Blogs Crosscuts Sheryl Mousley

Sheryl Mousley is senior curator of Film/Video at the Walker Art Center.

Cactus River: Apichatpong Weerasethakul Film Debuts on Walker Channel

Cactus River, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012
Courtesy Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Cactus River, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012
Courtesy the artist

Filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s newest work, the Walker-commissioned short video Cactus River (Khong Lang Nam), makes its debut October 13, 2012, on the Walker Channel. The six-month exclusive run of the work marks the Channel’s first artist commission. A filmmaker with a long relationship with the Walker, Weerasethakul is the first filmmaker from Asia to win a Palme d’Or at Cannes since 1997; his film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won won the honor for Best Feature in 2010.

With Cactus River, the work’s title provides the sense of mystery that we have come to know through all of Weerasethakul’s work: a desert plant with the name of a waterway. It doesn’t make geographic sense, but conjures an image of what will happen to the Mekong if anticipated dams are built — making a veritable cactus-filled river. But this is more than a film about last year’s floods in Thailand and the threat of drought.

In describing Cactus River, Weerasethkul tells the story of how actress Jenjira Pongpas changed her name to Nach, which means water. She has acted in his films since 2009, including Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee, both of which screened at the Walker in 2011. Convinced that her new name will bring good luck, Nach soon meets and marries Frank, a retired soldier from the small US town of Cuba, New Mexico. Cactus River opens with a scene of Nach and her husband in their new home on the Mekong River as they go about their daily life. She is cooking or knitting baby socks for sale while he gardens and watches a Thai television program with the sound turned off. We see the wind off the nearby river and the flowing of two waters, Nach and Mekong.

Cactus River, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012
Courtesy the artist

Cactus River is Weerasethakul’s diary of his visit with the couple. He explains, “The flow of the two rivers — Nach and the Mekong — activates my memories of the place where I shot several films. Over many years, this woman whose name was once Jenjira has introduced me to this river, her life, its history, and to her belief about its imminent future. She is certain that soon there will be no water in the river due to the upstream constructions of dams in China and Laos. I noticed, too, that Jenjira was no more.”

The 10-minute video has the look of early experimental film, black and white images with some fast paced editing, flicker, single frame, then lingering moments to give the sense of movement and the flow of the water. Weerasethakul first came to the Walker for a Regis Dialogue and Retrospective in 2004 and since then, we have shown all of his subsequent films and are proudly premiering Mekong Hotel on October 27, 2012. He was asked to inaugurate artist presence on the Walker Channel because he is truly a modern renegade, someone who moves freely across artistic practices.

Cactus River, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2012
Courtesy the artist

Kiarostami: Despite Filmmaking Ban, Iran’s Jafar Panahi Has Completed Another Film

When we opened the remodeled Walker Cinema last June, we selected This Is Not a Film by Iranian Jafar Panahi as one our first screenings. His “film”–made during his house arrest in Tehran and reflecting on his pending six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on making movies–was an in-the-moment diary tinged with humor but also […]

Jafar Panahi

When we opened the remodeled Walker Cinema last June, we selected This Is Not a Film by Iranian Jafar Panahi as one our first screenings. His “film”–made during his house arrest in Tehran and reflecting on his pending six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on making movies–was an in-the-moment diary tinged with humor but also the very real urgency of a man condemned and an artist silenced.

Today fellow Iranian, Abbas Kiarostami, announced Panahi has made another film.

“He has happened to have made his second film since he received his sentence,” Kiarostami tells IndieWire. “After his sentencing he made the film that played at Cannes, and since then he has made another. I guess it will be shown at another festival. So he is making films in Iran. I don’t know why, but that’s a reality people cannot deal with.”

“Some people stay in Iran and undergo the censorship, working however they can. Others, like me, decided to work elsewhere,” he added.

The power of cinema cannot be stopped.

Blast Theory blasts off in Minneapolis

Blast Theory is a performance/trans-media artist group based in Brighton, UK, and has worked for the past ten years in the field of mobile experience art. Their project Ulrike and Eamon Compliant was at the 2009 Venice Biennial, and they have several of their works being played out around the world at any one time. […]

Blast Theory is a performance/trans-media artist group based in Brighton, UK, and has worked for the past ten years in the field of mobile experience art. Their project Ulrike and Eamon Compliant was at the 2009 Venice Biennial, and they have several of their works being played out around the world at any one time. A Machine to See With is a locative cinema project set for the streets of Minneapolis. Ju Row Farr and John Hunter arrived last week to perfect the project, originally set during the Zero1 festival in San Jose, CA, then in Park City, UT, as part of the New Frontiers Initiative of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

For the next five days they will be in the area around St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis where participants take part in Blast Theory’s ideas about economics and cinematic experience. Our eyes are the screens, and we are the actors. It mixes up documentary material, classic film noir, heist thriller clichés, questions once posed by Clinton -cabinet finance secretary Robert Reich, Made in the USA by Jean Luc Godard, and the words spoken by Jean Paul Belmondo’s character in Pierrot Le Fou “my eyes are a machine to see with.”

It is also about trust and the tyranny of choice and consumerism. The work uses open source call center software and employs automation to create your “personalized” experience. This is where the Reich questions come to play. It is also about financial crisis, not in the financial market but in your own mind as you determine how far your character will go. I hope you have signed up. I may be one of the only people who has done it in all three cities. It changes for each location. Here it is St. Anthony Main with grain elevators representing Minneapolis economic history along the Mississippi River in your sightline as you enter a world where your ideas of movies and money collide.

“Fire in My Belly” screening at the Walker

Last week, the Walker began screening three versions of the David Wojnarowicz film, A Fire in My Belly . These free screenings will be held in the Walker Lecture room at 11:30 am on days when the galleries are open, through the end of December. There will be an additional showing on Thursdays at 8:30 […]

Last week, the Walker began screening three versions of the David Wojnarowicz film, A Fire in My Belly . These free screenings will be held in the Walker Lecture room at 11:30 am on days when the galleries are open, through the end of December. There will be an additional showing on Thursdays at 8:30 pm.

There has been a lot in the press and online about the removal of A Fire in my Belly from Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The Walker is joining many museums and galleries across the country in showing this film and defending artistic freedom (read the recent blog by Walker executive director Olga Viso). To put this work of art into context we are showing all three versions, including the official National Portrait Gallery version which was edited by curator Jonathan Katz and Bart Everly including audio from a 1989 ACT UP march in which David Wojnarowicz’ voice is audible. This will give our audiences a chance to see the work for themselves. Links to the film that can be found online are often to alternative versions, including one by Rosa Von Praunheim for a film called Silence=Death with a soundtrack by Diamanda Galas.

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was a prominent artist in New York in the 1980’s working easily across media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, and performance art. He called his work “fragmented mirrors of what I perceive to be the world.” This aptly describes his style of filmmaking which incorporated quick, rough montage and recurring images to create a poetic meditation on man, life, death, faith, and suffering. A Fire In My Belly was made in part as a response to the AIDS-related death of his close friend, artist Peter Hujar. [Hujar’s photographs are currently on view in the Walker’s Event Horizon exhibition]. In the original 13-minute silent film, Wojnarowicz juxtaposes black and white footage from the streets of Mexico including wrestlers in masks, legless beggars, a cockfight, and police officers on their beat with iconic images such as Day of the Dead votives, sugar skulls, tarot cards, and puppet skeletons. Integrated into the film are images from the making of Wojnarowicz’s Ant Series, a body of photographic work that portrays ants on a crucifix, Mexican coins, and Day of the Dead votive candles. Many of these images in the film are set in Mexican cemeteries which are usually lavishly adorned, particularly around Day of the Dead celebrations when people leave food for their deceased loved ones. While the images of the ants were staged by Wojnarowicz, similar images may have also easily been found in this setting, especially on the day after a Day of the Dead night vigil when religious icons fall to the ground and left over food offerings attract bugs to the site.

After Wojnarowicz’s own untimely death from AIDS in 1992, a separate seven minute, silent, Super 8 version was found in his studio.

All three versions of the film are being screened at Walker as a 24-minute program. Made in 1986-87, primarily in Mexico, and, notably, in the era when AIDS was being feared as an epidemic, the film explores ideas of struggle and death. As health care for AIDS in the US was being debated at that time with those opposing government funds to be used for treatment calling it a “gay disease,” travel to Mexico became a common path to find affordable medical care.

Links for more information:

The two original versions of A Fire in My Belly are posted on P.P.O.W’s Vimeo channel

P.P.O.W News Page

Additional images of his other works, including Christ with Ants and Untitled (One Day This Kid…) can be found on his artist’s page

National Portrait Gallery Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition

Chronicle of responses to the Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition and the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly

New York Times article by Holland Cotter “As Ants Crawl Over Crucifix, Dead Artist Is Assailed Again

Walker Director Olga Viso on Walker’s stand with national peers in support of artistic freedom

Treeless Mountain

Treeless Mountain, So Yong Kim’s second feature film is back in Minneapolis. The film screened this past March in the Walker Cinema as a part of the Women With Vision series and is now being released nationwide. The Landmark Cinema (Edina) will be screening Treeless Mountain beginning on Friday July 17th. I strongly encourage anyone who […]

march-2009-walker-001

So Yong Kim at the Women with Vision Festival at Walker

Treeless Mountain, So Yong Kim’s second feature film is back in Minneapolis. The film screened this past March in the Walker Cinema as a part of the Women With Vision series and is now being released nationwide. The Landmark Cinema (Edina) will be screening Treeless Mountain beginning on Friday July 17th. I strongly encourage anyone who missed the March screening to attend the film or even those who attended to see it again.

The New York Times and critics alike have praised the movie since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. From the unobtrusive camera , to the child-non-actors, Treeless Mountain is wistfully captivating, telling a story reflecting the director’s memories of growing up in Korea.

“Ms. Kim, her camera hovering gently and unobtrusively around the girls as they play, quarrel and daydream, turns their intimate moments into a quiet, poignant drama of abandonment and resilience.”—A.O. Scott, New York Times

“Rarely has a child’s POV been as evocatively emulated as it is in So Yong Kim’s Treeless Mountain, a work of tremendous poise and poignancy that assumes and articulates the perspective and emotional tenor of its two juvenile protagonists.”—Nick Schager, Slant Magazine

In March, So Yong was in attendance to introduce the film and answer a few questions from the audience post screening.  You can find the audio files from this conversation along with a previous blog post about the film on the Walker website.

For more information about So Yong Kim & the film, visit the Oscilliscope website and the Landmark website for screening times.

Photo: Ramin Bahrani at the Walker

We had a incredible couple days with Ramin Bahrani here at the Walker and managed to have a quick snapshot taken outside our Cinema. Thanks to all that were able to come out to the screenings and partake in the Master Class on Friday afternoon.

Walker Film Curator Sheryl Mousley, Ramin Bahrani, and Associate Film Curator Deant Otto

l-r: Walker Film Curator Sheryl Mousley, Ramin Bahrani, and Associate Film Curator Dean Otto

We had a incredible couple days with Ramin Bahrani here at the Walker and managed to have a quick snapshot taken outside our Cinema. Thanks to all that were able to come out to the screenings and partake in the Master Class on Friday afternoon.

Apichatpong wins 2008 Fine Award at Carnegie International

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at Walker in November 2004 to present New Language from Thailand Regis Dialogue: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chuck Stephens. At that time Walker presented regional premieres of his films Sud pralad (Tropical Malady) and Sud Sangeha (Blissfully Yours.) Lesser known in 2004, especially outside of international cinema circles, this Thai artist has just […]

portrait of Apichatpong

Apichatpong Weerasethakul was at Walker in November 2004 to present New Language from Thailand

Regis Dialogue: Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chuck Stephens.

At that time Walker presented regional premieres of his films Sud pralad (Tropical Malady) and Sud Sangeha (Blissfully Yours.)

Lesser known in 2004, especially outside of international cinema circles, this Thai artist has just been awarded the Fine Prize, established by the Fine Foundation, at the Carnegie International exhibition that opened last weekend at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Link to info about the dialogue and Chuck Stephen’s essay printed in the Walker’s Regis brochure.

Home for the summer.

Filmmaker Bill Rude returns to Minneapolis every summer to teach teens at his alma mater, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, bringing his independent filmmaker friends to pitch in. This summer the teens are working with the Sean C. Covel & Chris “Doc” Wyatt, producers of Napoleon Dynamite and Ari Fishman who has recently […]

Filmmaker Bill Rude returns to Minneapolis every summer to teach teens at his alma mater, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, bringing his independent filmmaker friends to pitch in. This summer the teens are working with the Sean C. Covel & Chris “Doc” Wyatt, producers of Napoleon Dynamite and Ari Fishman who has recently been a producer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. So with this team in town, its great that Bill will sit down with them at Walker on July 18 to talk about making movies and TV their way, for as little money as possible. Open to the public, this is a free event.

Walker Cinema, Tuesday, July 18 7PM Free with Ticket.

Tickets given out starting at 6PM.

Ang Lee and James Schamus backstage at Walker

Waiting backstage with film curator Sheryl Mousley, Ang Lee and James Schamus plan the Regis Dialogue and discuss the wonderful news of seven Golden Globe nominations for their film Brokeback Mountain.

Waiting backstage with film curator Sheryl Mousley, Ang Lee and James Schamus plan the Regis Dialogue and discuss the wonderful news of seven Golden Globe nominations for their film Brokeback Mountain.

Women with Vision film nominated for Best European Film

The 2005 Women with Vision film festival at Walker opened last May with Susanne Bier’s film Brothers. This past Sunday the nominations for the 2005 European Film Awards were announced Sunday at the Seville Film Festival. The prizes will be presented on December 3rd in Berlin. Leading the list with seven nominations is Michael Haneke’s […]

The 2005 Women with Vision film festival at Walker opened last May with Susanne Bier’s film Brothers. This past Sunday the nominations for the 2005 European Film Awards were announced Sunday at the Seville Film Festival. The prizes will be presented on December 3rd in Berlin. Leading the list with seven nominations is Michael Haneke’s Cache, followed closely by Susanne Bier’s Brothers . Both movies are nominated for best European Film this year, along with Wim Wenders’ Don’t Come Knocking, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s L’Enfant, Pawel Pawlikowski’s My Summer of Love, and Marc Rothemund’s Sophie Scholl – The Final Days.