Friday, June 2 at 8 PM
The Native and the Refugee is a multimedia research project that investigates the space of Native reservations in the United States and Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East. In connecting these two spaces and their struggles, the goals of the project are then to understand the centrality of the question of land and territory for any conception of autonomy; to look at the camp as an “extra-national” space with all the contradictions entailed and to meet with those getting organized politically in these places, and to understand their communal concerns.
The project has included within it many different practices including essay, short film, interview and photography. However the main thread of practice has been the organization of screenings as an artistic and political act in itself. This entails the usage of short films as pieces of a larger presentation (that may or may not include guest speakers) and as facilitators for a larger group discussion. This approach came out of our involvement with radical film collective Red Channels where a lot of experimentation in film exhibition was undertaken including the screening of day-long features, the organization of extensive audience discussions and the presentation of research in audio-visual format.
The notion of linking the Native reservation with the Palestinian refugee camp is not just a description of the content of a feature documentary but a platform or project that film or video then helps to create. Access to the Native reservations in particular was predicated on the provision of an opportunity to forge a connection between Palestinian and Native struggles as well as on a two-way transmission of knowledge between both sites. When the first two shorts that we shot on reservations were made (We Love Being Lakota, The Way of the Longhouse) they were made with the explicit aim of being shown in the refugee camps we were going to be shooting in next and indeed the films we shot were screened to the Jordanian ( Palestinian) Women’s Union in Amman and at the Jenin Freedom Theater in Jenin refugee camp. Later work shot in the camps was shown in Pine Ridge Reservation and on Akwesasne, and work from both camp and reservation was later exhibited at the Bourj al Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut and Beddawi refugee camp in Tripoli in northern Lebanon. Two of the more interesting and radical presentations undertaken were in the Kurdish territory of Rojava in northeastern Syria which included a presentation at the Film Commune of Rojava and a masterclass at the Mesopotamia Academy (a boarding school there that specializes in philosophy). On an aesthetic level the films have sought to deploy a number of visual strategies to reflect the spatial and sensory qualities of the spaces in question as well as interrogate how the political legacies and present day realities reflect themselves in such experiential details.
This screening is the kick-off event for ACTION! Cinema as Sanctuary, a free summer series presenting political documentary films and workshops. ACTION! is made possible by support from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Doors 7:30 pm. FREE!
Indian Winter (2017), 26 mins
History of the Camp (2015), 10 mins
We Love Being Lakota (2015), 12 mins
Matt Peterson’s films and videos have screened at Anthology Film Archives, Eyebeam, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, International House Philadelphia, Millennium Film Workshop, MoMA PS1, and at scattered microcinemas and universities across North America and Europe. In 2014 he completed feature film on the Tunisian insurrection, Scenes from a Revolt Sustained, with a production grant from the Doha Film Institute. His writings on film have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Death+Taxes, Evergreen Review, Idiom, The L, and New York Press. He co-edited, with Barney Rosset & Ed Halter, From the Third Eye: The Evergreen Review Film Reader (Seven Stories Press, 2015). He was a member of the collectives Red Channels and the 16 Beaver Group, and is currently part of a commune in New York called Woodbine.
Malek Rasamny is a researcher and artist based in both New York and Beirut. He’s worked at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, New York, and was a founding member of the Red Channels film collective, the Ground Floor Collective, and the LERFE space in Harlem, where he collaborated with New York based artists at the intersection of urban youth culture, transnational activism, and collective experimentation. His writings on film have been featured in the Daily Star, the largest English language daily newspaper in the Middle East, and he was interviewed by the Canadian arts magazine FUSE about his work in Red Channels.
ACTION! Cinema as Sanctuary
Political documentary films take on a renewed role amid a reinvigorated rage against immigrants, refugees, and people of color in many places around the world. Through politically engaged cinematic work, many filmmakers are confronting old and new forms of racism, the deepening ungrievability of Black and Brown lives, and precarious realities faced by minority communities including indigenous peoples, the elderly, refugees, women and children. ACTION! series: Cinema as Sanctuary features political documentary films that re-assert the images and stories that remind us that a compassionate world rooted upon solidarity, friendship, and collective action is possible.
Curated by Nerve Macaspac of the Echo Park Film Center (EPFC), with special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
All screenings and workshops are free.