Mustard Seed Film Festival: Interview with Co-Founder Natasha Cohen-Carroll ’13

Mustard Seed Film Festival: Interview with Co-Founder Natasha Cohen-Carroll ’13

Natasha Cohen-Carroll is a 2013 Haverford alumna who has cofounded Mustard Seed, a Philadelphia film festival centered on South Asian film and art. The festival, on August 19-20th, will include films, food, discussion, live music, and dance performances, and is “screening films directed by South Asian filmmakers, produced by South Asian production teams, and centered on themes salient to the South Asian citizen, immigrant and diasporic experience.” HCAH spoke to Ms. Carroll to find out more about her motivations and inspirations in creating this festival. 1. You mention on your website that there is a distinct lack of South Asian films, particularly socially-engaged films, being shown in Philly, and that through Mustard Seed you want to highlight “alternative visions of South Asia and South Asian cinema.” Was there a particular moment or set of experiences that really solidified a drive to create these dialogues around South Asian film? The first moment when Mustard Seed became an inkling of an idea was when co-creator/ co-director Hariprasad Kowtha and I were at a race, media and social justice symposium— held by CAMRA at UPenn— with Gabriel Dattatreyan (who taught anthropology at Haverford last year, funnily enough).  After a screening of an Indian documentary, Hariprasad mentioned how wonderful it would be to have a South Asian film festival in Philly, and we all three began joking about doing it ourselves. Three weeks later though, it was still on our minds, and even if it was already the end of May, we decided to go for it, and by the beginning of June we already had three films confirmed.  2. Looking at your...
A global approach to documentary cinema

A global approach to documentary cinema

The bulk of my work as a research assistant for the Hurford Center’s artist-in-residence, Vicky Funari, is to help her build a portfolio of documentaries from various regions around the world. This is part of an ongoing process for Professor Funari, who hopes to pitch a new class to hopefully begin teaching by the spring of 2018. The focus of the class revolves around the similarities and differences of national cinemas in respect to documentaries. The repository of films and associated readings that I’ve created during the summer is meant to inform Professor’s Funari as to the structure and syllabus of this proposed class. Since the distribution of films has only become more widespread throughout its history, the ideas behind certain cinematic techniques are carried far beyond the national cinema where it is released, prompting filmmakers to adapt and appropriate such techniques when necessary. In addition, film movements that focus primarily on fiction films, such as the French New Wave, can still have immense and noticeable influences on the style and technique of their documentary counterparts. Often times, documentaries can point towards critical aspects of local culture and identity, but beyond that can also inform audiences of the power of globalization, and the dynamic nature of the film medium in general. Springboarding of the heavy connections one can find between films from vastly different regions, I initially made the suggestion that Professor Funari structure the class around thematic similarities between films. I felt it would be more compelling to look into the relationship between films rather than focus on segregating films by geographic origin and contain them within literal...
Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016: “The Pool Movie”

Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016: “The Pool Movie”

Harlow Figa (’16), Nick Gandolfo-Lucia (’16), Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe (’18), and Sarah Moses (’16) are Tuttle Summer Arts Lab 2016 fellows. This year, the Tuttle Summer Arts Lab provides students the opportunity to work with Vicky Funari on her new feature film, the as-of-yet untitled “Pool Movie.” Fellows are collaborating with the subjects of the film to produce content for the website, research ways to make the website accessible to older people, and contribute to the intellectual climate of the project. Vicky describes the film as “a documentary film about a group of older women who find strength, grace, and community in an aquacize class at their neighborhood swimming pool. Set in a YMCA swimming pool in the suburbs of Philadelphia, this group of 60-90 year old women have spent 25 years together in the pool. The film documents the class’s final year in the old pool, as the Y prepares to close the branch and transition to a shiny, new building. Over a year in the pool, creative projects flourish, illness strikes, friendships evolve, seasons change. This is a study of older bodies and souls in water, in motion, in transition, and in community with each other.” Below, each of the fellows describes their relationship to the project and what they have been working on so far: Marcelo: I caught a quick glimpse of the poster promoting this year’s summer arts lab as I was walking around Stokes this past spring. In that glimpse I noticed the water, the people, and pool dumbbells. These faint images instantly reminded me of a project Vicky Funari mentioned to me in the...
Springs, Science, and Fieldwork

Springs, Science, and Fieldwork

Having left my bottle lower down the mountain, I let the cool water sit in my hands before bringing it to my lips. Apparently, I’m told by one of the scientists nearby, if I were a water connoisseur I would pick up on the particular taste. I’m no connoisseur, though something does taste different. Part of it is simply the rarity of finding water like this in the high mountain desert. Yet water is always present if you pay attention: in rosebush leaves and fleshy cacti, in the insects caught in bug nets, under the fur of the rodents who did not fall for the Quaker oatmeal traps, in the flesh of my own hands, spring water cupped, slipping through fingers. Springs inhabit a lively space in this land. They are places of emergence, intersections between diverse surface and subsurface ecological communities, fascinating places for an ecologist. They are also spaces charged by contested land rights, resource management, and difficult (and violent) historical encounters. As canaries of the groundwater coal mine,1 they are dynamic, and like all bodies of water in the desert, feel like miracles to come across. Water is certainly scarce in Northern Arizona, though there is no shortage of stories that springs take part in. Around Flagstaff, a small city at the base of the volcanic San Francisco Peaks, springs sustained human life long before Coronado and his conquistadors came searching for gold in the 1500s and named the mountain Sierra Sin Agua, or “mountains without water.”2 Presently, springs are undergoing immense change. I’m working on my Anthropology/Environmental Studies senior thesis this summer, which is focused...