Fragments of the USA
Three unique letters that are stirring the global stream of political, economic and cultural events; three letters that have defined the western hemisphere and become the symbol of power and physical strength. However, what are the symbols of contemporary America oscillating between a temple of consumerism, a self-appointed watchdog of democracy and a utopian paradise of dreams come true? Compose the film fragments of contemporary America with DAFilms.com! Spin your documentary kaleidoscope from May 4 to 10, 2015.
The selection of six documentary, slightly experimental films explores the stories of diversity found in contemporary American society. American countryside, censorship holes in the inviolable freedom of speech as well as the history of common multicultural coexistence represent mere film fragments of the constantly changing tangle of North American relations. Look at them through the eyes of original film narrators and observers and pay a tribute to the unique project of Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth 66 SCENES FROM AMERICA for a whole week!
The fact that politics can be an ironic and absurd world from the top to the bottom is openly proved by the film experiment PUBLIC HEARING by American director James N. Kienitz Wilkins. Being close to the method of re-enactment due to its powerful creative approach, the film re-performs the authentic record of a town meeting from the American East dealing with the replacement of a local Walmart with a super-Walmart. The original film form, based on long portrait shots and black-and-white aesthetics of 16mm camera, was premiered at the Danish Doc Alliance festival CPH:DOX in 2012. It was screened at MoMA’s PS1Contemporary Art Center among others.
RIP IN PIECES AMERICA by Dominic Gagnon is not afraid of expressive film language either. Composed of unedited webcam clips, the film offers a free value space for all participants in online “performances”, featuring primarily political activists, military radicals, conspiracy theorists and religious fanatics; all of whom have been censored on online servers. While the American society is fighting for the freedom of speech and silent virtual censors are doing their job, the director creates and presents an original “salon des refusés”.
NIGHT LABOR tells the story of a single lonesome protagonist. The visually impressive observation immerses itself in the depth of the process of work while entering the inner space of the life experience of the protagonist with a minimum of words being said. The film has won a Special Jury Prize at the Swiss Doc Alliance festival Visions du Réel as well as a Special Jury Prize at the documentary competition of Canada’s RIDM festival.
The intimate space of an individual is also entered by American director and artist Shelly Silver. In her visually impressive essay TOUCH, she develops her interest in a free creative play straddling the line between fiction and reality set in a place she knows very well: New York’s Chinatown. Although the film follows the central narrative line, its rich associative character rather alludes to a free movement between strong social themes, with the viewers becoming the authors of the story.
Compose the film fragments of American life from May 4 to 10 for free!
Films for the event
Public Hearing (Orig.) / 2012 / United States / 109 min
Public Hearing re-performs a rural American town meeting from a transcript downloaded as publicly available information. Shot entirely in cinematic close-up on black-and-white 16mm film, an ensemble cast read between the lines in an ironic debate over the replacement of an existing Wal-Mart with a super Wal-Mart...
RIP in Pieces America (Orig.) / 2009 / Canada / 61 min
Rip in Pieces America is an uncensored proclamation from an invisible USA. Dominic Gagnon turns no blind eye in his ultra-intense collage film which consists entirely of more or less anonymous webcam clips that due to their controversial or explicit nature have been flagged and meanwhile removed from video sites such as YouTube...
Night Labor (Orig.) / 2013 / United States / 62 min
Night Labor follows Sherman Frank Merchant, a forty-six year old 6'6" Downeaster during his transition from an independent and rugged clam digger by day to manning a factory at night. With his white smock, arsenal of knives, and signature black beret, Sherman performs the tasks of preparing and arranging tools for the day laborers who arrive to their 6am shift.
Touch (Orig.) / 2013 / United States / 67 min
A man returns, after fifty years, to Chinatown to care for his dying mother. He is a librarian, a cataloguer and recorder, a gay man, a watcher, an impersonator. He passes his time collecting images - his witnesses and collaborators. Sitting in the dark, we look at them and share his cloak of invisibility, both a benefit and a curse...
Liahona (Orig.) / 2013 / United States / 70 min
Liahona is an experimental documentary examining the culture, history, and lived experience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the Mormon faith. The film creates a portrait of Mormonism through documentation of LDS cultural dominance in Utah, the suppressed history of folk magic in the early church, landmark Mormon life experiences, and Sanders’ personal history and connection to the church...