CalArtian Films Selected for NYFF61 Currents

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From Friday, Sept. 29 to Sunday, Oct. 15, films by CalArts alums and faculty screen at the 2023 New York Film Festival (NYFF) as part of its Currents program

Designed as a complement to the festival’s Main Slate, Currents provides a platform for film artists “working at the vanguard of the medium.” This year’s edition comprises 11 features and 36 short films, collectively painting a diverse and compelling picture of contemporary cinema.

“The filmmakers in this year’s Currents lineup range from well-known veterans to prodigious newcomers, and the films encompass narrative, documentary, and experimental modes, sometimes recombined and redefined,” NYFF Artistic Director Dennis Lim was quoted in the Film at Lincoln Center’s press release. “If there is something that unites this richly varied array of features, medium-length, and short films, it is an exploratory spirit and a sense of cinema as a pliable art form still capable of surprise.”

See the program of CalArtian films—including North American and US premieres—below. 


Director: School of Film/Video faculty James Benning

Sunday, Oct. 8 | 6:30 pm | EBM Film Center – Francesca Beale Theater (FBT) | Tickets
Monday, Oct. 9 | 12:30 pm | EBM Film Center – Howard Gilman Theater (HGT) | Tickets

In his new film, James Benning uses his structuralist approach to landscape to etch an evocative portrait of the town. In 12 static compositions of approximately five minutes, one for each month of the year, Benning trains the camera on different areas and aspects of Allensworth—the first California town to be founded and governed by African Americans—to record mostly outdoor shots of restored houses and buildings set against desolate backdrops. With a judicious use of sound and occasional music, the haunting ALLENSWORTH marries the formal precision of so many of Benning’s landmark works to a specific sociopolitical American history.

Q&A with James Benning and Kevin Jerome Everson on Oct. 8 and 9. Read more about ALLENSWORTH on 24700.

Last Things (2023)

Director: Deborah Stratman (Film/Video MFA 95) 

In the panoramic works of Deborah Stratman, the filmmaker collapses boundaries between the historical and the political, the modern and the primordial. An active decentering of the human or animal, her mesmeric new film is a geohistorical inquiry into life on earth from the perspective of rocks: those formations of crystal and mineral that existed before people—and will one day outlive us. Stratman has made an eerily exquisite film about our planet carved out of science and speculation, poetry and geology, unfolding with remarkable images that range from microscopic forms to vast landscapes.

Saturday, Oct. 7 | 5:15 pm | EBM Film Center (FBT) | Standby only
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 1:15 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets

Q&A with Stratman and Blake Williams on Oct. 7 and 8.

The Night Visitors + “When We Encounter the World”

“When We Encounter the World” (2023)
Directors: Leo Pirondi (Film/Video BFA 22) and Zazie Ray-Trapido (Film/Video MFA 22)

North American Premiere—A self-regulating society of children is installed in an enclosed forest as a sociological experiment. Their only visions of the outside world come in the form of strange films from their benefactors, one of which is recreated here: a profusion of American engineering, landscape design, and urbanity, intended to restructure their young minds.

Sunday, Oct. 1 | 8:15 pm | EBM Film Center (FBT) | Standby only
Tuesday, Oct. 3 | 6:15 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets
Thursday, Oct. 12 | 9 pm | Maysles Cinema | Tickets

Precedes Michael Gitlin’s The Night Visitors. Q&A with Gitlin, Pirondi, and Ray-Trapido on Oct. 1 & 3.

Mangosteen + We Don’t Talk Like We Used To

We Don’t Talk Like We Used To (2023)
Director: Joshua Gen Solondz (Film/Video MFA 16)

US PremiereWe Don’t Talk Like We Used To continues Joshua Gen Solondz’s loose series of addled diary films with a film that is part travelogue, part affective almanac, and part cinematic noise show. With stops in Hong Kong, New Hampshire, Japan, and Brooklyn, the film alloys obscured faces, oozing on-screen text, throbbing abstractions, solarized superimpositions, and the occasional dad joke into a vertiginous mosaic of encounters and eruptions that also reflects somberly on issues of aging and exile, love and artmaking, lust and wanderlust.

Monday, Oct. 2 | 9 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets
Tuesday, Oct. 3 | 8:45 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets

Q&A with Solondz and Tulapop Saenjaroen on Oct. 2 and 3.

Currents Program 2: Stranger Than Paradise

“The Far and Near” (2023)
Director: Justin Jinsoo Kim (Film/Video MFA 21)

US Premiere—Exploring both the abstractions of astrophotography and the documentary possibilities of classical Korean landscape painting, The Far and Near is a cosmic voyage into seemingly empty space, in which Kim collages and distorts inkjet prints of images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope into chimeric spacescapes that evoke the oneiric spaces of Ahn Gyeon’s “Dream Journey to Peach Blossom Land,” a painting commissioned to document the dreams of 15th-century ruler Prince Anpyeong.

Saturday, Oct. 7 | 12 pm | EBM Film Center (FBT) | Tickets
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 5:45 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets

Q&A with Kim, Mackie Mallison, Jorge Jácome, Shambhavi Kaul, and Kim Torres on Oct. 7 and 8.

Currents Program 5: Burden of Dreams

“and so it came about (A Tale of Consequential Dormancy)” (2023)
Director: School of Film/Video faculty Charlotte Pryce 

The threshold of an underworld has been found at the edge of a field, and a bewitched child cannot be roused from her stupor. From modest materials—grass, leaves, a lock of hair, the body of a finch, stop-motion snakeskin, magic lantern slides—Charlotte Pryce assembles a potent folk horror tale. In demure voiceover, she relates a version of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, a myth that provides an explanation for winter’s temporary cessation of life.

Sunday, Oct. 8 | 8:15 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets
Monday, Oct. 9 | 7:45 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets

Q&A with Pryce, Julio Hernández Cordón, Tomás Paula Marques, and Sonia Oleniak on Oct. 8 and 9.

Currents Program 3: Inside Out

“Larry” (2023)
Directors: Takeshi Murata and former Wintersession faculty Christopher Rutledge

Takeshi Murata and Christopher Rutledge continue their playful investigation of both the sharp-edged hyperrealism of commercial CGI and its oozing, anarchic breakdown in Larry, which propels its titular character—a droopy-eyed canine baller—through a series of increasingly bizarre and messy loops. Set to a soundtrack of maxed-out electronic rhythms, these vignettes form a ludic study in morphology and motion, as its pooch protagonist continually vaults, multiplies, gets buckets, and dissolves into digital goo.

Saturday, Oct. 7 | 3 pm | EBM Film Center (FBT) | Tickets
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 3:30 pm | EBM Film Center (HGT) | Tickets

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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