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Cinema

Three Poems by Khashayar Mohammadi

Its All Greek to me

For B. D. M.

“The embrace of men”
I say
and you pirouette
behind the cash register
a new found bond at work

Continue reading “Three Poems by Khashayar Mohammadi”
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An excerpt from Fields of Violence by Julia Madsen

From FIELDS OF VIOLENCE: A TRANSCRIPT OF A DOCUMENTARY ON THE ONGOING FARM CRISIS

FOREWORD

The necrotic underside of the history of the Farm Crisis lives on in the Heartland and in the mind of the landscape, whose pulsating synapses and rhizomes absorb nitrogen nourished by the prairie soil under the watchful eye of high harvest––a time of year of reaping that steals as much as it proffers, withholding the promise of a dream that never existed but did, at one time, grow faith. In another existence. Somewhere between the dream and the dead, blood red tinges the borders of everything. A woman and a man put their hands together like arrows pointed up toward some augury that will never come and when it doesn’t, they forgive the augur. Why? Continue reading “An excerpt from Fields of Violence by Julia Madsen”

Cinematic Shadows: Fragments on Two Films by Bill Morrison

The Mesmerist (2003)

I used to think that art was eternal, that being an artist made you immortal. But I’ve come to realize that who and what gets remembered is often haphazard. Books are forgotten. Film reels are destroyed. So little survives.

James Young directed a 1926 silent film called The Bells, starring Lionel Barrymore and Boris Karloff. In 2003, Bill Morrison reconstructed a surviving nitrate print of the movie into a new short film, adding a soundtrack by Bill Frisell. The print is damaged, creating a fascinating distortion of the images. Faces blur. Splotches dominate many of the scenes, though there is still a story that you can follow. Morrison calls his film a “revision” of Young’s original.

In Morrison’s film, Lionel Barrymore plays a character who, on Christmas,  kills a Jewish man for his money. Boris Karloff is a mesmerist who tries to get Barrymore to confess his grisly crime. Morrison destabilizes the narrative by editing Young’s original scenes together in a way that suggests that much of what we are seeing is a dream. By the end of the film, we don’t know what is real and what is not.

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Updates…

Coming soon for 2018 on BHP – guest editors/open submission calls/and books books books…

Submissions open – 1st Edition of The Arsonist Magazine

SUBMISSIONS FOR THE 1ST EDITION OF THE ARSONIST MAGAZINE NOW OPEN – SEND US YOUR BEST – CANT WAIT TO SEE WHAT YOU MADE X

On Chantal Akerman’s South

 

How does the southern silence become so heavy and so menacing so suddenly? How do the trees and the whole natural environment evoke so intensely death, blood, and the weight of history? How does the present call up the past? And how does this past, with a mere gesture or a simple regard, haunt and torment you as you wander along an empty cotton field, or a dusty country road?

Chantal Akerman

In his seminal book, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body–it is heritage.” The 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. confirms Coates’s words. Byrd was attacked by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas. They beat him, urinated on him, and then tied his body to the back of their truck and dragged him several miles down an isolated road. Over the course of the drive, Byrd’s body was literally torn apart; pieces of flesh and body parts, including Byrd’s head and arm, were strewn along the road. The three men finally dumped what was left of Byrd’s body at a black church. The murder sparked national outrage and condemnation. All three killers were convicted. Two of the perpetrators remain alive, while one was executed in 2011.

Around the time of the murder, Chantal Akerman planned to make a documentary about the American South. She admired the work of William Faulkner and wanted to explore the region. However, when Byrd was murdered, her attention immediately shifted and she chose to focus on his death. The subsequent documentary she made was called Sud (South).

Continue reading “On Chantal Akerman’s South

An Interview with Heidi Saman

By chance, I met Heidi Saman on tumblr, where she curates an excellent blog about cinema. Along with working as an associate producer for NPR’s Fresh Air, Saman is also a gifted filmmaker, who just premiered her first feature film, Namour, at the LA Film Festival to rave reviews. Namour explores the existential crisis of an Arab American man working as a valet driver in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. Saman was kind enough to take time out of her hectic schedule of promoting Namour to answer some of my questions. Our conversation touches on various subjects, including racism in Hollywood and Saman’s cinematic inspirations.

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