December 4, 2020

From Afar film festival

Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

Roland Dahwen, Borrufa (still), 2020. Courtesy of Patuá Films.

The Cooley Gallery, Reed College is pleased to present From Afar, a weeklong film festival organized by Roland Dahwen—artist, filmmaker, and the Cooley’s Artist-in-Residence during the 2020–21 academic year.

From Afar presents films that, in Dahwen’s words, “vacillate between nonfiction and fiction, defying easy classification, and showing us what we’ve always known: that our rehearsals, our theaters, our fictions, and our imaginaries, are also inherent layers of our realities. The films are specific and individual, at times overt, and more often latent and elusive; they are focused, in unique ways, on personal dignity.” Dahwen explores each film in a series of accompanying essays, available online through the Film Forum website beginning December 10, 2020.

Through a special collaboration with Northwest Film Forum, Seattle, all five films in From Afar will be screened on demand and free of charge with a pass from NW Film Forum via the link above.

Soleil Ô (1970) by Med Hondo (102 minutes) / Atlantiques (2009, 15 minutes) and Big in Vietnam (2012, 28 minutes) by Mati Diop / Worldly Desires (2005) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (42 minutes) / Borrufa (2020) by Roland Dahwen (109 minutes)

Soleil Ô is the masterful first feature by Med Hondo, which played at the 1970 International Critics’ Week at Cannes Film Festival, and won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival. Made over five years in collaboration with the theater group Shango, Hondo’s film follows an idealistic, unnamed protagonist (portrayed by the Guadeloupean actor Robert Liensol) as he emigrates from West Africa to France. Soleil Ô is an incisive attack on obdurate colonial legacies and pervasive racism.

Atlantiques is Mati Diop’s first short film, and a precursor of sorts to her acclaimed debut feature Atlantics (2019). Diop’s short depicts a group of young men as they contemplate leaving Senegal for Europe. Big in Vietnam follows a French-Vietnamese director, as she leaves the set of a film production to walk through the city of Marseilles. Both films are eloquent and subtle reflections on memory and migration.

Worldly Desires is a short film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, depicting a film production in the jungle. Commissioned by the Jeonju International Film Festival in 2005, the film shows a couple in their search for a spiritual tree. Worldly Desires is hallucinatory and surprising, like all of Apichatpong’s works.

Borrufa is Roland Dahwen’s debut feature film, which premiered at the Portland International Film Festival in 2020. Set in Oregon, the film follows an immigrant family that is slowly dissolving, eroded by secrets and revelations. With the slow pace of real-life reflections, Borrufa shows the quiet and impenetrable moments unfolding between unspoken dramas.

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery was established in 1988 by a generous endowment from Sue and Edward Cooley and John and Betty Gray. The mission of the Cooley is to enrich the artistic, intellectual, and academic life of Reed College, and the surrounding region, through a diverse range of visual-art exhibitions, symposia, publications, and creative partnerships. To this end, the Cooley works with Portland Public School teachers and students, both at Reed and in PPS classrooms. In 2011, the Cooley reintroduced the study of calligraphy and paleography to Reed through the Calligraphy Initiative in Honor of Lloyd J. Reynolds.

Northwest Film Forum was founded in Seattle in 1995 as an independent film and arts nonprofit, Northwest Film Forum incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences. Each year the Forum presents hundreds of films, festivals, community events, multidisciplinary performances, and public discussions. As a comprehensive visual media organization, the Forum offers educational workshops and artist services for film and media makers at all stages of their development.

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