Jul 23, 2021 at 8:00 pm
North By Current
With Angelo Madsen Minax & Thomas Allen Harris
“One of my goals was to demonstrate the ways in which real life is dirty, unrelenting, and refuses to wrap up nicely, contrary to what movies would have you believe. When I set out to make North By Current and decided to realize the project in documentary form, I vowed to resist simplifying or over explaining information for the sake of legibility. This goal led me to make a film with specific and embodied resistance to answering topical questions or stating facts; I refuse to explain the intricacies of my transition, I refuse to explain the colonial and patriarchal histories of Mormonism, as well as my own history with it, and I refuse to pose objective, unilateral, and/or singular storytelling as definitive truth. These refusals are intentional, political gestures.”
– Angelo Madsen Minax
Come out to join Angelo Madsen Minax for a special UnionDocs backyard screening of his latest feature, North By Current. We’re zealously hosting this evening after seeing the film grow from early stages in our Summer Documentary Lab in 2018. Called “..a breathless evocation for an entire class of Americans lost in the periphery… a titanic work.” by Criterion and “one of the best films you will see in 2021” by Unseen Films, North By Current is an essay film that puts Madsen’s subjective voice in conversation with the voice of a ghostly, unseen child narrator.
The film integrates multiple visual approaches to storytelling as it traverses time, space, experiences, and relationships. Using the family’s VHS and super 8 home movies, cinema vérité, staged actions, and landscape portraits of snowy forests, frozen lakes, endless highways, and drifting water, the film weaves an altogether lyrical and unpredictable reflection. Imagery of the family business, a struggling sawmill, acts as a thematic symbol of collective memory and growth interrupted.
Tickets are sold for singles or pairs in the backyard. Masks are optional with proof of vaccination. Madsen will be in attendance with renowned filmmaker and artist Thomas Allen Harris for a conversation following the screening of the film. See you there!
North By Current
85 min., 2021
North By Current is a visual rumination on the understated relationships between mothers and children, truths and myths, losses and gains. After the inconclusive death of his young niece, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown, preparing to make a film about a broken criminal justice system. Instead, he pivots to excavate the depths of generational addiction, Christian fervor, and trans embodiment. Lyrically assembled images, decades of home movies, and ethereal narration form an idiosyncratic and poetic undertow that guide a viewer through lifetimes and relationships. Like the relentless Michigan seasons, the meaning of family shifts, as Madsen, his sister, and his parents strive tirelessly to accept each other. Poised to incite more internal searching than provide clear statements or easy answers, North By Current dives head first into the challenges of creating identity, the agony of growing up, and the ever-fickle nuances of family.
Angelo Madsen Minax is an artist, performer, and filmmaker. From 2012 to 2018 Madsen was in residence at the Core Program (2012-14), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2014), the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (2015), and was a QueerArt Fellow in Film/Video (2017-2018). Madsen’s projects have screened and/or exhibited at spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, European Media Art Festival, Anthology Film Archives, REDCAT, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Echo Park Film Center, the British Film Institute, and dozens of LGBT film festivals around the world. His recent short film The Eddies (2018), about a trans man who investigates the erotic culture of gun ownership in the Southern United States, earned awards from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Berganale (Spain), Kurzfilm Hamburg, and FLEX Experimental Film Festival. Madsen is a recipient of the Samuel Edes Prize for Emerging Artists (2017), the Tribeca Film Institute’s All-Access Fellowship (2019), the Sundance Film Institute’s Documentary Production Fund (2019), and the Bay Are Video Coalition’s Media-maker Fellowship (2020).
Thomas Allen Harris is a filmmaker and artist whose work across film, video, photography, and performance illuminates the human condition and the search for identity, family, and spirituality. Graduate of Harvard College and the Whitney Independent Study Program, member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and published writer/curator, Harris lectures widely on the use of media as a tool for social change. He lectures and teaches on media arts, visual literacy, and personal archiving at such institutions as Yale, Dartmouth, University of California, and many others. In 2009, Harris founded Digital Diaspora Family Reunion, LLC (DDFR) a social engaged transmedia project that has incorporated community organizing, performance, virtual gathering spaces, and storytelling into over 45 unique audio-visual events in over 30 cities. His deeply personal films – VINTAGE- Families of Value (1995), É Minha Cara/That’s My Face (2001), and The Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (2005), have received critical acclaim at international film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty, and Cape Town. His most recent feature film, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (2014), which looks at the ways photographic representations serve as tools of representation and self-representation through history, was nominated for both an Emmy and Peabody, and won over 7 international awards including the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary Film.