Filmmaker Mason Richards’ (Film/Video MFA 10) CalArts thesis film “The Seawall” screens in the exhibition Are We Free to Move About the World: The Passport in Contemporary Art, running now through Saturday, May 20 at Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts (FSU MoFA) in Tallahassee, Florida.
Curated by Grace Aneiza Ali, the show invites contemporary artists to engage with the passport. Since its enshrinement in international law in 1920, passports have come to transcend mere documentation—the artists investigate the ways in which it can signify migration, privilege, social stratification, surveillance, freedom, and more in a world demarcated by borders. More about the exhibition from FSU MoFA:
Curated by Grace Aneiza Ali, Are We Free to Move About the World explores how contemporary artists engage with the passport – an archive, document, symbol, object of migration, and instrument of mobility with control – to reflect one’s freedom of movement, or lack thereof. This exhibition examines how works by key contemporary global artists trouble the passport as agents of privilege, inequity, and control. This exhibition aims to investigate how artists treat the passport as an object of inquiry, both precious and stripped of its meaning, unpacking it as an urgent response to the global migration crisis.
Among the show’s selected works is Richard’s “The Seawall,” a family drama set in Guyana’s capital city Georgetown, where the artist was born and spent his early childhood before moving to Brooklyn, New York. Shot entirely on location with a cast of first-time actors, the short film tells the story of the relationship of Marjorie and her 10-year-old grandson Malachi, who is about to emigrate to the United States to join his mother.
Watch the trailer for “The Seawall” above.
“The Seawall” made its world premiere and was screened daily in 2011 at the Cannes Court Métrage as part of the 64th Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Short Film Corner. Other CalArtians can also be spotted among the film’s credits: Kelly Gardner (Film/Video 08) served as director of photography, Jonathan Olmstead (Music BFA 10) as composer, Ben Huff (Film/Video MFA 07) as sound designer, and Loren White (Film/Video BFA 09) as colorist.
A graduate of the Film Directing Program, Richards is a filmmaker, writer, director, and founder of the production company MR Productions, which creates film and television content that seeks to create a social impact. In 2012, he was selected for Film Independent’s nine month Project:Involve program, and was awarded the Sony Pictures Diversity Fellowship the same year. He has also served as faculty at Emerson College-Los Angeles since 2018.
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