New York-based Fern Silva is a contemporary master of 16mm filmmaking, inhabiting the world with easy grace and a ravenous and empathetic eye. Introspective and personal, often deriving from travel, Silva’s works reach toward exciting new cinematographic languages while embodying committed engagement with the troubled, bewildering and at times exhilarating complexities of globalism. Driven by curiosity and memory—and drawn to myth, folklore and mysticism—Silva’s work dialogues with narrative, ethnographic and documentary forms while elaborating a strong personal and poetic cinematic vision. Silva’s first Bay Area appearance includes striking recent work created 2010–2015.
Silva’s Servants of Mercy, drawing on the writings of poet Fernando Passoa, presents a complex portrait of Portuguese life and culture. Tender Feet, filmed in the American southwest, contemplates the 2012 winter solstice end times events while Wayward Fronds similarly envisions an eschatology of a post-cultural everglades, complete with alligators, pythons and mermaids. Also screening: Passage Upon the Plume, an elegant accounting of lighter-than-air travel at the Dolomites; Concrete Parlay, a contemplation of prehistoric marine life, middle eastern culture clashes and travel by via video arcade magic carpet; Peril of the Antilles, a troubled 2011 portrait of Haiti anticipating political, epidemiological and meteorological upheaval; Scales in the Spectrum of Space, unexpectedly consisting of archival footage, created in collaboration with legendary Chicago jazz musician Phil Cohran; and In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails, an epic cosmological account of revelry and the transit of Mercury, filmed in the streets of Bahia, Brazil. Program also includes very rare Super-8 footage by Silva, shown on glorious Kodachrome and presented as camera original.
Pictured above: Wayward Fronds (2014) by Fern Silva