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Will-o’-the-Wisp
Will-o’-the-Wisp directed by João Pedro Rodrigues

The Currents slate for the 60th New York Film Festival includes 15 features and 44 short films, representing 23 countries, a diverse offering of short and feature-length productions by filmmakers and artists working at the vanguard of the medium.

The Opening Night selection is the João Pedro Rodrigues (The Ornithologist, NYFF54) film Will-o’-the-Wisp, a “musical fantasia” about a young prince who shocks his riotously wealthy royal family by becoming a volunteer fireman—both to battle climate change and, it seems, to douse his own dormant desires amidst a bevy of beefcake firefighters. Others include the North American premiere of Human Flowers of Flesh, Helena Wittmann’s depiction of an enigmatic reconfiguration of space and time as Idi (Angeliki Papoulia) follows a crew of French Foreign Legionnaires, fascinated by their male rituals and camaraderie; and the world premiere of Heinz Emigholz’s Slaughterhouses of Modernity, a quiet observation and historical excavation, focusing on creation and destruction in cities and provinces in Argentina, Germany, and Bolivia.

Noteworthy filmmakers whose works will appear in this year’s Currents include Bertrand Bonello with Coma (Berlinale FIPRESCI Prize), a sui generis work of pandemic-era interiority, tracking the anxiety and estrangement of a teenage girl (Louise Labeque, from Bonello’s Zombi Child, NYFF57) who appears to live alone during COVID lockdown; Alain Gomis (Félicité, NYFF55) with Rewind & Play, a subtle yet searing exposé of casual racism using newly discovered footage from the recording of a 1969 French television interview of the legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk; artist Mika Rottenberg, whose first feature and collaboration with Mahyad Tousi, Remote, follows the daily routines of a quarantined woman (Okwui Okpokwasili) in her sealed-off, ultra-modern apartment; Ashley McKenzie (Werewolf) with Queens of the Qing Dynasty, which charts the budding friendship of a suicidal teen and a volunteer immigrant hospital worker; Alessandro Comodin (Happy Times Will Come Soon, ND/NF 2017) with The Adventures of Gigi the Law, a slippery, often funny, occasionally surreal slice-of-life portrait of a good-natured, contemplative policeman in a small village in northern Italy; Lebanese visual artist Ali Cherri with The Dam, a debut feature about a bricklayer in northern Sudan that straddles the line between nonfiction naturalism and supernatural mysticism, and merges ancient and contemporary worlds; Abbas Fahdel (Bitter Bread, NYFF57) with Tales of the Purple House, focusing on the experiences of Nour Balllouk, a Lebanese artist living in the house she shares with director Fahdel (her husband, who stays off-screen) in the dramatic mountainous countryside outside of Beirut; and Jonás Trueba (Every Song Talks About Me, 20th Spanish Cinema Now) with You Have to Come and See It, portraying a reunion between two couples for a concert and drinks after they have been kept apart from each other for months by the pandemic and major life changes, which paints an alternately rapturous and neurotic impression of contemporary Western living.

Notable award-winning features in this year’s Currents include The Unstable Object II (winner of the Main Prize at FIDMarseille), Daniel Eisenberg’s dynamic triptych that patiently observes people working at three factories around the world, continued from a project started in 2011; Ruth Beckermann’s Mutzenbacher (Berlinale Encounters Award for Best Film), a playful yet charged project featuring a vast group of men, who volunteered to appear on camera, perched on a floral pink couch in a cavernous abandoned factory, discussing a work of infamous erotica; Gustavo Vinagre’s loose-limbed comic marvel Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter (Berlinale Teddy Award), set during a vibrant São Paulo afternoon amidst a peculiar pandemic that affects people’s short-term memory; and Joana Pimenta and Adirley Queirós’s Dry Ground Burning (Cinéma du Réel Grand Prize), a lightning rod dispatch from contemporary—and maybe future—Brazil, an astonishing mix of documentary and speculative fiction that takes place in the nearly post-apocalyptic environs of the Sol Nascente favela in Brasilia.

World premieres of shorts are abundant in this year’s selection, with new works from Alex Ashe, Mary Helena Clark, Sarah Friedland, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Mark Jenkin, Josh Kline, Mackie Mallison, Angelo Madsen Minax, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, Dani and Sheilah ReStack, Kim Salac, Joshua Gen Solondz, Courtney Stephens, and Jordan Strafer.

Additional notable voices in the visual arts featured as part of the Currents program include Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau and Natalia Escobar with Aribadawith Aribada, a space between documentary and dreamlike imagery of Colombia’s coffee region; Ellie Ga with Quarries, a potent, digressive triptych of palimpsestic imagery that uncovers various histories of humans’ relationships to stone; Sophia Al-Maria’s oneiric jaunt through an alternative art history, Tiger Strike Red; Fox Maxy’s compelling montage F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now, which documents the artist’s homecoming to Mesa Grande, California, ancestral lands of the Mesa Grande band of Iipay/Kumeyaay/Diegueño Mission Indians in what is now called San Diego County; Eva Giolo with The Demands of Ordinary Devotion, a catalog of moments that captures the elegance and banality of creation; and Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel with Watch the Fire or Burn Inside it, a work of noise, pyromania, and rage against a world of concrete. New works are also presented by Meriem Bennani, Lloyd Lee Choi, Sara Cwynar, Charlotte Ercoli, Arne Hector with Luciana Mazeto, Minze Tummescheit and Vinícius Lopes, and Simón Veléz.

Artists returning to NYFF include Ute Aurand, Alexandra Cuesta, Riccardo Giacconi, Simon Liu, Pablo Mazzolo, Jamil McGinnis, Diane Severin Nguyen, Lois Patiño, Nicolás Pereda, James Richards, Ben Russell, Sylvia Schedelbauer, Tiffany Sia.

Three of this year’s Currents shorts are paired with features from the section: Bi Gan’s A Short Story, preceding Remote; Pedro Neves Marques’s Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, preceding You Have to Come and See It; and Elisabeth Subrinand’s Maria Schneider, preceding Rewind & Play.

Radu Jude (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, NYFF59) revisits the history of the battleship Potemkin—as a comic dialogue between a sculptor and a representative from Romania’s Ministry of Culture, in The Potemkinists, which will screen with a to-be-announced Revivals program.

Finally, this year’s Currents shorts program features a restoration of the Edward Owens film Remembrance: A Portrait Study, depicting the filmmaker’s mother and her friends, arrayed in feather boas and pearls, drinking beer, smoking, gossiping, and posing leisurely in Owens’s ethereal chiaroscuro frames and extravagant superimpositions.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival takes place September 30–October 16, 2022.

Currents Features

Opening Night
Will-o’-the-Wisp
João Pedro Rodrigues, 2022, Portugal, 67m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Transgressive queer auteur João Pedro Rodrigues’s outré “musical fantasia” begins in the year 2069, when Portugal’s King Alfredo recalls from his deathbed his erotic exploits and social activism as a fresh-faced, curly-haired prince in the early years of the 21st century. The young man shocks his riotously wealthy royal family by becoming a volunteer fireman—both to do his part for a rural landscape prone to devastating wildfires and, it seems, to douse his own dormant desires amidst a bevy of beefcake firefighters. Rodrigues’s delirious and delicious anything-goes style has never felt more joyous than in this curiously hopeful, sexually frank confection that engages in questions of climate change, racial and economic inequity, and governmental inadequacy, while also indulging in bawdy humor and song-and-dance flights of fancy. A Strand Releasing release.

The Adventures of Gigi the Law
Alessandro Comodin, 2022, Italy/France/Belgium, 98m
Italian and Friulian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Gigi, a good-natured, contemplative policeman in a small village in northern Italy, spends his workdays making inquiries into minor infractions, checking on residents, listening to his car radio, and flirting with a pretty new colleague. Yet even in this uneventful town, there is a dark undercurrent of melancholy, indicated by a wave of recent suicides on the local train tracks. Alessandro Comodin follows his breakthrough shape-shifter Happy Times Will Come Soon with a slippery, often very funny slice-of-life portrait that drifts into occasional glimmers of surreality. Comodin’s brilliantly expressive use of off-screen space unsettles even as it amuses, creating a world whose contours are just barely discernible, whether cloaked in a nighttime thicket of trees or against the bright sun-dappled countryside.

Coma
Bertrand Bonello, 2022, France, 81m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Director Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama) is among his generation’s most accomplished makers of disquieting imagery; his latest, a sui generis work of pandemic-era interiority, functions as an alternately humorous and horrifying sketch of our current existential miasma. This unsettling film tracks the anxiety and estrangement of a teenage girl (Louise Labeque, from Bonello’s Zombi Child) who appears to live alone during COVID lockdown and gradually begins to experience the dissolution of boundaries between her real and imagined zones. Utilizing an array of media—computer animation, Zoom chats, internet video, stop-motion dolls, surveillance footage—the filmmaker constructs a dreamlike limbo that increasingly feels ruled by some invisible supernatural realm. Created as a personal communiqué to the director’s 18-year-old daughter Coma expresses, poignantly yet without sentimentality, a father’s fears in passing a troubled world along to his child.

The Dam
Ali Cherri, 2022, France/Lebanon/Sudan/Germany/Serbia/Qatar, 80m
Arabic with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Maher (Maher El Kahir) works as a bricklayer in northern Sudan, not far from the massive hydroelectric Merowe Dam located on the Nile. He spends his off hours laboring over another, more mysterious building project: a towering creature he’s making out of mud. In his debut feature, Lebanese visual artist Ali Cherri has constructed his own indefinable work, a riveting film that straddles the line between nonfiction naturalism and supernatural mysticism. Co-written with Bertrand Bonello and Geoffroy Grison, The Dam metaphorically evokes the destruction caused by the dam’s creation, while also situating the lives of Maher and his fellow workers against the political backdrop of former Sudan leader Omar al-Bashir’s 2019 military deposition. Cherri merges ancient and contemporary worlds in this meditative film about displacement, illusion, and mythmaking.

Dry Ground Burning
Joana Pimenta and Adirley Queirós, 2022, Brazil, 154m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
A lightning rod dispatch from contemporary—and maybe future—Brazil, this astonishing mix of documentary and speculative fiction takes place in the nearly postapocalyptic environs of the Sol Nascente favela in Brasilia. Here, fearsome outlaw Chitara (Joana Darc Furtado) leads an all-female gang that siphons and steals precious oil from the authoritarian, militarized government, while her sister, Léa (Léa Alves da Silva), recently released from prison, is brought into the criminal enterprise. Working together as directors for the first time, Queirós and Pimenta (who served as cinematographer on Queirós’s ethnographic sci-fi Once There Was Brasilia) effortlessly combine dramatized narrative with electrifying captured footage, which integrates the characters into rallies against Bolsonaro and fervent religious services. Presiding over it all are the regal Furtado and da Silva, playing alternate-reality versions of themselves, the fully liberated stars of an epic, hopeful vision. A Grasshopper Film release.

Human Flowers of Flesh
Helena Wittmann, 2022, Germany/France, 106m
English, French, Portuguese, Tamazight, and Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Director and cinematographer Helena Wittmann creates distinctive and unexpected cinematic experiences, dissolving narratives into environments that move to the inexpressible contours of human communication and physicality. In her second feature, following the revelatory, bifurcated Drift, she limns the interior world of Idi (Angeliki Papoulia) by focusing on the external, sensual landscape surrounding her. Fascinated by the male rituals and camaraderie of a crew of French Foreign Legionnaires, Idi follows them on a journey across the Mediterranean, which Wittmann depicts as an enigmatic reconfiguration of space and time, connecting the past and present, body and spirit, earth and water—including, in one remarkable moment, a complete submersion into the sea’s mysterious depths. Human Flowers of Flesh features a cameo from Denis Lavant, in tribute to Claire Denis’s thematically evoked Beau travail, yet Wittmann’s film moves to its own meditative, differently embodied rhythms.

Mutzenbacher
Ruth Beckermann, 2022, Austria, 101m
German with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
In this playful yet charged project from Austrian filmmaker Ruth Beckermann (The Waldheim Waltz, NYFF56), a vast group of men, from teenage to nonagenarian, have volunteered to appear on camera, perched on a floral pink couch in a cavernous abandoned factory, discussing, and in some cases reading aloud from, a work of infamous erotica. Published anonymously in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, Josephine Mutzenbacher or The Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself, graphically details the sexual awakening of a teenage girl. In the voices of these men, who are variously befuddled, defensive, and eager, the book’s explicit content becomes at once absurd, neutralized, and purposefully dislocated. Beckermann uses this controversial text as a catalyst for a surprising, humorous, and nonjudgmental treatise on contemporary male sexual attitudes toward women, fantasy, pornography, and the ever-moving targets of morality.

Queens of the Qing Dynasty
Ashley McKenzie, 2022, Canada, 122m
English, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
After the latest in a series of suicide attempts, 18-year-old Star (Sarah Walker) wakes up in the hospital and remains dazed and disaffected as doctors and nurses try to rehabilitate, or at least break through to, them. The only person there who is able to penetrate Star’s consciousness is a volunteer named An (Ziyin Zheng), a kind-souled Chinese immigrant who becomes a lifeline for the similarly genderqueer but otherwise radically different Star. Ashley McKenzie’s follow-up to her breakthrough addiction drama Werewolf takes Star and An’s budding friendship as an anchor for something much stranger and more complex than a simple tale of recovery against odds. Instead, this is an aesthetically audacious two-hander constructed of insistent sonic landscapes and visual textures that convey the almost metastatic nature of love. McKenzie’s strategy of expressing her characters’ intense interiority forces normal definitions of space and time to expand and contract.

Remote
Mika Rottenberg and Mahyad Tousi, 2022, U.S., 89m
English, Korean, Persian, Spanish, Croatian, Hindi with English subtitles
Mika Rottenberg’s expansive, often giddily absurd video and installation art in part interrogates our increasing reliance on technology and connection to what we used to call reality. In her first feature, she collaborates with filmmaker Mahyad Tousi on a film she has described as “Jeanne Dielman during a pandemic in the future.” Remote follows the daily routines of a quarantined woman (Okwui Okpokwasili) in her sealed-off, ultra-modern apartment, a paradise of vibrant colors, thriving plant life, and virtual screens. While some unknown global crisis unfolds outside her window, she joins a watch party of women from around the world keen on the same South Korean dog-grooming show, eventually falling down a rabbit hole playing an inexplicable interactive game with them. Rottenberg and Tousi’s film finds new cinematic language to express the desire for physical contact in our increasingly isolated, mediated, and highly consumer-driven environments.

Preceded by:
A Short Story / Po Sui Tai Yang Zhi Xin
Bi Gan, 2022, China, 15m
Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
With his signature long-takes and tightly controlled mise-en-scène, Bi Gan weaves a darkly surrealist fairy tale that follows the odyssey of an anthropomorphic feline across the empty cities and fog-bound exurban spaces of contemporary China. In his encounters with a strange cast of characters—a scarecrow, a robot, an amnesiac, a little girl—Black Cat is on a quest to answer a single question: What is the most precious thing in the world?

Rewind & Play
Alain Gomis, 2022, France/Germany, 66m
English and French with English subtitles
In December 1969, Thelonious Monk arrived in Paris for a concert at the tail end of a European tour. While there, the legendary jazz pianist was invited to appear on a television interview program, where he would perform and answer questions in an intimate, one-on-one studio stage. Using newly discovered footage from the recording of the interview, versatile French-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis (whose dazzling music-tinged drama Félicité played in NYFF’s Main Slate in 2017) reveals the troubling dynamic between Monk and his white interviewer, Henri Renaud, and how Monk stands his ground despite being antagonized by Renaud’s trivializing approach. Gomis’s gripping film is a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary; a subtle yet searing exposé of casual racism; and, above all, a chance to see one of the monumental geniuses of 20th-century music at work.

Preceded by:
Maria Schneider, 1983
Elisabeth Subrin, 2022, France, 25m
English and French with English and French subtitles
Actresses Manal Issa, Aïssa Maïga, and Isabel Sandoval recreate a 1983 French TV interview with Maria Schneider, which takes a turn when she’s asked about the traumatic filming of Last Tango in Paris with Bernardo Bertolucci and Marlon Brando a decade before. Taken together, they not only perform Schneider’s words and gestures, but inhabit them through their own identities—along with all those silenced, before and after.

Slaughterhouses of Modernity
Heinz Emigholz, 2022, Germany, 80m
German with English subtitles
World Premiere
Contemporary cinema’s preeminent chronicler of architecture and its intersection with the ever-present crisis of 20th-century modernity, Heinz Emigholz returns with an alternately mournful and sly treatise on how the presence—and, in some cases, absence—of municipal and communal building architecture is inseparable from capitalist ideology. Focusing mainly on cities and provinces in Argentina, Germany, and Bolivia, Emigholz’s latest film is a work of quiet observation and historical excavation. From slaughterhouses in Salamone to the flooded former spa city of Epecuén to the newly built Humboldt Forum in Berlin, the film demonstrates the effect of capital on public spaces, where creation and destruction go hand in hand, and as always, Emigholz makes the journey one of intellectual force and cinematic beauty.

Tales of the Purple House
Abbas Fahdel, 2022, Lebanon/Iraq/France, 184m
Arabic with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Iraqi-French filmmaker Abbas Fahdel, whose Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) (NYFF53) captured everyday experiences of his homelands citizens in the years before and after the U.S. invasion, has returned with another extraordinary, expansive cinematic vision combining images of mundane observation with social and political upheaval. Filmed over more than two years, Tales of the Purple House centers on the experiences of Nour Balllouk, a Lebanese artist living in the house she shares with Fahdel (her husband, who stays off-screen) in the dramatic mountainous countryside outside of Beirut. As she works on her latest paintings, communes with stray cats, and bonds with Syrian refugee neighbors, the nation struggles with turmoil, from the breakout of the COVID pandemic to citizens protesting the corruption of the political elite to ongoing violent attacks from neighboring Israel; meanwhile, the vibrant beauty of their home and its surroundings provides solace and regeneration. With the simplest of brushstrokes, Fahdel’s meditative film captures the creation of art amidst pain, the ongoing hope for revolution, and the struggle to live in the present while constantly bearing witness to the past.

Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter
Gustavo Vinagre, 2022, Brazil, 84m
Portuguese with English subtitles
A warm, bittersweet queer utopia bursts from the sidelines of Bolsonaro’s Brazil in Gustavo Vinagre’s loose-limbed comic marvel. Set during a peculiar pandemic that affects people’s short-term memory, the film follows a trio of 20-somethings—roommates Isabella (Isabella Pereira) and Pedro (Pedro Ribeiro), and Pedro’s visiting, same-age nephew, Jonata (Jonata Vieira)—as they explore a vibrant São Paulo one sunny afternoon. Lightly but movingly drawing parallels between the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s and the governmental treatment of disease today, Vinagre’s film nevertheless provides an ultimately hopeful, even joyous picture of the marginalized, an alt universe of people living both online and IRL, indulging in fantasy and pleasure, and maintaining humor despite the specter of death, past and present. Winner of the Teddy Award for Best LGBTQ-themed Feature at the Berlin Film Festival.

The Unstable Object II
Daniel Eisenberg, 2022, U.S./Germany/France/Turkey, 204m
U.S. Premiere
Continuing a project he began in 2011, filmmaker Daniel Eisenberg presents a dynamic triptych that patiently observes people working at three factories around the world: a prosthetics manufacturer in the German city of Duderstadt, a glove maker in the southern French commune Millau, and a jeans plant in Istanbul. Each discrete section of the film presents a place with its own distinct process and scale of production, yet taken together, they create an indelible image of a global workforce, one that never loses sight of the humans at the center, despite the industrial machines they are often seen operating. Eisenberg’s stationary camera pays close attention to both the individual and the collective, showing the rigorous labor as well as the intricate design and craft that go into every detail, encouraging a rich, active viewership. Winner of the Grand Prix of the International Competition at this year’s FIDMarseille Film Festival.

You Have to Come and See It
Jonás Trueba, 2022, Spain, 64m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Jonás Trueba paints an alternately rapturous and neurotic impression of contemporary Western living in his small-scale yet endlessly rich new feature. Two couples reunite for a concert and drinks after they have been kept apart from each other for months by the pandemic and major life changes. During two movements, in winter and summer, set in Madrid and in the countryside, Trueba allows us to eavesdrop on conversations that subtly reveal their emotional and intellectual lives, personal resentments and fears, and ruminations on our modern political limbo. Trueba’s gentle, clear-eyed film is both a cosmopolitan fable and a return to nature, buoyed by a chorus of living artists and philosophers—pianist and composer Chano Domínguez, cultural theorist Peter Sloterdijk, poet Olvido García Valdes—whose words and music are as integral to the overall experience as the characters’ enveloping dialogue.

Preceded by:
Becoming Male in the Middle Ages / Tornar-se um Homem na Idade Média
Pedro Neves Marques, 2022, Portugal, 22m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Two couples, two quandaries of parenthood and age: a straight couple struggle with infertility and its possible environmental causes, while Vicente undergoes an experimental procedure to implant an ovary in his body so that he and his partner, Carl, can have a biological child. With delicate touches of science fiction, director Pedro Neves Marques explores the bleeding edge of the biopolitics of reproduction and the normative boundaries of the natural and the artificial.

Currents Shorts

Program 1: Field Trips
TRT: 78m

Flora
Nicolás Pereda, 2022, Mexico, 11m
World Premiere
A metacinematic reflection on the nature of representation and the ongoing drug war in Mexico, Nicolás Pereda’s Flora revisits locations and scenes from the mainstream 2010 narco-comedy El Infierno, exploring the paradoxes of depicting narco-trafficking on film—its tendency both to romanticize and to obscure. To screen is both to project and to conceal.

Underground Rivers / Los mayores ríos se deslizan bajo tierra
Simón Veléz, 2022, Colombia, 19m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Omens abound in Simón Veléz’s Underground Rivers, which follows the quotidian journey of a young woman from Medellín’s center to the verdant forests beyond—all captured on grainy, desaturated film stock. Archery, fortunetelling, and even an acting audition figure in this loose itinerary, which eventually circles back to the film’s unsettled beginnings.

Watch the Fire or Burn Inside It / Il faut regarder le feu ou brûler dedans
Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, 2022, France, 18m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
As water-bombers fight wildfires scorching the island of Corsica, a young woman learns to embrace the flames in an act of resistance. Part mordant karaoke video, part eco-terrorist manifesto, Watch the Fire or Burn Inside It is a work of noise, pyromania, and rage against a world of concrete.

Aribada
Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau and Natalia Escobar, 2022, Germany/Colombia, 30m
Emberá Chamí with English subtitles
In Aribada, the scintillating color and dreamlike imagery of Colombia’s coffee region become a vivid landscape—a space between documentary and mythology, where Las Traviesas, a group of trans women from the Emberá people share knowledge and reinvent rituals. Here, Aribada, a half-jaguar, half-human monster awakens to the formation of their utopic alliance informed by the power of the jais (spirits).

Program 2: Fault Lines
TRT: 78m

Quarries
Ellie Ga, 2022, U.S., 40m
North American Premiere
In the wake of her brother’s paralysis, artist Ellie Ga traces a psychogeography from New York to the Aegean Sea to Kenya to Lisbon, threading narratives about agency in the face of being forgotten. What results is a potent, digressive triptych of palimpsestic imagery that uncovers various histories of humans’ relationships to stone—from prehistoric tools to stonemasonry. Quarries unfolds through sifting juxtapositions and stories of resistance in unlikely places.

45th Parallel
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, 2022, U.K., 15m
World Premiere
Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s 45th Parallel analyzes the contradictions of borders and the laws that govern the liminal space of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, a municipal building constructed in 1904 that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border. This peculiar site becomes the stage for an investigative monologue about the 2010 shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old Mexican by a U.S. Border Patrol agent and America’s remote murders-by-drone in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan.

Tiger Strike Red
Sophia Al-Maria, 2022, U.K., 23m
U.S. Premiere
Remixing the collections of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Tiger Strike Red is an oneiric jaunt through an alternative art history that finds playful linkages between classical marble sculpture, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, representations of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes, AI art, and an 18th-century South Indian automaton depicting a tiger mauling a British colonial soldier.

Program 3: Action Figures
TRT: 68m

Fingerpicking / Diteggiatura
Riccardo Giacconi, 2021, Italy, 18m
Italian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Voiceover narration written by an artificial neural network guides us through the workshop of the Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla e Figli in Milan, one of the oldest puppet theaters in the world. Here, artisans and performers build and manipulate their multitude of phantasmagoric creations, grotesque and uncanny facsimiles of human and animal life.

Glass Life
Sara Cwynar, 2021, Canada, 20m
U.S. Premiere
A swirling constellation of images—press photos, ads, animal pics, fashion shots, Instagram profiles, emojis, book covers, sports footage, selfies, cartoons, and clippings from an art history textbook—unfurl under the bird’s-eye gaze of Sara Cwynar’s Glass Life, which performs a vivisection of contemporary digital culture, plunging us deep into the hermetic pleasures and traps of the infinite scroll.

F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now
Fox Maxy, 2022, U.S., 11m
U.S. Premiere
Fox Maxy’s vertiginous montage documents the artist’s homecoming to Mesa Grande, California, ancestral lands of the Mesa Grande Band of Iipay/Kumeyaay/Diegueño Mission Indians in what is now called San Diego County. An exuberant mixtape of songs; portraits of friends, family, animals, and landscapes; and documents of confrontations with tribal cops, F1ghting Looks Different 2 Me Now is an exhilarating, joyful, and relentless disruption. No more drama.

IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS
Diane Severin Nguyen, 2021, U.S./Poland, 19m
A militant K-pop opera set in Warsaw, artist Diane Severin Nguyen’s IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS poses post-socialist theatrics enacted by a new generation whose influences span from Mao to Blackpink. Meshing revolutionary writings with collaboratively choreographed sequences featuring a young Vietnamese girl and a dance troupe of Polish teenagers, Nguyen’s film is a euphoric and paradoxical conflation of socialist and capitalist iconographies and post-Cold War diasporas.

Program 4: Vital Signs
TRT: 71m

Exhibition
Mary Helena Clark, 2022, U.S., 19m
World Premiere
Pivoting between two stories of women and their relationships with objects—a Swedish woman’s marriage to the Berlin Wall, and a suffragette’s hatcheting of Velásquez’s The Toilet of Venus—Mary Helena Clark’s Exhibition is a maze-like tour through images and artifacts, a dense cryptography of the forms and objects that hold us in.

Remembrance: A Portrait Study
Edward Owens, 1967, U.S., 16mm, 6m
As a gay African-American 18-year-old filmmaker, Edward Owens was a marginal figure in the New York avant-garde of the late 1960s. One of his four completed films, Remembrance: A Portrait Study (1967) depicts the filmmaker’s mother and her friends, arrayed in feather boas and pearls, drinking beer, smoking, gossiping, and posing leisurely in Owens’s ethereal chiaroscuro frames and extravagant superimpositions. A program of Edward Owens’s films will also screen in the Revivals section to be announced at a future date.

Restored by Chicago Film Society, The New American Cinema Group, Inc./The Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and the John M. Flaxman Library at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant Program and the Film Foundation. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.

PEAK HEAVEN LOVE FOREVER
Jordan Strafer, 2022, U.S., 21m
World Premiere
A private jet over the Atlantic Ocean, in which a family transports their ailing patriarch, becomes the stage, alternately, for ebullient musical theater and morbid fantasies. With its opulent production design, sinister soundscapes, and its flair for the grotesque, Jordan Strafer’s PEAK HEAVEN LOVE FOREVER is a psychodrama in miniature.

NE Corridor
Joshua Gen Solondz, 2022, U.S., 35mm, 7m
World Premiere
Accumulated over three years, Joshua Gen Solondz’s film is a crowded collage of gurgling paint, jagged splices, errant sprocket holes, and puzzling images that conjure the densely material frames of the late queer avant-garde filmmaker Luther Price. A messy assemblage in purples and oranges, NE Corridor is at once a visceral explosion of color and a tortured object.

Qualities Of Life: Living in the Radiant Cold
James Richards, 2022, Germany, 18m
U.S. Premiere
James Richards’ Qualities of Life: Living in the Radiant Cold is a descent into a maelstrom of images and objects—from glitched medical optics, photos from the archive of Horst Ademeit, who documented the impact of radiation on his body, to Richards’ own collection of erotic objects, drug paraphernalia, and other ephemera that swim in a dark techno-pharmacological miasma.

Program 5: After Utopia
TRT: 75m

Adaptation
Josh Kline, 2022, U.S., 11m
World Premiere
The setting for Josh Kline’s Adaptation is the contaminated canyons of a flooded New York City in the near future—here rendered with resolutely analog special effects, including matte shots and scale models. Amid the ruins, life and work continue, as the city’s remaining relief workers adapt to the strange beauty of their newly transformed home and the consequences of a slow, preventable apocalypse.

urban solutions
Arne Hector, Luciana Mazeto, Minze Tummescheit, and Vinícius Lopes, 2022, Germany/Brazil, 16mm, 30m
Portuguese and German with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A German artist on a picturesque journey to Brazil ruminates on the country’s lush floral beauty and its orderly architectures of civilization and security, as apartment complex doormen reflect on their experiences as caretakers, security guards, and confidants for the rich. Shot in vivid 16mm, urban solutions builds a complex, multi-perspectival portrait of the country’s class inequities, in which insurgent energies of the colonial past begin to break through its pristine surfaces.

Life on the CAPS
Meriem Bennani, 2022, Morocco/U.S., 34m
English and Arabic with English subtitles
Interweaving live action and computer graphics, and blending the aesthetics of documentary, music video, surveillance, and viral videos, Meriem Bennani constructs a rich, disorienting vision of a dystopian future on CAPS, a fictional migrant enclave located somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Featuring a score by Fatima Al Qadiri, Life on the CAPS is a vibrant and intricately layered audiovisual commentary on the meaning of data, diaspora, and collective resistance.

Program 6: Inside Voices
TRT: 77m

Bigger on the Inside
Angelo Madsen Minax, 2022, U.S., 12m
U.S. Premiere
Outer and inner space collapse in Angelo Madsen Minax’s cosmic essay film, which diffracts feelings, memories, and longings during a blurry sojourn in a remote cabin in the woods. Looking at the stars, flirting with guys on dating apps, taking ketamine (or not), and watching YouTube lecture videos, Minax draws a warped cartography of desire and distance.

The Sky’s In There
Dani and Sheilah ReStack, 2022, U.S., 11m
World Premiere
In Dani and Sheilah ReStack’s intimate album of sensations, the camera becomes a communal tool, weaving between domestic scenes with children, friends, animals, and collaborators, miniature art worlds, and abstracted natural formations. Threading these scenes with their trademark strategies of feral domesticity, these quotidian spaces of play and repose become models of transformation, experience, and care.

Lesser Choices
Courtney Stephens, 2022, U.S., 8m
World Premiere
The bleached palette and home-movie aesthetics of Super 8 footage provide the image track for this testimonial about an illegal abortion in Mexico City in the 1960s, delivered in voiceover by the filmmaker’s mother. In its account of this intimate and disorienting memory, Lesser Choices summons a time of profound uncertainty—a moment from an era without rights—and offers a warning to the present.

Diana, Diana
Kim Salac, 2022, U.S., 10m
English and Tagalog with English subtitles
World Premiere
In this fractured double-portrait, artist Kim Salac superimposes the story of Princess Diana onto images and narratives drawn from their mother’s life. Through palimpsests of voices and images, the artist’s own dance performances, and archival interviews with the princess just before her divorce, Diana, Diana meditates on iconography and celebrity, globalization and colonization, and women’s shared struggle for autonomy across class lines.

It Smells Like Springtime
Mackie Mallison, 2022, U.S., 16m
Chinese, English, and Japanese with English subtitles
World Premiere
Through family conversations, home movies, still-lifes, and portraiture, Mackie Mallison’s It Smells Like Springtime explores the complexity of Asian-American identity and experience in dialogue with the artist and jeweler Ada Chen and a riotous cadre of kids. Together, they grapple with their ties to their family’s homelands, the paradoxes of representation, and their sense of belonging.

Into The Violet Belly
Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, 2022, Belgium/Germany/Iceland/Malta/Denmark, 20m
Vietnamese and English with English subtitles
World Premiere
Interweaving family lore, mythology, science fiction, and digital abstraction, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi’s film follows the collaboration between the artist and her mother, Thuyen Hoa, who fled Vietnam after the end of the American War via a near-calamitous sea journey. Oscillating between voices, visual registers, and timescales—was it seven months or seven thousand years?— Into The Violet Belly offers up an image of its multiplicitous structure: a massive digital swarm, tiny avatars of migrating bodies, swimming in an infinite blue.

Program 7: Ordinary Devotion
TRT: 73m

The Demands of Ordinary Devotion
Eva Giolo, 2022, Belgium, 12m
U.S. Premiere
Flipping a coin, pumping a breast, hand-rolling pasta, winding a Bolex: The Demands of Ordinary Devotion is an accumulation of small gestures, ordinary affects, and cryptic rites—a catalog of moments that captures the elegance and the banality of creation, which Eva Giolo documents through juxtapositions of rich 16mm images and precise sonic events.

Renate
Ute Aurand, 2021, Germany, 16mm, 6m
North American Premiere
Ute Aurand’s delicate portrait of her friend and fellow filmmaker Renate Sami is rich with quiet micro-events, intimating a wealth of shared histories, songs, and readings (including an untranslated passage from the Austrian poet Friederike Mayröcker’s Stillleben), and evoking the fragile beauty of the present.

Lungta
Alexandra Cuesta, 2022, Mexico/Ecuador, 10m
Alexandra Cuesta’s enigmatic film derives its title from the mythical Tibetan creature (literally, “wind horse”) that symbolizes the air or spirit within the body. Combining sound artist’s Martín Baus’s distorted aerophonic score with blurred 16mm footage, Lungta foregrounds the material substructure of the filmic process while invoking the history of Muybridge’s earliest experiments in chronophotography, which gave motion to still images for the first time.

The Newest Olds
Pablo Mazzolo, 2022, Argentina/Canada, 35mm, 15m
U.S. Premiere
Through his deft hand-processing and manipulation of 35mm film stock, Pablo Mazzolo creates a kaleidoscopic landscape study of sites in and around the transborder agglomeration of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. Transforming this space into a pulsating environment of liquid terrain, volatile abstraction, and an ever-changing color palette, The Newest Olds also draws on archival sound and field recording to reveal the two cities’ energies of uncertainty and unrest.

Devil’s Peak
Simon Liu, 2022, Hong Kong/U.S., 30m
North American Premiere
In Devil’s Peak, Simon Liu’s frenetically associative montage and shimmering images map a twisted psychogeography of Hong Kong. What emerges is a dizzying portrait of a metropolis bustling with jagged contrasts: between the shiny objects of capitalist futurism and the past’s ghostly whispers, between gestures of resistance and forces of suppression.

Program 8: Time Out of Mind
TRT: 76m

Against Time
Ben Russell, 2022, France, 23m
A fractal almanac, Ben Russell’s Against Time begins in reverse as a means of moving forward. An homage to the late filmmaker Jonathan Schwartz, and filmed between the Carpathian Mountains, Vilnius punk clubs, a Belarusian Independence Day celebration, and Marseille, it hovers in a limbo of drone and fog, then descends into stroboscopic clusters of moments and movements.

In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun
Sylvia Schedelbauer, 2022, Germany, 18m
Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Borrowing its title from the memoir of early Japanese suffragette Hiratsuka Raichō, In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun plunges deep into an oceanic vortex of saturated color and fleeting archival images, conjuring moments from the history of Japanese women’s movements in a headlong montage of bodies in protest, pulsating into abstraction.

What Rules The Invisible
Tiffany Sia, 2022, U.S., 10m
U.S. Premiere
Through archival travelogue footage of Hong Kong and family stories from her mother, Tiffany Sia explores Hong Kong’s tangled colonial histories in What Rules the Invisible. Appropriating and reframing the home movies’ voyeuristic images, the filmmaker finds small disruptions, returned gazes, and the ghostly residue of past resistance left undocumented.

The Sower of Stars / El sembrador de estrellas
Lois Patiño, 2022, Spain, 25m
Japanese with English subtitles
Intricate composite patterns of tiny, dazzling lights break through the inky blackness of night in Lois Patiño’s dream-like Tokyo nocturne. Narrated in dialogue by disembodied voices meditating on the qualities of color, light, and silence, The Sower of Stars is a minor-key city symphony in which the dense metropolis, viewed from afar, becomes a quiet atmosphere of twinkling electronics, snaking reflections, and liquid stars.

Program 9: New York Shorts
TRT: 87m

Same Old
Lloyd Lee Choi, 2022, U.S., 15m
Mandarin Chinese and English with English subtitles
In post-pandemic Manhattan, a Chinese immigrant works nights as a delivery worker, until his world begins to unravel: his e-bike is stolen, and with it his livelihood. In inky night scenes and desaturated neon, director Lloyd Lee Choi captures the precarity of life on the city’s social and economic margins.

Trust Exercises
Sarah Friedland, 2022, U.S., 25m
World Premiere
Experimental dance and corporate management workshops intersect in Sarah Friedland’s Trust Exercises, which connects three spaces—a rehearsal studio, a company team-building retreat, and a bodywork session—in which participants learn to move together. In these complementary zones, the business and social worlds merge in the complex orchestration of rhythm and play.

29 Hour Long Birthday
Mark Jenkin, 2022, U.K., 6m
World Premiere
British filmmaker Mark Jenkin (whose latest feature Enys Men is part of this year’s Main Slate) mails this postcard from a melancholic holiday in New York and its environs, rendering the city in grainy monochrome Super 8 and a familiar urban soundtrack of jackhammers and traffic hum. In voiceover, the filmmaker relates his experiences of celeb-spotting and visiting movie locales, buying overpriced essentials, and counting MAGA bumper stickers on Long Island.

Magic Ring
Alex Ashe, 2022, U.S., 16m
World Premiere
Slipping between planes of consciousness and existence, filmmaker Alex Ashe’s Magic Ring is a work of both subdued tenderness and wry comic surrealism in which an armed pursuit in Brooklyn results in a series of out-of-body experiences: a mystical encounter in a book shop, a chat with an ancestral spirit, a whole life flashing by in an instant.

Little Jerry
Charlotte Ercoli, 2022, U.S., 11m
Channeling the pure chaos of Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges with jerky rhythms and discomfiting smashcuts, Charlotte Ercoli’s Little Jerry tells the deranged showbiz tale of the frenzied, dysfunctional, jealous relationship between a puppet comedian (played by viral video icon Douglas Levison) and his jittery, incompetent assistant, who is also his son.

as time passes
Jamil McGinnis, 2022, U.S./Turkey, 14m
Turkish, English, and Persian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
as time passes assembles images and memories in a lyrical film-diary through which director Jamil McGinnis traces and retraces linkages between his mother’s home city of Lüleburgaz, Turkey, and his home in Crown Heights. Remixing home movies, original 16mm footage, and appropriated film and video clips, the film maps a deeply rooted landscape of shared emotion and existence.

Screening with a to-be-announced Revivals program
The Potemkinists / Potemkiniștii
Radu Jude, 2022, Romania, 18m
Romanian and Russian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Radu Jude revisits the history of the battleship Potemkin—the source story for Sergei Eisenstein’s classic 1925 work of Soviet montage—as a comic dialogue between a sculptor and a representative from Romania’s Ministry of Culture about cinema, monument-making, and art’s conflicted role in the continual revisionism of history.

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