For our contribution to We Are One: A Global Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and Film at Lincoln Center has chosen to spotlight short and medium-length work by the envelope-pushing, innovative filmmakers whose work we’ve shown in various festivals and programs, and whose careers we have supported through our artist initiatives, including the Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, the NYFF Filmmaker Residency, and the Kazuko Trust Award. The ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the need for new forms of solidarity in the face of unprecedented uncertainty; our commitment to supporting the filmmakers who make it possible for us to put on film festivals in the first place must remain unwavering. Cinema is a social art, and while we lament our inability to enjoy films in a theater together for now, we also want to acknowledge the artists whose work drew us there and will again soon enough. These two programs—named for two of the seminal books written by NYFF’s founders, Amos Vogel and Richard Roud—offer a varied, kaleidoscopic view of cinema over the past decade-plus, ranging from award-winning narrative shorts to diaristic, experimental pieces and much more, and perhaps even a suggestion of what the medium’s future might hold, coronavirus be damned.
See more information below, including premiere times, and check out the complete We Are One lineup here.
Program 1: Film as a Subversive Art – Watch here!
24 Frames Per Century
Athina Rachel Tsangari (NYFF Filmmaker in Residence 2015), 2013, 3m
A pair of film projectors discuss their impending obsolescence in this elegiac homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, commissioned by the Venice International Film Festival for their “Venezia 70 – Future Reloaded” project in 2013.
Michael Robinson (Kazuko Trust Award 2012 recipient), USA, 2015, 10m
“A modern prophet’s visions of mythical destruction and transformation are recounted across a turbulent geometric ceremony of rising curtains, swirling setpieces, and unveiled idols from music television’s past. Together, these parallel cults of revelation unlock a pathway to the far side of the sun.”—Michael Robinson
Live to Live
Laida Lertxundi (Kazuko Trust Award 2012 recipient), USA/Spain, 2015, 10m
“The body, a space of production, creates structures for a film.”—Laida Lertxundi
A Hand in Two Ways (Fisted)
Dani ReStack (Kazuko Trust Award 2013 recipient) & Sheilah ReStack, USA, 2017, 6m
This diaristic meditation on nighttime, intimacy and the everyday is a charged, fragmentary succession of images of bodies, animals, children and domestic rituals that frames the night as an enigmatic time of exchanges and transformations.
Service of the Goods
Jean-Paul Kelly (Kazuko Trust Award 2014 recipient), Canada, 2013, 29m
The Toronto-based video artist Jean-Paul Kelly’s gutsy restaging of scenes from films by Frederick Wiseman is, among other things, one of the sharpest recent works of film criticism. Familiar episodes from Titicut Follies, High School, Welfare, and others play out in jarringly altered forms: the subjects have been replaced by bedsheet-draped ghosts, the dialogue swapped out for subtitles, and the settings reduced to their barest scaffolding. The result is at once a canny piece of social criticism in its own right and a revelatory invitation to consider the original works anew.
Ana Vaz (Kazuko Trust Award 2015 recipient), Portugal, 2015, 15m
“Filming in Lisbon in search of the origins of our colonial history, I found copies. Brazilians, the new worlders fluent in glitz, entertain the Portuguese in awe and discomfort, colonial norms applied and reapplied. Chinese porcelain seems to signal hybrids to come: the Chinese dressed as Europeans, the Brazilian maid dressed as a 19th-century European servant. Porcelain from the 15th-century becomes reproducible ready-mades that set the tables for the new colonies—a transatlantic calling. Ouro novo reads new money. As a poem without periods, as a breath without breathing, the voyage travels eastward and westward, marking cycles of expansion in a struggle to find one’s place, one’s seat at the table.”—Ana Vaz
Untitled (Letter to Serra)
Lisandro Alonso (NYFF Filmmaker in Residence 2014), Argentina, 2011, 23m
Lisandro Alonso returned to the location of his feature debut La Libertad (the La Pampa province) and reunited with its lead, Misael Saavedra, for this alluringly dreamy piece in which the camera itself seems entranced as it surveys the landscape and looks ahead to Alonso’s future work.
James N. Kienitz Wilkins (Kazuko Trust Award 2016 recipient), USA, 2016, 23m
A procession of black and silvery white stills of New England’s Androscoggin River unspools alongside an anxious monologue on movies, memory, and minor history.
Alice Rohrwacher (2016 NYFF Filmmaker-in-Residence), Italy, 2016, 4m
This delicate, fragmentary film—created to be used in the production of Verdi’s La Traviata that Rohrwacher directed at the Teatro Municipale Valli in Reggio Emilia—conjures the interiority of the opera’s protagonist, Violetta Valéry, through sun-kissed 16mm images of a young girl’s hands (belonging to Rohrwacher’s own daughter, Anita) picking flowers as she gazes off into eternity, her spontaneous youth superimposed over Valéry’s plight as an adult.
Program 2: A Passion for Films – Watch here!
Mati Diop (LC Emerging Artists Award 2017 recipient), France, 2009, 16m
Atlantiques, winner of the Best Short Film Award at the 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival, tells the story of a young boy’s tragic migratory voyage in Senegal.
Eduardo Williams (LC Emerging Artists Award 2019 recipient) & Mariano Blatt, Argentina/Guinea Bisseau/Switzerland, 2019, 23m
Commissioned for the 2018 Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Williams’s latest is an immersive work exploring the rhythmic, discursive language of Mariano Blatt’s poem “No es” against the perpetually moving people of Guinea-Bissau.
Pelourinho, They Don’t Really Care About Us
Akosua Adoma Owusu (LC Emerging Artists Award 2020 recipient), USA, 2019, 9m
In 1927, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote to the U.S. Embassy of Brazil concerning the country’s discriminatory attitude toward black immigrants. Akosua Adoma Owusu conveys this correspondence through montage, juxtaposing voiceover readings of the letters, sumptuous Super-8 footage shot on the streets of Pelourinho, and interpolated images from Spike Lee’s controversial music video for Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” resulting in a film that swiftly traces nearly a century of social unrest.
Dustin Guy Defa (LC Emerging Artists Award 2016 recipient), USA, 2016, 9m
Scenes from the working life of a male director: Defa sophisticatedly lampoons masculinity in filmmaking with this sly, surprising meta-movie.
Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight
Eliza Hittman (LC Emerging Artists Award 2018 recipient), USA, 2011, 16m
Set in Brighton Beach, this sensitive and atmospheric short follows a 17-year-old Russian teenager as she escapes the close-quarters tension between herself, her father and his many cats, into a Brooklyn night charged with freedom and desire.
Matías Piñeiro (LC Emerging Artists Award 2015 recipient), Argentina, 2010, 43m
A group of actors travel to an island in Tigre to rehearse William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Luisa, who plays Rosalind in the play, terminates a current romantic relationship over her cell phone. During preparations she alternates between rehearsing and daydreaming, and starts to slowly embody Rosalind, transforming into the object of desire of other cast members on the island. During those sun-soaked hours, love strikes between the players and the roles between actress and character confuse themselves in a rare mixing of joyful artifice and anguishing uncertainty. But once rehearsals are over and everyone returns to reality, the romantic bliss between the cast members and their own partners awakens in her, foolish and irrepressible, a desire to long and hope for a phone call.
Ahead of We Are One, watch our recent conversation with filmmakers whose work is featured in the festival: Dustin Guy Defa, Eliza Hittman, Matías Piñeiro, Alice Rohrwacher, and Athina Rachel Tsangari.