Feature Length

Babeldom, 2012

Babeldom is a city so massive and growing at such a speed that soon, it is said, light itself will not escape its gravitational pull. How can two lovers communicate, one from inside the city and one outside? This is an elegy to urban life, against the backdrop of a city of the future, a portrait assembled from film shot in modern cities all around the world and collected from the most recent research in science, technology and architecture.

"It’s a complex architectural vision equal parts awesome and terrifying… This is a film – and city – to get lost in."

Marielle Nitoslawska’s Breaking the Frame is a feature–length profile of the radical New York artist Carolee Schneemann. A pioneer of performance art and avant-garde cinema, Schneemann has been breaking the frames of the art world for five decades by challenging the taboos leveled against the female body. Breaking the Frame is a kinetic, hyper-cinematic intervention, a critical medita-tion on the intimate correlations animating art and life.

 


Praise for Breaking the Frame:

 

Stephen Varble (1946-1984) staged gender-confounding costume performances on the streets of 1970s Manhattan, and he became infamous for his anti-commercial disruptions of galleries, banks, and boutiques. In 1978, he retreated from this public work to focus on the making of an epic, unfinished piece of video art, Journey to the Sun, until his death in the first days of 1984. Lush, ribald, and unorthodox, the video mixed non-narrative costume performances with a surrealist fable of a messianic martyr, the Warbler.

Endless Dreams and Water Between is a feature film with four fictitious characters sustaining an epistolary exchange in which their “planetary thought” is woven with the physical locations they inhabit, visual and aural characters in themselves: the island of Manhattan, the island of Majorca, in Spain, and the islands and peninsula that form the San Francisco Bay Area. The characters’ reflections and dreams enact what could be described as “an archipelagic mind,” linking worlds, time, and space.

Incense Sweaters & Ice is a new feature film inspired by the idea that anything one does while being watched is a performance. The film follows three protagonists — Mrs. Queen Esther Bernetta White, Girl, and WB (“whiteboy”) — as they navigate the dramas of surveillance, moving between looking, being looked at, and remaining unseen. How does the ever-present potential image affect the way we act and the way we see ourselves? By examining how cinema now happens in real time, Syms works between the documented and the live to find the lie.

Stephen Varble began Journey to the Sun as a series of performances with projected slides in 1978. After becoming notorious for unauthorized costume performances on Soho streets in the mid 1970s, Varble receded from his public persona at this time. Deriving from his identification with his idol, the reclusive actress Greta Garbo, and informed by the spiritual practice of Subud, Varble began writing an allegorical epic about a musician, the Grey Crowned Warbler, who undergoes tribulation and metamorphosis on a journey to transcendence.

Paternal Rites is a first-person essay film that examines the secret underbelly of a contemporary Jewish American family as they grapple with the aftereffects of physical and sexual abuse on their present-day lives. It is also a groundbreaking film about the nature of trauma and memory itself: the ways in which trauma encrypts in uncanny ways; the function of speech and narrative in the process of decryption; and the role of film and filmmaking in the practice of healing.

The sale of a plot of land marks the kickoff of an unlikely road trip in this strange American odyssey. When eteam buys an acre of the Southwestern desert on eBay, the deed fails to arrive and the pair attempt to track down the phantom seller. Children in tow, the artists embark on a noir-inspired search through Colorado, Arizona and the American West to locate the shadowy landowner and claim their portion of the vast desert.

That Which Is Possible is a portrait of a community of painters, sculptors, musicians and writers making work at the Living Museum, an art-space on the grounds of a large state-run psychiatric facility in Queens, New York. Shot over the course of two years and structured across the arc of a day, the film observes with an intimate lens and unspools like a musical, both bracing and tender. That Which Is Possible explores the liberatory and reparative functions that creative action has for a group of artists drawn together by shared struggle.

Tour Without End is an experimental hybrid feature-length video work that casts real-life musicians, artists, and actors as fictional bands on tour; the piece evolves into a cross-generational commentary on contemporary culture and politics in the Trump era. Shot over the course of four years between 2014-18 at over 15 DIY music spaces in and around NYC, Tour Without End functions as a time capsule — made more apparent by the shuttering of many of its locations due to NYC’s rapid gentrification.

The work’s multitude of characters are legendary performers in the downtown NYC arts scene, including: The Wooster Group founder Kate Valk, Jim Fletcher (New York City Players), Lizzi Bougatsos (Gang Gang Dance), Kathleen Hanna (The Julie Ruin), Brontez Purnell (The Younger Lovers), Eileen Myles, Alexandra Drewchin (Eartheater), Nicole Eisenman, K8 Hardy, Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre) Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), JD Samson (MEN), Gary Indiana, Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Rachel Mason, Tom McGrath, Matthew Asti (MGMT), Becca Blackwell, Christen Clifford, Alessandra Genovese (Crush), Rogelio Ramos (Love Pig), Kenya Robinson (Cheeky LaShae), and Neon Music (Youth Quake).

Founded in 1997, the Arab Image Foundation preserves the legacy and collection of photographer Hashem el Madani and the Sheherazade photo studio.