Rachael Rakes(Programmer at Large, Film
Society of Lincoln Center)
Initiated in 2014 at the Film
Society of Lincoln Center by me and Director of Programming Dennis Lim, Art
of the Real is an annual nonfiction showcase founded on the most expansive
possible view of documentary film. Each April, for two weeks, the festival features
discoveries from around the world alongside retrospective selections by both
known and unjustly forgotten filmmakers.
The curatorial reach of Art of
the Real extends to the worlds of contemporary art, ethnography and
anthropology, hybrid filmmaking, sound, and avant-garde cinema. Many of the
selected works move between various modes, or evade genre distinctions
altogether. Previous editions of the showcase have featured retrospectives with
Agnes Varda, Bruce Baillie and Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, career-spanning
talks with artists such as Amie Siegel and Elisabeth Subrin, and a thematic series devoted to the
structural modalities of reenactment.
This inaugural collaboration with
MMCA presents eleven selections from Art of the Real’s three editions to
date. Focusing on contemporary works, Art of the Real—MMCA offers
a diverse mix of styles and approaches, which together begin to constellate the
vibrant world of nonfiction moving image production today.
These include science
fiction-inflected works like Adirley Queirós’s White Out, Black In and
Daniel Hui’s Snakeskin, which speculatively and poetically investigate
historical and present traumas; semi-, or perhaps anti-biographical works such
as Poet on a Business Trip by Ju Anqi and Mati Diop’s A Thousand Suns;
unorthodox portraits like Ben Rivers’ idiosyncratic artist study What Means
Something, and Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli’s 1970s Italian epic Anna
(the lone archival contribution to the series); a raucous, mesmerizing
collaborative drama that slyly re-casts the Algerian War, Narimane Mari’s Bloody
Beans, along with many others that combine visual and conceptual
experimentation with clear, urgent ideas.
We are pleased to bring to MMCA a
sampling of this platform for filmmakers and artists past and present who give
us a wider view of nonfiction cinema.