I'm just back from the 54th Annual Flaherty Film Seminar, The Age of Migration, brimming with ideas, inspiration and lots to say in the coming weeks about my experiences there, but wanted to mention once again that from June 27 (yesterday) to July 7, MoMA will be showcasing the work of Iranian Kurdish director, Bahman Ghobadi. Ghobadi was one of the filmmakers showcased at this year's Flaherty where we saw his Half Moon, Life in Fog, A Time for Drunken Horses, and some of the pieces he's produced recently for up-and-coming filmmakers, On That Day, The Piggy Bank That I Found (follow the links to watch these on YouTube as part of the Postcards from Iran series), and an impromptu documentary of his made in Iraq called War Is Over! Because the US government denied him a visa to come to the States to attend the seminar, we spoke with Ghobadi via Skype about his films and the current state of making art in Iran. ("Things for me now are very black." He's been waiting two years for approval to film his new project.) As was done at Flaherty, there will a chance for MoMA audiences to engage in a dialogue with Ghobadi via the Internet. I will have more on the films of Ghobadi and the very emotional exchange between him and the seminar attendees in a later post.
Also tonight, over at Union Docs in Williamsburg, a couple of my fellow Fellows from Flaherty, Christopher Allen and disco queen, Hillevi Loven, have curated a screening of some of the films we saw with the filmmakers in attendance, so if you can scoot over there, it's very much worth your while to do so. This was put together just in the last couple of days, so I don't have many details, but you can call over there for more info, or just show up tonight and expand your mind with the superb cinematic fare on hand.
Here are the films we saw and the other filmmakers we came to know this past week:
Oliver Husain Q; Shrivel (a still from this piece, pictured); Squiggle; Green Dolphin.
Laura Waddington Cargo; Border.
Lee Wang God Is My Safest Bunker; The Backyard Border.
James T. Hong The Form of the Good; Lessons of the Blood; 731: Two Versions of Hell; This Shall Be a Sign.
Pedro Costa Colossal Youth; Tarrafal; In Vanda's Room; Casa de Lava.
Renee Tajima-Pena Skate Manzanar; My America. . .or Honk If You Love Buddha; Calavera Highway (debuting on PBS' POV this season).
Ursula Biemann Black Sea Files; Sahara Chronicle; Contained Mobility.
Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan Grossraum; Monument of Sugar: How to Use Artistic Means to Elude Trade Barriers (an absurdist comedy, believe it or not).
Allan Sekula Lottery of the Sea; A Short Film for Laos.
Alison Kobayashi Dan Carter; From Alex to Alex.
Sylvia Schedelbauer Remote Intimacy; Memories; False Friends.
We also saw Robert Flaherty's The Land (1942), Ellen Kuras' and Thavisouk Phrasavath's The Betrayal (Nerakhoun) (2007), and Kent MacKenzie's The Exiles (1961), releasing theatrically this summer (July 11 in NYC at the IFC Center).
I think that's about 34 films viewed in five days, plus discussions, debates, breakout sessions, bowel-blocking meals three times a day, parties until 4:00 a.m. every morning and several daily walks up and down the 137 steps between the dorms and the theater.
I'll have more thoughts and impressions on each of these filmmakers and their stunning works, both here and in other spots in the blogosphere, and more from this year's Flaherty. A big thank you to Chi-hui Yang for an amazing and mind-expanding journey, to the filmmakers who so generously shared their time and talents with us, and to Mary Kerr, a woman who has become a personal inspiration, for staging a flawless event (and seemingly never getting her feathers ruffled even when confronted with a complaint from an attendee that the cafeteria had run out of chocolate ice cream; and no, unfortunately, this is not a joke). Also, I'd like to extend congratulations to Irina Leimbacher, this year's Fellows Coordinator, who will be curating next year's seminar. I've already calendared myself to be there.