Our new annual series Art of the Real is a nonfiction showcase founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The inaugural edition features new work from around the world alongside retrospective selections by both known and unjustly forgotten filmmakers. It is a platform for filmmakers and artists who have given us a wider view of nonfiction cinema and at the same time brought the form full circle, back to its early, boundary-pushing days.
Programmed by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes
Our annual nonfiction showcase is founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The second edition features new work from around the world and in a variety of genres alongside retrospective and thematic selections, including a tribute to the great French director Agnès Varda and a spotlight on the art and history of reenactment. Art of the Real is a platform for filmmakers and artists who have given us a wider view of nonfiction cinema and at the same time brought the form full circle, pointing to its early, boundary-pushing days.
Filmmakers Mark Peranson and Raya Martin and actor Alex Ross Perry in person!
In this tribute to and critique of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie, a grandiose filmmaker (Alex Ross Perry) scouts locations for a production that will involve exposing the last extant celluloid film stock on the eve of the Mayan Apocalypse.
Director Corneliu Porumboiu watches a 25-year-old historic soccer match with his father, who was the referee, in this look at the ways in which we relate to the past and, to a certain extent, to our parents.
One week exclusive run!
Brandy Burre had a recurring role on HBO’s The Wire when she gave up her career to start a family. Actress follows her bumpy return to work, but it’s never clear whether this film may simply be the next role.
Filmmaker Amie Siegel in person for Q&A!
Moving between the gallery space and the cinema, Amie Siegel’s work often places genre fiction within documentary methods. Two films will be screened in full: Black Moon (2010) and Winter (2013).
Filmmaker Eric Baudelaire in person for Q&A!
Conceptualized while researching the Japanese Red Army during a residency in Japan, Eric Baudelaire’s first feature is a probing and often mesmerizing weave of Super-8 footage, television clips, film excerpts, and archival miscellany. Screening with The Makes (Eric Baudelaire, 26m).
Introduction by author Rachel Kushner, whose award-winning book The Flamethrowers is dedicated to the subject of the film.
Shot on ghostly black-and-white video, this astonishing documentary centers on a pregnant, homeless teenager and the filmmakers’ struggle with their obligation toward her as a subject and a fellow human.
Filmmaker Narimane Mari in person for Q&A at both screenings!
A group of Algerian children frolic on the beach, but their roughhousing soon turns into a kind of reenactment of the Algerian War of Independence that plays out as equal parts Lord of the Flies and Les Carabiniers.
Introduction by filmmaker/artist Carolee Schneemann!
Derek Jarman’s swan song comprises just one shot, a single frame of blue that mirrors his deteriorating sight as a side effect of HIV medication, presented alongside a dense aural tapestry exploring life, death, and the color blue.
North American Premiere!
Filmmaker Davi Pretto in person for Q&A on April 19!
This chronicle of the daily life of an ailing middle-aged actor who supports himself and his mother by working as a cross-dressing nightclub MC takes haunting and confounding turns that blur the line between his fantasies and reality.
A soldier returns home to a Portuguese fishing village that has changed during his absence in Paulo Rocha's masterpiece of “sculpted reality,” a direct response to his mentor Manoel de Oliveira's Rite of Spring.
North American Premiere!
Filmmaker Amel El Kamel in person!
The shifting nature of memory, media, testimony, and translation—and how they work to obscure accountability—is explored through the trial of Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadžić at the International Criminal Tribunal. Screening with The Garden on Both River Banks (Amel El Kamel, 20m).
Filmmaker Thom Andersen in person for Q&A on April 13!
Andersen breathes life into the proto-cinema experiments of Eadweard Muybridge, re-photographing and animating more than 3,000 of his sequential images, in this thoroughgoing investigation into film’s primordial years. Screening with Olivia’s Place (Thom Anderson, 6m) and Hey, Asshole! (Thom Andersen, 6m).
Alonso’s landmark feature debut, named one of the top 10 films of the past decade in Cinema Scope magazine, follows a day in the solitary and repetitive life of a young woodcutter in the Argentinean pampas. Screening with Ah, Liberty! (Ben Rivers, 20m).
A series of situational tableaux set in a totalitarian dictatorship creates a fable of political occupation and resistance in this undersung film by Cavalier, best known for his French New Wave–era political thrillers.
Torres’s latest documentary-fiction hybrid starts with the disruptive arrival of a film crew in the titular character’s tiny, usually quiet village and leads to a hallucinatory journey of self-discovery.
With a light touch, Farocki arranges scenes of awkward office meetings, illustrated with perplexing diagrams and powered by neoliberal buzzwords, into a revelatory black satire of contemporary managerial process. Screening with Just Like Us (Jesse McLean, 15m) and Former Models (Benjamin Pearson, 20m).
Filmmaker Nicolas Provost in person for Q&A!
In three short videos created over six years, Provost films iconic public spaces with a hidden camera, weaving the footage into dramatic arcs using narrative editing devices and drawing the cinematic out of the everyday. Screening with Pittsburgh 1968/69 (Ted Kennedy, 6m).
Filmmaker Thom Andersen in person on April 12 for Q&A moderated by J. Hoberman!
This revelatory, extensively researched documentary offers a unique perspective on Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1950s, when “Red” filmmakers worked within the studio system to challenge issues of class, war, race, and gender.
Reminiscent of Wiseman’s Titicut Follies (1967), Depardon’s gripping account of the last days of a psychiatric hospital on the brink of shutting down allows viewers access to a world otherwise hidden from the public.
North American Premiere!
Filmmaker Bani Khoshnoudi in person for Q&A!
Clandestinely made, this film mixes of-the-moment footage of the rise of Iran’s Green Movement with glimpses of revolutions long since suppressed and snippets of narration that recall a century of turbulence.
Filmmakers Jane Gillooly and Gustavo Beck in person for Q&A on April 15!
Constructed from 60 hours of audiotape discovered in a suitcase purchased on eBay, this film reveals the intimate details of an affair between a Midwestern woman and her lover, who used a reel-to-reel tape recorder to document their romance. Screening with O Arquipélago.
Filmmaker Mati Diop in person for Q&A on April 18!
Diop’s portrait of Magaye Niang, the nonprofessional actor who played the lead in the African film classic Touki Bouki, is paired with her award-winning short about a young boy's tragic voyage in Senegal. Screening with Atlantiques (Mati Diop, 15m).
Filmmaker Philipp Hartmann and Director of Photography Helena Wittmann in person for Q&A at both screenings!
In his affecting yet surprisingly light essay film about temporality, mortality, and cinema’s capacity to represent both, Hartmann takes captivating detours to consider Alzheimer’s, an atomic clock, and the world’s largest salt desert.
North American Premiere!
Filmmaker Tan Pin Pin in person for both screenings!
Scattered about the globe, the subjects of this expertly crafted, moving documentary are Singaporean political exiles who fled their country decades ago to escape detention or worse for their beliefs and activism.
North American Premiere!
Filmmaker Eric Baudelaire in person for Q&A!
Voiceover meditations on memory and militancy by Japanese filmmaker Masao Adachi counterpoint a story of two people whose interactions reveal a traumatic shared past marked by an act of terrorism and the loss of a loved one.
James Benning in person for Q&A!
These three new short works by Benning—a tribute to Hollis Frampton, a continuation of his interest in text as image, and a comedy of automotive and meteorological errors—are characteristically provocative in their political intonations, conceptual rigor, and reflexive beauty.
Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab
In a mere eight years, the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University has gone from an unusually ambitious academic program to one of the most vital incubators of nonfiction and experimental cinema in the United States. Lucien Castaing-Taylor established the SEL in 2006 on the premise that documentary and art are not mutually exclusive and that the intensive fieldwork of anthropology could nourish both. In practice this means rejecting the laziest devices in the contemporary documentarian’s tool kit: reductive story arcs, infantilizing voiceovers and talking heads, manipulative music cues. It also reconnects documentary to the work of such pioneers as Robert Flaherty and Jean Rouch, and indeed to the medium’s eternal promise as an instrument for both capturing reality and heightening the senses. The films in this selection, including work produced at the SEL and work that inspired SEL makers, attest to the aspirations of sensory ethnography: to experience the world, and to transmit some of the magnitude and multiplicity of that experience. Presented in collaboration with the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
Filmmaker Stephanie Spray in person for Q&A!
Stephanie Spray’s third video work documenting the lives of a Nepali family named the Gayeks focuses on their daily rituals and conversations in the wake of their son’s departure. Screening with Untitled (Stephanie Spray, 14m). Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Targeted by the city for development, a ramshackle collection of auto-body repair shops and other small businesses in Queens staffed by an multicultural cast of characters may soon be a memory. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Appearing to occupy the time between two sunrises, the film revolves around three inhabitants of an Indian cremation ground: a healer, a priest, and the hereditary “king” of the cremation ground who sells sacred fire to mourners. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Ševčíková’s portraits of two small Romanian villages—one on the border of Western Bohemia, the other made up of Russian emigrants of a minority faith—are testaments to the endurance of communities. Screening with Old Believers (Jana Ševčíková, 46m). Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Filmmakers Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez in person for Q&A moderated by Lucien Castaing-Taylor!
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s (literally) transporting film—shot inside a cable car that carries pilgrims and tourists to and from a mountaintop temple in Nepal—is simple in conception yet endlessly suggestive. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
This compilation of footage shot by Dutch cameramen between 1912 and 1932 in their former colony of Indonesia contrasts the lives of wealthy colonial rulers with the hopeless situation of the exploited native people. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Filmmaker Ilisa Barbash in person for Q&A!
This breathtaking chronicle follows an ever-surprising group of modern-day cowboys as they lead an enormous herd of sheep up and then down the slopes of the Beartooth Mountains in Montana on their way to market. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Filmmaker Ernst Karel in person for Q&A!
A kind of music emerges from the mechanical drones, intermittent percussiveness, and transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape captured by location recordings of a variety of alpine people movers. Screening with other sound work. Part of the Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Now in its fourth year, the Art of the Real festival offers a survey of the most vital and innovative voices in nonfiction and hybrid filmmaking. This edition features titles from established figures such as Ignacio Agüero, Jem Cohen, Robinson Devor, and the late Michael Glawogger alongside up-and-comers Theo Anthony (Rat Film), Salomé Jashi (The Dazzling Light of Sunset), and Shengze Zhu (Another Year), as well as a tribute to the late Brazilian filmmaker Andrea Tonacci. Read More
Our annual nonfiction showcase, founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film, returns with new work from around the world and in a variety of genres. This year’s festival includes a retrospective of a titan of the avant-garde film world, Bruce Baillie; New York premieres of new films by Roberto Minervini, Ben Rivers, José Luis Guerín, and Thom Andersen; as well as the usual eclectic, globe-spanning host of discoveries by artists who are reenvisioning the relationship between cinema and reality. With many filmmakers appearing in-person with their work, Art of the Real continues to be one of the essential showcases for boundary-pushing nonfiction film. Read More
Our annual nonfiction showcase is founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The second edition features new work from around the world and in a variety of genres alongside retrospective and thematic selections, including a tribute to the great French director Agnès Varda and a spotlight on the art and history of reenactment. Art of the Real is a platform for filmmakers and artists who have given us a wider view of nonfiction cinema and at the same time brought the form full circle, pointing to its early, boundary-pushing days. Read More
Our new annual series Art of the Real is a nonfiction showcase founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The inaugural edition features new work from around the world alongside retrospective selections by both known and unjustly forgotten filmmakers. It is a platform for filmmakers and artists who have given us a wider view of nonfiction cinema and at the same time brought the form full circle, back to its early, boundary-pushing days. Read More