Thursday, January 23, 2014

1/29/14 Rian Brown

5 FILMS BY RIAN BROWN from 1999-2014

Presence of Water (1999) 16mm sound, 27 minutes

A visual diary of a young woman's estrogen induced memory of the last few months of pregnancy.
A luscious blend of collage and memoir, it takes place in Northern Italy when she is eight months
pregnant. Time compresses into the finite, and the woman becomes a stranger to herself as she
physically becomes "two people". Formally it is a hybrid, a grafting of two genres, a crossroads
between the experimental film and the autobiographical essay, gracefully defying the boundaries of
any particular genre. Two voices; an Italian father and American mother guide the viewer through
multi-layered optically printed surfaces and vibrant saturated colors in a personal documentary
about taking detours, loss and rediscovery. Shot with her baby in one arm and the camera in the
other, the film speaks directly about the interference between life and the camera's 24fps
documentation. The presence of water reflects time, eternally in motion, and mirrors the ebb of
tides as a central metaphor to this sensuous story of one woman's voyage to Italy.

Death of the Moth (2003) BluRay, 14 minutes

It is based on the symbol of the “moth”, which not unlike Icarus is a frivolous creature that is drawn
towards the light, but will inevitably burns its wings and fall. Death of the Moth is a visual and aural
meditation on mankind's "falling from grace" and his out-of-balance relationship with nature. It
was made in the wake of the US bombing in Afghanistan, and premiered on the day the bombing
began in Iraq. The piece is built upon on a central metaphor of a falling figure, which falls through
a vertigo-like madness, lands and dies, to be reborn out of the decay.

Into the Scrum (2012), BluRay, 19 minutes

A film about women’s rugby—and is a physical and psychological portrait of a group of young
women as they explore newfound, often provocative, roles and rituals of power, aggression, and
sexual identity in such an extreme sport. I shot the players both on and off the field in a first-person
perspective on 16mm film and DVCAM, a body-cam and use extensive hand-painted animation to
increase the gestural movement in the piece. The film reaches the root of rugby’s fierce poetry as it
reveals the physical, emotional, and psychological contours of these young women’s personal and
shared towards the adulthood.

BLUE DESERT ~ Towards Antarctica, (2010) BluRay, 16 minutes –FRONT VIEW

Directed Rian Brown and Geoff Pingree and with sound by Peter V. Swendsen
A multi-channel video installation projected onto the gallery’s walls and accompanied by an original
soundtrack, BLUE DESERT surrounds the observer with spectacular views of Antarctica’s vast,
haunting, and fragile landscape. More akin to a moving painting or chapel of frescos than to a nature
documentary, the project builds a dramatic environment that encourages audiences to contemplate
and meditate upon the fleeting light, grand scale, and striking majesty of this distant and largely
uninhabited part of the earth. While any depiction of the Antarctic is, in some sense, futile — an
attempt to represent the unrepresentable — BLUE DESERT, shot during a three week expedition
to Antarctica using high-resolution cameras and audio equipment, offers one rendering of a world
that is at once overwhelming and alien, deeply felt and unfathomable, immediate and unreachable.

The Foreigner’s Home – (2014) Work in Progress, 20 minutes

Directed Rian Brown and Geoff Pingree
A documentary film that explores the world and work of Toni Morrison through
“The Foreigner’s Home”, the 2006 exhibition she guest-curated at the Louvre. In the Paris
exhibition, Morrison drew connections among diverse figures, works, and events – from painter
Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa to filmmaker Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, from jazz
to hip-hop, from the U.S. Civil Rights movement to Hurricane Katrina – to conjure a shareable
world whose well being depends on the never-ending public conversation that is art. This
documentary, directed and produced by Geoff Pingree and Rian Brown and executive produced by
Jonathan Demme, extends that vision. Using extensive visual material on critical topics and events
in the American – and especially African-American – experience, the film will further illuminate
the ongoing human struggle for liberation, identity, and community to which this unique artist and
thinker in “The Foreigner’s Home” and in her larger body of writing.
Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Rian Brown is a
filmmaker, video artist, and Associate Professor
of Cinema Studies and New Media at Oberlin
College. She grew up in a family of artists and
as a child lived in many different parts of the
U.S., studied art at the Massachusetts College
of Art and received her Masters of Fine Arts in
film from the University of California, San
Diego. Brown’s work spans a variety of film
genres – including experimental, personal
narrative, documentary and video installation –
and explores notions of motherhood, identity,
landscape, memory, and nostalgia in both narrative structure and visual style.
Reflecting Brown’s background in painting, her films also deploy rich, visually
dynamic imagery, hand-painted animation, and experimental techniques. Presence
of Water, a short 16 mm film Brown shot in Northern Italy, is a visual diary and
memory of the last few months of pregnancy that has shown widely in festivals,
including the Independent Film Channel, the New York Shorts Festival, the Ann Arbor
Film Festival, the Nashville International Film Festival, and the Women in the Director's
Chair. Recently she completed Into the Scrum, a short documentary that takes an
intimate look at the complex and physical world of women’s rugby that has
shown at The Portland International Women’s Film Festival, and won a prize at the
Athens International Film Festival. In 2009 she travelled to Antarctica with
filmmaker and frequent collaborator Geoff Pingree to film BLUE DESERT ~
Towards Antarctica, a multi-channel video installation that premiered at Boston’s
Laconia Gallery and has since shown at Oberlin’s Baron Gallery and Cleveland’s
Ingenuity Festival. Her work has shown around the world at film festivals and
museums including the The Wexner Art Center, L.A. Hammer Museum of Art, the
Harvard Film Archive, Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, The Allen Art
Museum and the Milano-Athenia in Athens. Brown was an artist in resident at the
Headlands Center of the Arts, and in 2011 she was awarded an Ohio Arts
Council Individual Excellence Award. With Pingree she also founded and directs
the Apollo Outreach Initiative, a media education and community outreach
program housed in Oberlin’s historic Apollo Theater. She is currently codirecting
a documentary film with Pingree about the Nobel Prize winning
author, Toni Morrison called The Foreigner’s Home which will be completed in
2014. She lives in Oberlin Ohio with her husband and two sons.