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33rd Annual Black Maria Film Festival  2014 Tour Selections


Jurors’ Stellar Selections

Every Day is a Holiday - Documentary - 57 min. by Theresa Loong, New York, NY.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong knew little about her father's past. One day, she discovered his secret diary, written when he was a teenager and POW in a Japanese work camp during World War II. In it, he vowed to make 'every day a holiday' if he survived. "Every Day is a Holiday" tells the painful but life-affirming story of her father's unlikely journey, from Chinese Malay teenager and Japanese POW, to merchant seaman, Veterans Affairs doctor and naturalized citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States. Using intimate conversations, rare archival footage and his wartime diary, the film traces how, through sheer strength of will, Paul Loong overcomes the horrors of war and obstacles as an immigrant.

Lord I: The Records Keeper - Animation - 15 min. by Lori Damiano, Portland, OR.
The story of a young woman archivist, devoted to preserving images and events no matter how fleeting. She shakes off the mental barnacles of the past as she journeys from her home in the forest to foreign places. Finally, she is able to locate and embrace the present with the help of her wise mentor.

Montauk - Narrative - 15 min. by Vinz Feller, Brooklyn, NY.
Elisabeth's husband commits suicide and his last wish is for her to travel to Montauk, NY, where they met and fell in love many years ago. To honor him and scatter his ashes, she embarks on a journey from her home in Switzerland to the United States. Her experience is filled with anger, acceptance and reconciliation.

Water Color (Fall Creek) - Experimental - 11.5 min. by Vincent Grenier, Ithaca, NY.
What was, what has become, what's left, what's new, what is, what is made up, what is lighted, reflected, hidden, made transparent, or unknown, different rates of changes, matter of various kinds all intent on affirming competing realities, spread themselves on the screen both literally and figuratively. The filmmaker explores a stunning subterranean and liquid world.

Jury's Choice - 1st Prize

Autumn - 5 min. by Eva Colmers, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
An editor works on his last film project about autumn. As he cuts and pastes, memories of his childhood flash into his consciousness. Images of the past collide with images from the present and weave themselves into a timeless fabric.

Close the Lid, Gently: A Home Document Scan - 5.5 min. by Ariana Gerstein, Barton, NY.
A video made entirely from two home desktop scanners - one a photo scanner, the other a refurbished low-end document scanner. Each has its own texture and sees the domestic environment in its own particular way, one scan at a time. This piece deals with the deliberate misuse/re-purposing of commercial image producing machines for a slow, individual, low tech, approach to the motion picture making process.

Inquire Within - 4 min. by Jay Rosenblatt, San Francisco, CA.
A hypnotic, apocalyptic examination of false choices, double binds, vulnerability and faith.

Little Block of Cement with Disheveled Hair Containing the Sea - 15.5 min. by Jorge Lopez Navarrete, Barcelona, Spain.
A German shepherd dog and an adventurous mare embark upon a voyage together. With every step they take, the differences between them become clearer, and yet there is a profound connection and mutual knowledge developed over time. Invoking the spiritual and aesthetic style of Robert Bresson, this powerful film celebrates the luminous connections between horse and dog without one word of dialog.

A Place of Spirit - 6.5 min. by Natalie Conn and Jay Weichun, Brooklyn, NY
This is the story of Andrea Phillips, a Staten Island based artist, facing eviction from her home after 44 years. Rather than center itself around the policy issues associated with Andrea's eviction, "A Place of Spirit" focuses on Andrea's emotional and spiritual relationship to her eccentric, unique and uncommon home.

Salmon Deadly Sins - 7 min. by Steven Vander Meer, Arcata, CA.
Five thousand salmon colored index cards, the seven deadly sins, bizarre anagrams and a host of serendipitous occurrences mingle in the artist's imagination and emerge as "Salmon Deadly Sins." With music by Leftover Salmon, this flipbook style film is a moving drawing; each frame was created individually, by hand, on a 3x5 inch index card. Envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath are the inspiration for each chapter in this ingenious animation.

Something Like Whales - 5 min. by Nora Sweeney, Val Verde, CA.
In a dying industrial neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Queensgate Train Yard pulses with life. A local worker describes the haunting sound emanating from the yard as 'something like whales.' This poetical film was shot in part with a camera obscura.

Strange Wonderful - 4.5 min. by Stephanie Swart, Brooklyn, NY.
In this unconventional, quirky animated piece, Little Monster goes to school. She thinks, 'They probably call me snail face when I'm not around.' Sometimes she is lonely, but she begins to find happiness as she learns to accept being different.

The Apothecary - 17 min. by Helen Hood Scheer, Palo Alto, CA.
A moving portrait of beloved druggist, Don Colcord, in a rural Colorado outpost. Don is a man who operates the only pharmacy within 4,000 square miles. He navigates a profound divide between his public persona and his personal life. To the community, he is jovial and heroic. At home, he is impotent and isolated due to his wife's disability. "The Apothecary" explores notions of individual duty and obligation in the face of privately held grief and ambivalence.

Through the Tubes - 11.5 min. by Sierra Urich, Bristol, VT.
Rich with texture, sound, and imagined landscapes in extreme close-up, "Through The Tubes" is a metaphorical journey through the memory and sensations of an elderly woman. She moves through household tasks as her day become increasingly surreal. She slips in and out of the present into forgotten corners of her mind.

Jury's Citation - 2nd Prize

ICI - 7.5 min. by Walter Ungerer, Camden, ME.
Time-lapse video clips form the basis of this work. The film begins as an evolution of abstract images continuously changing in color, shape and texture. As the film plays out, it slowly reveals the origin and identity of the subject matter.

Families Are Forever - 21 min. by Caitlin Ryan and Vivian Kleiman, San Francisco, CA.
Tom and Wendy are devout Mormon parents living in a conservative community. They attend church every Sunday, obediently serving in their ward, as they raise their five children. They even knock on doors to promote support for California's Proposition 8 - created by opponents of same-sex marriage. One day, Wendy reads her son Jordon's diary and discovers he is gay. Their lives are changed forever as they struggle to understand and support the son that they love.

For The Birds - You Be the Judge: Peoples' Choice Award - 14 min. by Tara Atashgah, Santa Monica, CA.
Inspired by a true story, "For The Birds" follows a young Iranian girl as she is taken to the gallows to be hanged, having been accused of adultery. In her final moments, she imagines her fate in the hands of the surrounding townspeople.

Night Blooming Flower - 11 min. by Karl Nussbaum, Brooklyn, NY.
We often bring flowers to loved ones in the hospital. Sitting on the night table in the dark, they become the silent witness to the changes patients make in their transition from life to death. "Night Blooming Flower" is a meditation on death, memory and the passage into the world of the dead, specifically at the moment of leaving.

Sidewalk - 4 min. by Celia Bullwinkel, Brooklyn, NY.
A woman walks through life, but her real journey is deep within as she confronts her changing body and learns to love herself.

Virtuous Virtuell - 7.5 min. by Thomas Stellmach, Hessen, Germany.
Hand crafted ink drawings inspired by the overture of the opera, "The Alchymist," by Louis Spohr, serve as basis for this animation. The drawings play on the threshold between the figurative and abstract, thus allowing for a wide range of associations to form. Synchronized to the music, they grow and change. The drawings take on the characteristics and moods of the music and take the viewer on a journey into a musical world of pictures.

WEST: What I Know About Her - 20 min. by Kathryn Ramey, Roslindale, MA.
"WEST: What I know about her" is an experimental documentary about Elizabeth Crandall Perry: adventurer, midwife and distant ancestor to the filmmaker. Kathryn Ramey and her young son, explore the path Elizabeth Perry took across the American West. They film side-by-side as they explore monuments to American expansionism until they finally arrive at their family farm in Oregon. Juxtaposing found footage, historical narrative and contemporary looks at the Willamette Valley; this piece is a meditation on how to understand a past fraught with contradictory points of view.

Directors' Choice - 3rd Prize

A World of Difference - 8 min. by Gerald Guthrie, Urbana, IL.
A digital animation that moves along a bumpy path through space and time, to discover truth, perfection and meaning. This enigmatic piece sets the stage for such a discovery by presenting unique machines that produce philosophical solutions on demand. These findings arm the central character with the knowledge needed to traverse a challenging path leading to an extraordinarily large microscope. The synchronicity of various worlds is revealed therein.

Amygdala - 10 min. by Jeanette Louie, Livingston, NJ.
Located deep inside the temporal lobe of the human brain, a small almond-shaped region orchestrates our emotional life. It is known as the amygdala - an ancient biology that deciphers whether an experience is emotionally traumatic or merely anxiety-ridden. The amygdala structures our emotional responses to these disturbing experiences. This experimental work explores how the perception of fear operates on human beings.

Camp - 7 min. by Peter Freund, Moraga, CA.
Unexpected convergences abound between the specter of the concentration camps of World War II and the aesthetics of reel camp.

Chop - 6 min. by Ariana Gerstein, Barton, NY.
A thought-provoking piece, contemplating the texture of wood, soy sauce, rice, the crack of a fortune cookie, and a to-go box, presented within the disturbing context of de-forestation. Still images created through macro photography are animated and integrated within the body of this documentary short.

5 Ways 2 Die - 16.5 min. by Daina Papadaki, Nicosia, Cyprus.
How many ways are there to commit suicide? Can a suicide attempt be considered successful? One cuckolded husband over-analyzes this subject, as he struggles to achieve his ideal result.

Galvanized - 14 min. by William Noland, Hillsborough, NC.
In "Galvanized," three groups of individuals, representing distinct approaches to belief and action, are viewed consecutively: Mormons preparing to perform at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, an outdoor religious drama staged annually in Palmyra, New York; Occupy Wall Street activists participating in a one-year anniversary event in New York City; and participants in Charlotte 714, a movement of kingdom-minded Christ-followers gathered to exalt Jesus in Charlotte, North Carolina to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The film juxtaposes these groups and their divergent goals, suggesting surprising and unanticipated relationships.

Garbage Girl in Daily Consumption - 5.5 min. by Christopher Nostrand, Kingston, NY.
We follow our heroine, Garbage Girl, through one of her routine days, witnessing the damage humans inflict on our planet. Garbage Girl wakes to find an overwhelming amount of waste. Her desire to rid the world of trash leads her to a life of singular purpose and isolation as she struggles to make a statement for change and save the earth.

Globe Trot - 4.5 min. by Mitchell Rose, Worthington, OH.
An international, crowd-sourced, dance-film project. Fifty-four filmmakers on all seven continents each contribute two seconds of movement orchestrated by renowned choreographer Bebe Miller.

Her Children Mourn - 10 min. by Marta Renzi, Nyack, NY.
A brother and sister, dressed in funeral black, arrive at their family homestead in this site-specific dance performance. Both are silent, bottled up, alone. They enter the barn to work through their thoughts and their grief. In the end they make their way outside to the fields and gardens, and discover some kind of peace.

Homegoings: A Dance - 5 min. by Christine Turner, Brooklyn, NY.
Inspired by the award-winning documentary "Homegoings," dancers from the Bill T. Jones/Arne Zane Dance Company explore meaning and beauty in the life cycle. An expressive dance performance is intercut with documentary footage shot at Owens Funeral Home in New York City's historic Harlem neighborhood. "Homegoings: A Dance" pairs choreography with funeral rites in the African-American community and draws on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration.

Human Body Battleground Organ Organism - 9.5 min. by Metrah Pashaee, Iowa City, IA.
An appropriated moving image collage investigating human sex organs as disembodied vessels. Utilizing a digital voice to narrate the scientific found footage; the filmmaker creates a witty, sarcastic, high camp romp through the juxtaposition of gender-specific sexual functions of the human body.

Mama, I'm Gonna Kill You - 54 min. by Elena Pogrebizhskaia, Los Angeles, CA.
A sad and touching film about children living in a Russian orphanage. Sashka, Nastya and Lekha are three of the unfortunates, destined to spend their childhood there. The orphanage is more like a juvenile prison, even though the adults who work there have convinced themselves that they are making the children happy. The children are effectively being punished for the sins of their parents, who are most often alcoholics and drug addicts unable to care for their sons and daughters. Some children, who violate the disciplinary codes, are sent away to a nearby psychiatric hospital. They struggle to find ways to fight against the rules in order to survive and preserve their self-worth.

Rehearsal - 11 min. by Tom Rosenberg, Austin, TX.
A cinéma vérité study of a simulated terrorist attack in Middle America. Carefully composed frames record the meticulous care taken to create a hyper-real terrorist event. Once a simulated bomb goes off, hundreds of volunteers deliver convincing performances as stunned and mutilated blast victims.

Rivergarden - 10 min. by Jack Cronin, Ann Arbor, MI.
Filmed along the Huron River and Malletts Creek in Ann Arbor and Dexter, Michigan, "Rivergarden" explores the river as a place of spectacle and reverie. The film includes uncommon images of light, moving water, and the filmmaker's winsome children.

Sleight of Hand - 10 min. by Michael Cusack, Adelaide, Australia.
Sleight of hand refers to skill in feats requiring quick and clever movements of the hands, especially for entertainment or deception, as in juggling, and card or coin magic, and with the intent to trick or deceive. "Sleight of Hand" is a stop-motion animated film about illusions. A man yearns to know his place in the world and how he fits in, when sometimes it's better not to know.

Solaristics - 11 min. by Peter Rose, Philadelphia, PA.
A journal of solar observations; an ominous environmental metaphor; 48 ways of looking at the sun. The video was made entirely with a Flip camera and involved no post-production or visual manipulation of any kind.

Split Ends - 3.5 min. by Joanna Priestley, Portland, OR.
The luscious colors and delicate lines of "Split Ends" playfully animate full field patterns and reference mass-produced ornamental designs of the industrial era. North American wrapping papers from the 1960's, and French and English wallpapers from the early 1900's, inspired the delicate patterns. Sound designer/composer Seth Williams of Triage created the original score.

Spooners - 13.5 min. by Bryan Horch, Pelham, MA.
A romantic comedy about two men and their epic quest for a grown-up bed. After finally convincing his partner to retire their beloved futon, Nelson goes off by himself to shop for a proper replacement. "Spooners" is a playful and humorous narrative film that brings to view the absurdities and contradictions of modern life.

Stoned - 11.5 min. by Seoungno Cho, Elmhurst, NY.
"Stoned" begins in silence. We see an image of a Buddhist monastery - a long stone corridor lined with receding columns. It appears to jerk forward and slightly recede, then it moves tremulously back and forth. Flickering manipulations disrupt the viewers' experience of processional space, in this mesmerizing formal examination of movement through time and space.

Sugarcoat - 6.5 min. by Meejin Hong, Castaic, CA.
Employing the animation technique of metamorphosis, "Sugarcoat" depicts desire as seen through a melting crayon, and reveals a visually stunning tapestry of temptations. The deeper one ventures in, the greater one's hunger becomes.

The Last Time - You Be the Judge: Peoples' Choice Award - 5 min. by Candy Kugel, NY, NY.
For thirty-eight years, Vincent Cafarelli and Candy Kugel worked together on animated films. Then Vincent, after a day at work, went home, went to bed and never woke up. "The Last Time" is both a tribute to their collaboration and recognition of sudden, profound and massive loss.

Them Oracles - 7.5 min by Alee Peoples, Los Angeles, CA.
A campy investigation of what an oracle is and what it might sound like if it were to reveal itself to us humans. Through sheer force of will, desire, and blind faith, true believers tease these mystical soothsayers into existence.

Watching, Waiting - 11 min. by Wesley Strick, Los Angeles, CA.
At a women's health clinic, a small, dedicated staff goes to work in the face of a subtle but pervasive sense of threat and danger. "Watching, Waiting" dramatizes an idealistic girl's first day of volunteer work with these caring professionals. Meanwhile, beyond the clinic's secure confines, a mysterious man is patiently watching and waiting. As the clock ticks and he moves from a hilltop perch to a sniper's nest behind a grove of mesquite trees, the tension steadily mounts. This film is a surprising look at the hot-button issue of women's reproductive rights by framing the controversy as a taut, thriller.

Wise Choice or Lucky Guess - 3.5 min. by Ellen Raines, Fox Point, WI.
A recently deceased man has to make a choice between heaven and hell, while sitting on an escalator.

Yield - 2 min by Caleb Wood, Deer River, MN.
Road kill deaths mount up. The filmmaker documents and re-animates this collection of animal victims with a provocative result.

Festival Jurors for the 2014 Festival Tour

John Knecht - Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Art and Art History and Film and Media Studies, Colgate University

Cynthia Lopez - Executive Vice President, and Co-Executive Producer of American Documentary/POV, and founding chair of the board of directors and trustee of NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers).

Chi-hui Yang - Film programmer, lecturer and writer; President of the Board of Trustees - The Flaherty Film Seminar

Executive Director Jane Steuerwald, and Founder and Director Emeritus John Columbus serve as non-voting facilitators during the jury's deliberations. In collaboration with the jury, they determine the Directors' Choice selections for the festival tour.


Click here for 2013 Tour Selections