Inspired Filmmaking:
50 Years of Flaherty, The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar at MoMA

June 21, 2004

MoMA

The annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar focuses on the art of the moving image. Following the seminar, MoMA presents a selection of films and topics that were discussed. This year’s seminar, organized by Susan Oxtoby, Program Director at Cinematheque Ontario, looks at the nature of independent documentaries and avant-garde filmmaking as well as the ways in which independent cinema has changed since the seminar’s inception. These two MoMA programs reflect on emerging trends and historical precedents in the field of independent media.

Arctic Requiem

A live performance featuring electric violonist Ritsu Katsumata will accompany Robert Flaherty’s silent film classic Nanook of the North (1922). This collaborative multimedia production reconceptualizes Flaherty’s classic silent documentary with a new musical score constructed with digital loop sequencing, electric violin, and voice. The composition is made in honor of the Seminar’s 50th anniversary.

Arctic Requiem is performed in three movements: “Prelude for Non Preconception,” “Nanook of the North, Reconceived,” and “Coda: Dies Irae Eire.” The soprano’s oratorio suggests the writings and voice of Frances Flaherty, who collaborated with her husband. The violin references Robert Flaherty, a talented violinist. The Arctic Requiem score also references music that Flaherty played on gramophone for the Inuits who collaborated with him on the production.

Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.

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