Panzano creates a matrix where the three most taken-for-granted elements of any film (camera, subjects, and the spaces they inhabit) are all delicately at odds with one another - allowed to float freely, gauge the terrain, and stake out a compromise. It could have all come across as hopelessly vague and amorphous were it not for the fact that this is ostensibly a home and presumably a family. The strange rituals, comings and goings, arguments and reconciliations, and - most crucially - perpetual limbo are, after all, merely our own.
Three of these four works form a trilogy that explores one of the principle metaphors of video: the window. The window is used to examine notions of knowledge, voyeurism, surveillance and time. In addition, Crush is a reflection on identity, what it means to be human.
This compilation features several of Cohen’s pieces from the late 1980s and early 1990s: a paean to both the physical and mental aspects of the New York City landscape, an exploration of cinematic genres from narrative to music video, a sensual and romantic portrait of swimmers at a water hole, and a sound and image piece inspired by a telephone confession line.
The latest in Marie Losier's ongoing series of film portraits of avant-garde directors (George and Mike Kuchar, Guy Maddin, Richard Foreman), DreaMinimalist offers an insightful and hilarious encounter with Conrad as he sings, dances and remembers his youth and his association with Jack Smith.
A short portrait of artist Anne Truitt (1921-2004). The film consists of an interview and 16mm footage made in and around her studio at the Yaddo artist colony, as well as footage from her home studio in Washington D.C. Rather than an attempt to depict her art, which is in many respects un-photographable, the core of the film is found in Truitt speaking about the course and meaning of her work. Says Cohen, "I was honored to know Anne Truitt, and doubly so when she allowed me to make a short record of her presence and thoughts.
A portrait of an unnamed city in Italy. Sidestepping the tourist attractions that make the city famous, the film/video posits an almost-imaginary place that draws closer to the reality of its inhabitants. Using a voiceover narration that collages direct observation, literary texts, historical fact, local folklore, and a bit of sheer fabrication, the film/video melds documentary and narrative, past and present.
An homage to Walter Benjamin and other time-traveling artists and expatriates that have inspired me, especially Chris Marker. Benjamin, fleeing from fascism in the 1930s, took refuge in Paris where Biblioteque Nacional became his home away from home.
A reflection on the phenomenon of the touring musician.
"I shot this film with a 16mm wind-up Bolex, and the 25th Anniversary tour of Dutch band The Ex, when they embarked on a 'convey tour' with about 25 performing comrades. If half the battle is getting there and half the battle is joy, then the other half is madness. I thank all of the musicians who float in and out - of the film, in particular, and my life, in general." -- Jem Cohen
Soundtrack music: Guitargument, an Andy Moor and Mia Clarke improvisation, arranged and edited by Jem Cohen.
"I don't put myself into my movies because that would be too much--my pictures reflect my own feelings. So hopefully it's entertaining. Otherwise I can't bear looking at them, ha ha!" --Mike Kuchar
In this dream-portrait of Mike Kuchar, he floats through his memories as the sea, space and sky drift past. Wrapped in odd costumes, he frolics with the imaginary creatures surrounding him, and recalls the creatures of his own imagination.
"A meditation on history, memory, and change in Central and Eastern Europe, Buried in Light is a non-narrative journey, a cinematic collage. Cohen’s “search for images” began at a time of extraordinary flux, as the Berlin Wall was dismantled—opening borders yet ushering in a nascent wave of consumer capitalism. What he saw struck him as a profound paradox: the moment Eastern Europe was revealed was simultaneously the moment it was hidden by the blinding light of commercialism.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT/SUMMARY: This film centers around one performance, when Holland-based musicians, The Ex, visited New York to play a concert. This performance is intercut with city scenes, first from Amsterdam and then New York, of construction sites, street life, and protests against the Iraq war and the Bush administration. The construction site scenes relate to the band's dedication to music as a realm for collaborative building and creative destruction.
Images from magazines and color supplements accompany a spoken text taken from Herbert H. Clark’s “Word Associations and Linguistic Theory” (in New Horizons in Linguistics, ed. John Lyons,1970). By using the ambiguities inherent in the English language, Associations sets language against itself. Image and word work together and against each other to destroy and create meaning.