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...
Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht: An Interview with Irina Leimbacher

Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht: An Interview with Irina Leimbacher

This Wednesday, the Hurford Center will head to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute for a night with the category-bending films of Chick Strand. Chick Strand’s films Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht are the latest installment of the Strange Truth film series organized by Haverford professors Vicky Funari, Hank Glassman, and John Muse. Film theorist Irina Leimbacher will lead a post-viewing discussion, and I was lucky enough to chat with her about what to expect at the event and about her relationship with film. Why did you pick Soft Fiction and Kristallnacht from Chick Strand’s body of work? I was very excited about Soft Fiction because it had just been restored by Mark Toscano at the Academy Film Archive. I was asked to introduce a screening of a new print when it screened at the New York Film Festival last fall. Soft Fiction is a powerful film and embodies Chick Strand’s sensuous camera style and her ability to convey deeply felt experiences. Yet it is different from all of her other films in that it is structured around a series of interviews with five distinct women, and Chick used a tripod to film most of those interviews. In her other work Chick never uses a tripod and never incorporates sync sound dialogue — her shooting style is much more like the interstices that we see in Soft Fiction between the interviews. Since the film is just over an hour in length it seemed like it could be good to show another short alongside it. Kristallnacht has no voice, no “stories” other than what we bring to it. It is one of my favorites of her short films, and...
John Muse on STRANGE TRUTH

John Muse on STRANGE TRUTH

STRANGE TRUTH is a film series at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and Haverford College that starts this very Wednesday. The series is organized by Professors Vicky Funari (Artist in Residence), Joshua Moses (Anthropology), and John Muse (Independent College Programs). John Muse, currently teaching “Film On Photography,” took the time to answer a few questions about Wednesday’s program, featuring the work of the late Harun Farocki. 1. Are you teaching any of Farocki’s work in your classes? These very films plus essays on Farocki by Kaja Silverman and D.N. Rodowick. 2. Would you categorize these films as documentaries? Why or why not? Neither are documentaries per se.  “Images of the World…” is what’s known as an essay film.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay#Film  Essay films are typically pointed, argumentative, but can also be searching and reflexive.  Or they can be personal, more like journal entries or meditations on a theme than presentations of the facts.  “Images of the World…” is more like the former, Engaging as it does with history, politics, and technologies in a reflexive mode, one that asks viewers to think about seeing and what they’re seeing.  “An Image” is stranger.  Lacking narration, a fly-on-the-wall methodology, or interviews, it’s structured more as a fiction film where the characters just happen to be real people all of whom are engaged in careful but seemingly ridiculous work.  The film reveals what the photographic image will hide: the labor required to produce it. 3. What are the connections between a film about a Playboy shoot and a film about reconnaissance of Auschwitz? Both films teach us how cameras and the technical systems within which...