic sensibilities, and aesthetics.

Gozaran/Time Passing

Frank Scheffer, 2012

The story of Nader Mashayekhi, an Iranian musician who was away from his country for over 30 years.

Serious Play: The Worlds of Helen Levitt

Tanya Sleiman

One of America’s great photographers revered by fellow artists, Helen Levitt is no household name.  And that’s just how she liked it. Taking on this no-nonsense poker-playing spirit, Serious Play brings alive a lyrical New York of bohemian worlds and innovative work to share how Levitt defied artistic convention, transforming American independent photography and film forever.


Volker Goetze and Samuel D. Pollard, 2011

After a thousand years of religious, political and cultural onslaughts, a monolith of West African culture is showing signs of change in the form of a radical new individualism. Ablaye Cissoko, a young West African griot and a stunning musical talent, is our ticket inside the mysterious world of the griot. From filmmaker and world class musician Volker Goetze and producers Samuel D. Pollard (Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls), Victor Kanefsky (Style Wars), and Leslie Mulkey (Steve McQueen: Man On The Edge), the documentary Griot is in post-production.

Dandelion Wine and SK8 Sisters

Melinda Stone, 2009

A simple weed is transformed into a lovely, tasty brew.


A playful, melodic portrait of a day at the farm.

120 minutes

Gibbs Chapman has worked in and around audio/visuals in San Francisco since 1984. As a recording engineer, he has been involved with hundreds of recordings ranging from Thinking Fellers to Marianne Faithful and additionally has worked on composing, recording, and/or producing many music and sound pieces, and sound for film for American Playhouse, among others. Mr Chapman has become active as a cameraman and audio manipulator for film and video, working on hundreds of shorts and features and has written, directed and resourcefully produced numerous films of his own. He is also owner of non productions, a small audio/visual factory in San Francisco and works as a technician and consultant in recording studios, post-houses and performs myriad duties from negative cutting to lens repair in an effort to finance his personal projects. Mr. Chapman is also a senior projectionist and collection inspector at the Pacific Film Archive.

Lillian Schwartz is best known for her pioneering work in the use of computers for what has since become known as computer-generated art and computer-aided art analysis, including graphics, film, video, animation, special effects, Virtual Reality and Multimedia. Her work was recognized for its aesthetic success and was the first in this medium to be acquired by The Museum of Modern Art. Her contributions in starting a new field of endeavor in the arts, art analysis, and the field of virtual reality have been recently awarded Computer-World Smithsonian Awards.

Frank Scheffer is internationally recognized as a master of films exploring the relationship between sound and image. He was born in 1956 in Venlo, the Netherlands and studied at the Academy for Industrial Design (Eindhoven), the ‘Vrije Academie’ Art College (The Hague) and graduated from the Dutch Film Academy (Amsterdam) in 1982. He began his career as a director with a documentary on Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope People, which was followed by a portrait of the Dalai Lama, co-directed by the performance artist Marina Abramovic. She introduced him to John Cage, who became a great source of inspiration to him. By this time he had also met Elliott Carter, and these encounters resulted in his first documentary on contemporary music, Time is Music, 1987. He has since directed more than 20 documentaries and films on music, including documentaries on Boulez (Eclat, 1993), John Cage (From Zero, 1995), Stockhausen (Helikopter String Quartet, 1996), Andreiessen (The Road, 1997) and Berio (Voyage to Cythera, 1999). Since 2000 he has been working on a trilogy featuring Frank Zappa, and a feature-documentary on Varèse is planned.

Volker Goetze is the Producer/Director of Griot. An award winning jazz trumpeter, composer and collaborator with Ablaye Cissoko on their latest CD, Sira. Griot is Volker’s first video project.

Tanya Sleiman has an MFA graduate of Stanford University’s documentary program, Tanya Sleiman is an independent documentary filmmaker and teacher based in Palo Alto, California.  She recently taught Cinema Studies with NYU Tisch School of the Arts in Havana, Cuba, where she was the 2011 on-site Program Director for documentary production. Her visual essay “A Chronicle of Concrete” screened in international festivals and was broadcast on PBS Reel 13 and shared with New Yorkers through the wonderful folks at Rooftop Films.  In 2008, she was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, and a Symposium Scholar at the Telluride Film Festival. In 2009, Tanya inaugurated the first course of documentary film production at Brown University Summer Studies, returning in 2010 and 2011.


Jun 25, 2011
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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