New EYEWASH series offers experimental films
By Katie Kilkenny
Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Films played across eight projectors or shot with a camera from 1927 Germany are among the offerings in this fall’s EYEWASH film and video series, which is sure to add some variety to Dartmouth’s film offerings this fall. Film professor Jodie Mack founded and curated the series that features an array of experimental and independent films.
“The definition of an eyewash is washing your eyes of poison. [The EYEWASH series offers] an opportunity for people to come and cleanse their visual palate in these exciting bursts of cinema,” Mack said.
EYEWASH invites experimental filmmakers to present their films and discuss them afterwards with students. The free series will be screened in four parts over the course of Fall term in Loew Auditorium, beginning with the works of filmmaker and University of Florida professor Roger Beebe this Thursday at 7 p.m.
“The films [in the EYEWASH series] explore the possibilities of what film can be,” Mack said. “Who ever said that movies needed to tell stories?”
The series title was inspired by Breer’s classic short film “Eyewash” (1959), in which photographs and hand-painted shapes launch across the screen to form an abstract flow of images.
The Hopkins Center for the Arts, the film and media studies department and the Hood Museum of Art are all co-sponsoring the series, allowing it to be free to students and the public.
Juliette Bianco ’94, assistant director of the Hood Museum, said that she is excited that the series will enrich students’ experiences in Mack’s “Handmade Strategies” filmmaking course, offered this fall. She added that all students can benefit from the presence of experimental filmmakers on campus for the series.
“Why not just see [these films] on DVD?” Bianco said. “It’s because you can make a personal connection with the filmmaker … That’s what’s so important about coming to a place like Dartmouth, to have personal contact like that.”
Thursday’s presenter, Beebe, has shown his films at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square. His presentations utilize multiple projectors, from the two-projector films “The Strip Mall Trilogy” (2001) and “TB TX Dance” (2006) to the three-projector films “AAAAA Motion Picture” (2010) and “Money Changes Everything” (2009) and finally his expansive, eight-projector film “Last Light of a Dying Star” (2008).
Mack, who was Beebe’s undergraduate advisee at the University of Florida, pointed to “Strip Mall Trilogy,” a film about Beebe’s first year as a professor in Gainsville, Fla., as one of the program’s highlights.
“There’s this one really great section where he uses the alphabet to structure his film and starts shooting letters from all the [strip malls’] different neon signs, and you can totally recognize where each of them comes from,” Mack said.
Bennington College film professor Kate Dollenmayer will bring a selection of her videos on Oct. 6. Her work has been screened at the MassArt Film Society, the Echo Park Film Center, the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Cambridge Film Festival.
Her most recent film, “Wandering” (2011), follows acclaimed early filmmaker Oscar Fischinger’s travels in “Walking from Munich to Berlin” (1927), documenting the changes in the German landscape with the same camera Fischinger used.
Tomonari Nishikawa will present his work as part of the series on Oct. 20. Nishikawa, who is a professor at Binghamton University, won the 2008 Museum of Contemporary Cinema Grant Award and is the co-founder of KLEX: Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival. He is known for his frame-by-frame portrayal of locations in different cities, especially “Market Street” (2005), shot in San Francisco.
Naomi Uman, who was once a private chef to the likes of Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt, will bring her 16mm films that combine lyrical and documentary forms to Dartmouth on Nov. 3.
Mack said that her favorite films made by Uman document Uman’s experience moving to Ukraine and learning the language. Uman’s “Kalendar” (2008) depicts each month of the year as Uman struggles to learn Ukrainian words, and “Clay” (2008) explores a factory where workers have produced bricks with the same clay since the 4th millennium B.C.
“Her resume would make everyone want to be a better person,” Mack said.
Mack is in the process of searching for long-term funding in order to hold the EYEWASH series each term. Next term, she hopes to invite curators to talk to students about how to select films for a short film program and about finding jobs in experimental film.
“I’m really hoping for this to become an ongoing thing, but I want to take it one day at a time,” Mack said.