Tag Archives: Investigation of a Flame

Theater Münster / Resistance, Faith, Law – Investigation of a Flame

Theater Munster / Cinema & Kurbelkiste Film Screening and Discussion
November 11 at 3:15 p.m.
Cinema crank box

Climate stickers, blockades, demonstrations and spray attacks. Is this law or crime? Does democracy need civil disobedience? “Investigation of a Flame” by Lynne Sachs documents an anti-war action by Catholic activists, the Catonsville Nine, against the Vietnam War – and interviews those involved about it thirty years after their action. The Frankfurt lawyer Samira Akarbian has just published her award-winning doctoral thesis on “Civil Disobedience as a Constitutional Interpretation”. We watch the film with her in the Kurbelkiste cinema and discuss civil disobedience today. Afterwards there will be Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” at the Münster Theater, which was inspired, among other things, by the action of the Catonsville Nine. Audience discussion following the performance.
This is the third event in Heaven, Hell, Happy End , the new series that accompanies musical theater productions. The deputy chairwoman of QueerBw, Lieutenant Colonel iG Anastasia Biefang, was a guest at the first event. At the second appointment we already had a conversation with the director Lynne Sachs about her film Investigation of a Flame.

Cinema & Kurbelkiste / Investigation of a Flame

Investigation of A Flame in cooperation with Theater Münster
Film discussion with filmmaker Lynne Sachs
Sun October 15, 2023 • 6:00 p.m.


Heaven, Hell, Happy Ending #2

In May 1968, the Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic priests and laypeople who wanted to stop the Vietnam War, burned draft records. They used homemade napalm. They had previously stolen the files from a district military replacement office in broad daylight. For some it was a crime, for others it was civil disobedience. For the composer Leonard Bernstein, this action, which caused a lot of attention in the public and also in the Catholic Church, was an important impulse for his musical theater piece Mass. He was friends with Father Daniel Berrigan, who was sentenced to prison for this action.

The feminist filmmaker Lynne Sachs made a film about this action in 2001 and allowed the activists, but also employees of the authority, jurors and the public prosecutor to have their say: How do they see the action in retrospect?

She comes to Münster for the premiere of the film (with German subtitles) and speaks to Professor Dr. Oliver Tolmein after the screening about the film and the meaning and consequences of civil disobedience.

This is the second event in “Heaven, Hell, Happy Ending”, the new series that accompanies musical theater productions.

Lynne Sachs If Tomorrow were Peace from Lynne Sachs on Vimeo.

Photos from Münster

Experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs donates films to Hunter College Libraries / Hunter College Libraries

Experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs donates films to Hunter College Libraries
Hunter College Libraries
July 26, 2023

Experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs donates films to Hunter College Libraries

Feminist, artist, experimental documentary filmmaker, and poet Lynne Sachs’ donation of DVDs to Hunter College Libraries completes the Libraries’ collection of  Sachs’ films on DVD. The films are available for CUNY students, staff, and faculty to borrow. Scroll down to see the list.

I asked Lynne about her teaching experience at Hunter College. Here is her reply:

“I started at Hunter in September 2001, and of course you know what happened that month.  My relationship to the school has been consistent and meaningful for all of these years.  In that first semester, I witnessed the way that the school became a real home and place of solace for the students, especially the international ones.  Every class was like a therapy session, blending the emotional and intellectual into a single impactful experience (or at least that’s how it is in my memory). I was also at Hunter for the very first conversations around their IMA Grad program which has turned into a deeply respected and supportive community.”

Lynne taught the follwing classes:

Graduate courses in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program:
The Accident that Pricks: Family and Photography
Day Residue: Hybrid Media and Performance
Film as a Collaborative Art
Frames and Stanzas: Film and Poetry
Non Fiction Graduate Seminar

Undergraduate Courses:
Introduction to Film and Media
Developing the Documentary
Sound for Film and Video
Film 1

“What I do in the world when I’m in the act of shooting film is ask myself how and if I can work in concert with something that exists in reality.”  – From an interview with the poet Paulo Javier in Bomb Magazine, March 2014.

Lynne Sachs’ films have been featured in a number of retrospectives, including one at The Museum of Moving Image, Lynne Sachs: Between Thought and Expression, organized by assistant curator Edo Choi. In a review of the retrospective, Kat Sachs (no relation), highlights themes of Sachs’ work and the personal and experimental approach the filmmaker takes to communicate through the medium of film.

“A Reality Between Words and Images: Films by Lynne Sachs,” a program screening in October, 2022 at e-flux Screening Room featured six of the filmmaker’s works. In a review of the program on Screenslate.com, the author discusses the filmmaker’s exploration of  the subjects.

A retrospective of Lynne Sachs’ work was included in the Ghosts and Apparitions section of the virtual Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2020. Reviews of the retrospective appeared on Hyperallergic and ubiquarian. In an interview in Modern Times Review, the filmmaker discusses her films in the Sheffiled Doc/Fest. Two of the films in the Festival, The Washing Society (co-directed with playwright Lizzie Oleskar) and Your Day is My Night, investigate the experiences of immigrants working in service jobs, a timely subject during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reviews of Lynne Sachs’ Film About a Father Who can be found on Cineaste, and was a Critic’s Pick on the New York Times.

A two-part interview with the experimental filmmaker is available on A Masters Edition episode of Docs in Orbit. “In part one of the conversation, Lynne Sachs discusses how feminist film theory has shaped her work and her approach to experimental filmmaking. We also discuss her collaborative process in her films, including her short documentary film A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES (for Barbara Hammer). Part two discusses her latest feature-length documentary film, FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO (2020).”

Films by Lynne Sachs available at Hunter College Libraries

Film about a father who
Sachs, Lynne, film director, director of photography, narrator, on-screen participant.; Sachs, Ira, Sr., interviewee, on-screen participant.; Sachs, Ira, cinematographer, on-screen participant.; Shapass, Rebecca, editor of moving image work.; Vitiello, Stephen, composer (expression); Allen, Kevin T., remix artist.; Cinema Guild, publisher.

The washing society
Olesker, Lizzie, filmmaker.; Sachs, Lynne, filmmaker.; Hanley, Sean (Film producer), director of photography.; Katz, Amanda, editor of moving image work.; Vitiello, Stephen, composer (expression); Holloway, Jasmine, actor.; Santa, Veraalba, actor.; Ching, Valdes-Aran, actor.; Torn, Tony, actor.; Canyon Cinema Foundation (Firm), film distributor.

Tip of my tongue
Katz, Amanda.; Sachs, Lynne, film director, author, participant.; Cinema Guild, film distributor.

Your day is my night = 你的白天是我的黑夜 / Argot Pictures ; a film by Lynne Sachs ; produced by Lynne Sachs and Sean Hanley ; directed by Lynne Sachs. ; Your day is my night = Ni de bai tian shi wo de hei ye
Argot Pictures (Firm), film production company.; Cinema Guild, publisher.; Sachs, Lynne, film director, film producer, screenwriter.; Robles, Rojo, screenwriter.; Hanley, Seán, film producer, editor of moving image work, director of photography.; Cao, Yi Chan, performer, interviewee (expression); Chan, Linda, performer, interviewee (expression); Che, Chung Qing, performer, interviewee (expression); Ho, Ellen, performer, interviewee (expression); Huang, Yun Xiu, performer, interviewee (expression); Lee, Sheut Hing, performer, interviewee (expression); Santa, Veraalba, performer, interviewee (expression); Tsui, Kam Yin, performer, interviewee (expression); Mass, Ethan, editor of moving image work.; Vitiello, Stephen, composer (expression)

Con viento en el pelo = Wind in our hair
Sachs, Lynne.; Gallisá, Sofía.; Molina, Juana.; Peroni, Lena.; Peroni, Chiara.; Street-Sachs, Maya.; Street-Sachs, Noa.; Cortázar, Julio.

The last happy day : with 4 short films
Sachs, Lynne. film director.; Mass, Ethan, director of photography.; Lenard, Hansgerd. interviewee (expression); Lenard, Andrietta. interviewee (expression); Gerendas, Israel John. actor; Moss, Donald. actor; Fagen, Lucas. actor; Reade, Isabel. actor; Street-Sachs, Maya. actor; Street-Sachs, Noa. actor

10 short films. Vol. 3
Sachs, Lynne. ; Microcinema, Inc.

Which way is east
Sachs, Lynne.; Sachs, Dana.

States of unbelonging : a film
New Day Films.; Sachs, Lynne.; Zats, Nir.; Reichman, Ted.

Films of Lynne Sachs
Charming Hostess (Musical group); Sachs, Lynne.; Z, Pamela, 1956-

Sermons and sacred pictures
Sachs, Lynne.; Taylor, L. O., 1900-1977.; Center for Southern Folklore.; First Run/Icarus Films.

Investigation of a flame : a documentary portrait of the Catonsville nine
Sachs, Lynne.
2003, 2001

“The Art of Curation: In Celebration of Canyon Cinema Discovered” by Lynne Sachs

The Art of Curation: In Celebration of Canyon Cinema Discovered
Canyon Cinema Discovered Essays
By Lynne Sachs
January 16, 2023

The Art of Curation: In Celebration of Canyon Cinema Discovered

By Lynne Sachs 

My engagement with Canyon Cinema started when I was a young filmmaker living in San Francisco in the mid 1980s. Three decades older and thousands of miles away, I am not a bit surprised that this intertwined relationship between a filmmaker and her beloved distributor continues to this day. Between 2020 and 2022, I had the honor to participate as an advisor in the Canyon Cinema Discovered Curatorial Fellowship. Here I offer a few thoughts that came to my mind as I was reading the recently published Canyon Cinema Discovered catalog (Canyon Cinemazine #9, 2022) containing the four extraordinary curatorial essays that came out of this highly generative and ambitious endeavor. What a treat it was to read all four of these essays in a book that was so brilliantly and beautifully designed by Helen Shewolfe Tseng. So too must I express my enthusiasm for the editing guidance provided by S. Topiary Landberg and Brett Kashmere.

In his essay “Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz,” Juan Carlos Kase begins his text on experimental cinema with a reference to a short list of narrative films. Noting the scarcity of “meaningful collaborations” between feature film directors and jazz musicians or composers, he pays homage to a few exceptions by alluding to two of my personal favorites Elevator to the Gallows (1958) by Louis Malle and Shadows (1959) by John Cassavetes. Kase then asserts his belief that it is avant-garde filmmakers who have “embraced jazz and drawn formal and political inspiration from the ways in which it models alternative, spontaneous conceptions of art.” It is Kase’s distinction between the formal and political approaches to both the moving image and to music itself that makes his argument such a helpful framework by which we as readers can recognize and celebrate the intricate dynamic between these two expressive modalities. In reading his lucid, persuasive essay, I was struck by the way that he was able to build a concise critique of art history’s Eurocentric genealogy of Modernism through his acknowledgment of the widespread but underappreciated influences of Black jazz and improvisation. 

I was particularly moved by Kase’s close, passionate analysis of Christopher Harris’s 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (2009). Just as he does throughout this beautifully precise collection of visual and aural observations, Kase draws our attention to the way that Harris embraces “the musical vocabulary of jazz itself [with his] handheld glissandi and staccato in-camera edits,” ultimately “transfiguring the spirit of music into the material registers of graphic art” through a non-audible “music for the eyes.” Here, Kase elucidates his own theory of a “gestural cinema,” one in which the spirit of jazz is integrated into the very fiber of the image. Towards the end of Kase’s curatorial exploration, he talks about one of Canyon Cinema’s founders Bruce Baillie’s mid 1960s short films, All My Life (1966), a three-minute pan of a white picket fence on a hill in the glorious sunlight of Northern California. As we watch this image, we hear Ella Fitzgerald singing the eponymous song of the film’s title. It’s simple, yes, but it works, making this film a classic of the American avant-garde. Perhaps it is the fact that we don’t really know why it makes our eyes and ears feel truly ecstatic that Kase contends that this movie epitomizes renowned NYC jazz D.J. Phil Schaap’s notion of the “magical rhythm float,” the perfect Apollonian ideal, what Roland Barthes so succinctly coined “the text of bliss.”

I was immediately drawn into Chrystel Oloukoï’s curatorial essay “Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments” in her evocative opening where she reminds us of her gratitude to Toni Morrison and Édouard Glissant for their highly influential thinking on literature, Blackness, and opacity. Oloukoï then introduces us to her exploration of water as a visual motif that touches on the films that comprise her Canyon program. Sadly, the only films I had seen in her collection were David Gatten’s What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 (1998) and Nos. 4-6 (2006-2007) and Ja’Tovia Gary’s Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (2017). I was so taken with Oloukoï’s notion of the non-human agency that is part of Gatten’s engagement with what she calls an ecocinema, celebrating the on-screen gestural presence or writing, you might say, of ocean crabs in the context of a film exploring the epistolary dynamics found in the exchange of letters. Her explanation of the way that Gary uses a manual brushing of the filmic surface as a way to disrupt and fragment the serenity of Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s Giverny garden gave me the tools to better examine the filmmaker’s conceptual journey, as well as the problematic legacy that is part and parcel of the European art historical canon. Inserted just after this essay were a series of distinctly formed and labeled maps which Oloukoï asserts “testify to the extent to which no body of water has been left untouched by interconnected histories of slavery, colonialism, and  immigration.” Together, these maps, Oloukoï’s collection of films, and the accompanying essay force us as readers and spectators to complicate the dynamic between sublime and haunting images that are so much a part of an experimental cinema practice.

In my reading of Oloukoï’s concept of “residence time” as it explains the lasting presence of a substance in the water, I was reminded of poet Marlene NourbeSe Philip’s long-format poem “Zong!” which analyzes and abstracts a harrowing 18th century story of a nautical murder of enslaved people on a ship where the captain and his crew threw 40 human beings into the Atlantic Ocean in order to collect insurance money. So writes Oloukoï, “If the waters do speak, they do so in excess of narrative threads, in an alchemy full of beauty but also full of terror.”

Ekin Pinar begins her essay for “Insurgent Articulations” with a reference to cultural thinker Hal Foster, asking us as viewers of politically-engaged films to make a distinction between work that “describes” social upheaval and protest and work that constructs its own critical and interpretive visual modality. With a nod to the tools of semiotics, Pinar ponders the meaning and influence of “non-indexical” imagery as it stretches, disrupts, and breaks the more obvious connections between actions and meanings. In this way, she begins simply by challenging the binary between radical form and radical content which she believes has contributed to the broad thinking that experimental film cannot claim to change the world, or at the least change the thinking of its audience. Moving from Foster’s questioning to the more contemporary analyses of artist Hito Steyerl, Pinar articulates her own two-layered paradigm for conceptualizing an “aesthetics of protest.” Through this structural formation, Pinar asks us to contemplate how we watch a political action, either from within. as a demonstrator ourselves. or from without, as bystanders and later as members of a film audience. Later in her essay, Pinar introduces the writing of Judith Butler as a way to think about political acts – as non-confrontational members of demonstrations or as intentional disruptors through acts of civil disobedience. In both situations, participants become self-aware performers whose gestures and words can be deconstructed.

I was familiar with the work of Dominic Angerame, Rhea Storr, Toney Merritt, Joyce Wieland, Sharon Hayes, and Kate Millett but had only seen three of the films in this collection: New Left Note (1968-1982) by Saul Levine, Sisters! (1973) by Barbara Hammer, and my own film Investigation of a Flame (2001). By interweaving theory with astute visual analysis, Pinar gives us the tools to take our appreciation for everything filmic – including animation, archival material, and collage-style editing – and apply these visual tropes to our understanding of a filmmaker’s political intentions. Through it all, Pinar attempts to prove the commitment of the avant-garde filmmaker to providing a social or political critique while continuing to invent new forms of visual and aural expression.

Aaditya Aggarwal’s “Prime Time Reverie” taunts us to think about and reject TV’s historical “hyper-visibilty” of women’s bodies. I have seen the films in the program by Cauleen Smith, Barbara Hammer, Naomi Uman and, of course, myself. I am also quite familiar with the work of artists Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut, Emily Chao, Sandra Davis, and Paige Taul.

In academic settings, television is most often discussed using a sociological or media studies framework for analysis, so it was refreshing to discover Aggarwal’s blending of the popular culture and avant-garde without judgment of either. I was completely captivated by Aggarwal’s own fascination with the appliance itself, an object of transmission found in the home, historically viewed, at least during the day, almost exclusively by women who are “nudged and mirrored in intimate and discerning ways.” Honestly, I learned an enormous amount about my very early film Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986) as well as Cauleen Smith’s Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (1992) through Aggarwal’s suggestion that they both can be read as “artistic variations on and intentional detours from the soap format.” I doubt that Aggarwal knows that Cauleen and I were student peers in the Cinema Department at San Francisco State University in the late 1980s, producing these two short riffs on “slice-of-life profiles” that have so often been exploited and deformed by broadcast TV.

Aggarwal’s essay and the accompanying program wrap themselves up with a thoughtful study of Emily Chao’s film No Land (2019), allowing us to think more deeply about the essay’s earlier reference to Genevieve Yue’s text “The China Girl on the Margins of Film.” Here, both an experimental film and a critical article force us to ponder the box, the frame, and the cell itself as deleterious formations that construct, constrain, and imprison at the same time that they work so hard to accomplish only one simple task – entertain.

An exquisitely conceived program of short films pushes viewers toward new ways of thinking not only about the films themselves, but also about how those cinematic experiences can illuminate the world beyond the walls of the theater or the frame of the screen. Just as the great montage filmmakers developed and practiced their dialectical theories on the relationship between shots, so too does a film curator spark a unique awareness for each and every member of an audience. What an honor it was for me to be so deeply involved in the Canyon Cinema Discovered project, as an advisor, an artist, and now as a reader of this marvelous catalog of film programs and essays.

Investigation of a Flame / Wikipedia

Investigation of a Flame

Investigation of a Flame
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Investigation of a Flame
Directed byLynne Sachs
CinematographyLynne Sachs
Benjamin P. Speth
Edited byLynne Sachs
Running time43 minutes
CountryUnited States

Investigation of a Flame is a 2001 documentary by Lynne Sachs about the Catonsville Nine, nine Catholic activists who became known for their May 17, 1968 nonviolent act of civil disobedience in burning draft files to protest the Vietnam War.[1]

The 45 minute film includes interviews with six members of the pioneers from the 1968 expression, including Daniel and Philip BerriganJohn HoganThomas Lewis, and married couple Marjorie and Tom Melville. The film also includes commentary by historian Howard Zinn.



Francis X. Clines of The New York Times described the film as “a documentary about the protest events that made Catonsville, Maryland, an unpretentious suburb on the cusp of Baltimore, a flash point for citizens’ resistance at the height of the war. . . . Sachs found assorted characters still firm to fiery on the topic. She came to admire the consistency of the mutual antagonists in an argument that still rages (today).”[1] Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote that Sachs “uses a mosaic technique and seemingly random shots of plants and houses to create a moody, subjective portrait of an era as much as a group of people.”[2] Molly Marsh of Sojourners magazine called the film “wonderfully intimate; Sachs brings the camera within inches of her subjects’ faces, capturing their thoughtful reminisces and personal regrets.[3] Fred Camper of the Chicago Reader called it a “poetic essay” with “no omniscient narrator talking down to the viewer . . . while “images like a newspaper going in and out of focus remind us that shifting contexts alter our understanding of complex events.”[4]

Lee Gardner of the Baltimore City Paper wrote that “Sachs cannily avoids the usual documentary dance of talking heads and file footage by interspersing impressionistic shots. (The film) provides a potent reminder that some Americans are willing to pay a heavy price to promote peace.”[5]


  • San Francisco International Film Festival
  • New Jersey Film Festival
  • Ann Arbor Film Festival
  • First Prize Documentary Athens Film Festival
  • Vermont Film Fest. Social Issue Doc. Award


  1. Jump up to:a b Francis X. Clines, “Catonsville Journal; Keeping Alive the Spirit of Vietnam War Protest”The New York Times, May 3, 2001.
    1. ^ Michael O’Sullivan, “Experimental Cinema At the Corcoran”The Washington Post, January 4, 2002  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
    1. ^ Molly Marsh, “Worth noting. (Investigation of a Flame: a Documentary Portrait of the Catonsville Nine)(Movie Review)”[dead link] Sojourners, May 1, 2003
    1. ^ Fred Camper, Review of Investigation of a FlameChicago Reader (accessed 2012-01-07).
    1. ^ “Press & Reviews” at Lynne Sachs official website[third-party source needed].

External links

“Insurgent Articulations” / Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs

“Insurgent Articulations”
Canyon Discovered Programs
Curated by Ekin Pinar
October 2, 2022

About the Program

A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural contexts has always been part and parcel of a good variety of experimental filmmaking practices, even though canonical works on experimental cinema tend to focus solely on the formal explorations that supposedly reflect the filmmaker’s own (hermetic) subjectivity. Because of this exclusive focus on formal experimentation, the socio-historical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until recently. Focusing on the theme of the aesthetics of socio-political unrest and protest, this program showcases examples of experimental filmmaking that are fictionally constructed or experimentally reconstructed in formally explorative and reflexive ways demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins.

Screening Premiere: October 2, 2022 @ 1:15pm, Roxie Theater, San Francisco
Streaming Online: October 2-8, 2022

Films in this Program

Introduction to Insurgent Articulations
Ekin Pinar
Program Curator

Pig Power
Single Spark Film
1969, 8 minutes, b&w, sound, 16mm

Impressionistic peace riots and marches. More art than documentary. Brief remarks by participants. A flavor of the skirmishes of the times.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

Demonstration ‘68
Dominic Angerame
1968-74, 2 minutes, color, silent, 16mm

Anti-war demonstration, 1968, New York City march to Sheep’s Meadow, shows Vets against the war, Yippies, arrests, and flags of a half-forgotten revolution.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

Joyce Wieland
1973, 11 minutes, color, sound, 16mm

About a strike in which women are involved, but told in a very different way.

Digital file for online presentation courtesy of CFMDC.
Rent from Canyon Cinema

Barbara Hammer
1973, 8 minutes, color, sound, 16mm

A celebration and collage of lesbians, including footage of the Women’s International Day march in SF and joyous dancing from the last night of the second Lesbian Conference where Family of Woman played; as well as images of women doing all types of traditional “men’s” work.

Preserved for Barabara Hammer by BB Optics, Inc. and the Academy Film Archive with support from NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund.
Digital file for online preservation courtesy of Electronic Arts intermix.
Rent from Canyon Cinema

New Left Note
Saul Levine
1968-82, 26 minutes, color, silent, 16mm, 18fps

As editor of New Left Notes, the newspaper of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Levine was at the center of multiple radical political movements. For this film, he employs a rapid fire editing style to create a frenetic, kaleidoscopic portrait of the antiwar movement, women’s liberation and the Black Panthers. 

Restoration 16mm blows-ups of 8mm films by the National Film Preservation Foundation, Anthology Film Archives, and BB Optics.
Rent from Canyon Cinema

Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012
Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett & the Women’s Li…
2012, 33 minutes, color, live sound, 16mm

“’Gay Power’ is a collaboration between Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett – a leading feminist author and activist since the 1960s – and the Women’s Liberation Cinema. The film in¬stallation utilizes footage shot by Millett and the Women’s Liberation Cinema docu¬menting the Second Annual Christopher Street Day Parade in 1971. The parade, which is still held annually, celebrates the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community [are these meant to be capitalized??], and campaigns for liberation. The images of the 1971 demonstration, which took place just two years after the Stonewall riots, show a crowd of 6,000 marching from the West Village to Central Park, through a far more openly homophobic New York City than the one we know today. Hayes and Millet have created a voiceover soundtrack to accompany — or speak with — the footage. As two voices from different generations, Hayes and Millet address the footage and the ‘movement’ from two distinct historical positions. Neither voice commands authority over the moving image, intimating both the coherence and incoherence of historical documentation, and illuminating the ways in which history is often rewritten accord¬ing to the present.(Tanya Leighton Gallery)

Digital preservation courtesy of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project

One the nature of the bone
Elena Pardo
2018, 2 minutes, color, sound, digital video

The concept of memory and image are mixed in this piece to reveal the continuity in the justifications that the Mexican Government issues to perpetuate violence. Mexico was ruled for 80 years by the same political party, during which power passed
unchanged from one president to the next in what some people call a “soft dictature”. These were the years of bloody repressions. One of these terrible events was the
massacre of students in 1968 at the Tlatelolco square. 

*In Mexico we use the term “hueso” (bone) to refer to power. A politician fetches a bone, a slice of power. 

Rent from Canyon Cinema

A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message
Rhea Storr
2018, 12 minutes, color, sound, digital video

Celebration is protest at Leeds West Indian Carnival. A look at forms of authority, ‘A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message’ asks who performs and who spectates. Following Mama Dread’s, a troupe whose carnival theme is Caribbean immigration to the UK, we are asked to consider the visibility of black bodies, particularly in rural spaces. The film considers how easy it is to represent oneself culturally as a Mixed-race person in the UK and the ways in which Black bodies become visible, questioning ownership or appropriation of Black culture.

Rent from LUX

Toney W. Merritt
2020, 1 minute, b&w, sound, digital video

In support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

Investigation of a Flame
Lynne Sachs
2001, 45 minutes, color, sound, digital video

On May 17, 1968 nine Vietnam War Protesters led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, walked into a Catonsville Maryland draft board office, grabbed hundreds of selective service records and burned them with homemade napalm. Investigation of a Flame is an intimate, experimental documentary portrait of the Catonsville Nine, this disparate band of resisters who chose to break the law in a defiant, poetic act of civil disobedience.

Rent from Canyon Cinema

“Insurgent Articulations” – Curated by Ekin Pinar / CANYON CINEMA DISCOVERED PROGRAMS

“Insurgent Articulations”
Curated by Ekin Pinar
Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs
September 27, 2022

“Insurgent Articulations”
Essay by Ekin Pinar

How to protest
1. Create a clear message
2. Make noise
3. Occupy a significant space
4. Engender fear through the sudden movement of a large mass of people, for example a march

How to celebrate carnival
1. Create a costume with a clear identity or message (…)
2. Make noise
3. Occupy a space significant to the community
4. Create a spectacle through the movement of a large mass of people, for example a parade. 5. Protest joyfully.

—Rhea Storr, A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message, 2018

The opening voice-over of A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (Rhea Storr, 2018) outlines the dissenting, performative, affective, and public nature of protest events. While Rhea Storr poses a clear message as the prerequisite of protesting, the form and organization of the social event articulates the un-straightforward substance of protest. The film begins with this claim and challenges it through its course in a manner that mirrors protest events’ process of expression. Insurgent Articulations examines this parallel between protest as a cinematic subject matter and protest as determining the form and organization of film.

Focusing on the aesthetics of socio-political protest, the program showcases experimental films that reconstruct demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins in formally reflexive ways. In doing so, Insurgent Articulations explores cinematic reconstruction, reenactment, and the fictional fabrication of protest. These methods emphasize the productive tensions between on-site recording, retrospective consideration, and creative invention of political events. At the same time, these cinematic articulations of insurgent acts resist injustice, exclusion, and repression in ways that resonate with the challenges of protesters’ congregating bodies as they claim the right to express themselves in public space.

One of the many “turns” that have defined moving image culture in the last 25 years or so is documentary. Defined by a sustained and intense attention to the actual and fabricated Sisters!, Barbara Hammer archival, historical, and/or ethnographic documents, traces, and fragments of real and fictional events, beings, and objects, this tendency questions the authoritative, factual tone of conventional forms of documentary. Common strategies include re-enactments and re-stagings, essayistic modes, blurring of the factual and fictional, use of non-indexical media (especially animation), as well as aesthetic manipulation of the indexical documentation of the matters of the “real” world. As Hal Foster has noted, this documentary turn shifts documentary practice from deconstruction to reconstruction, engaging with the format as a critical and interpretative mode instead of a descriptive one. 1 Rather than claiming a direct mediation of the outside world, then, this mode approximates affective, corporeal, and situated/partial truths.

The documentary turn is unmistakably a reaction to the rise of digital media and the attendant proclamations of the “death of the indexical.” Yet, streaks of these self-reflexive documentary modes have existed in experimental film practices from the 1960s onwards. A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural aspects of our lifeworlds has been a significant part and parcel of experimental filmmaking practices. Yet, standard histories of experimental cinema outline a canon defined by subjective formal experimentations of the 60s that shifted in the 70s to a structuralist mode concerned with cinematic form. Because of this past focus on formal experimentation, the sociohistorical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until more recently.

Insurgent Articulations puts contemporary work in dialogue with the histories of experimental documentary—highlighting correspondences of subject matter, representational strategies, and organizational modes. This retrospective assessment challenges the periodizing accounts of experimental film history by underlining the experimental film production’s persistent interest in the social and political events of the world. At the same time, the program invites viewers to reconsider the false binary between aesthetic experimentation and a political commitment to the actual world.

Experimental films that take protest as their subject provide an especially fecund ground for the examination of the tightly woven interchange between formal experimentation and political subject matter. In her discussion of protest, Hito Steyerl emphasizes two interrelated layers of expression: The first layer involves what is being protested and the discovery of an appropriate and effective verbal and visual language for the substance of protest. The second concerns how the assembly of people organizes itself for the purpose of protest and communicates this internal organization to the public. 2 The films in this program articulate both levels of articulation. They visualize assemblies of resistance, while also reflecting formal, structural, and organizational concerns that parallel the aesthetics of protest. Reflexively considering issues of witnessing, performance, assemblage, and the formation of counterpublics both in terms of aesthetic form and political content, the films highlight the fluid and complex relations between art and politics, and fact and fiction.

As its Latin root protestare suggests, acts of protest are always a matter of public witnessing that concerns both the people assembling to oppose, resist, and struggle as well as those who behold, take notice of, attend to, and document these events. Aesthetic manipulation and/or reconstruction of the protest events in these films reflexively engages with the political implications of the ethnographic gaze of the camera and the filmmaker’s act of witnessing. For instance, Demonstration ‘68’s (Dominic Angerame, 1968-74) fitful starts and stops of the footage along with the, at times, hazy quality of the imagery owing to the use of an 8mm camera, gives a reflexive quality to this film documentation of a 1968 anti-war march towards Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow. This subtle formal attention to the role of the filmmaker as mediator within the activist space of the protest vis-à-vis the act of witnessing becomes a more explicit structuring element in Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 (Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, 2012). The film brings together raw footage shot by Women’s Liberation Cinema (including Kate Millett, Susan Kleckner, and Lenore Bode among others) at the 1971 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade and Gay-In, Kate Millett’s commentary on the footage thirty years after the event, Solidarity, Joyce Wieland and Sharon Hayes’s narration of her own reactions to this historical footage. The resulting complex, multilayered text puts various modes of witnessing in conversation with one another: through the lens of the camera (Women’s Liberation Cinema), as a retrospective act (Millett), and as a documentary spectator and reassembler (Hayes).

The presentational aspects of protest events directed at onlookers clearly produce a performative dimension. Replay, retrospection, and reenactment involved in the multilayered structuring of Gay Power simultaneously indexes these performative aspects of protest events. In its analogy between a carnival and a protest parade, A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message also highlights this performative dimension at the Leeds West Indian carnival in Yorkshire, UK. The film emphasizes the racial dimension of the performance in its arrangement of white people as spectators and Black people as performers who are, at the same time, consciously defiant of the white gaze. Yet, a sudden shift to the calm countryside where Storr walks alone in her parade costume calls attention to a different spatial context that lacks an audience for a protesting/ performing rural, mixed-race body. In a similar vein, the editing tactics of Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973) brings together footage from First Women’s March (Height Ashbury, San Francisco, 1973), a concert at the West Coast Lesbian Feminist Conference (UCLA, 1973), and several women performing putatively male labor in conscious address of the camera. In Investigation of a Flame (Lynne Sachs, 2001), the editing similarly alternates between different performative events: the archival footage of the Catonsville Nine burning draft records, military parades featuring children dressed up as soldiers, and Catonsville home movies in which addressing and playacting for the camera reign.

A protest event becomes a performative one to the extent that it is a bodily assembly of people enacting solidarity and resistance for others to take notice. Underscoring the distinction between the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, Judith Butler describes how the corporeal, performative gathering of a group of people forms an extra layer of meaning beyond the verbal expression of the protest. 3 This distinction between verbal expression and bodily performance is exactly what configures the image-sound relations in Solidarity (Joyce Wieland, 1973). Focusing on a strike at the Dare Cookie Factory in Kitchener, Ontario, the film edits together the feet, shoes, and legs of marching and picketing workers with the organizer’s speech on the soundtrack. Despite the unified message on the level of verbal expression, the defamiliarization achieved by the unusual attention to the feet emphasizes the plurality in solidarity. Such a parallel between cinematic editing and the structuring of protest is the organizational principle of New Left Note (Saul Levine, 1968-82), which not only assembles bodies but also assembles events with different temporal registers. New Left Note articulates this intertextuality through its fast-cut editing of scenes from various protests by the Black Panthers and feminist and anti-war movements among others. On the nature of the bone (Elena Pardo, 2018) likewise establishes a link between the massacre of students in 1968 at the Tlatelolco Plaza and the current political atmosphere in Mexico. Through its juxtaposition of past and contemporary found footage, photographs, and drawings, the film offers an animated reenactment of history.

While protest events usually involve a bodily assembly, not everyone has physical access to material spaces of protest. As a compensation, people have used cellphone cameras and the internet to not only record and circulate images more widely than ever before, but also to create alternative modes of protest across online platforms. Films in this program alert us to another history of mediating, constructing, and reconstructing protest. The brief yet powerful B.L.M. (Toney W. Merritt, 2020) focuses on the occupation of the putatively public sphere by police while simultaneously constructing a new platform of resistance. Pig Power (Single Spark Film, 1969) brings together footage and testimony from several contemporary protests in a style that emulates and subverts the newsreel format (conventionally intended for a mass audience) to create counterimages addressed to a counterpublic.

The films in Insurgent Articulations establish spatial and temporal connections across multiple sites of protest. Doing so, these films also hint at the community-forming capabilities of the circulation and exhibition practices of experimental cinema in the form of co-ops and cine clubs (for instance, Canyon Cinema and The Film-Makers’ Cooperative in the US, Nihon University New Film Study Club in Japan, and Genç Sinema in Turkey, to name only a few). In their thematic, organizational, and formal interest in the significant social and political events that are shaped by and, in turn, constitute our shared lifeworlds, the works in this program go against the theoretical and historiographic traditions that have for so long associated avant-garde film practices with individualistic forms of expression. They suggest new ways of engaging with histories of experimental cinema that highlight resonances, continuities, and entanglements that challenge established periodizations and geographic boundaries. Across this rich tapestry of experimental representations of protest, we find another mode of resistance—one that defies easy historical categorization.

Edited by Tess Takahashi


1 Hal Foster, “Real Fictions,” in What Comes after Farce? Art and Criticism at a Time of Debacle (London and New York: Verso, 2020), 154.

2 Hito Steyerl, “The Articulation of Protest,” in The Wretched of the Screen, eds. Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), 78.

3 Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2015), 8.

Film Academy Invites 397 People to Become Members, Including Billie Eilish, Jamie Dornan, Dana Walden and Leonard Maltin / The Hollywood Reporter

Film Academy Invites 397 People to Become Members, Including Billie Eilish, Jamie Dornan, Dana Walden and Leonard Maltin
The Hollywood Reporter
By Scott Feinberg
June 28, 2022

According to an Academy-provided breakdown of the new invitees, 44 percent are women, 37 percent are non-white and 50 percent are non-Americans (54 different countries are represented).

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited 397 members of the global film community to join the organization, it was announced Tuesday.

Among those who will henceforth be able to vote for the Oscar nominations and winners if they accept, as the vast majority of people who have received invites historically have: newly-minted Oscar winners Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (music branch) and Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur (actors); Paramount chief Brian Robbins and Disney general entertainment chief Dana Walden (executives); and film critic Leonard Maltin (members-at-large).

According to an Academy-provided breakdown of the new invitees, 44 percent are women, 37 percent are non-white and 50 percent are non-Americans (54 different countries are represented). If they all accept, the Academy’s overall membership will be 34 percent female, 19 percent non-white and 23 percent non-American.

Seven branches invited more women than men (actors, casting directors, costume designers, documentary, makeup artists/hairstylists, marketing/public relations and producers); three branches invited more non-whites than whites (actors, directors and documentary); and nine branches invited more non-Americans than Americans (actors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, makeup artists/hairstylists, producers, short films/feature animation and visual effects).

This year’s list of invites is two longer than last year’s, which was, by far, the smallest since the #OscarsSoWhite uproar prompted a massive expansion of the organization. The most invites came from the short films/feature animation branch (41), followed by the documentary branch (38) and the actors branch (30).

Other notable names invited to join the Academy this year include 2021 standout actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan (Belfast), Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Gaby Hoffmann (C’mon C’mon), Robin de Jesus (Tick, Tick … Boom!), Vincent Lindon (Titane), Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) and Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho); director Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard); documentarians Traci A. Curry (Attica) and Ben Proudfoot (The Queen of Basketball); producers Tim White and Trevor White (King Richard); and writers Zach Baylin (King Richard) and Jeremy O Harris (Zola),

Veteran entertainment industry figures who received invitations not tied to a specific recent projects include Sheryl Lee Ralph (actors); Amy Seimetz (directors); Scott Foundas (executives); Craig MazinAlex Ross Perry and Katie Silberman (writers); and George Drakoulias (members-at-large).

Among those invited to join the marketing and public relations branch were DDA chief Dana Archer, Amazon awards chief Debra Birnbaum, international features specialist Tatiana Detlofson, personal reps Sheri Goldberg and Jessica Kolstad, Magnolia Pictures publicity chief George Nicholis, Apple TV+ awards chief Gina Pence (who was central to CODA‘s winning Oscar campaign), Focus Features’ executive vp publicity Stephanie Phillips, Shelter PR evp awards and events Jerry Rojas and Netflix’s US publicity chief Michelle Slavich.

Several people were invited to join multiple branches and will have to select one, including: Drive My Car‘s Ryusuke Hamaguchi (directors/writers), CODA‘s Sian Heder (directors/writers) and Flee‘s Jonas Poher Rasmussen (directors/documentary)

A full list of those invited to join the Academy follows.

Funke Akindele – “Omo Ghetto: The Saga,” “Jenifa”
Caitríona Balfe – “Belfast,” “Ford v Ferrari”
Reed Birney – “Mass,” “Changeling”
Jessie Buckley – “The Lost Daughter,” “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Lori Tan Chinn – “Turning Red,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”
Daniel K. Daniel – “The Fugitive,” “A Soldier’s Story”
Ariana DeBose – “West Side Story,” “The Prom”
Robin de Jesús – “tick, tick…BOOM!,” “The Boys in the Band”
Jamie Dornan – “Belfast,” “Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar”
Michael Greyeyes – “Wild Indian,” “Woman Walks Ahead”
Gaby Hoffmann – “C’mon C’mon,” “Wild”
Amir Jadidi – “A Hero,” “Cold Sweat”
Kajol – “My Name Is Khan,” “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…”
Troy Kotsur – “CODA,” “The Number 23”
Vincent Lindon – “Titane,” “The Measure of a Man”
BarBara Luna – “The Concrete Jungle,” “Five Weeks in a Balloon”
Aïssa Maïga – “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “Mood Indigo”
Selton Mello – “My Hindu Friend,” “Trash”
Olga Merediz – “In the Heights,” “Adrift”
Sandra Kwan Yue Ng – “Echoes of the Rainbow,” “Portland Street Blues”
Hidetoshi Nishijima – “Drive My Car,” “Cut”
Rena Owen – “The Last Witch Hunter,” “The Dead Lands”
Jesse Plemons – “The Power of the Dog,” “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Sheryl Lee Ralph – “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” “The Distinguished Gentleman”
Renate Reinsve – “The Worst Person in the World,” “Welcome to Norway”
Marco Rodriguez – “El Chicano,” “Unspeakable”
Joanna Scanlan – “After Love,” “Notes on a Scandal”
Kodi Smit-McPhee – “The Power of the Dog,” “Let Me In”
Suriya – “Jai Bhim,” “Soorarai Pottru”
Anya Taylor-Joy – “The Northman,” “Last Night in Soho”

Casting Directors
Rich Delia – “King Richard,” “The Disaster Artist”
Elodie Demey – “Happening,” “Summer of 85”
Yngvill Kolset Haga – “The Worst Person in the World,” “One Night in Oslo”
Louise Kiely – “The Green Knight,” “Sing Street”
Meagan Lewis – “Blast Beat,” “Free State of Jones”
Karen Lindsay-Stewart – “Marie Antoinette,” “Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer’s Stone”
Juliette Ménager – “A Bag of Marbles,” “As Above/So Below”
Kate Ringsell – “The Lost City of Z,” “Justice League”
Toby Whale – “Dunkirk,” “The History Boys”

Ava Berkofsky – “The Sky Is Everywhere,” “Free in Deed”
Josh Bleibtreu – “Dark Phoenix,” “Shazam!”
Alice Brooks – “In the Heights,” “tick, tick…BOOM!”
Daria D’Antonio – “The Hand of God,” “Ricordi?”
Mike Eley – “The Duke,” “Woman Walks Ahead”
Sturla Brandth Grøvlen – “The Innocents,” “Another Round”
Ruben Impens – “Titane,” “Beautiful Boy”
Shabier Kirchner – “Small Axe,” “Bull”
Martin Ruhe – “The Tender Bar,” “The Midnight Sky”
Kasper Tuxen – “The Worst Person in the World,” “Riders of Justice”

Costume Designers
Joan Bergin – “The Prestige,” “In the Name of the Father”
Antonella Cannarozzi – “A Five Star Life,” “I Am Love”
Andrea Flesch – “Midsommar,” “Colette”
Lizzy Gardiner – “Hacksaw Ridge,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”
Dorothée Guiraud – “Murder Party,” “French Tech”
Suzie Harman – “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” “Extinction”
Tatiana Hernández – “The Japon,” “Lope”
Louise Stjernsward – “Made in Italy,” “The Mercy”
Elisabeth Tavernier – “The Man in the Basement,” “Tanguy Is Back”
Paul Tazewell – “West Side Story,” “Harriet”
Mitchell Travers – “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Hustlers”

Newton Aduaka – “One Man’s Show,” “Ezra”
Andrew Ahn – “Fire Island,” “Spa Night”
Bruno Villela Barreto – “Four Days in September,” “The Kiss”
Mariano Barroso – “Ants in the Mouth,” “Ecstasy”
Rolf de Heer – “Charlie’s Country,” “Bad Boy Bubby”
Jeferson Rodrigues de Rezende – “The Malê Revolt,” “Bróder!”
Pawo Choyning Dorji* – “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
Blessing Egbe – “African Messiah,” “Iquo’s Journal”
Briar Grace-Smith – “Cousins ,” “Waru”
Reinaldo Marcus Green – “King Richard,” “Monsters and Men”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi* – “Drive My Car,” “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy”
Sian Harries Heder* – “CODA,” “Tallulah”
Gil Kenan – “City of Ember,” “Monster House”
Amanda Kernell – “Charter,” “Sami Blood”
Mary Lambert – “The In Crowd,” “Pet Sematary II”
Blackhorse Lowe – “Chasing the Light,” “5th World”
Nalin Pan – “Last Film Show,” “Samsara”
Jonas Poher Rasmussen* – “Flee,” “Searching for Bill”
Isabel Sandoval – “Lingua Franca,” “Apparition”
Amy Seimetz – “She Dies Tomorrow,” “Sun Don’t Shine”
Rachel Talalay – “A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting,” “Tank Girl”

Julie Anderson – “God Is the Bigger Elvis,” “Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World”
Susan Bedusa – “Procession,” “Bisbee ’17”
Opal H. Bennett – “A Broken House,” “Águilas”
Shane Boris – “Stray,” “The Edge of Democracy”
Joe Cephus Brewster – “American Promise,” “Slaying Goliath”
Ellen Bruno – “Satya: A Prayer for the Enemy,” “Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia”
Traci A. Curry – “Attica,” “Boss: The Black Experience in Business”
Jason DaSilva – “When We Walk,” “When I Walk”
Emílio Domingos – “Favela Is Fashion,” “L.A.P.A.”
Sushmit Ghosh – “Writing with Fire,” “Timbaktu”
Lyn Goldfarb – “Eddy’s World,” “With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade”
Susanne Guggenberger – “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” “The Beekeeper and His Son”
Cristina Ibarra – “The Infiltrators,” “Las Marthas”
Oren Jacoby – “On Broadway,” “Sister Rose’s Passion”
Isaac Julien – “Derek,” “Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask”
Deborah Kaufman – “Company Town,” “Blacks and Jews”
Firouzeh Khosrovani – “Radiograph of a Family,” “Fest of Duty”
Jessica Kingdon – “Ascension,” “Commodity City”
Mehret Mandefro – “How It Feels to Be Free ,” “Little White Lie”
Mary Manhardt – “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl),”
“Racing Dreams”
Amanda McBaine – “Boys State,” “The Overnighters”
Peter Jay Miller – “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport”
Elizabeth Mirzaei – “Three Songs for Benazir,” “Laila at the Bridge”
Gulistan Mirzaei – “Three Songs for Benazir,” “Laila at the Bridge”
Bob Moore – “Dope Is Death,” “China Heavyweight”
Omar Mullick – “Footprint,” “These Birds Walk”
Mohammed Ali Naqvi – “Insha’Allah Democracy,” “Among the Believers”
Sierra Pettengill – “Riotsville, USA,” “The Reagan Show”
Ben Proudfoot – “The Queen of Basketball,” “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
Jonas Poher Rasmussen* – “Flee,” “Searching for Bill”
Gabriel Rhodes – “The First Wave,” “Time”
Lynne Sachs – “Film about a Father Who,” “Investigation of a Flame”
Brett Story – “The Hottest August,” “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes”
Thorsten Thielow – “The First Wave,” “Mayor Pete”
Rintu Thomas – “Writing with Fire,” “Dilli”
Nathan Truesdell – “Ascension,” “Balloonfest”
Jenni Wolfson – “Pray Away,” “One Child Nation”
Jialing Zhang – “In the Same Breath,” “One Child Nation”

Steve Asbell
Carole Baraton
Steven Bardwil
Jeff Blackburn
Liesl Copland
Kareem Daniel
Eva Diederix
Scott Foundas
Brenda Gilbert
Joshua Barnett Grode
Gene Yoonbum Kang
Jenny Marchick
Ori Joseph Marmur
Anna Marsh
Katherine Oliver
Joel Pearlman
Elizabeth Polk
Louie Provost
Amber Rasberry
Brian Robbins
Marc Schaberg
Ron Schwartz
Aditya Sood
Frederick Tsui
Dana Walden
Clifford Werber

Film Editors
Geraud Brisson – “CODA,” “Dark Hearts”
Olivier Bugge Coutté – “The Worst Person in the World,” “Thelma”
Shannon Baker Davis – “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson,” “The Photograph”
Billy Fox – “Dolemite Is My Name,” “Hustle & Flow”
Myron Kerstein – “tick, tick…BOOM!,” “Crazy Rich Asians”
Jeremy Milton – “Encanto,” “Zootopia”
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – “Belfast,” “Stan & Ollie”
Heike Parplies – “Invisible Life,” “Toni Erdmann”
Joshua L. Pearson – “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
Peter Sciberras – “The Power of the Dog,” “The King”
Aljernon Tunsil – “Attica,” “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”
Azusa Yamazaki – “Drive My Car,” “Asako I & II”

Makeup Artists and Hairstylists
Jacenda Burkett – “King Richard,” “Concussion”
Nana Fischer – “Encounter,” “The Lost City of Z”
Sean Flanigan – “The Many Saints of Newark,” “The Irishman”
Massimo Gattabrusi – “Loving Pablo,” “Volver”
Stephanie Ingram – “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “It”
Anna Carin Lock – “House of Gucci,” “Borg/McEnroe”
Heike Merker – “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Anonymous”
Stacey Morris – “Coming 2 America,” “Dolemite Is My Name”
Justin Raleigh – “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Army of the Dead”
Kerrie Smith – “Motherless Brooklyn,” “John Wick”
Nadia Stacey – “Cruella,” “The Favourite”
Julia Vernon – “Cruella,” “Maleficent”
Wakana Yoshihara – “Belfast,” “Spencer”

Marketing and Public Relations
Dana Archer
Debra Birnbaum
Tatiana Detlofson
Bethan Anna Dixon
Britta Gampper
Jane Gibbs
Sheri Goldberg
Jonathan Helfgot
Jessica Kolstad
Cortney Lawson
Vivek Mathur
George Nicholis
Stephanie Sarah Northen
Jodie Magid Oriol
Gina Pence
Stephanie Dee Phillips
Chrissy Quesada
Stuart Robertson
Jerry Rojas
Evelyn Santana
Sohini Sengupta
Michelle Slavich
James Verdesoto
Katrina Wan
Glen Erin Wyatt

Billie Eilish Baird O’Connell – “No Time to Die”
Amie Doherty – “Spirit Untamed,” “The High Note”
Lili Haydn – “Strip Down, Rise Up,” “Broken Kingdom”
Leo Heiblum – “Maria Full of Grace,” “Frida”
Natalie Holt – “Fever Dream,” “Journey’s End”
Nathan Johnson – “Nightmare Alley,” “Knives Out”
Jacobo Lieberman – “Maria Full of Grace,” “Frida”
Ariel Rose Marx – “Shiva Baby,” “Rebel Hearts”
Hesham Nazih – “The Guest,” “Born a King”
Finneas O’Connell – “No Time to Die”
Dan Romer – “Luca,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Nerida Tyson-Chew – “H Is for Happiness,” “Anacondas: The Hunt for the
Blood Orchid”

Mariela Besuievsky – “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” “The Secret in
Their Eyes”
Cale Boyter – “Dune,” “Pacific Rim Uprising”
Chad Burris – “Collisions,” “Drunktown’s Finest”
Damon D’Oliveira – “The Grizzlies,” “Love Come Down”
Luc Déry – “Gabrielle,” “Monsieur Lazhar”
Michael Downey – “Elvis Walks Home,” “Light Thereafter”
Yaël Fogiel – “Memoir of War,” “Latest News of the Cosmos”
Cristina Gallego – “Birds of Passage,” “Embrace of the Serpent”
Laetitia Gonzales – “Plot 35,” “Tournée”
Pauline Gygax – “With the Wind,” “My Life as a Zucchini”
Margot Hand – “Passing,” “Brittany Runs a Marathon”
Jojo Hui – “Better Days,” “Dearest”
Eva Jakobsen – “Miss Viborg,” “Godless”
Lucas Joaquin – “Mayday,” “Love Is Strange”
Lizette Jonjic – “12 Dares,” “Guerrilla”
Thanassis Karathanos – “The Man Who Sold His Skin,” “Tulpan”
Kim McCraw – “Drunken Birds,” “Incendies”
Sev Ohanian – “Run,” “Searching”
Christina Piovesan – “The Nest,” “Amreeka”
Natalie Qasabian – “Run,” “All about Nina”
Philippe Rousselet – “CODA,” “Source Code”
Sara Silveira – “Good Manners,” “Vazante”
James Stark – “Prayers for the Stolen,” “Mystery Train”
Riccardo Tozzi – “La Nostra Vita,” “Don’t Move”
Shih-Ching Tsou – “Red Rocket,” “The Florida Project”
Nadia Turincev – “The Insult,” The Boss’s Daughter”
Tim White – “King Richard,” “Ingrid Goes West”
Trevor White – “King Richard,” “LBJ”
Teruhisa Yamamoto – “Drive My Car,” “Wife of a Spy”
Olena Yershova – “Brighton 4th,” “Volcano”

Production Design
François Audouy – “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Ford v Ferrari”
Laura Ballinger Gardner – “The Irishman,” “Joker”
Chris Baugh – “Steve Jobs,” “Argo”
Ellen Brill – “Being the Ricardos,” “Bombshell”
Joanna Bush – “La La Land,” “Life of Pi”
Christina Cecili – “Cyrano,” “A Quiet Place”
John Coven – “The Lion King,” “Logan”
Carol Flaisher – “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Miss Sloane”
Sandy Hamilton – “tick, tick…BOOM!,” “Joker”
Ellen Lampl – “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Jurassic World”
Enrico Latella – “Tenet,” “All the Money in the World”
Steven Lawrence – “Death on the Nile,” “Cinderella”
Melissa Levander – “The Tender Bar,” “The High Note”
Drew Petrotta – “The Suicide Squad,” “Captain Marvel”
Jean-Vincent Puzos – “Jungle Cruise,” “Amour”
Maya Shimoguchi – “Ford v Ferrari,” “Men in Black 3”

Short Films and Feature Animation
Murad Abu Eisheh – “Tala’vision,” “Ta Hariri”
Olivier Adam – “Sing 2,” “Minions”
Michael Arias – “Harmony,” “Tekkonkinkreet”
Evren Boisjoli – “Fauve,” “What Remains”
Maria Brendle – “Ala Kachuu – Take and Run,” “The Stowaway”
Sean Buckelew – “Drone,” “Hopkins & Delaney LLP”
Olivier Calvert – “Bad Seeds,” “Animal Behaviour”
Enrico Casarosa – “Luca,” “La Luna”
Karla Castañeda – “La Noria (The Waterwheel),” “Jacinta”
Hugo Covarrubias – “Bestia,” “The Night Upside Down”
K.D. Dávila – “Please Hold,” “Emergency”
Charlotte De La Gournerie – “Flee,” “Terra Incognita”
Luc Desmarchelier – “The Bad Guys,” “Open Season”
Anton Dyakov – “Boxballet,” “Vivat Musketeers!”
Brian Falconer – “Saul & I,” “Boogaloo and Graham”
Youssef Joe Haidar – “Scoob!,” “Animated American”
Andy Harkness – “Vivo,” “Get a Horse!”
Pierre Hébert – “Thunder River,” “Memories of War”
Aneil Karia – “The Long Goodbye,” “Work”
Brooke Keesling – “Meatclown,” “Boobie Girl”
Nadine Lüchinger – “Ala Kachuu – Take and Run,” “Puppenspiel (Puppet
Tadeusz Łysiak – “The Dress,” “Techno”
Joe Mateo – “Blush,” “Big Hero 6”
Sharon Maymon – “Skin,” “Summer Vacation”
Kathleen McInnis – “Mama,” “Downturn”
Yvett Merino – “Encanto,” “Wreck-It Ralph”
Alberto Mielgo – “The Windshield Wiper,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-
Les Mills – “Affairs of the Art,” “The Canterbury Tales”
Jetzabel Moreno Hernández – “The Followers,” “Plums and Green Smoke”
Dan Ojari – “Robin Robin,” “Slow Derek”
Brian Pimental – “Tarzan,” “A Goofy Movie”
Mikey Please – “Robin Robin,” “The Eagleman Stag”
Erin Ramos – “Encanto,” “Frozen II”
Mike Rianda – “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”
Doug Roland – “Feeling Through,” “A Better Way”
Leo Sanchez – “The Windshield Wiper,” “Over the Moon”
Marc J. Scott – “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
Sarah Smith – “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “Arthur Christmas”
Daniel Šuljić – “From Under Which Rock Did They Crawl Out,” “The Cake”
Conrad Vernon – “The Addams Family,” “Shrek 2”
Pamela Ziegenhagen-Shefland – “Abominable,” “The Emperor’s New Groove”

Douglas Axtell – “True Grit,” “I Am Sam”
Nerio Barberis – “Violeta al Fin,” “Find a Boyfriend for My Wife…Please!”
Amanda Beggs – “The Forever Purge,” “Finding ’Ohana”
Adrian Bell – “Mothering Sunday,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”
Joshua Berger – “King Richard,” “The Lost City of Z”
Paul (Salty) Brincat – “The Invisible Man,” “The Thin Red Line”
Tom Yong-Jae Burns – “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Blade Runner
Benjamin A. Burtt – “Dolittle,” “Black Panther”
Simon Chase – “Belfast,” “Artemis Fowl”
Brian Chumney – “West Side Story,” “The Croods: A New Age”
Richard Flynn – “The Power of the Dog,” “Slow West”
Albert Gasser – “Straight Outta Compton,” “Dances With Wolves”
Lewis Goldstein – “In the Heights,” “Hereditary”
Theo Green – “Dune,” “Blade Runner 2049”
James Harrison – “No Time to Die,” “Captain Phillips”
John Hayes – “The King’s Man,” “Tom and Jerry”
Ruth Hernandez – “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” “Brooklyn’s Finest”
Huang Zheng – “Better Days,” “Chongqing Hot Pot”
Thomas Huhn – “The Wife,” “White God”
David Husby – “Tomorrowland,” “Elf”
Allison Jackson – “Don’t Think Twice,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Paul Ledford – “One Night in Miami,” “Logan”
Leff Lefferts – “Vivo,” “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
Nancy MacLeod – “The Revenant,” “The Hunger Games”
Charles Maynes – “After Earth,” “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Alan Meyerson – “Dune,” “Inception”
Casey Stone – “Frozen,” “Tsotsi”
Edward Tise – “Into the Wild,” “Full Metal Jacket”
Jana Vance – “Cast Away,” “Saving Private Ryan”
Tara Webb – “The Power of the Dog,” “Mortal Kombat”
Waldir Xavier – “From Afar,” “Central Station”
Denise Yarde – “Belfast,” “Dumbo”

Visual Effects
Ivy Agregan – “India Sweets and Spices,” “Wakefield”
Geeta Basantani – “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Vivo”
Aharon Bourland – “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Venom”
Ivan Busquets – “Malignant,” “The Irishman”
Joe Ceballos – “Skyscraper,” “Thor: Ragnarok”
Richard Anthony Clegg – “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” “Blade
Runner 2049”
Mark Curtis – “Sully,” “Spectre”
Markus Degen – “The King’s Man,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
Jack Edjourian – “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Tenet”
Eric Enderton – “Shark Tale,” “Jurassic Park”
Marcos Fajardo Orellana – “Thor,” “Monster House”
Joel Green – “No Time to Die,” “The Kid Who Would Be King”
Earl Hibbert – “The Fate of the Furious,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Hayley Hubbard – “The Old Guard,” “Dumbo”
Maia Kayser – “Rango,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”
Garrett Lam – “Limbo,” “Shock Wave 2”
Jake Maymudes – “Dune,” “Terminator: Dark Fate”
Catherine Ann Mullan – “Dumbo,” “Maleficent”
Charlie Noble – “No Time to Die,” “Wonder Woman 1984”
J. Alan Scott – “Finch,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”
Tefft Smith – “Alice through the Looking Glass,” “Tomorrowland”
Alan Travis – “Black Widow,” “The Irishman”
Michael Van Eps – “Deepwater Horizon,” “Poseidon”
Sean Noel Walker – “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Black
Vernon Wilbert – “Stealth,” “I, Robot”
Eric Jay Wong – “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Lucy”
Kevin Wooley – “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Jurassic World”
Wei Zheng – “Mank,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Zach Baylin – “King Richard”
Henry Bean – “The Believer,” “Deep Cover”
Pawo Choyning Dorji* – “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
Michael Grais – “Cool World,” “Poltergeist”
Ted Griffin – “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ravenous”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi* – “Drive My Car,” “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy”
Jeremy O Harris – “Zola”
Sian Harries Heder* – “CODA,” “Tallulah”
Mike Jones – “Luca,” “Soul”
Reema Kagti – “Gully Boy,” “Gold”
Adele Lim – “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Crazy Rich Asians”
Craig Mazin – “Identity Thief,” “The Hangover Part II”
Margaret Nagle – “With/In,” “The Good Lie”
Takamasa Oe – “Drive My Car,” “Beautiful Method”
Alex Ross Perry – “Her Smell,” “Listen Up Philip”
Adam Rifkin – “Giuseppe Makes a Movie,” “Small Soldiers”
Jordan Roberts – “Big Hero 6,” “3, 2, 1…Frankie Go Boom”
Katie Silberman – “Booksmart,” “Isn’t It Romantic”
Randi Mayem Singer – “Tooth Fairy,” “Mrs. Doubtfire”
Jon Spaihts – “Dune,” “Doctor Strange”
Małgorzata Szumowska – “Never Gonna Snow Again,” “Elles”
Mark A. Victor – “Cool World,” “Poltergeist”

Keith Adams
Josiah Akinyele
Richard Berger
Andrew Birch
Andrew Cannava
George Drakoulias
Andrew Dunlap
Erin Dusseault
James Farrell
Valerie Flueger Veras
Andy Fowler
Glenn Kiser
Anne Lai
Susan Lazarus
Joe Machota
Leonard Maltin
Deborah McIntosh
Julia Michels
Daniel Rabinow
Ilda Santiago
Danie Streisand
Matt Sullivan
Anne Lajla Utsi
Matt Vioral
Michael Zink

“The Accidental Outside” by Genevieve Yue in World Records Journal thinks through doc festivals and form

The Accidental Outside
World Records Journal
By Genevieve Yue
Volume 6/Article 3

For certain types of films, festivals are an end in and of themselves. This is especially true of experimental film festivals and, within the past fifteen years, experimental documentary film festivals. Such venues offer few commercial off-ramps: there is little to no hope of a licensing deal following the festival, and while some bigger titles might get a museum or microcinema event, the short year that a film travels the festival circuit is likely the only time many films will ever screen publicly. At these festivals, a filmmaker may connect with funders on the strength of a previous film, or a critic may take note of a new work in their festival report. In an ideal situation, the filmmaker will then leverage this support to burnish their CV, write grant applications, and, if also employed in the university system, bolster their case for tenure and promotion. They will make new work, to screen at the following year’s festivals, and the cycle repeats.

Despite the limited horizon of experimental documentary festivals, there has been a remarkable proliferation of these events in recent years. This has occurred within a broader increase, beginning in the early 2000s, in all types of film festivals, including those solely devoted to documentary. In this span, the even more niche area of experimental documentary grew at all levels: many experimental documentary festivals were conversions of preexisting festivals, while others were fortified sidebars at established festivals.{1} Dozens more were newly invented, including a first wave in the 1990s; then a flurry in the early 2000s; followed by a smaller but still substantial group into the 2010s and later.{2} There were also a number of non-competition series that began during this period, such as Doc Fortnight (est. 2001) at MoMA, and Art of the Real (est. 2013) at Film at Lincoln Center. 

The term experimental documentary is fraught, and I use it only provisionally. Undeniably, it raises a host of objections, some of which are inherited from twentieth-century avant-garde film, which rejected both experimental (unserious and amateurish) and documentary (too conventional a framework for describing formal innovation) as descriptors. The alternatives that have arisen in the names of festivals and programs—among them nonfictionart of the realartist film, and avant- or post-doc—raise new problems as they resolve the old. Indeed, it is a well-established tradition among avant-garde scholars to bemoan the inadequacy of terms like avant-garde and experimental, and for anyone invested in transgressive, radical filmmaking, a tidy fit into any category, much less one called experimental documentary, is just as discomfiting.

INVESTIGATION OF A FLAME (Lynne Sachs, 2001), which was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s inaugural Doc Fortnight program.

Rather than entering into the debates around terminology, I am interested in examining the tension within the phenomenon of experimental documentary between its claims to radicalism and the institutional and material conditions, namely, the film festival, that shape it. In this, experimental documentary inherits various long-standing debates within avant-garde film, including the debate over how aesthetic and political radicalism, inherent in the avant-garde’s very name, can be reconciled with each other, and over the degree to which institutional and industrial supports compromise the avant-garde’s autonomy. 

To the extent that experimental documentary can be recognized as a salient mode of practice, circumscribed within the space of international film festivals, it allows us to think through these questions differently, because its unique bounded structure provides an opportunity to understand how such films are made, selected, and seen. Traditionally, avant-garde film, and indeed much of film history generally, has been approached by scholars and critics through textual analysis. While I am indebted to the method of close reading, I shift my emphasis here to the self-contained culture and conditions of making and viewing, a reframing that provides a different view of the relationship between institution and art. How does the social existence of a film, especially as something that exists among many other, likely similar films, shape what Annette Michelson called its “radical aspiration”? To answer this requires approaching experimental documentaries not only as richly signifying texts, but as complex cultural and material objects that travel from city to city on hard drives, film reels, and downloaded media files, to be projected on all manner of screens, and finally discussed and debated in ephemeral conversations and published criticism. This limited arena of circulation makes visible what are often overlooked relations between material conditions of production and claims to radicality.

For what it’s worth, I still believe in film’s radical aspiration, even if I (like Michelson herself) hold many reservations about its viability. As Abby Sun has recently argued, “If the purpose of programming and exhibiting subversive films is to undermine systems of cultural power, one way to do so is by awakening us to our unwitting complicity with these institutions, and offering a model for escaping them through non-commercial production and circulation practices.”{3} I am less hopeful than Sun about the possibility of escaping “unwitting complicity,” but I share with her the conviction that self-awareness is fundamental to any kind of radical project. If cinema is to be politically revelatory, then it must keep its eyes fully open, including to the contexts of its own production.

While there are few off-ramps from experimental documentary festivals, on-ramps are plentiful. Generally speaking, film festivals are attended by the people directly involved in their production, namely filmmakers, programmers, and critics. Though different festivals will make more or less of an effort to engage a local audience, experimental documentary festivals often cater to their own constituents. By and large, experimental documentaries are not widely available outside of these spaces, a sharp contrast to the buzzy features and documentaries that get picked up after their premieres at Cannes, Sundance, and the like. Instead, experimental documentary festivals are highly insular and self-sustaining. For example, museum curators and other festival programmers will attend festivals to scope out new work, replenishing the ecosystem when their own festivals or series occur. 

For many of us (and I count myself among those who, since entering this world, haven’t left it), it begins with personal connections, often through college instructors who themselves regularly travel the festival circuit.{4} Students might attend a festival because they worked on a professor’s film, or they might have submitted to a festival on the encouragement of their mentors. For a young person especially, it can be thrilling to discover a large and thriving community of like-minded film enthusiasts. My path to criticism was similar. I started going to film festivals after studying avant-garde film in college and interning at a museum and an experimental film distribution company. These experiences, in turn, shaped how I approached festivals. When I first began attending festivals in 2001, I was excited by the prospect of seeing so many films and also daunted by the task of selecting which ones to watch. With no industry contacts and no real connections, I scanned the program for the familiar and found it in experimental work: a series of Ken Jacobs’s work at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, a Robert Beavers program at Views from the Avant-Garde, a guest-programmed screening by Jean-Marie Téno at the Images Festival. I had only known these filmmakers through a classroom setting, and outside of that protected space I was surprised and delighted to learn that they mattered in the “real world” too. It was thrilling to encounter filmmakers whose work I had seen in my classes, and, after mustering a bit of courage, to chat with them after a post-screening Q&A.

Within these avant-garde film spaces, I began to encounter a newer form of experimental-friendly documentary. Like avant-garde film, these films frequently employed elliptical structures, an attention to surface effects and framing, deliberate temporal manipulation (especially as it contributes to a sense of slowness), and small-scale modes of production. Meanwhile, these works were also rooted in the specificities of a situation, issue, or historical event. This is to say not that avant-garde films eschew documentary concerns, but that the experimental documentaries I started to see at this time prioritized what Okwui Enwezor described as “art’s engagement with social life,” no matter how oblique their treatment.{5} Some examples:

the films produced through the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, like Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s LEVIATHAN (2012), which includes the defamiliarizing view of GoPro cameras on a North Atlantic commercial fishing vessel;

blended docufictions like Mati Diop’s MILLE SOLEILS (2013)

or Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS (2013);

and essayistic or observational investigations of history and place, like Nicolás Pereda’s EL PALACIO (2013),

Kevin Jerome Everson’s PARK LANES (2015),


Important antecedents to this work include James Benning’s structural landscape films (involving considerable fabrication behind what appears to be unaltered documentary footage), which began to circulate widely in European television and art spaces in the mid-90s; Agnès Varda’s celebrated The Gleaners and I (2000), which blended the forms of diary, social-issue documentary, and essayistic rumination to widespread acclaim; and a 2010s interest in essay films, from Jean-Pierre Gorin’s traveling program, launched at the Austrian Film Museum in 2007, to Timothy Corrigan’s book on the subject in 2011.

The documentary emphasis of experimental documentary—namely, works that address real, often exigent situations—revives a key debate of the historical avant-garde film. Famously, Annette Michelson argued in 1966 that film’s inherent revolutionary potential could best be glimpsed when its formal and political aspects were unified, as in the Soviet cinema of the 1920s and 30s, in the work of Godard and other French New Wave directors, and in the American avant-garde. The radical aspiration of these moments was imperfect and short-lived, however, dissipated by co-option by the state and absorption into industrial cinema. Even in the case of New American Cinema, whose cooperative distribution structure preserved some degree of economic, if not political, autonomy, Michelson was still cautious. About the films of Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas, she warned, “the formal integrity that safeguards that radicalism must, and does, ultimately dissolve.”{6} In her formulation, form cannot exist in a void. A film is always an entry into a set of sociopolitical conditions. Hence there can be no guarantee, no fixed form of radicality. The radicality of a film lies in its aspiration, which is a gesture toward a “sense of the future”: the revolution it awaits and also makes possible.{7} Paradoxically, then, a radical aspiration aims toward what remains unfixed, even as it can only accrue meaning in situ. The film itself is the means of changing the possibility of the future.

Much has changed since the time of Michelson’s writing. The horizon of revolution has shifted: it is more discrete, concrete, and aligned with activist efforts, and it occurs both inside and outside the world of art. Doubtless the struggle continues, but no longer is there a sense of a unified film front, a manifesto-scribbling cinema culture leading the anti-capitalist charge. While experimental documentary inherits the mantle of formal-political radicalism, most films of this type do not express an overt, pointed politics, such as one would find in the case of Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Hito Steyerl, or Harun Farocki (and it may be telling that most examples of this type of overtly political work are made outside of North America, in an art-world context). More frequently, a film’s engagement with the real occurs alongside lyricism, extended observation, and sensorial immersion. Salomé Jashi’s Taming the Garden (2021) offers a case in point. The film, which depicts the uprooting of centuries-old trees and their relocation to a billionaire ex–prime minister’s island, embeds its critique within long and otherworldly mises-en-scène. It is ambiguous whether this blunts or sharpens the film’s politics. Is the film attuning to politics in a different register—and thereby advocating for this cordoned-off form of political critique—or is it overwhelming it with nonverbal information? A case could be made for any and all of these possibilities. A similar issue arises with Sensory Ethnography Lab films, where the privileging of sensorial detail over spoken language can be seen as either phenomenological enhancement or evasion of expression. Some of this can be understood as a response to mainstream documentary’s emphasis on moral and political emergency, or what Pooja Rangan has productively described as “immediations,” where documentaries serve as tools of a neoliberal, humanitarian (interventionist) agenda.{8} A more ambiguous, observational nonfiction film may be less useful to such a cause, and thereby more resistant to co-optation. I do not mean to qualify the value of politics in documentary, nor to suggest a right way to do it. Rather, my point is descriptive: Given its roots in the overt politics of Michelson’s era, experimental documentary has drifted to something more obscure. The configuration of this moment tends to locate experimental documentary’s relationship to political movements in the backseat.

Experimental documentary generally takes aim at politics out there, but it is rarely directed inward, toward the institutions that support and sustain it. Unlike the historical avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, which attacked the bourgeois institutions from which they sprang, there are exceedingly few instances where an experimental documentary has critiqued film festivals, museum showcases, streaming platforms, test screenings, film schools, grant applications, artist residencies, or anything pertaining to the social existence of a film. (The exceptions that exist come from filmmakers that tend not to show in these spaces, being either too experimental or too documentary: Owen Land’s satirical Undesirables, 1999, is a portrayal of New American Cinema as imagined by Hollywood; Caveh Zahedi’s The Sheik and I, 2012, features the filmmaker confronting the taboo topics that shape the condition of his participation in the Sharjah Biennial; and Claire Simon’s more straightforward documentary The Competition, 2016, examines the entry process at the famously grueling French film school La Fémis.) Perhaps because, in experimental documentary, there is already an assumed oppositional stance toward mainstream film and documentary, there is a corresponding, though less explicit, protectionism toward the institutions of avant-garde film itself. Still, we should remember that even the most ramshackle, labor-of-love screening series is an institution, and as such it is subject to demands that may differ from those of the works it exhibits. Sun reminds us that institutions strive for permanence, and often the stability they seek is gained by regularly showing oppositional, “edgy” work. That is to say, subversive work often cooperates quite well with the preservative interests of the institution.

Just as formal integrity is no safeguard for radicalism, the reverse is also true, that radicalism is possible even under circumstances of formal impurity.

Currently, the festival structure materially sustains the vast majority of experimental documentary films being made. Experimental documentary film festivals serve both as exhibition venues and as engines for marketing, though they sometimes provide direct material support for filmmakers through prizes and production funding. While avant-garde filmmakers of previous generations would likely reject this level of institutional entanglement, contemporary makers have found ways to thrive within it. The festival is itself a manifestation of form, an enlarged social sphere that contains and makes possible certain types of work. If we consider the festival as a formal determinant, we might hear Michelson’s words differently. Just as formal integrity is no safeguard for radicalism, the reverse is also true, that radicalism is possible even under circumstances of formal impurity.

This kind of festival infrastructure has been supported by three major factors: a new interest in documentary form in the art world, the contraction of state funding for experimental work, and the expansion of public funding in Europe for film productions and festivals. First, there has been an increase in supply, largely supported by the supposed documentary turn in contemporary art (or what may well have been the result of the European influx of funding).  Much of this began as moving image–based, and typically digital video, installation, and it was largely made by younger artists. Among an earlier generation of artists, many began as filmmakers, including Isaac Julien, Joan Jonas, Hito Steyerl, and Harun Farocki, while others maintained a documentary sensibility from the start. Mark Nash and Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11, in 2002, marks a watershed moment when documentary aesthetics in moving image form became a dominant mode of artistic practice. Following that event, artists began to seek out spaces beyond galleries and museums to exhibit their work. Many, like the Otolith Group, converted works from gallery formats to single-screen versions for the theater (or vice versa, as in the case of Morgan Fisher); or, like Garrett Bradley, Dani and Sheilah ReStack, Laure Prouvost, Ben Rivers, Ana Vaz, Sky Hopinka, Luke Fowler, and Leslie Thornton (the list could include almost every experimental filmmaker working today), and, among an older generation, James Benning, Jonas Mekas, and Phil Solomon, began making works alternately for both gallery and theater spaces. 

Second, funding for experimental work has diminished, especially, in the US, at the state and federal levels. The “culture wars” of the 1980s and 90s led to significant cuts to NEA funding. At the state level, too, there was a substantial decline. For example, B. Ruby Rich, who directed the film and video programs at NYSCA from 1981 to 1991, recalls budget cuts for films as well as staffing cuts made by Mario Cuomo, then governor of New York. Meanwhile, competition among filmmakers has increased. While in the 1970s more funding was devoted specifically to experimental film, the 1980s saw demand from independent, feminist, and Black artists, as well as various groups experimenting with video and public access television. Rich explains: “The funding had to be spread across many different sectors of the state’s film world—which the experimental folks saw as a ‘betrayal’ often.”{9}

The major awards that remain today come from private foundations, as in the case of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Herb Alpert Award, and the LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund. Even then, the size of the grant has diminished. For example, in 1978 and 1979, the first years in which the Jerome Foundation (est. 1964, originally as the Avon Foundation) began regularly funding experimental film, awards hovered around $10,000 and favored avant-garde filmmakers and artists: Marjorie Keller received $10,000 in 1978; Robert Gardner, $10,000 (1978); Lizzie Borden, $15,000 (1978); Ken Kobland, $10,450 (1979); John Knecht, $11,000 (1979); Martha Haslanger, $9,000 (1979); and Bette Gordon, $10,000 (1979). Meanwhile, the twelve awards given by the Jerome Foundation in 2019 were, with one exception, $30,000 grants (worth roughly $8,000 in 1979), and, similar to the situation in NYSCA funding in the 1980s, these grants covered a broad range of genres, including “animation, documentary, experimental or narrative genres, or . . .  any combination of these forms.”{10} While it is difficult to determine what counts as experimental versus experimental documentary, it is perhaps notable that there is only one project among the 2019 award recipients that uses the word experimental in its description (Mónica Savirón’s The Ledger Line).

Third, a rise in state funding in Europe has supported increased production as well as festival spaces. This is owing in part to the formation of the European Union and a conscious effort to support a sense of economic as well as cultural integration and collectivity. Film festivals offered an opportunity to fund national projects as well as assert regional hegemony. Notably, this is a phenomenon that takes place largely in Europe, with European festivals and European filmmakers and artists, and there is significant overlap and interaction with the US context, which has historically provided a strong base for experimental work. Important exceptions to the European-US context include Festival International de Cine de Valdivia, Chile (est. 1993); the Expanded Cinema section of the Jeonju International Film Festival (est. 2000); Encuentros del Otro Cine EDOC, Ecuador (est. 2002); Experimenta India (est. 2003); and Ambulante (est. 2005).

To varying degrees, existing festivals adapted to accommodate these works, making room for experimental film, digital video, longer-form films, and hybrid approaches to nonfiction. These include festivals whose entire focus shifted, like the Locarno Film Festival (est. 1946), the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (est. 1954), the Flaherty Seminar (est. 1954), the Ann Arbor Film Festival (est. 1963), International Film Festival Rotterdam (est. 1972), FIDMarseille (est. 1989, with Jean-Pierre Rehm becoming director in 2002), Cinéma du Réel (est. 1978), and Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival (est. 1980s and run by Chicago Filmmakers starting in 2001). They also include sidebars created to accommodate such work at more mainstream festivals, including the Paradocs (est. 2004) section at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (est. 1988), and the addition of Views from the Avant-Garde (1997–2013) to the New York Film Festival (est. 1963).  

It can be useful to track the development of festival spaces through the career trajectory of individual filmmakers. This is not to conflate the institutional space with the form and stakes of the work in question, but to examine how each has been responsive to the other in terms of aesthetic possibility. Take, for example, the work of Deborah Stratman, whose films sit at the intersection of experimental, observational, and essayistic practice. She began exhibiting her work in 1990, and soon after began regular festival appearances. Her 2002 film In Order Not To Be Here is the first I’ve found to have been called an experimental documentary, and in 2002 and 2003 it traveled to over seventy screening spaces, including festivals like Sundance, Visions du Réel (est. 1969), and PDX Fest (2001–9), as well as predominantly experimental film spaces, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Media City Film Festival (est. 1994), the New York Underground Film Festival (1994–2008), Pleasure Dome (est. 1989), and Conversations at the Edge.{11} The many awards it won were in best experimental film categories. Later in the decade her work appeared more regularly in documentary venues. O’er the Land (2009), an examination of the secular rituals of American life, went to Sundance, Full Frame Documentary Festival (est. 1998), PDX Fest, Courtisane Festival (est. 2002), True/False Film Fest (est. 2004), and CPH:DOX (est. 2003). It won the Ken Burns Award for Best of Festival at Ann Arbor, and Best Documentary Feature at L’Alternativa, Barcelona Independent Film Festival (est. 1993). Stratman’s The Illinois Parables (2016) likewise picked up awards in both experimental and documentary categories. 

 Stratman herself has been explicit about her interest in extending beyond the concerns of experimental film. Her consistent interest in history, whether woven into vernacular practices or inscribed in the language of film, maintains a view that departs from the inwardness of traditional avant-garde film. In a 2018 interview, she distinguished her approach from what Tom Gunning called “minor cinema” filmmakers of the late 1980s and early 1990s: “Their works have an inner politics. But from early on I wanted more of the accidental outside. More of the street. Some socio-political to aerate the work.” A film like The Illinois Parables exemplifies her developing commitment to a history “without words.” In the film’s eleven vignettes, Stratman traverses the historiographical terrain of the state, including the violent expulsion of Indigenous peoples, the utopian experiment of a community of French Icarians, and the murder of Fred Hampton. She visits gravesites, mounds, living rooms, and forests, all the while watching, measuring, and listening for “something ineffable, a force of another dimension, call it God, or sorrow, or awareness, or the burden of the past.”{12} Similarly, it may be possible to observe in this film the invisible presence of the experimental documentary festival, the subtle pressure exerted by the social milieu in which films are made and shared. Stratman’s method indicates the often indirect ways these traces might be detected, beyond the directness of words and other representational strategies.

Words, in fact, can obscure as much as they elucidate. Scholarly and critical writing on experimental work tends to privilege textual features, no matter how engaged with social life a film might be. Stan Brakhage, for instance, called himself a documentarian (of the “inner eye”), and despite his towering stature within the avant-garde, he is most often discussed in terms of his formal practice of hand-painted film and poetic allusion. (The word documentary only arises in relation to Brakhage’s Pittsburgh Trilogy, as if the domain of documentary could be crudely demarcated by the use of a camera in an institutional setting.) The impulse to taxonomize, to make clear-cut distinctions between aesthetic and political concerns, leads to overvaluation of textual analysis and undervaluation of the conditions of production, and the treatment of these two areas as distinct.

This tendency can be seen in various attempts to identify previous moments of overlap between avant-garde and documentary film. In Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema (2014), Scott MacDonald selects strains of lyricism within ostensibly nonfiction work, including the city symphonies of the 1920s; the films of Robert Flaherty, Stan Brakhage, and Peter Kubelka; diary films; found footage works; and other instances of formal convergence. Though MacDonald would seem to be offering a corrective to the type of pigeonholing I just described, his emphasis on form ends up reifying the categories he challenges. Absent a serious engagement with the political and historical circumstances of how and why these categories came about, both documentary and avant-garde film become reduced to a set of signifiers. The result is a circuitous taxonomy where the entirety of avant-garde film starts to look like a subset of documentary, or, conversely, documentary a subset of the avant-garde. 

MacDonald’s description can be understood as symptomatic of a situation in which exhibition spaces for avant-garde film were largely pivoting either to experimental documentary or to moving image art.{13} Take, for example, the mid-2010s restructuring at Film at Lincoln Center: the experimental documentary series Art of the Real began in 2013, and Views from the Avant-Garde, which for many was the premier destination for American experimental film, was replaced in 2014 by the gallery-friendly Projections program and rebranded as Currents in 2020. Though there was overall an increase in the amount of screen time given to films that fall under the broad umbrella of the experimental, there was less room for abstract, hand-processed, animated, and lyrical work associated with the traditional avant-garde. In many ways, MacDonald’s crossover approach and others like it provided these new festival spaces with a language for describing the innovative, genre-busting works they showcased. These films may also be said to be expensive, in that most are supported by grants or other subsidized sources of support. As Josh Guilford observes, “The prioritization of work with socially and politically relevant content within such exhibition contexts has been co-extensive with a valorization of technical and aesthetic polish. It’s another of the many paradoxes animating this culture.”{14}

What we typically call form does not sufficiently account for the specificities of experimental documentary.

MacDonald rightly identifies the role of the academy, where canons are formed and deepened in courses organized according to genres, methods, national cinemas, auteurs, and the like. Canonic revisions along the lines of avant-doc ultimately reinforce this discursive framing. The role of writing at and about the film festival is equally significant for shaping the types of films deemed acceptable, laudable, or forgettable. At a traditional festival, criticism tends toward best-of-the-fest capsule reviews, seeking to identify trends, breakout talents, and new waves. Though festival reports might devote a few sentences at the beginning and end to describing the flavor of the festival-going experience, they generally avoid delving too deeply into a more ethnographic sketch. 

Criticism at the experimental documentary festival inherits and exacerbates these tendencies, as well as their problems. I know of no mainstream critics—that is, critics employed by a major newspaper—who are regularly assigned to cover such festivals. Those that attend and write generally do so on their own initiative, as when Amy Taubin or Manohla Dargis have stepped in to write about Projections for the New York Times. It is important to note, too, that the vast majority of film critics today are freelance, working by pitch at one or more publications, rather than writing exclusively for a single outlet as a staff writer. Furthermore, freelance film critics almost always need to work some other kind of job to earn a living wage. Festivals, even when press credentials are handed out, are expensive to attend. For filmmakers, of course, (formal) participation must be conferred by the festival itself, and even then filmmakers often must pay their own way there. Programmers and other industry professionals must have access to funding to travel. Critics, meanwhile, enter festivals through either application or invitation. The latter usually comes with some incentive, often in the form of hotel accommodations. There is an unspoken assumption that critics will favorably review the festival in return for these perks, and even if a critic is outwardly unbound by these obligations (because the critic may be protected by the reputation of their publication, for instance), they might still feel a sense of constraint. Further complicating matters are the multiple ways a critic might be pulled into festival operations. On a few occasions I’ve been asked to speak on festival panels, moderate director Q&As, or introduce screenings, all while still ostensibly on assignment for a publication.

Given the significant personal investment required, it is unsurprising that there are few critics who cover experimental documentary. Those who do select what they write about tend to isolate individual films to discuss, often tracking a thematic throughline across festival offerings. There is also little incentive to write disparagingly about any film. In my own criticism, I have been acutely aware that my writing might be the only press a film will ever receive, and that it is often used for program notes, catalog text, and grant applications. The festival community exerts its own social pressure as well. It is often easier to simply avoid writing about a film than to take issue with it in writing, and the result is that the criticism is skewed toward an abundance of praise with a narrowing of selection. Surely, too, are programmers aware of the influence they exert. The shared perception of experimental documentary’s fragility, of its scarcity and vulnerability, invariably shapes the value system of the festival. This skews the public understanding of the festival, and also misrepresents it to its own community, which ends up reproducing the same distortion. Undoubtedly, more and more diversified criticism, including negative takes but also writing that does not adopt an evaluative framework, is needed. We should recognize, however, that publication venues operate on their own financial models, and that, for better and for worse, they are not beneficiaries of the sources that fund experimental documentary films and festivals.

One unusual result of these pressures is that critics have sought out other ways of participating in film culture. This is also a historical phenomenon, where a number of critics that were writing in the late 1990s and early 2000s shifted to programming, including Rachael Rakes, Dennis Lim, Ed Halter, Jean-Pierre Rehm, Federico Windhausen, and Mark Peranson. Where in the 1960s the critics of Cahiers du Cinéma became directors, the experimental documentary space of the 2000s was largely shaped by critics turned programmers. This coincides with the enlarged role of the programmer more generally at film festivals, cinematheques, and other exhibition venues, and it should be noted that a number of filmmakers, like Sylvia Schedelbauer, Ben Russell, and Ben Rivers, were also active programmers during this time. The critic’s sensibility in programming is perhaps evident in the strong thematic cohesiveness of programs organized by these critics- and filmmakers-cum-programmers. For instance, Rakes and Lim’s Art of the Real is recognizable for its essayistic, intellectual, and political character, while Windhausen’s Pueblo program at the 2016 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen assembled films reflecting the historical and contemporary possibilities of collectivity in Latin America. Such programming departs from mainstream festival programming—which emphasizes heterogeneity and variety—and in its narrower focus is closer to a curatorial model of selection. Hence the critic’s turn to programming, or programming in a critical vein, motivates much of the coherence of experimental documentary as a formal category with institutional endurance.

What we typically call form—namely, the aesthetic characteristics of an artwork—does not sufficiently account for the specificities of experimental documentary. It’s time to enlarge the notion of form beyond the text, to the social world in which it is made and received. MacDonald’s point about predecessors for experimental documentary is an important one, and we might look to earlier examples of radical film form and the institutional supports that sustained them to better understand the contours of the present. How do Cinema 16 and other early incubators of avant-garde film differ from the festival spaces that dominate the contemporary landscape? To address these important concerns, one would need additionally to unpack the historiographical record where discussions of form have prevailed at the expense of institutional analysis. Though they are beyond the scope of this essay, I hope that these reflections might prompt a more integrated understanding of the relationship between aesthetics, politics, and institutional formation in the many histories of experimental moving image work.

Festival infrastructures are as important as aesthetic markers in determining what counts as experimental documentary. One cannot fully comprehend experimental documentary outside of the festival ecosystem in which it is made, programmed, viewed, and written about. It is precisely this outside that has been largely excluded from most writing on avant-garde and experimental documentary film. I hope that both critics and scholars can find new ways to invite texts and contexts into dialogue. Or, as Stratman reminds us, both in her films and in her own words, to remain “attentive to the accidental outside.”

Acknowledgments: I thank Walter Argueta-Ramirez, Erika Balsom, Colin Beckett, Chris Cagle, Jason Fox, Leo Goldsmith, Josh Guilford, Pacho Velez, and Chi-hui Yang for helping me think through the many vectors of experimental documentary film festivals.

Genevieve Yue is an assistant professor of culture and media and director of the Screen Studies program at Eugene Lang College, the New School. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Flaherty, and has written criticism for Film CommentFilm Quarterlyart-agenda, and Reverse Shot. She is the author of Girl Head: Feminism and Film Materiality (Fordham University Press, 2020).

“Still Life with Woman and Four Objects” & “Investigation of a Flame” to screen in Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs

Announcing the Canyon Cinema Discovered Programs!
May 3, 2022

We’re thrilled to finally announce the screening line-ups for our inaugural Canyon Cinema Discovered programs, which will debut this fall in San Francisco and online. Stay tuned for details!

Prime Time Reverie
Curated by Aaditya Aggarwal
From cosmetic commercials to women-led talk shows to narrative melodrama, television catered to feminized viewers is a formally diverse genre, nudging, socializing, and mirroring its spectators in intimate and discerning ways. Capturing the urgent, anchoring spirit of prime time telecasts, Prime Time Reverie stages a fragmented history of television as a women’s medium. The works in this program engage multiple tides of broadcasting, from soapy to confessional, from sensationalist to documentarian. Weaving an absent or corporeal presence through each work, televised portrayals of womanhood—hermetic, large, versatile—incite daydreams among a mass populace, flirting with histories of technology, desire, and visuality. 

  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1992)
  • No No Nooky TV (Barbara Hammer, 1987)
  • Removed (Naomi Uman, 1999)
  • Waiting for Commercials (Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut, 1966-72, 1992)
  • No Land (Emily Chao, 2019)
  • MTV Artbreak (Dara Birnbaum, 1986)
  • Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry (Dara Birnbaum, 1979)
  • That Woman (Sandra Davis, 2018)
  • 10:28,30 (Paige Taul, 2019)
  • Still Life with a Woman and Four Objects (Lynne Sachs, 1986)

Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments
Curated by Chrystel Oloukoï

Playing in the Dark engages the various ways in which blackness haunts the sea and is haunted by the sea. Borrowing from Toni Morrison, “playing in the dark” references the subdued Africanist presence which mediates imaginations of water in the wake of variegated yet entangled transoceanic slave trades but also takes seriously darkness as a subversive ecological milieu, against lures of transparency. In the works gathered here, nothing is left untouched by the confounding qualities of water and its corrosive opacities, from bodies to the environment, to the materiality of film itself. As such, “playing in the dark” also references attempts in Black experimental filmmaking to chart paths in which cameras do not write with light but probe shadows in search of  “an aesthetics of turbulence whose corresponding ethics is not provided in advance” (Glissant, Poetics of Relation).

  • By the Sea (Toney W. Merritt, 1982)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 1-3 (David Gatten, 1998)
  • Aqua (Samba Félix N’diaye, 1989)
  • The Dislocation of Amber (Hussein Shariffe, 1975)
  • Giverny I (Négresse Impériale) (Ja’Tovia Gary, 2017)
  • Pattaki (Everlane Moraes, 2019)
  • What the Water Said Nos. 4-6 (David Gatten, 2006-07)
  • Towards the Colonies (Miryam Charles, 2016)
  • Song for the New World (Miryam Charles, 2021)

Trajectories of Self-Determination: Experimental Cinema’s Embrace of Jazz
Curated by Juan Carlos Kase

Experimental cinema has long embraced American vernacular music as a generative model, whether it supplied a formal template, an affective inspiration, or a point of cultural reference. From the collective polyphony of Charles Mingus’ kinetic ensembles to the gale and squall of Joe McPhee’s storming cornet, the improvisational energies of jazz – as well as blues and other popular-modernist musics – have continued to inspire American avant-garde filmmakers. Collectively, the films in this program explore the myriad ways in which experimental cinema has drawn from African-American improvised music and embraced its spontaneous, collaborative, polyrhythmic, and lyrical energies.

  • Dufus (aka Art) (Mike Henderson, 1970/72)
  • Up and Atom (Doug Wendt, 1970)
  • Not a Music Video (Toney W. Merritt, 1987)
  • Pilgrim (Cauleen Smith, 2017)
  • Mirror Animations [Film #11] (Harry Smith, 1957)
  • 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (Christopher Harris, 2009)
  • The Clown (Donna Cameron, 1998)
  • Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili, 2015)
  • Four Women (Julie Dash, 1975)
  • All My Life (Bruce Baillie, 1966)

Insurgent Articulations
Curated by Ekin Pinar

A strong interest in the social, political, and cultural contexts has always been part and parcel of a good variety of experimental filmmaking practices, even though canonical works on experimental cinema tend to focus solely on the formal explorations that supposedly reflect the filmmaker’s own (hermetic) subjectivity. Because of this exclusive focus on formal experimentation, the socio-historical, cultural, and representational politics, ethics, and concerns of much experimental work remained unnoticed until recently. Focusing on the theme of the aesthetics of socio-political unrest and protest, this program showcases examples of experimental filmmaking that fictionally constructed or experimentally reconstructed in formally explorative and reflexive ways demonstrations, rallies, marches, and sit-ins.

  • Pig Power (Single Spark Films, 1969)
  • Demonstration ’68 (Dominic Angerame, 1968-74)
  • Solidarity (Joyce Wieland, 1973)
  • Sisters! (Barbara Hammer, 1973)
  • New Left Note (Saul Levine, 1968-82)
  • Gay Power, 1971/2007/2012 (Sharon Hayes, Kate Millett, and The Women’s Liberation Cinema, 2012)
  • On the nature of the bone (Elena Pardo, 2018)
  • A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (Rhea Storr, 2018)
  • B.L.M. (Toney W. Merritt, 2020)

Supplemental screening:

  • Investigation of a Flame (Lynne Sachs, 2001)