Jim Finn will introduce the event with a brief history of the Brontë family, the film and the game. Then we’ll screen the experimental musical The Drunkard’s Lament, an early cinema musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights written by Branwell—the tubercular, alcoholic and opium-addicted brother of Emily Brontë. Following the film, we will ask for volunteer game players for a 45-minute role-playing game with rotating audience members. In the same way that the film is Branwell’s early cinema dream of Wuthering Heights, the game is Branwell’s altered reality role-playing game of his sister’s novel.
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Sunday, Jul 22 at 7:30 pm
The Drunkard’s Lament
Screening to be followed by Branwell Brontë’s Role-Playing Game
The Drunkard's Lament
40 min., 2018
Branwell is the only Brontë sibling to survive childhood who did not become a best-selling author. His alcoholism and constant illnesses hid his tuberculosis so that he infected his sisters Emily and Anne. The three siblings died within a year of each other. Branwell’s failed artistic career became intertwined with the blame he shouldered for stunting English literature by killing his sisters. His friends posthumously rallied to defend his honor and legacy by promoting a conspiracy theory that Branwell was the true author of Wuthering Heights. Branwell, however, left quite a bit of evidence that while Emily was finishing and trying to publish her novel, Branwell was writing all his friends asking for whiskey and gin.
Branwell’s own letters serve as an entry point for the film. The handmade 16mm emulsion was created at Negativland Film Labs in Queens. The music was written and recorded in Detroit especially for the film. The game was inspired by the fast and simple role-playing games Jim Finn runs with his children. It is modeled loosely on Philippe Tromeur’s Wuthering Heights Role-Playing Game and the Dungeon Crawl Classics character funnel system, which kills off characters fast and often.
This is the U.S. premiere of the film and the world premiere of the role-playing game. The Drunkard’s Lament has screened at BAFICI in Argentina and FidMarseille in France.
Branwell Brontë’s Role-Playing Game
45 min., 2018
A live-officiated game following the screening.
“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.” His award-winning movies have been called “Utopian comedies” and “trompe l’oeil films” and according to Variety “upturn notions of documentary and fiction, propaganda thought, reality and restaging, and even what an ‘experimental film’ actually is.” Born in St. Louis in 1968, he teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.