As we celebrate the 15th installment of Doc Fortnight (February 19–29), it is fitting that we find ourselves looking to the past to illuminate the present, uncovering old stories with new lessons.
Posts by Sally Berger
“War is partly madness, mostly insanity, and the rest of it’s schizophrenia. You do ask yourself, ‘Why am I here? What is my purpose? What’s this got to do with photography?’ And it goes on and on, the questioning. You’re trying to stay alive, you’re trying to take pictures, you’re trying to justify your presence there.
As a teenager growing up in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, grappling with his identity as an Asian American of Japanese heritage, Roddy Bogawa found community in the hardcore rock and punk scenes, where being different was cool. He and his friends spent hours perusing music stores and studying album covers.
The selections in this year’s Documentary Fortnight: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media (February 13 through 27) cast an intriguing look at life using a range of storytelling approaches—poetic, hybrid, observational, and dramatic. Many of these films, which center, at their core, on stories of human resourcefulness, are haunted by the concerns of our age: environmental disasters, wars, austere immigration and economic policies, urban and rural overdevelopment, and the repetition and ellipses of history.
Music is a central component of the films of Bill Morrison (currently the subject of a mid-career retrospective at MoMA) and his collaborations with contemporary composers reflect his early interest in music as “a soundtrack in [his] life” and are informed by his artistic training as a painter and filmmaker.
Lens on Tibet, a dedicated look at the cinema of the Tibetan Plateau from 2005 to the present, is a special presentation of MoMA’s ContemporAsian screening series that runs August 21–31. This 12-film selection of recent feature-length documentaries and dramatic narratives celebrates the emergence of the new Tibetan film culture onto the global stage.
N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) and I began working on the Carte Blanche: Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program film exhibition over a year ago, when Bird told me that the Native American and Indigenous Program was 20 years old and that Sundance was planning to celebrate the anniversary with several shows around the United States.
I have been viewing many interesting film and media works by contemporary artists and filmmakers while attending the Flaherty Seminar at Colgate University in upstate New York. Three artists representing a cross section of the work presented at the Flaherty Seminar—and offering three different positions on form—will be at MoMA to discuss their work during a special Modern Mondays event
Sally Berger interviews documentary filmmaker Les Blank on the occasion of his MoMA film retrospective Les Blank: Ultimate Insider
The second week of Documentary Fortnight begins this Wednesday, February 24, and runs through March 3. The selections now turn to look at communities around the world, including a special thematic focus on Iran and Afghanistan. First up is Gideon Koppel’s Sleep Furiously. The film depicts Treufurig, a hill farming community in Wales where, many years ago, Koppel’s parents found a home as refugees. The daily life, landscape, and mannerisms of the people and place are captured with attention to small details such as conversational patter, eccentric hobbies, and music by Aphex Twin.
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