An active filmmaker since childhood, Nathaniel Dorsky is one of the world’s most celebrated creators of personal cinema, continuously articulating an aesthetic which, in his words, strives toward “all the qualities of being human: tenderness, observation, fear, relaxation, the sense of stepping into the world and pulling back, expansion, contraction, changing, softening, tenderness of heart.” In this rich body of work, Dorsky evokes silent, luminous spiritualities abiding in the world’s objects and surfaces and suggests divinity in the everyday. Cinematheque commences its 2020 exhibition season with a screening of new and recent works by the master filmmaker, including The Dreamer (2016), Calyx (2018), Colophon (for the Arboretum Cycle) (2018), Apricity (2019) and the *world premiere* of Interlude (2019).
The Dreamer (2016) by Nathaniel Dorsky; 16mm, color, silent, 19 minutes
This year our mid-summer’s night was adorned with a glorious full moon. The weeks and days preceding the solstice were magically alive with crisp, cool breezes, bright, warm sunlight, and a general sense of heartbreaking clarity. The Dreamer is born out of this most poignant San Francisco spring.
Calyx (2018) by Nathaniel Dorsky; 16mm, color, silent, 13 minutes
I photographed Calyx during the rather tense twenty-one days preceding my open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve and then shipped the footage off to the lab the day before my operation. I edited the twenty one rolls about three weeks after coming home from a rather dramatic nine days in the hospital. I hope this little film captures some of the feelings of dread mixed with an elegiac feeling for our world. Calyx is the husk surrounding the tender bud of a soon to be flower.
Colophon (for the Arboretum Cycle) (2018) by Nathaniel Dorsky; 16mm, color, silent, 13.5 minutes
Colophon (for the Arboretum Cycle) has three sections. It is in the spirit of the early Chinese landscape colophons, a text added to the horizontal scroll at a later date from when the landscape itself was enacted. Colophon was not made to be shown along with the Arboretum Cycle, but a new thing, a spring later, a different maker, so to speak.
Apricity (2019) by Nathaniel Dorsky; 16mm, color, silent, 16 minutes
The title Apricity refers to the warmth of the sun in winter. It is an homage to the writer Jane (Brakhage) Wodening. In speaking to her I mused, “perhaps your age is the winter and you are the warmth of the sun.”
Interlude (2019) by Nathaniel Dorsky; 16mm, color, silent, 11 minutes
A brief lost moment lies between.