Friday, April 10, 2015, 12:00 am

CROSSROADS 2015 Program 1

visitations, dreams of falls (watch them collapsing)


2961 16th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

In Person: Tommy Becker; Jon Behrens and Vanessa Renwick

presented in association with Canyon Cinema Foundation, Oddball Film + Video and SOMArts
sponsored by LUNA, MUBI, Ninkasi Brewing and Vimeo

Full Festival Pass: [$60 general/$40 Cinematheque members] available here.
[$10 general/$5 Cinematheque members]. Advance tickets available here.

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layover (2014) by Vanessa Renwick; digital video, color, sound, 6 minutes, from the maker
A swan song for the factory age. A vortex of swirling Vaux’s Swifts which layover for three weeks in Portland OR each fall on their migration to South America. Birds swoop over our demise, their relentless choreography signaling a new start. (Vanessa Renwick)

Figure—Ground (2013) by Jean-Paul Kelly; digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes, from the maker bay area premiere
FigureGround features hand-painted cels filmed in receding distance with a multi-plane camera. Derived from photographic sources, each illustrated scene depicts the aftermath of a death associated—tangentially or directly—with the 2009 global financial crisis. Bodies are excised from these sites and replaced by coloured squares and audio tones. (Jean-Paul Kelly)

A Field Guide to the Ferns (2015) by Basma Alsharif; digital video, color, sound, 10 minutes, from the maker north american premiere
A horror nature film. “Primitive savagery meets the brutality of the modern world in Ruggero Deodato’s timeless slice of visceral horror.” Cannibal Holocaust is revived deep in the New Hampshire woods where apathy and violence are blurred. (Basma Alsharif)

 Song for Awe & Dread (2015) by Tommy Becker; digital video, color, sound, 10 minutes, from the maker
Song for Awe & Dread is a contemporary take on the vanitas paintings of the 17th century and an investigation into the emotional duality of our existence. It is AWEsome to be human and to be alive, but the evolution of human intelligence has also burdened our species with a self-awareness of life’s impermanence. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called these two uniquely human emotions “awe” and “dread.” Through its symbolic meditation on mortality, this work attempts to find meaning between the fleeting flavors of bubblegum and cultural programming that entrenches us in our denial of death. (Tommy Becker)

The Quilpo Dreams Waterfalls (2012) by Pablo Mazzolo; digital video, color, sound, 11 minutes, from the maker world premiere
According to the Comechingones natives, Quilpo River dreams of big falls at least once a year. Whoever is near the river at the time will be part of its dreams forever. (Pablo Mazzolo)

a Beginning a Middle and an End (2013) by Jon Behrens; digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes, from the maker bay area premiere
A hand-painted and optically-printed found-footage film. (Jon Behrens)

Greetings to the Ancestors (2015) by Ben Russell; digital video, color, sound, 29 minutes, from the maker bay area premiere
Set between Swaziland and South Africa, in a region still struggling with the divisions produced by an apartheid government, Greetings to the Ancestors documents the dream lives of the territory’s inhabitants as the borders of consciousness dissolve and expand. Equal parts documentary, ethnography and dream cinema, Greetings to the Ancestors presents a world whose borders are constantly dematerializing.

Beginning in the seemingly infinite sprawl of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, nature resists nation as giraffe and zebra move fluidly between unmarked national borders. With the aid of the “African dream root,” the unconscious self likewise resists containment. The resulting dreams form the spiritual framework for Xhosa ancestral divination—they extend the liminal state into the waking life, moving the world further into (and out of) the self. Even white South Africans, whom the Xhosa claim “do not have ancestors,” have begun to train as sangoma healers in an attempt to divine a way forward.

In Swaziland, a country crippled by poverty and ravaged by a 25–50% HIV infection rate, the twilight state offers another way forward. For the congregation of the Jericho Church, dreams form the word of their prophet. The resulting all-night prayer vigils serve as a vehicle for transcendence, one in which the Holy Spirit speaks through the tongue of man. Dressed in bright cloth and adorned with an array of (un)familiar symbols, their bodies twist and contort as their voices growl and sing out in ecstatic praise.

Taken as a whole, Greetings to the Ancestors draws from subjects already deeply invested in the divine power of dreams to produce a work that is at once embodied, political and deeply hypnagogic. Greetings… takes on the challenge that the Surrealists outlined in the 1920s—for cinema to be fully realized as the waking state of dreams, one that we all can inhabit. (Ben Russell)

CROSSROADS 2015 receives generous support from: the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund/Grants for the Arts, Fleischhacker Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Willow Foundation