An Experimental Documentary by Erin Espelie
Filmmaker in Attendance!
The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Thursday, September 22nd, 7 pm, $7-10
The Nightingale welcomes Erin Espelie to present her experimental documentary about rare earth elements (the lanthanides), black mirrors (from obsidian to iPads), and how technology is reshaping the way we record the present and replay the past.
From the portals of personal computing devices to ancient obsidian mirrors, optical tools control how people see, foresee, record, and remember their lives. The Lanthanide Series ( 2014, USA/France/UK, 72 minutes) meditates on how we frame and understand the world through such material means and instruments, with a reliance on certain chemical elements and the people who we love.
“Part poetry, part chemistry lesson, part landscape film, part cinematic exploration, part history and geography lesson, part environmental revelation,part magic. The Lanthanide Series is something new under the sun.”– Scott MacDonald
“The Lanthanide Series fuses poetry and science to create a thrillingly uncategorizable work.” – Anthology Film Archives
Preceded by Kari Altman’s R-U-INS
ERIN ESPELIE is a writer, editor, and filmmaker, with a background in the research sciences. Her poetic, nonfiction films have shown around the world at the New York Film Festival, the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival, the Whitechapel Gallery, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Imagine Science Film Festival, and more. Espelie currently holds an assistant professorship in Film Studies and Critical Media Practices at the University of Colorado Boulder; she serves as an Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and is editor in chief of Natural History magazine, a centenarian publication for which she has worked since 2001. erinespelie.com
The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Sunday, September 18th, 8 pm, $7-10
A selection of shorts surrounding not just the the how-to but to-how. Bearing fully in mind the notion of utopia as a no-place, Difficult but Possible animates the notion of a diffuse set of not-yet-places, of worlds unbuilt, of worlds unbuilding, of the crazy-eyed mirage we keep moving toward. Together, we explore terrains fantastical, domestic, speculative and utopian; we learn to dodge the camera all around us and to stare deeply into and through others; we receive allegories from beyond underground weather and beyond Drop City, venture into cited non-sites and pick up some skills along the way.
Co-presented by Spudnik Press, in conjunction with Rules, Tools and Fools, curated by Jaclyn Jacunski and Jason Pallas; made possible through the generosity of the Chicago Film Archives, and the sense of possibility and adventure of the artists
Programmed by Jesse Malmed
Mike Lopez | Whole Earth Land | 2016 | 10 minutes | Playthrough Performance
Gene Bernofsky | 1993 | 1980 | 9 minutes | 16mm to Video | Sound
JoAnn Elam | The Last Whole Earth Catalog | 1967-1990 | 20 minutes | 8mm to Video | Silent
Jillian Mayer | Makeup Tutorial – How to Hide from Cameras | 2013 | 3.5 minutes | Video | Sound
Sam Green | Clear Glasses | 2008 | 4 minutes | Video | Sound
Jennifer Proctor | Alternative Forms of Energy | 2005 | 5 minutes | Super 8 to Video | Sound
Ben Russell | Trypps 7 (Badlands) | 2010 | 10 minutes | S16mm to Video | Sound
The Films of Rhody Streeter and Tony Ganz
Presented by White Light Cinema
With Rhoden “Rhody” Streeter in Person!
The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Friday, September 16th, 7:30 pm, $7-10
White Light Cinema is pleased to present this program of the quirky, idiosyncratic, and occasionally ironic early 1970’s short documentaries of Rhody Streeter and Tony Ganz.
Over the course of two years, Streeter and Ganz produced a series of amazing films that chronicle little-seen aspects of American society and culture of time. Some are sincere looks at more serious subjects (a men’s shelter, a youth social service organization), others explore in miniature more eclectic aspects of American life: a kitschy honeymoon hotel in the Poconos, the Sun City retirement community in Arizona, Muzak, and a former Times Square freak show business. Even when the films are at their most ironic and wryly humorous, Streeter and Ganz never resort to overt mockery.
A number of the films found success at the time – many of them were produced for the television series The Great American Dream Machine, a weekly satirical variety television series, produced in New York City by WNET and broadcast on PBS from 1971 to 1973; others aired on The 51st State, a WNET New York local news program; many played extensively on the film festival circuit.
Streeter went on to make television documentaries in Louisville, and later worked in Media Services with the Kentucky Department of Education for twenty-five years. Ganz entered the film industry, working mostly as a producer of television films, but also for the theatrical features Gung Ho and Clean and Sober, among others.
(1971, 3 min, 16mm)
A moody look at smalltime investors contemplating their changing fortunes, as reflected in the fluctuations of stock prices on the big board. Based on The Board, the producers of The Great American Dream Machine hired Streeter and Ganz to make additional short films.
THE BEST OF YOUR LIFE
(1972, 8 min, 16mm)
A grimly amusing look at life in Sun City, Arizona, a gated retirement community. The Best of Your Life was the first film that Streeter and Ganz made for The Great American Dream Machine.
THE BOWERY MEN’S SHELTER
(1972, 10 min, 16mm)
A portrait of a longstanding shelter for homeless men on the Bowery in New York City, based on observation and conversations with the residents and employees of the shelter. “Interesting to note in almost all my films the narrative thread is developed strictly out of the interviews I think this film with its 20 seconds of Tony’s voiceover is one of the few times I’ve used a narrator.” (more…)
Preview Screening and Discussion
with Director Brett Story
Co-presented by Gallery 400
Run of Life Experimental Documentary Series
Wednesday, June 8, Free
6 pm- Exhibition Viewing / 7 pm- Screening
Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria, Chicago, IL 60607
Inspired by “our duty to fight”, Gallery 400andRun of Life are pleased to present Brett Story’s astute and affecting documentary, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016, HD file, 87 min). A longtime prison activist, Story uses a strong structural device to make visible the many sprawling effects of the contemporary American prison system. From the construction of pocket-parks in Los Angeles designed to keep sex offenders out of the neighborhood to a New York City warehouse that specializes in helping families provide care packages to prisoners, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes deftly eschews the romanticized themes of forgiveness traditional to prison documentaries in exchange for the more consequential web of systemic forces buttressing mass incarceration. Story also employs a wide range of documentary tactics; the connections to the prison institution are clearly laid out in some sections of the doc, while others leave more open space for the viewer to build the relationships themselves, a tactic that encourages further interaction with the central ideas of the movie long after the screening has ended. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is an important movie and possibly represents a new and sophisticated mode of social justice documentary making.
“It’s not this, that or “a” prison she’s looking for, it’s “The Prison” as institution and idea, American style. Her idea about that idea is clever, damning, and convincing: that to best understand the culture of incarceration in 2016 isn’t to film inside but rather outside of correctional facilities, where America’s prison industrial complex affects innumerable and fundamentally vital aspects of life—from laws and economies to the ways we treat and understand one another.” -Eric Hynes, Film Comment
Brett Story is a writer and independent non-fiction filmmaker based out of Toronto and New York. Her first feature-length documentary, the award-winning Land of Destiny (2010), screened internationally and was broadcast on both Canadian and American television. Her journalism and film criticism have appeared in such outlets as CBC Radio, The Nation Magazine, and Antipode. She was the recipient of the Documentary Organization of Canada Institute’s 2014 New Visions Award and was a nominee for the 2015 Ontario Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Brett holds a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, Brett’s second feature-length documentary, is currently screening at festivals internationally.
Gallery 400‘s current exhibition, our duty to fight will be on view preceding the screening. Organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago, our duty to fight offers a living testament to the specific and shared struggles that have been at the core of radical, visionary world-making in Chicago organizing. The exhibition invites visitors to join the struggle against state repression and terror while working to build collective power.
Run of Life is a collectively curated experimental documentary and expanded media series held at the Nightingale Cinema and/or other venues roughly once a month. The series pairs a recent feature experimental documentary with a short nonfiction work in any number of mediums – performance, video short, interactive presentation, audio doc, etc. At each event, a post screening Q&A will be moderated by either a local expert engaged in the movie’s subject matter or an artist involved in the making of the work. RUN OF LIFE seeks to join experimental and documentary media audiences while exploring emerging tactics within representations of reality; the empathetic connection that is built through sensory experience rather than factual arguments; and aesthetic shifts in documentary that come with the breakdown of the fourth wall. RUN OF LIFE is programmed by Jillian Hansen-Lewis, Yana Kunichoff, Christy LeMaster & Beckie Stocchetti.
OJOBOCA, Samuel Delgado & Helena Girón, Ben Rivers, Ralitsa Doncheva, Josh Gibson
The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Saturday, May 7, 7 pm, $7-10
“I then took another look into the rearview mirror, on my own. And I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that when you look in the rearview mirror you do not see what has gone passed. You see what is coming. And the rearview mirror is the foreseeable future. It is not the past at all. The title, the phrase “rearview mirror” appears to distort the situation. Most people think of it instinctively from the sound of the phrase, “It must be the past.” In terms of media, of course, the thing that is occupying the foreground in terms of the rearview mirror is nostalgia. Nostalgia is the name of the game in every part of our world today. Nostalgia is not, well it’s a kind of rearview mirror if you like, but it’s also the shape of things to come.” – Marshall McLuhan
The Nightingale is pleased to present this program of short films that have their own particular ways with looking back, while simultaneously sharing in the projection of what lies ahead. Guided by voices via archival recordings, literary renditions, oral histories, and personal testimonies, these modern mythologies strive toward utopian fulfillments, but also present the threats of shifting ecologies that all too often accompany such palpable yet fragile states of being. Please join us for an evening of Chicago premieres as we travel to the small town of Hüllen-Hüllen, the isolated community of Ye on the island of Lanzarote, the remote volcanic Republic of Vanuatu, the Zelenikovsky Monastery in Bulgaria, and the backwaters of North Carolina in search of simply that which makes us come alive.
Anja Dornieden & Juan David González Monroy, 2014, 16mm, color, 16:37
In 1984, for three weeks in May, what appeared to be a giant cloud shrouded the small town of Hüllen-Hüllen in darkness. Before the end of the month the cloud had dispersed and life seemed to return to normal. One month later, however, the town was hastily abandoned and its residents were nowhere to be found. They left most of their belongings behind in such a way as to make one think they would return at any moment.
The search that followed led investigators to a cave on the outskirts of town. Inside the cave a number of homemade contraptions were discovered. Connected by a variety of mirrors and fitted with a wide array of lenses, they were found to form a large projection device. Even though at first sight it appeared to be either unfinished or broken, it was eventually determined to be in working order. When it was turned on it projected a series of images over every surface of the cave. Initially the source of the images could not be established, yet upon further examination it was found that the images were engraved directly on the lenses of the machine.
Along with the machine a sheet of paper covered in handwritten text was also found. It was titled “Cloud Shadow”. Beyond the uncertain clues provided by the images and the text, no verifiable explanation for the disappearance of the town’s residents has ever been given. For the sake of preservation the engraved images were transferred onto 35mm slide film. Copies of the text and images were made and archived together. We have been lucky enough to obtain one of these sets. For the benefit of those interested in examining this strange occurrence, we’ve put them together as a narrated slideshow.
Neither God nor Santa María
Samuel M. Delgado & Helena Girón, 2015, 16mm to digital, color, 11:45
Since airplanes did not exist, people moved around using prayers, they went from one land to another and returned early, before dawn. In old audio recordings, the voices of pastors speak of the mythical existence of witches and their travels. In the daily life of a woman the magic of her tales begin to materialize as night falls. Night is the time when travel is possible.
There is a Happy Land Further Awaay
Ben Rivers, 2015, S16mm to digital, color & b/w, 20:10
There Is A Happy Land Further Awaay (2015), captures the landscapes of the remote volcanic Republic of Vanuatu archipelago, before they were devastated by Cyclone Pam in early 2015, the footage becoming a ghostly document of an ecosystem now irrevocably altered.
A hesitant female voice reads a poem by Henri Michaux, recounting a life lived in a distant land, full of faltering and mistakes. Island imagery of active volcanoes, underwater WW2 debris, children playing, and wrecked boats transform into intangible digital recollections of the island, made on the opposite side of the world. Images of the eroded land merge with eroding film, a lone figure on a boat drifts at sea.
Baba Dana Talks to the Wolves
Ralitsa Doncheva, 2015, 16mm to digital, color, 10:38
Baba Dana Talks To The Wolves is an intimate, impressionistic portrait of Baba Dana, an 85 year-old Bulgarian woman who has chosen to spend her life in the mountains, away from people and cities. She lives in one of the oldest monasteries in Bulgaria, Zelenikovsky Monastery. Once known as a favorite place of repose for Bulgaria’s last Tzar, the place is now known as Baba Dana’s home. There are no wolves in this film. There are no wolves left in Bulgaria.
Journey to the Sea
Josh Gibson, 2015, 35mm to digital, color & b/w, 14:23
In Journey to the Sea, an elderly woman floats down a river of elusive memories and fragmented artifacts from cinema‘s history, straining to recall the places that she has been. Passing through childhood creeks and riverside views of great cities, she also struggles to remember the impulse of travel itself. Her fading and fluid memories of touristic desire merge into an unreliable account of a great river teeming with duck-billed platypuses, disappearing Native Americans, fellow tourists and intimate hair washes.