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Oct 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Inquiry Towards the Practice of Secular Magic: Live Film Essays

With Ross Lipman and Courtney Stephens in attendance for discussion following the program

Join us for a night of deconstructing ethnography with Ross Lipman and Courtney Stephens. Ross will present a multimedia performance, THE BOOK OF PARADISE HAS NO AUTHOR, a live documentary based on the first encounters with the Tasaday. In the summer of 1971 Ferdinand Marcos announced the discovery of a tribe of primitive cave dwellers who had lived in complete isolation for thousands of years in the rainforest of Mindanao, the easternmost island of the Philippines. Modernity as we knew it was uprooted. The Tasaday represented a chance to witness firsthand the origins of civilization, and investigate the very essence of humanity. They also–seemingly–offered Marcos a number of rather unique political opportunities. Courtney will present her film, CONTRACTIONS, which problematizes the discovery narrative assigned to space. By doing so, the film gives us a feminist re-contextualization of the idea of periphery. Come through to discuss the ramifications of the way encounter narratives are mediated and join us for a conversation with Ross and Courtney after the program.

“…a marvelous de-construction of ethnographic accounts of the Tasaday… brilliant” — Craig Baldwin, filmmaker/curator- Other Cinema



16 min., 2017, Courtney Stephens

How does one make sense of the vast distances in outer space? The farthest edges of the universe continue to expand away from us, and any worlds readymade for human life are likely too far for us to reach – we are marooned.  Popular science fiction has often presented space as a frontier landscape, a void, discoverable; but over the past two decades, a series of female-driven films have begun to ask different questions of outer space.  Is the universe a kind of uterus?  A graveyard?  If not discovery, recovery?

The Book of Paradise Has No Author

55 min., 2017, Ross Lipman

This experimental performance essay integrates rare ethnographic footage, vintage television broadcasts, recordings, and still photographs to look at the unexpectedly tragic, haunting, and provocative tale of our encounter with the Tasaday, and their equally elliptical encounter with us. The result is a meditative sensory experience that questions the nature of reality itself.

55 min

Courtney Stephens is a filmmaker and programmer based in Los Angeles.  She has combined her interest in geography and archives into live essay-documentary, curated programs, alongside her work in experimental documentary.  Her films have screened at SXSW, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Union Docs, Anthology Film Archives, Mumbai International Film Festival, Dhaka International Film Festival, and elsewhere.  She co-programs the film and lecture series Veggie Cloud, and has presented events at The Getty Museum, REDCAT, AM-London, Art Contemporary Los Angeles, Human Resources, the Velaslavasay Panorama, and ongoingly at Veggie Cloud’s space in Los Angeles.  Stephens attended the American Film Institute, is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Sloan Scholarship, and periodically lectures on subjects relating to film and geography at the Royal Geographical Society, London.

Ross Lipman is an independent filmmaker, archivist and essayist, best known for his 2015 feature Notfilm, which was named one of the top ten films of the year by Artforum, Slate, and many others. He is also former Senior Film Restorationist at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, where he restored and remastered works by John Cassavetes, Barbara Loden, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Dziga Vertov, Kenneth Anger, Shirley Clarke and Robert Altman. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Heritage Award from the U.S. National Society of Film Critics, and has published extensively on film history, theory, and technology. His most recent work,The Exploding Digital Inevitable, is a live performance documentary that tells the troubling story of the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb blasts, and their depiction in artist Bruce Conner’s CROSSROADS. It premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2017.

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Oct 5, 2017
7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Free – $10.00


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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