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Dec 8, 2017 at 10:00 am – Dec 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm
A Letter to the World: Experiments in Essay Filmmaking
With Lynne Sachs, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Jacqueline Goss, Jim Finn, Sky Hopinka & Su Friedrich
This workshop is SOLD OUT.
Please sign up for the waitlist below to receive updates regarding any openings or similar future opportunities.
In the words of renowned film avant-gardist Hans Richter, essay films “’make problems, thoughts and even ideas’ perceptible … they ‘render visible what is not visible.’”
From Harun Farocki and Agnes Varda to Ross McElwee and Trinh T. Minh-ha, filmmakers and artists have been using the genre of essay filmmaking to explore new modes of blending fact, fiction, and experience to capture essential truths. A constantly evolving and flexible form, essay films are used to document cultural and historical moments, evoke a feeling, unravel an auto-biography, and respond to critical social turning points with a challenging mix of traditional documentary conventions, personal nuance and experimental artistry.
Join UnionDocs and filmmaker Lynne Sachs to explore the history, theory and practice of this shape-shifting genre. Open to filmmakers, students, artists, scholars and more, this three-day intensive enables artists to articulate their ideas and explore new methodologies in crafting their work.
Participants in this intensive workshop will have the chance to work with a wide range of scholars and practitioners: Lynne Sachs will lead the course with help from filmmakers Akosua Adoma Owusu, Jim Finn, Sky Hopinka and Jacqueline Goss. Through seminars and work-in-progress critiques, together participants will each, in their own way, push the boundaries of reality-based work, questioning truth and fact as they are conveyed and represented, and learn how to put this new knowledge into practice. Current projects are not required to attend, but encouraged!
This workshop will be presented in conjunction with two public UnionDocs events: a screening of Lynne Sachs’ Tip of My Tongue on Thursday, December 7th and a screening of work by workshop guest instructors TBA on Sunday, December 10th. Workshop attendees will receive free entry to these two events.
Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for filmmakers, film producers, journalists, curators and media artists.
Give us an idea of who you are and why you are coming. When you register you will be asked for a short statement of interest that should briefly describe your experience and a film project (it would be great if you have a project in progress that you would present to the group during the work-in-progress critique sessions), plus a bio. There’s a spot for a link to a work sample (and CV, which would also be nice, but is not required).
$295 early bird registration by November 17th, 2017 at 5PM.
$350 regular registration.
The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until November 17th. After November 17th, the fee is non-refundable.
In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.
To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash. Course fees are not refundable or transferable, and any withdrawals will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.
In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.
Friday, Dec. 08: 10am-5pm
AM: Lynne Sachs
PM: Work-in-progress critique with Lynne Sachs
Saturday, Dec. 09: 10am-8pm
AM: Akosua Adoma Owusu
PM: Jim Finn
After Class Drink and discussion with Su Friedrich
Sunday, Dec. 10: 10am-5pm
AM: Sky Hopinka
PM: Jacqueline Goss
Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:
Warm up with introductory questions + viewing exercises
Presentation by guest speaker + discussion
Lunch (on your own)
Presentation by guest speaker + discussion
Discussion + sharing of work
Wrap up with closing questions
Lynne Sachs makes films, installations, performances and web projects that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together poetry, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. Her five essay films took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany — sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. Recently, after 25 years of making experimental documentaries, Sachs learned something that turned her filmmaking upside down. While working on Your Day is My Night (2013) in NYC’s Chinatown, she saw that her subjects were performing for her rather than revealing something completely honest about their lives. The process of recording guaranteed that some aspect of the project would be artificial. This moved Sachs toward a new type of filmmaking — she invited her subjects to become her collaborators — to work with her to make the film about their lives.
Sachs has made over 25 films, supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Jerome Foundations and the New York State Council on the Arts. Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and Toronto’s Images Festival. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and other venues nationally and internationally.
Akosua Adoma Owusu is a Ghanaian-American avant-garde filmmaker and producer whose films have screened worldwide in prestigious film festivals, museums, galleries, universities and microcinemas since 2005. Her work addresses the collision of identities, where the African immigrant located in the United States has a “triple consciousness.” Owusu interprets Du Bois’ notion of double consciousness and creates a third identity or consciousness, representing the diverse consciousness of women and African immigrants interacting in African, white American, and black American culture.
Named by Indiewire as one of the 6 Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema, and one of The Huffington Post‘s Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know, Akosua Adoma Owusu is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow. Founded in 2007, her company, Obibini Pictures, LLC produces unconventional films about multicultural experiences including Reluctantly Queer and Kwaku Ananse, which received the 2013 African Movie Academy Award for Best Short Film. Reluctantly Queer was nominated for the Golden Bear and Teddy Award at the Berlinale, Berlin International Film Festival in 2016.
Jacqueline Goss makes movies about scientific systems and how they change the ways we think about ourselves. Her two most recent works are “The Observers” –a feature-ish length portrait of a weather observatory on the windiest mountain in the world and “The Measures” – an essay film made with artist Jenny Perlin about the history of the metric system and “invention” of the meter.
A native of New Hampshire, Goss is a 2008 Tribeca Film Institute Media Arts Fellow and the 2007 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Film and Video.
Goss teaches in the Film and Electronic Arts program at Bard College in the Hudson Valley of New York.
“Steeped in the obsolete language of revolutionary art,” The New York Times said Jim Finn‘s films “often play like unearthed artifacts from an alternate universe.” Critic J. Hoberman in The Village Voice calls Jim Finn “the solitary vanguard of post-Communist Communist cinema”. His films, according to Variety, “upturn notions of documentary and fiction, propaganda thought, reality and restaging, and even what an ‘experimental film’ actually is.” His award-winning movies have been called “Utopian comedies” & “trompe l’oeil films”, and his Communist Trilogy is in the MoMA’s collection. He’s had retrospectives in seven countries and screenings all over the world at festivals like Sundance, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, New York and Edinburgh as well as museums, universities and cinematheques. He was born in St. Louis in 1968 and teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language and facets of culture contained within, and the play between the accessibility of the known and the unknowable. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images Festival, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival, Sundance, Antimatter, Chicago Underground Film Festival, FLEXfest, Projections, and the LA Film Festival. His work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial. He was awarded jury prizes at the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, and 3rd Prize at the 2015 Media City Film Festival.
Su Friedrich began filmmaking in 1978 and has produced and directed twenty 16mm films and videos. Her films have won many awards, including the Grand Prix at the Melbourne Film Festival and Outstanding Documentary at Outfest. Friedrich has received fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations as well as numerous grants from the Jerome Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA and ITVS, and in 1995 she received the Cal Arts/Alpert Award. Her work is widely screened in the United States, Canada and Europe and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Friedrich is the writer, cinematographer, director and editor of all her films, with the exception of Hide and Seek, which was co-written by Cathy Quinlan and shot by Jim Denault. Her work is screened and distributed widely throughout the US, Canada and Europe. She teaches film & video production at Princeton University. Her DVD collection is distributed by Outcast Films.