Charles Fairbanks is a filmmaker, writer, and Guggenheim fellow. He grew up in Nebraska and wrestled at Stanford, where he studied Art and STS (Science, Technology, and Society). He has a MFA in Art & Design from the University of Michigan, where he also studied Anthropology and History. Fairbanks’s films have shown on POV and at Art of the Real, Images, Oberhausen, CPH:DOX, Slamdance, Visions du Réel, and hundreds of festivals across six continents. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo and the Wexner Art Center’s Film/Video Studio Program. Fairbanks has also worked as a programmer and translator in Belgium, taught videoarte and cel-phone videography in Mexico, and written for Senses of Cinema, DesistFilm and the Millenium Film Journal. He founded the Media Arts program at Antioch College, where he was awarded tenure in 2018, and he currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico.
His feature documentary The Modern Jungle (co-directed with Saul Kak) is a provocative portrait of globalization, focused on a Zoque shaman who falls under the spell of a pyramid-scheme marketed nutritional supplement. THE MODERN JUNGLE won jury awards at Slamdance and Athens, and was awarded Best Documentary at Présence Autochtone: the First Nations Festival of Montreal. It was selected by multiple critics as one of the best Latino films of 2016.
His latest film (((((/*\))))) aka Echoes of the Volcano, also co-directed with Saul Kak in his hometown in Chiapas, Mexico, is a sensory ethnography of culture and communication in a community founded by volcano eruption refugees, including Kak’s parents. Focused on soundscapes and landscapes, Echoes addresses historical memory and trauma as it also articulates young Zoque activists’ struggle to defend their ancestral territory from extractivist corporations. (((((/*\))))) has won five awards in four different countries as it screens in mainstream, experimental, documentary, ethnographic, and Indigenous festivals across six continents.