This program will present work-in-progress and shorts by artists presenting at the 2011 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, “Sonic Truth,” programmed by Dan Streible. All filmmakers will be in attendance to present their work. MoMA will also be running a post-Flaherty showcase with Les Blank: Ultimate Insider.
The audio dimension of documentary operates in several ways: as an element to confirm the fidelity of visual evidence (synch sound), as the conveyor of narrative (the voice-over), as evidentiary recording (the interview), and as a creative tool to counterpoint images. Sound recording and design can help capture a cultural environment, sculpt a sense of place, or evoke a historical period. But add music to the mix and contradictions arise – either moments of truth are powerfully underscored or the truth claims of documentary fall into question. The Seminar work will bring together a diverse group of filmmakers working in nonfiction and hybrid media to examine the sound and musical elements of their work. -Robert Flaherty Film Seminar
Mother Mortar, Father Pestle: (the petty apocalypse of 2008) by Gibbs ChapmanUSA, 2008, digital projection
A black and white and gray-area film about the fallibility of perspective, a weekend seminar on the irrelevance of human achievement in geologic time, and a 26-step program seeking to correct the behavioral dysfunction known as “religiambition.”
The Artist and the Computer by Lillian SchwartzUSA, 1976, 11 minutes, digital projection
Gozaran/Time Passing (excerpt) by Frank Scheffer
My intention is to make a documentary film about the current state of Iran’s culture, in which playing music is made very difficult. I want it to be a reflection of reality, not a piece of fiction about an Iranian conductor who tries to give people hope. The reality that the film Das Junge Philharmonische Orchester Teheran tried to capture has been superseded by the post-election turmoil. The excessive oppression that ruins the lives of Iran’s musicians compels me to reconsider the film. Last summer, after the election in Iran, it became impossible for the Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra to continue making music. Nader Mashayekhi could not return to his home country to help his musicians. A date for August 2011 fixed by The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam for the Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra to perform a composition of Gustav Mahler became unclear. The musician in Iran are very depressed under these circumstances. Nader doesn’t want to stop giving “hope” to the musicians and decided to form a new orchestra in Germany. With the help of Michael Dreyer (Director of the Morgenland Festival Osnabrueck) they founded the Tehran/Osnabrueck Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra will contain half Iranian and half German musicians. A good friend of Nader Mashayekhi, the composer Arvo Part will participate in the film. Beside the beautiful compostion “In Principio” by Arvo Part, “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” of Gustav Mahler will be rehearsed. Excerpts of Mashayekhi’s new opera “Neda, der Ruf” will make the connection to the actual political situation in Iran. Together with German musician Christian Heinecke I will film secretly in Iran to show young musicians rehearsing for the German performance. A new piece for two female voices, one Iranian and one German Soprano, and orchestra, composed by Mashayekhi will complete the film. The set for that composition will be designed by the famous Iranian art–director Shahrim Karimi who worked on the prize winning film “Woman without man” by Shirin Neshat. The mean idea behind the new film is that “music cannot be stopped!”
Serious Play: The Worlds of Helen Levitt (excerpt) by Tanya Sleiman
One of America’s great photographers revered by fellow artists, Helen Levitt is no household name. And that’s just how she liked it. Taking on this no-nonsense poker-playing spirit, Serious Play brings alive a lyrical New York of bohemian worlds and innovative work to share how Levitt defied artistic convention, transforming American independent photography and film forever.
Griot (excerpt) by Volker Goetze and Samuel D. PollardAfrica, 2011, digital projection
After a thousand years of religious, political and cultural onslaughts, a monolith of West African culture is showing signs of change in the form of a radical new individualism. Ablaye Cissoko, a young West African griot and a stunning musical talent, is our ticket inside the mysterious world of the griot. From filmmaker and world class musician Volker Goetze and producers Samuel D. Pollard (Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls), Victor Kanefsky (Style Wars), and Leslie Mulkey (Steve McQueen: Man On The Edge), the documentary Griot is in post-production.
Dandelion Wine and SK8 Sisters by Melinda Stone
Usa, 2009, digital projection
unnannounced short by Caroline Martel
Gibbs Chapman has worked in and around audio/visuals in San Francisco since 1984. As a recording engineer, he has been involved with hundreds of recordings ranging from Thinking Fellers to Marianne Faithful and additionally has worked on composing, recording, and/or producing many music and sound pieces, and sound for film for American Playhouse, among others. Mr Chapman has become active as a cameraman and audio manipulator for film and video, working on hundreds of shorts and features and has written, directed and resourcefully produced numerous films of his own. He is also owner of non productions, a small audio/visual factory in San Francisco and works as a technician and consultant in recording studios, post-houses and performs myriad duties from negative cutting to lens repair in an effort to finance his personal projects. Mr. Chapman is also a senior projectionist and collection inspector at the Pacific Film Archive.
Lillian Schwartz is best known for her pioneering work in the use of computers for what has since become known as computer-generated art and computer-aided art analysis, including graphics, film, video, animation, special effects, Virtual Reality and Multimedia. Her work was recognized for its aesthetic success and was the first in this medium to be acquired by The Museum of Modern Art. Her contributions in starting a new field of endeavor in the arts, art analysis, and the field of virtual reality have been recently awarded Computer-World Smithsonian Awards.
Frank Scheffer is internationally recognized as a master of films exploring the relationship between sound and image. He was born in 1956 in Venlo, the Netherlands and studied at the Academy for Industrial Design (Eindhoven), the ‘Vrije Academie’ Art College (The Hague) and graduated from the Dutch Film Academy (Amsterdam) in 1982. He began his career as a director with a documentary on Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope People, which was followed by a portrait of the Dalai Lama, co-directed by the performance artist Marina Abramovic. She introduced him to John Cage, who became a great source of inspiration to him. By this time he had also met Elliott Carter, and these encounters resulted in his first documentary on contemporary music, Time is Music, 1987. He has since directed more than 20 documentaries and films on music, including documentaries on Boulez (Eclat, 1993), John Cage (From Zero, 1995), Stockhausen (Helikopter String Quartet, 1996), Andreiessen (The Road, 1997) and Berio (Voyage to Cythera, 1999). Since 2000 he has been working on a trilogy featuring Frank Zappa, and a feature-documentary on Varèse is planned.
Frank Scheffer works between New York, Tehran, Beijing and Amsterdam, where he lives.
Tanya Sleiman has an MFA graduate of Stanford University’s documentary program, Tanya Sleiman is an independent documentary filmmaker and teacher based in Palo Alto, California. She recently taught Cinema Studies with NYU Tisch School of the Arts in Havana, Cuba, where she was the 2011 on-site Program Director for documentary production. Her visual essay “A Chronicle of Concrete” screened in international festivals and was broadcast on PBS Reel 13 and shared with New Yorkers through the wonderful folks at Rooftop Films. In 2008, she was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, and a Symposium Scholar at the Telluride Film Festival. In 2009, Tanya inaugurated the first course of documentary film production at Brown University Summer Studies, returning in 2010 and 2011.
Volker Goetze is the Producer/Director of Griot. An award winning jazz trumpeter, composer and collaborator with Ablaye Cissoko on their latest CD, Sira. Griot is Volker’s first video project.