The Knoxville, Tennessee-based Big Ears Festival curates a world-class lineup of musicians and filmmakers. This year, the festival runs from March 23-26 with several CalArtians screening their works, including School of Theater faculty Janie Geiser and alumni Manuela De Laborde (Film/Video MFA 16), Christina Nguyen (Film/Video MFA 16) and Mike Stotlz (Film/Video MFA 14).
Geiser, a renowned multidisciplinary artist, shows eight short films in the program Double Vision at the Knoxville Museum of Art on March 25. One of the films is Flowers of the Sky, made in 2016. The title comes from the medieval term for comets and creates a link between the film’s subject: two panoramic photographs, found in a Los Angeles thrift shop, which depict a gathering of members of the Eastern Star, a Masonic order. From the program’s description: “There is a sense, looking at the photographs, of watching and waiting for something to happen, something beyond the experience of daily life. And something does. Nature reasserts herself, the figures double, vibrate, and rise, trying to escape their emulsive lives, suggesting a rapture that extends beyond their printed world.”
The artist’s films, which feel both carefully crafted and mysteriously dreamlike are constructed with layers of sound and found images and objects. The recontextualization of found images are beautiful and haunting as KCET writes, “her projects send back mysterious intelligence about the roiling nether lands we largely fear to traverse alone. Geiser is a guide to the other side, wherever that ‘other’ might be.”
This is the second year Geiser was invited to screen her work at Big Ears Festival. Her works have screened at other festivals including, NY Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Oberhausen Film Festival, Curtas Vila do Conde and Hong Kong International Film Festival.
The Big Ears Festival’s larger film lineup includes the programs Flicker and Wow 1 and Flicker and Wow 2, with De Laborde’s film As Without So Within, Nguyen’s Parallel Inquiries and Spotlight on a Brick Wall by Alee Peoples and Mike Stotlz. The screenings take place on March 26 at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
As Without So Within reworks and illuminates several fundamental components of experimental filmmaking: abstraction, sculpture, and the material of celluloid. Parallel Inquiries, Nguyen’s MFA thesis film, is an inquiry into the analog film system creating a direct relationship between sound and image. Spotlight on a Brick Wallis a performance film that navigates expectations of both the audience and the makers with a series of false starts and a dub treatment on the laugh track.