Film at Lincoln Center announces Currents for the 59th New York Film Festival (September 24 – October 10, 2021). 

“Currents is the section of the festival that attests to cinema’s continued capacity for reinvention,” said Dennis Lim, NYFF Director of Programming. “The features and shorts in this year’s program take many forms—everything from reimagined fables to archival experiments—and you’ll find some of the most personal films in the festival here, as well as some of the most political. We hope that audiences will share the sense of surprise and discovery that we experienced in putting together this lineup.” 

The Currents section includes 15 features and 36 short films, representing 27 countries, and complements the Main Slate, tracing a more complete picture of contemporary cinema with an emphasis on new and innovative forms and voices. The section presents 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 Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes’s (Arabian Nights, NYFF53) The Tsugua Diaries, a beguiling pandemic-era tale about three housemates in lockdown—one of several films in the section responding to the current health crisis through varying lenses; others include Shengze Zhu’s A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces, a meditation on urban spaces before and after the COVID outbreak, and Denis Côté’s Social Hygiene, an absurdist comedy in which characters exchange barbs from a humorous distance. 

A pair of features make their world festival premieres: Eléonore Yameogo, An van. Dienderen, and Rosine Mbakam’s Prism, which explores how racism remains entrenched in film culture via the biases of movie camera lighting; and pioneering film essayist Artavazd Peleshian’s Nature, an uncanny montage of humanity’s harmony and conflict with the natural world. Other nonfiction highlights include Wang Qiong’s reflection on her fractured family and China’s one-child policy in All About My Sisters; Vincent Meessen’s Just a Movement, a portrait of artist, Marxist, and anti-colonialist organizer Omar Blondin Diop; Jean-Gabriel Périot’s chronicle of the French working class over the past 70 years, Returning to Reims; Rhayne Vermette’s evocative film illustrating her native Manitoba and the Métis community, Ste. Anne; and Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing, which won the Cannes Golden Eye award for best documentary. Also screening are Kyoshi Sugita’s impressionistic poetry adaptation, Haruhara-san’s Recorder; Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’s folkloric fiction feature debut, The Tale of King Crab; NYFF56 Projections alum Ted Fendt’s 16mm-shot Outside Noise; Kiro Russo’s South American cityscape, El Gran Movimiento; and Claire Simon’s hybrid film, I Want to Talk About Duras, a portrait of experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras as recalled by her partner. Simon, Meessen, Périot, Zhu, and Rigo de Righi & Zoppis have previously shown work in the annual FLC festival Art of the Real. 

Currents also showcases eight shorts programs, with work from notable new talents including two new films by British artist and filmmaker Morgan Quaintance; the latest work in a trilogy of experimental narrative shorts by Daniel Chew and Micaela Durand; a mesmerizing in-camera collage by the Mexican Indigenous filmmaking collective Los Ingrávidos; a ruminative essay on colonial traces in archival photographs from Philippine filmmaker Shireen Seno; Virgil Vernier with his thought provoking examination of the 2005 riots in Parisian suburbs; as well as artist Tiffany Sia’s incisive video essay on the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

Artists returning to NYFF this year include Kevin Jerome Everson, whose May June July documents the summer of 2020; Matías Piñeiro, collaborating with Galician co-director Lois Patiño for their beguiling film Sycrorax; Ericka Beckman, whose work was featured in a retrospective program in NYFF56; Tomonari Nishikawa with a new live projection performance for 16mm; and NYFF59 Main Slate filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Additional returning filmmakers include Allison Chhorn, Zachary Epcar, Eliane Esther Bots, Luise Donschen, Shun Ikezoe, Richard Tuohy, Vika Kirchenbauer, Ross Meckfessel, Guillermo Moncayo, and Aykan Safoğlu.

The Currents selection committee, chaired by Dennis Lim, includes Florence Almozini, Aily Nash, and Tyler Wilson. Nash and Wilson are the head shorts programmers for NYFF. Shelby Shaw and Madeline Whittle are programming assistants for short films, and Almudena Escobar López, Manny Lage-Valera, Marius Hrdy, Vikram Murthi, Maxwell Paparella, and Mariana Sánchez Bueno are submissions screeners. Violeta Bava, Michelle Carey, Leo Goldsmith, Rachael Rakes, and Gina Telaroli serve as NYFF program advisors.

NYFF59 will feature in-person screenings, as well as select outdoor and virtual events. In response to distributor and filmmaker partners and in light of festivals returning and theaters reopening across the country, NYFF will not offer virtual screenings for this year’s edition. 

Proof of vaccination will be required for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers at NYFF59 venues. Additionally, NYFF59 will adhere to a comprehensive series of health and safety policies in coordination with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and state and city medical experts, while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. Visit for more information. 

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema and takes place September 24 – October 10, 2021. An annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture since 1963, the festival continues an enduring tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. 

NYFF59 tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, September 7 at noon ET, with early-access opportunities for FLC members and pass holders prior to this date. Experience all of Currents with an All-Access Pass, available for $140. Learn more here. Support of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its nonprofit mission to promote the art and craft of cinema. NYFF59 press and industry accreditation applications remain open through August 27.



Currents Features

Opening Night
The Tsugua Diaries
Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes, 2021, Portugal, 102m
Portuguese and Romanian with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

The Tsugua Diaries.

The rigorous process of moviemaking meets the torpor of pandemic life in this beguiling new film co-directed by Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights, NYFF53). A daily journal that unfolds in revelatory reverse order, this playful rug-puller begins by surveying the mundane routines of three housemates (Carloto Cotta, Crista Alfaiate, and João Nunes Monteiro) living in rural peace during the COVID lockdown: impromptu dance parties, cleaning, building a backyard butterfly house. Soon, we discover that there’s more going on beyond the limits of the camera frame. Cockeyed, funny, and slyly meta-cinematic, The Tsugua Diaries, lovingly shot on 16mm, demonstrates the possibility of artistic creation out of sheer will.

All About My Sisters
Wang Qiong, 2021, USA, 175m
Mandarin with English subtitles
North American Premiere

All About My Sisters. Courtesy of Icarus Films.

In her astonishing feature debut, Wang Qiong documents with unflinching and harrowing honesty her own fractured family, gradually revealing the personal and psychological effects of China’s one-child policy on the individual, the family unit, and women in society at large. At the center of the film is her sister, Jin, who remains profoundly affected by her biological parents’ abandonment of her as a baby after attempting to abort her. Adopted by her aunt and uncle, Jin resumed living with her birth parents as a teenager, yet the family remains embroiled in a legacy of trauma. Filming over the course of seven years, Wang moves far beyond the diaristic, capturing moments of vulnerability, joy, pain, and anguish with insight and delicate artistry; in excavating her own difficult history, she establishes herself as a major new voice in nonfiction cinema. An Icarus Films release.

El Gran Movimiento / The Great Movement
Kiro Russo, 2021, Bolivia/France/Qatar/Switzerland, 85m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

El Gran Movimiento / The Great Movement. Courtesy of Kiro Russo.

Expanding on the hybrid narrative of his remarkable 2016 film Dark Skull, Kiro Russo has mounted a monumental, gently mystical portrait of the contemporary central South American cityscape and those who work within its bowels and environs. Set in the alternately harsh and beautiful terrain of La Paz, Bolivia and its surrounding rural areas, El Gran Movimiento follows a young miner as he looks for work alongside his friends, even as he begins to descend into a mysterious sickness. With its marvelous long-lens zoom work and increasingly dynamic, rhythmic editing, Russo’s film is a hypnotic journey into a psychological space that touches upon the supernatural.

Haruhara-san’s Recorder
Kyoshi Sugita, 2021, Japan, 120m
Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Haruhara-san’s Recorder. Courtesy of Yukiko Iioka.

Kyoshi Sugita creates an evocative portrait of a young woman’s interior world through impressionistic action rather than psychology. Though we learn little about her, the central character, played by Chika Araki, is marvelously present: she rents an apartment on her own, gets a job in a café, and begins to find peace after a recent tragic event. Fixing his patient camera on meetings with friends, family, and strangers, lunches and teatime, and occurrences both mundane and mystical, Sugita alights upon surprising, inexplicable, and frequently moving moments that hint at the spiritual in everyday life. Adapted from a tanka (a short poem) by Naoko Higashi, Sugita’s film, which won the Grand Prize at FIDMarseille, employs the cinematic form to express the otherwise inexpressible.

I Want to Talk About Duras
Claire Simon, 2021, France, 95m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere

I Want to Talk About Duras.

French director Claire Simon, a prolific maker of fiction and documentary films, unites the two forms in her surprising latest, a precise, enveloping portrait of the complex romantic relationship between epochal experimental novelist and filmmaker Marguerite Duras and her much younger, homosexual partner, Yann Andréa. Dramatized as a pair of dialogues based entirely on transcripts from a 1982 interview between Andréa (played on screen by Swann Arlaud) and journalist Michèle Manceaux (Emmanuelle Devos, an expert interrogator and a mesmerizing listener), Simon’s film underlines the sexual imbalances and power plays that defined their fraught love life while maintaining the mysteries and ambiguities that marked Duras’s singular artistic corpus. 

Just a Movement
Vincent Meessen, 2021, Belgium/France, 110m
Mandarin, French, and Wolof with English subtitles

Just a Movement Courtesy of CBA.

In the late ’60s, Niger-born Marxist intellectual Omar Blondin Diop became a central organizer and communicator of anti-colonialist political theory as a student in France and as a researcher in Senegal. Diop died at the age of 26 in prison after being arrested by the Senegalese government, his suspicious death considered by many to be a likely assassination. He’s left an impression on generations of audiences with his appearance as a Maoist revolutionary in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 film La Chinoise, and it is this film that serves as the backbone text, providing aesthetic and thematic inspiration for Vincent Meessen’s freewheeling yet highly disciplined documentary—a film about its own making as much as it is a visual evocation and recapitulation of Diop’s political philosophies.

Artavazd Peleshian, 2020, France/Germany/Armenia, 63m
World Festival Premiere

Nature. Courtesy of Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art.

Legendary Armenian visual essayist Artavazd Peleshian’s first feature film in nearly 30 years is an epic return to his major theme: humanity in harmony and conflict with the natural world. Sublime and terrifying, the forces of Nature are captured in a relentless montage of found disaster videos—of capsizing icebergs, inky black dust clouds, ferocious winds, pitiless floodwaters. Rendered in stark black and white and subject to the distinctive mode of montage that Peleshian has developed over six decades, these images take on an uncanny mix of timelessness and immediacy, imparting an overwhelming experience of nature’s vast, destructive processes of regeneration, and of humanity’s precarious existence amid constantly unfolding catastrophe.

Screening with:

2 Pasolini
Andrei Ujică, 2021, France, 10m
Italian with English subtitles
World Premiere
Andrei Ujică’s 2 Pasolini follows the Italian auteur and his theological advisor, Don Andrea Carraro, on a trip through 1960s Palestine to scout locations for his 1964 biblical masterpiece The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Through candid archival footage and surprising juxtapositions, the film tracks both Pasolini’s journey and Christ’s—across the desert, to the shores of a raging sea, and beyond.

A Night of Knowing Nothing
Payal Kapadia, 2021, France/India, 96m
Bengali and Hindi with English subtitles

A Night of Knowing Nothing. Courtesy of Ranabir Das.

Through a series of letters read aloud to an absent lover, we learn about the fears, desires, and philosophical identity of a young woman named L, a student at the Film and Television Institute of India. Through these words, and via the documentary images collected by her and her peers of contemporary Indian youths engaged in university life, writer-director Payal Kapadia has constructed a brilliantly fragmentary work of witnessing. A Night of Knowing Nothing—winner of the Golden Eye award for best documentary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival—is a testament to the inseparability of life, film, politics, and dreams, while functioning as an essential portrait of the ongoing struggle for resistance from discrimination. 

Outside Noise
Ted Fendt, 2021, Germany/South Korea/Austria, 61m
German and English with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Outside Noise.

The latest feature from Philadelphian micro-independent treasure Ted Fendt (Classical Period, NYFF56) finds the filmmaker, writer, projectionist, and translator in a contemplative mode, shooting for the first time abroad. With his customary mix of narrative restraint and intellectual curiosity, Fendt follows a small group of young women through Berlin and Vienna over the course of several months, particularly Daniela, who has just returned from traveling in New York and is dealing with a bout of insomnia. Shot on 16mm and glowing with natural light, Outside Noise—co-written by Fendt and his two lead actors, Daniela Zahlner and Mia Sellmann—is an authentic depiction of the tremors and pleasures of the in-between years of our early thirties.

Eléonore Yameogo, An van. Dienderen, and Rosine Mbakam, 2021, Belgium, 78m
French and English with English subtitles
World Premiere

Prism. Courtesy of Icarus Films.

Among the many ways that racism is deeply entrenched in our film culture is a technical one: the lighting for movie cameras has always been calibrated for white skin, with other production tools reflecting the same bias throughout cinema history. Three filmmakers collectively explore the literal, theoretical, and philosophical dimensions of that reality in this discursive, playful, and profound work of nonfiction. In a series of thematically linked, provocative discussions and interrogations, Eléonore Yameogo from Burkina Faso, Belgian An van. Dienderen, and Rosine Mbakam from Cameroon chart the making of their own film, while exploring the cinematic construction of whiteness and how this relates to power, privilege, and the myth of objectivity. An Icarus Films release.

Returning to Reims
Jean-Gabriel Périot, 2021, France, 83m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Returning to Reims.

In just over 80 minutes, filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot provides a fleet, thorough, and incisive sociological examination of the French working class over the past 70 years. Loosely adapting Didier Eribon’s 2009 memoir Returning to Reims, in which the author’s journey back to his hometown in northern France became a reckoning with his family’s history and politics, Périot weaves his own nonfiction tapestry, using decades’ worth of artfully deployed archival footage, film clips, and TV news reports to illustrate the rise, fall, and hopeful rebirth of the country’s proletariat, as well as how social identity is gradually constructed. Narrated by Adèle Haenel and structured in two distinct halves—the personal and the political—Periot’s sensationally edited film is an urgent reminder that the moral health of a nation is dependent on how it treats its citizens.

A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces
Shengze Zhu, 2021, USA, 87m
Without dialogue, featuring Chinese and English text
U.S. Premiere

A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces. Courtesy of Shengze Zhu.

Documentarian Shengze Zhu, who was born and raised in China and studied filmmaking in the United States, contrasts mid-pandemic surveillance video of Wuhan’s empty streets with footage she’d captured before the COVID outbreak in this becalmed, wordless meditation on the vulnerability and resilience of urban spaces. Interspersed with her exquisitely composed images of life and hope along the Yangtze River are pieces of on-screen text translating the poignant, sometimes wrenching letters written to loved ones affected by illness and death. A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces is a work of dissolution and regeneration, architecture and landscape, a portrait of a city and a world in transition.

Social Hygiene
Denis Côté, 2021, Canada, 76m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

Social Hygiene. Courtesy of Inspiratrice & Commandant.

The versatile and mischievous Quebecois filmmaker Denis Côté (A Skin So Soft, NYFF55) has made an absurdist comedy that’s incidentally perfect for the pandemic era. Constructed as a series of frank and often hilarious repartees between an insolent petty thief named Antonin and a succession of largely fed-up women—who range from sister to wife to lover to tax collector—Côté’s film situates its characters in elegant outdoor tableaux in the Quebec countryside, keeping a safe, proper, and humorous distance from one another as they verbally parry and thrust in static long takes. Unexpectedly traversing time, with characters appearing in either period or contemporary dress depending on the context of their conversation, Social Hygiene is a sly reminder that our present-day culture of moral confrontation was ever thus.

Ste. Anne
Rhayne Vermette, 2021, Canada, 80m
English and French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

Ste. Anne. Courtesy of Rhayne Vermette.

In her evocative, collage-like 16mm film, Rhayne Vermette immerses the viewer in the sounds, textures, and atmosphere of her native Manitoba to limn the outer edges of a twilight-toned narrative centering on a long-missing young woman’s unexpected return to her indigenous Métis community. Unbeholden to temporal or structural boundaries, Vermette uses Renée’s reappearance as the anchor point for a work of dreams and memory. Shot over the course of 14 months, incorporating scripted and improvised elements, Ste. Anne is as much a fragmentary portrait of the seasons as it is about the people whose lives are dictated in part by nature’s flow.

The Tale of King Crab
Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis, 2021, Italy/Argentina/France, 99m
Italian and Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere

The Tale of King Crab. Courtesy of Ring Film, Volpe Films, Wanka Cine, Shellac Sud.

This rich, engrossing fiction feature debut from documentary filmmakers Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis takes storytelling itself as its subject. Based on a legendary figure about whom the filmmakers first heard while making their previous collaboration, 2015’s Il Solengo, this rousing, bifurcated tale follows the improbable adventures of Luciano (a bewitching Gabriele Silli), a village outcast in late-19th-century rural Italy. In the film’s first half, set in the countryside near Rome, his life is undone by alcohol, forbidden love, and an escalating quarrel with a local aristocrat; in the second, Luciano is in the distant Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego, hunting for a mythic treasure with the help of a compass-like crab. Rigo de Righi and Zoppis have created a highly unconventional narrative of redemption, alternating images of grandeur and folkloric idiosyncrasy. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

Currents Shorts

Program 1: Acts of Seeing 

Day Is Done
Zhang Dalei, 2021, China, 24m
Mandarin with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Day Is Done. Courtesy of Zhang Dalei.

A miniature portrait of a family’s multiple generations, Day Is Done follows a young film student—on the eve of his departure to study in Russia—as he accompanies his parents on a rare visit to his grandfather in Inner Mongolia. Delicately observed and minutely detailed, Zhang’s film captures the subtle harmonies and discordances of the different generations occupying, for a brief time, the same space and the same moment of calm.

Daniel Chew and Micaela Durand, 2021, USA, 23m
World Premiere

Courtesy of Daniel Chew and Micaela Durand.

Vivid interruptions of sound and images fragment the psychic landscape of a 38-year-old woman who becomes obsessed with the social media presence of the young woman who broke up her relationship. The latest entry in Chew and Durand’s ongoing examination of the embodied experience of our hybrid online-IRL existence, 38 mines contemporary life’s nuanced exchanges between longing and looking, voyeurism and the desire to be seen.

Luise Donschen, 2021, Germany, 14m
English and Japanese with English subtitles
World Premiere

ELLE. Courtesy of Luise Donschen.

Hovering between the commonplace and the mysterious, ELLE follows a father and daughter on an early spring visit to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens. At once highly formal and thrumming with life, the liminal space of the Garden becomes the stage for a series of fleeting encounters, which director Luise Donschen explores with a precise sensitivity to the seen and the unseen.

Lois Patiño and Matías Piñeiro, 2021, Spain/Portugal, 21m
Portuguese and Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Sycorax. Courtesy of Lois Patiño and Matías Piñeiro.

Mother of Caliban and imprisoner of Ariel, Sycorax remains offstage for the duration of The Tempest, dismissed by Prospero as an evil sorceress. In this collaboration between Lois Patiño and Matías Piñeiro, she becomes the central subject, as a director (played by Piñeiro regular Agustina Muñoz), with the help of local women from a village in the Azores, attempts to give a face and voice to this silenced character. 

Program 2: Critical Mass

Do Not Circulate
Tiffany Sia, 2021, Hong Kong, 17m
World Premiere

The timeline and vertical aspect ratio of social media set the formal parameters for Tiffany Sia’s essay film, which follows the image trail of a single event in Hong Kong from the 2019 protests. Reckoning with this event, a relentless voiceover reframes archival media salvaged in the midst of disappearance and erasure, drawing upon a traumatic media memory, summoning ghosts and occult forces alongside disinformation and rumor.

Dreams Under Confinement
Christopher Harris, 2020 USA, 3m

Dreams Under Confinement. Courtesy of
Christopher Harris.

Frenzied voices on the Chicago Police Department’s scanner call for squad cars and reprisals during the 2020 uprising in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as Google Earth tracks the action through simulated aerial views of urban spaces and the vast Cook County Department of Corrections, the country’s third-largest jail system. In Christopher Harris’s Dreams Under Confinement, the prison and the street merge into a shared carceral landscape.

In Flow of Words
Eliane Esther Bots, 2021, Netherlands, 22m
Bosnian, Croatian, English, and Serbian with English subtitles
North American Premiere

In Flow of Words. Courtesy of Eliane Esther Bots.

In Eliane Esther Bots’s film, three interpreters for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia share their experiences with translating the testimony of witnesses and victims of genocide. But how can an interpreter—who is so physically and vocally central to the tribunal’s proceedings—remain an objective medium for testimony? How can they provide a simple conduit for meaning, stripped of the original voice’s incommunicable sounds of grief, sympathy, and anger?

All of Your Stars Are but Dust on My Shoes
Haig Aivazian, 2021, Lebanon, 18m
English, Arabic, and French with English subtitles
Provocatively scrambling geography and chronology, Haig Aivazian’s densely associative montage writes a history of illumination as it intersects with the technological evolution of state and police control. From New York to Paris to Beirut, from the origins of whale oil lanterns to the era of predictive policing, this video assemblage accounts for the use of light and visibility in the service of social management, and creates space for a counter-optics of opacity and resistance.

Virgil Vernier, 2021, France, 27m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Through television news bulletins, Kindertotenlieder revisits the 2005 riots in France, sparked by the deaths of two teenagers from the Parisian banlieue of Clichy-sur-Bois, who were killed during a police chase. Here, the static formal conventions of TV news—vox pop interviews, B-roll of burning cars, outraged neighbors—slowly reveal a subtler narrative beneath the surface: one of neglect, oppression, and ethnic and class divisions.

Program 3: Free Form

Personality Test
Justin Jinsoo Kim, 2021, South Korea/USA, 8m
Korean with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
A walk in the woods, an encounter with an animal, a body of water. On the soundtrack, a woman’s voice responds to an internet personality quiz, while grainy, inkjet printouts—animated and collaged by the filmmaker—approximate the imagined scenes. Distortions in the reproduction of word and picture accompany the blur of memory and fantasy, past experience and desire.

Dog Star Descending
Aykan Safoğlu, 2020, Germany/Turkey, 12m
German with English subtitles
North American Premiere

Images and objects warp under the scrolling gaze of a scanner bed. Photographs, shredded and reassembled, spark reminiscences in the artist’s voiceover, which relates the intertwined stories of a family trip to the island of Imbros and of his education at a bilingual German-Turkish public school. The coiling timeline of present experience overlaps with other stories detailing the complex intersection of these two cultures, and of personal and intergenerational memories.

Homage to the Work of Philip Henry Gosse
Pablo Martín Weber, 2020, Argentina, 22m
Spanish with English subtitles

Pablo Martín Weber’s video essay forges a link between the creative abundance of computer imaging and artificial intelligence and the speculative cosmologies of Philip Henry Gosse, a 19th-century naturalist and advocate for science. Just as Gosse became obsessed with reconciling the geological record with the Biblical account of the Earth’s creation, Weber attempts to understand the digital image’s new world of infinitely malleable data.

(No Subject)
Guillermo Moncayo, 2021, France/Colombia, 29m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A film about a zookeeper and his renewed relationship with his estranged daughter is fragmented and interrupted by the filmmaker’s own voice, reading an email to his sister about the roots of this story in their own shared history with an absent father. Through memory, dreams, and fiction, (No Subject) probes the various ways of representing the past in order to process and break free of it.

Program 4: Still Life

Vika Kirchenbauer, 2021, Germany, 15m
U.S. Premiere

THE CAPACITY FOR ADEQUATE ANGER. Courtesy of Vika Kirchenbauer.

A collage of ephemera both personal and public, The Capacity for Adequate Anger traverses the distance between present and past in an examination of the artist’s relationship to class identity. Through voiceover and flashes of imagery—family photographs; the ’90s media representation of AIDS; Marie Antoinette; a gender-ambiguous anime character—Kirchenbauer’s autobiographical video contemplates the sociological dimensions of emotions from shame to envy to rage, and what forms of political agency they make possible or impede.

A Human Certainty
Morgan Quaintance, 2021, UK, 21m
U.S. Premiere
Voices from the past haunt A Human Certainty, whose entangled threads link its multifarious narratives of suffering: a recent break-up; the romantic sweep of mid-century pop music; Weegee’s crime-scene photography; and images taken by the artist’s grandmother, a spirit medium, on her travels in Asia and Africa. Here, Quaintance’s montage becomes a codec for assembling these disparate threads, and for making sense of mortality and loss in all its forms.

Home When You Return
Carl Elsaesser, 2021, USA, 30m
World Premiere
Superimposing the stories of two women—the filmmaker’s late grandmother and the amateur filmmaker Joan Thurber Baldwin—Home When You Return explores the psychogeographies of mourning through a variety of modes, from documentary to melodrama. Emptied and put up for sale following its matriarch’s passing, the family home becomes the site of a winding tour through polymorphic representations of the past in media and memory.

Program 5: Pattern Language

Cutting the Mushroom
Mike Crane, 2021 USA, 22m
World Premiere
An email correspondence between the filmmaker and a mysterious online art dealer in the Baltic develops into a strangely intimate exchange about art and authenticity, media of questionable provenance, digressive Wikipedia research, and—to borrow the title of Hans Richter’s 1947 film—dreams that money can buy. 

Ross Meckfessel, 2021, USA, 12m
World Premiere

Estuary. Courtesy of Ross Meckfessel.

Inescapable forces intersect in Ross Meckfessel’s Estuary when the increasingly unreal landscape of everyday life is invaded by the hyperreality of computer graphics and AI social-media influencers. The analog and the digital vie and blend with each other as Nature, dissected and repackaged, reemerges in pixel form.

The Canyon
Zachary Epcar, 2021, USA, 15m
The boxy architecture and cordoned greenery of luxury housing developments populate a series of uniform urban spaces, which Zachary Epcar depicts as a sequence of precise frames, stock gestures, and preprogrammed phrases, drifting into entropy. What wayward flows, what eruptions of energy, can be found beneath the flat surfaces and grid-like structures of The Canyon?

Reach Capacity
Ericka Beckman, 2020, USA, 15m
U.S. Premiere
In Reach Capacity, the rapacious world of the urban real-estate market takes on the form of a playfully obsessive, yet violently deterministic system. Combining mechanical musical numbers, digital objects, and board-game parameters, Ericka Beckman converts lower Manhattan into a giant Monopoly board upon which real-estate speculators and contracted labor compete for dominance in a programmatic dance. To see the future, follow the money.

Program 6: Camera Lucida

Here is the Imagination of the Black Radical
Rhea Storr, 2020, UK, 10m
World Premiere

Here is the Imagination of the Black Radical. Courtesy of Rhea Storr.

The music, movements, and oral histories of Junkanoo—a distinctive Bahamian cultural medium in the form of a street carnival—set the rhythm of Rhea Storr’s video. Located in this vernacular tradition is an emergent Black radical imagination, one that envisions an Afrofuturism of the present, which the film reworks and remixes.

Strange Object
Miranda Pennell, 2020, UK, 15m
U.S. Premiere
Aerial photographs from 1920 of a colonized territory in the Horn of Africa provide the material for Miranda Pennell’s essay film, a meditation on image-making, erasure, and the writing of history. The abstract patterns, blurry forms, and disorienting scales of these photographs and their warped transposition into descriptive text testify to an expansive project of imperial capture, a doubling of the world in imagery and language.

To Pick a Flower
Shireen Seno, 2021, Philippines, 17m
North American Premiere
Shireen Seno’s video essay explores the transformation and commodification of nature through archival photographs from the American colonial occupation of the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century. These images testify to what the voiceover calls “the sticky relationship between humans and nature and their entanglements with empire”—an ambivalent dependence on natural resources that drives the colonial project and implicates photography, with its concurrent processes of preservation, transmutation, and destruction.

Morgan Quaintance, 2020, UK, 28m
Superimposing the working-class movements of Chicago’s South Side in the 1960s and South London in the 1980s, South draws upon alternative media archives and cultural ephemera to form a creative diasporic geography of anti-racism and liberation—one that poses the question of how to forge relations and solidarity across time, cultural divisions, and intra-class antagonisms.

Program 7: New Sensations

May June July
Kevin Jerome Everson, 2021, USA, 8m
North American Premiere
Kinetic and fragmentary, May June July is a document of the summer of 2020, distilled through Kevin Jerome Everson’s distinctively contrapuntal audiovisual assemblage. It is also a dance film: the camera enacts balletic encounters, first with a roller-skater in the street against a sonic background of protest chants and drumming, then among flowers and fireflies against the inky black of night.

Grandma’s Scissors
Erica Sheu, 2021, Taiwan/USA, 6m
U.S. Premiere
Guided by the words of her grandmother, the filmmaker explores the synesthetic properties of memory. Images give way to haptic experience via a range of textures—of sea, celluloid, paper, and pencil traces, of raindrops drifting in and out of focus—linking the arts of textiles and montage into a shared artisanal tradition.

Blind Body
Allison Chhorn, 2021, Australia, 15m
Khmer with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
As abstract shapes come into focus, dim memories surface. With Blind Body, Allison Chhorn offers an impressionistic portrait of her grandmother Kim Nay, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge. Partially blind, Kim spends her days in a mostly sonic and textural world, in which the sound of rain, the voices of Khmer radio, and distant birdsong summon the sensations of a lost homeland.

If I could name you myself (I would hold you forever)
Hope Strickland, 2021, UK, 8m
North American Premiere
Wake and soil, skin and voice: Hope Strickland’s film locates a legacy of slavery and colonial exploitation beneath the archive’s official chronicle, in the deep historical memory of the body. If I could name you myself (I would hold you forever) sings an alternate history of resistance—familial, elemental, and sensuous.

What is it that you said?
Shun Ikezoe, 2021, Japan, 20m
Japanese with English subtitles
World Premiere
The sun’s path outside the window. The slow cycle of the seasons. A dead cat found behind a curtain. A neighbor yelling while dreaming. Images, sounds, spoken and written text try to correspond, gently interrupting each other. Shun Ikezoe’s What is it that you said? tracks the quiet movement of light and time, marking the progress of a year of small movements and intimate, imperfect exchanges.

In and Out a Window
Richard Tuohy, 2021, Australia, 16mm, 13m
U.S. Premiere
The literal frame of a window overlooking a small garden becomes the scene through which Richard Tuohy’s film exploits the myriad plastic potentialities of the cinematic frame. Immersive and stroboscopic, In and Out a Window offers its own variations on cinema’s mechanical segmentations of space and time, opening up a portal to undiscovered dimensions and new phenomenologies.

Night Colonies
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2021, Thailand, 14m
Thai with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Night Colonies is a microscopic rumination on the unobserved passage of time. Humming fluorescent lights illuminate a bedroom at night, drawing Chiang Mai’s subtropical nightlife into a tiny, intimate, and temporary cohabitation—a buzzing and bustling ecosystem of insects and lizards, nested within the human domestic space.

Program 8: Vibrant Matter

Daïchi Saïto, 2021, Canada, 35mm, 30m
U.S. Premiere
The hand-processed celluloid of earthearthearth explodes with oranges, purples, and aquamarines, transforming the sweeping desert mountain ranges of the Andes into a world of green-gold dawns, vermilion sands, and dense, granular atmospheres. Accompanied by an undulating improvised soundtrack by Jason Sharp, Saïto’s film depicts an alien, irradiated world that is at once interior, cosmic, and fiercely material.

Los Ingrávidos, 2021, Mexico, 16m
U.S. Premiere
Drawing on the ancient Nahuatl concept of the animating soul or life force, Tonalli engages the ritualistic powers of the cinema, summoning fire, flowers, and many moons into a frenetic and mesmerizing in-camera collage. Here, amid thickly swirling images and textured abstractions, the gods of creation and fertility manifest, dissolving into iridescent colors and dense, corporeal rhythms.

Manuela de Laborde, 2021, Mexico/Germany, 16mm, 22m
North American Premiere
Fictions conjures representations as if imagined from the perspective of the plant world. ‘Lithic’ lifeforms made out of ceramic and organic matter were filmed in motion by a mobile of film cameras. Layered in Laborde’s superimpositions, these objects become performers alongside other images—sunlight through jungle flora, scintillating film grain—interacting in their own fictive world of pulsating matter.

Six Seventy-Two Variations, Variation 1
Tomonari Nishikawa, 2021, USA, 16mm, 25m
World Premiere
In this live projection performance for 16mm film, Tomonari Nishikawa explores the material specificity of the cinematic apparatus through a real-time manipulation of its physical elements. Scratching directly onto the emulsion of a looping filmstrip in the midst of projection, Nishikawa creates animated abstractions in a pattern of horizontal lines, and also generates the film’s score, a percussive throbbing of noise.