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...
Recently at the Hurford Center: Hope Tucker

Recently at the Hurford Center: Hope Tucker

Nestled into the midst of this semester’s STRANGE TRUTH film series, Hope Tucker’s short filmic obituaries stand out. Hope spoke to a crowd of Bi-Co students and community members on Wednesday, March 30, alternating between showing videos and speaking about her work. In Hope’s video series, The Obituary Project, she creates short videos as obituaries for people or places. Originally, Hope planned to focus on the stories of women, though she later decided that this focus was too narrow. One of the first videos in The Obituary Project, and the first video Hope showed us on Wednesday evening, was an obituary for Bessie Cohen, a survivor of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 145 workers. Hope’s obituary of Bessie Cohen explores the ways in which famous events such as the fire shape the time and perspective of an obituary and highlight what parts of life become historicized. Bessie Cohen lived to 107 years old, yet obituaries written for her tend to end at the age of 17—her escape from death becomes the story of her life. Hope pointed to her Bessie Cohen obituary as a project she hopes to remake using the same words, only this time in reference to a recent Bangladesh factory fire. This connection between the past and present highlights the social justice angle of Hope’s work. When I asked about the connection between the medium of film and social justice, Hope emphasized her desire to work in an accessible space beyond language. Through film and image, her message can move beyond the confines of verbal language. Especially, she added, as people increasingly learn to read images in school. When discussing her current projects, Hope made...
El Velador: Interview with Filmmaker Natalia Almada

El Velador: Interview with Filmmaker Natalia Almada

On Wednesday, March 16, Haverford students and community members will have the opportunity to view the documentary El Velador and speak with award winning filmmaker Natalia Almada. The quiet, mesmerizing film follows the nightwatchman of a “narco-cementary”, where some of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords are buried. For a sneak-peek into Wednesday’s event, Natalia Almada agreed to a brief interview on El Velador and filmmaking in general. Icarus Films describes El Velador as “a film about violence without violence.” Do you agree? Why did you decide not to explicitly portray violence? Yes, that’s how I describe the film. In part it was a reaction to the mainstream media in Mexico, which is flooded with extremely graphic images of violence. The result of such images is that eventually they cease to touch us. We become numb to their horror and turn away. They also serve to support a discourse in which the perpetrators of these crimes are simply seen as monsters and therefore not human beings who deserve to have rights. It allows us to disassociate the violence from our social responsibility; we are no longer implicated. I believe that the violence we are experiencing in Mexico is a result of our unequal and unjust society—not only Mexican society but global society and we need to make media which allows us to see it, think about it and feel it. My hope I suppose was that the absence of violence in my film would actually allow for a reflection on violence. I was watching the trailer for El Velador on Youtube, and I couldn’t help but notice that many of the suggested videos were news pieces such as “Univision News...
Everything you have wondered about WAKE

Everything you have wondered about WAKE

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Four years later, WAKE, a 23-minute documentary, meditates on the continued presence of the oil industry in southern Louisiana. Created during summer 2014 by Haverford’s Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellows Hilary Brashear ‘14, Dan Fries ‘15, Gebby Keny ‘14, and Sarah Moses ‘16, in collaboration with Artist-in-Residence Vicky Funari and Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Helen White. For those who attended last week’s screening of WAKE, Sarah Moses’ insight will add to experience; and for those who did not attend, her perspective is illuminating. Enjoy! 1) What perspective did you bring to the filmmaking process? How familiar were you with the spill before working on this film? I remember following the spill when it happened, but in a pretty distanced manner. So I definitely did weeks of research for this film. Coming into the project I initially had a focus on the political consequences of the spill, but working with the other fellows and having hours and hours of discussions led to us all blending our ideas together into something that I think is far superior to what we would have dreamt up individually. 2) Have any of your personal consumer decisions or habits changed because of the film? I like to think that I’ve been relatively conscious of the widespread effects my decisions can have. Consciousness and awareness are definitely the first steps to any change. Obviously we live in a very energy-dependent world and I have no intentions of going off the grid any time soon. But I believe that...