2015 Flaherty Film Seminar
JUNE 13-19, 2015, COLGATE UNIVERSITY, HAMILTON, NY
PROGRAMMER: LAURA U. MARKS
The title “The Scent of Places” suggests the ways cinema makes the subtlest of presences perceptible. It brings lost or forgotten events into present awareness. It gives form to unbidden feelings. It invents stories more truthful than fact. It detects patterns—emotional, social, and political. It sharpens perception so that we can see and hear, smell and feel more clearly.
Filmmakers from the Arab world are some of the most adept at these creative strategies. Living in the Arab world in recent decades, with its barrage of external and internal pressures, demands filmmakers and artists to come up with smart and subtle ways to express forces, histories, and experiences that lie under the radar. The goal of the program is to focus not on the works’ geographic, social, and political context, but on their aesthetic qualities: the scents of places that they make present. So the program brings Arab artists together with other international filmmakers who share creative strategies with them. The program also diminishes large-scale politics to focus on more intimate and playful gestures. The richest and strangest scents—those of ordinary life—float through these works. They discover patterns in the chaos of the world. They fabulate, or invent fictions that become true. They engage in psychodynamics, teasing people into expressive acts. They crackle like Geiger counters in the presence of invisible forces. With rhythm and performance they shake up the world and squeeze it for its juice.
JUAN MANUEL SEPÚLVEDA is a documentary Filmmaker and Cinematographer, in 2006 he received the Ariel Award from the Mexican Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his documentary UNDER THE GROUND. In 2008, THE INFINITE BORDER, his debut film, was selected to participate in the Berlin International Film Festival, and also won the Joris Ivens Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Cinema du Réel in Paris. He was cinematographer on the film LEAP YEAR, which won the Caméra d´Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. He recently won the Best Documentary Short Award at the 2011 Cinema du Réel Festival in Paris, with the film THE STRANGE SOUND OF THE LAND BEING closedED IN A FURROW.
ARTHUR JAFA (born 1960) uses film to investigate issues surrounding black cultural politics and black cultural nationalism. He is interested in ways in which black film can be used to investigate what he calls “Black Artificial Intelligence,” and to reflect black ways of life in the diaspora. Jafa has also developed an idea that he calls “Black visual intonation,” in which irregular camera rates and frame replication is used to create filmic movement which approximates black vocal intonation. Jafa’s cinematography work includes a collaboration with Julie Dash on Daughters of the Dust, a portrayal of a little-known Gullah subculture on a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, which received the Sundance Film Festival Award in 1991. He also worked with Spike Lee on Crooklyn and with Manthia Diawara on Rouch in Reverse. His writings include the essay 69, published in Black Popular Culture (1992). – See more at: http://gallery400.uic.edu/events/voices-arthur-jafa#sthash.7RIBTElZ.dpuf
JOSH WEISSBACH is an experimental filmmaker. He lives in a house next to an abandoned village with his wife, daughter, and three cats. His ongoing film series, The Addresses, focuses on the relationship between the intimate and the uncanny within domestic spaces. Central to this process is an investigation of the visual agency of the (un)built form and the manner in which it implicates a history of trauma. He is the recipient of the 2008 Cary Grant Film Award from the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, a 2013 Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for Emerging Artists from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and a 2015 LEF New England Fellowship from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar.
About the Flaherty Seminar
The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar is the longest continuously running film event in North America. Named after Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North, Man of Aran, Louisiana Story) who is considered by many to be the father of documentary film, The Seminar began in 1955 when Flaherty’s widow, Frances, convened a group of filmmakers, critics, curators, musicians, and other film enthusiasts at the Flaherty farm in Vermont. For more than fifty years the Flaherty Seminar has been firmly established as a one-of-a-kind institution that seeks to encourage filmmakers and other artists to explore the potential of the moving image. The films of such directors as Robert Drew, Louis Malle, the Maysles brothers, Mira Nair, Satyajit Ray, John Cassavetes, Yasujiro Ozu, Pedro Costa and Robert M. Young were shown at the Seminar before they were known generally in the American film community. New cinematic techniques and approaches first presented at the Seminar have routinely made their way into mainstream film.
The weeklong Seminar brings together over 160 filmmakers, artists, curators, scholars, students, and film enthusiasts to celebrate the power of the moving image. Registration is closed to the public and participants gather for a communal living experience that includes meals, social hours, special events, and at least three screening sessions daily followed by discussion. A different programmer is selected each year to shape the Seminar’s theme and objective, which relates to a regional or national cinema, examines a stylistic feature, or responds to current world events. The Seminar is an intimate and intense experience where the traditional barriers between maker and audience are gradually obliterated. The structure of the event ensures that participants have greater access to the featured artists than would be found at festivals or conferences.