Thursday, October 28, 2010

Troupe de Fetishe

Just a note that I will be moderating a panel tomorrow at the closing reception of Troupe de Fetishe, an large-scale video installation currently showing at the Crane Arts space. It should particularly appeal to those with an interest in the technology and conceptual possibilities of large-scale video projection. From the artists' description:
Troupe de Fetishe is a large scale video piece co-directed by Lisa Marie Patzer (MFA candidate), Ian Markiewicz (MFA '08) and Doris Chia-Ching Lin (MFA candidate) with sound design by David Miranda Hardy (MFA candidate).

Troupe de Fetishe tells the story of Oskar Vanderwold, an eccentric “tinkerer” who manipulates and cares for a troupe of flea circus performers. His ornate flea circus is a hand constructed miniature model that fits inside an antique cigar box. It is a macabre world of surreal spectacle, adorned with a series of miniature circus attractions complete with chariots, a trapeze swing, a high dive, and ring of fire.

The project was custom designed for the new video projection system in the Ice Box Project Space, equipped with four synchronized video projectors that create one seamless, 100 ft. wide by 25 ft. tall or 3646 x 768 pixel composition.
Panel discussion to take place tomorrow, Friday, October 29 at Crane Arts (1400 N. American St) from 5:30-6:30pm.

Monday, October 25, 2010


If repertory cinema can be thin on the ground at times, silent film gets downright neglected. Thankfully, this Thursday, the International House is showing (on 16mm) Cabiria (Giovanni Pastrone, 1914), an Italian epic that's been on my list of shame for a while. Notably, the film is famous for its spectacular sets, setting off a vogue for epic films in the teens, and for its introduction of the emphatic tracking shot to narrative film. Thursday, October 28 at 7pm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leighton Pierce

Still from Number One (2007)

Next Tuesday, the Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College will be hosting an evening with film and video artist Leighton Pierce.
Tuesday, October 26, 7pm
Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema, Swarthmore College (Directions)

One of the most acclaimed and prolific experimental moving image artists working in the U.S. today, Leighton Pierce uses film, video, photography, and sound to create experiences in transformative time, executing all aspects of his works himself –conceptualization, cinematography, editing, sound design and composition. Pierce will present an hour-long program of his work including the area premieres of Retrograde Premonition and Sharp Edge Blunt, followed by Q&A. Pierce’s early interest in music, especially jazz and electronic music, and the construction of emotional experiences in time continue to guide his work. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Whitney Biennial. He teaches in the prestigious film program of the University of Iowa, where he has influenced many important experimental artists.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ulrike Ottinger

Next Tuesday, October 19, the Slought Foundation is hosting a day-long retrospective of Ulrike Ottinger's work. Ottinger's work has ranged from narrative work on the more avant-garde side of the New German Cinema to experimental documentaries, including the 8- hour Taiga, about Mongolia (see this NYT review). Even including the couple of films to be distributed by Women Make Movies to educational and repertory audiences, very little of Ottinger's work has been available in the US.

I do wish for a proper theatrical screening of some of it, but short of that, gallery exhibitions like at the Slought may be the only way to watch it easily. They will have simulatenous video projection of her longer works throughout the day (9am-5pm): Twelve Chairs (198 minutes, 2004), The Korean Wedding Chest (82 minutes, 2008), Taiga: A Journey to Northern Mongolia (501 minutes, 1991/2), and Exil Shanghai (275 minutes, 1997)

From 5-7pm, there will be an evening screening of Still Moving (29 minutes, 2009) and Prater (104 minutes, 2007).

The main event (7-8:30pm), is a presentation by Ottinger herself, followed by public conversation with Kaja Silverman (University of Pennsylvania), Patricia White (Swarthmore College), and Homay King (Bryn Mawr College), moderated by Nora Alter (Temple University).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

19th Philadelphia Film Festival

Still from Alamar (Pedro González-Rubio, 2009)

This Friday marks the start of the 10-day Philadelphia Film Festival. This year marks a transition year for the Festival, after a change in management, a divorce from TLA, and a shift to October rather than April. And the changes are not merely behind the scenes reshuffling, but a renewed and changed focus. First, there is more dovetailing with the fare of international film festivals like Toronto. Second, there is the inclusion of crowd-pleasing events like the Stieg Larsson film adaptations. Either of these could elicit cries of commercialization of the film festival, but frankly, I'm impressed with the range and quantity of offerings in this year's festival. It's an embarrassment of riches, since I know I will only be able to scratch the surface.

I'll not be able to do justice to the full line up, but some highlights for me are the auteur showings from Denis, Weerasethakul, and Assayas; the retrospective of a 1960 Korean film The Housemaid; the documentaries Garbo and Boxing Gym; and the recent films from various Latin American new waves.

I have created an iCal version of the festival (download) so you can add to your computer or online calendar. I've kept the festival separate from the regular blog calendar (here), in order to signal the event status and advanced ticketing. If the past is prologue, you may want to get your tickets in advance.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Women Directors from North Africa and the Middle East

La Nouba des Femmes du Mont-Chenoua

This week the International House is screening a series of films by women directors from North Africa and the Middle East. Organized by Patricia White (Swarthmore) and Suzanne Gauch (Temple), the series complicates the vision the West and in particular American cinema often has of Middle-Eastern societies and women's role in them. And, in the process, we get to see work that's otherwise tough to see. I have seen A Door to the Sky, a lyrical and avowedly spiritual film, the only one here to be screened on 35mm. At first it resists the narrative and aesthetic expectations I had brought from both conventional narrative and art cinema, but ultimately I valued the challenging aesthetic voice. I am eager to see other work in the series.

All screenings introduced by Patricia White. Full descriptions at the International House site.

Thursday, October 7 at 7pm
Passage (Shirin Neshat, US/Iran, 2001, 12 mins)
A Door to the Sky (Farida Ben Lyazid, Morocco, 1989, 107 mins)

Friday, October 8 at 7pm
Brick Sellers of Kabul (Lida Abdul, US/Afghanistan, 2006, 6 mins)
La Nouba des femmes de Mont-Chenoua (Assia Djebar, Algeria, 1977, 115 mins)

Saturday, October 9 at 2pm
Souha (Randa Chahal Sabbag, Lebanon, 2001, 57 mins)
Our Heedless Wars (Randa Chahal Sabbag, France/Lebanon, 1995, 61 mins)

Saturday, October 9 at 5pm
Measures of Distance (Mona Hatoum, UK, 1988, 16 mins)
Women Without Men (Shirin Neshat in collaboration with Shoja Azari, France/Germany, 2009, 95 mins)