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MoMA's Documentary Fortnight 2012

The Museum of Modern Art's Documentaries Festival


Established in 2001, Documentary Fortnight is MoMA's annual two-week showcase of international nonfiction film and media. It takes place each February. The film selection includes features and shorts, covering a wide range of categories, broadening notions about the documentary form, examining relationships between contemporary art and nonfiction filmmaking, and reflecting on new areas of nonfiction practice.

The 2012 festival includes a retrospective of works from Paper Tiger Television's 30 years of media activism, and a seminar on emergent forms of interactive narrative and nonlinear filmmaking that draw upon computer and Web-based media.

The majority of films in the festival are premieres, and filmmakers are present at most screenings. For the 2010 Documentary Fortnight calendar, visit the MoMA Website.

Films in the 2012 Program:

  • Abendland - Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria, 2010 - Geyrhalter interweaves footage shot in 10 countries over 14 months to show how people's lives are effected by technology, which is shown to be an empowering, unifying, and alienating force.
  • Aita - Directed by José María de Orbe, Spain, 2010 - Set in a "haunted" mansion in northern Spain, the film follows two caretakers who are determined to preserve the building and its history. By day, they give tours to local school kids and by night they deal with the memories and mysteries that reside in the house.
  • Argentinian Lesson - Directed by Wojciech Staron, Poland/Argentina, 2011 - The filmmaker documents his son Janek's adjustment to the family's move from Poland to Argentina, where the boy must learn a new language and adapt to a new way of life, while he is experiencing the wonderment and angst of adolescence.
  • The Average of the Average - Directed by Michael Madsen, Denmark, 2011 - In Denmark's first 3-D documentary, Madsen (Into Eternity) presents a profile of life in Middlefart, an ordinary town, where ordinary things happen.
  • Byun, Objet Trouvé - Directed by Marie Losier, USA, 2011 - A short about mixed-media artist Chong Gon Byun, who creates surrealist sculptures made up of found objects.
  • Elizabeth and Mary - Directed by D. A. Pennebaker, USA, 1965 - An American master of direct cinema profiles twin sisters, one of whom is blind and the other partially sighted.
  • El Field - Directed by Daniel Rosas, Mexico/USA, 2011 - An investigation of the lives of migrant workers who legally cross the border between Mexico and the US every day to work in the fields, picking crops so they can support their families back home.
  • El Lugar más pequeño (The Tiniest Place) - Directed by Tatiana Huezo Sanchez, Mexico, 2011 - The village of Cinquera, in the jungles of El Salvador, was razed by the brutal National Guard during the Civil War of 1980-92. In the years of peace that followed, surviving residents returned to start anew. Their harrowing memories resound over breathtaking images of the reborn village, providing remarkable insight into a community's triumph over unspeakable tragedy.
  • Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigríður Níelsdóttir - Directed by Orri Jónsson, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Iceland, 2011 - A chronicle of the remarkable career of Sigríður Níelsdóttir, who began her musical career when she was 70 years old and in seven years produced 59 albums and a catalog of over 600 songs, using a lo-fi production process with an electronic keyboard and kitchen-based sound effects.
  • Gravity Hill Newsreels Nos. 2 and 3 - Directed by Jem Cohen, USA, 2011 - A compilation of short takes on the events of Occupy Wall Street
  • The Great Northwest - Directed by Matt McCormick, USA, 2012 - The Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker recreates a road trip that four Seattle women took in 1958, showing how the Pacific Northwest has changed over the past helf century.
  • The Ground We Stand On - Directed by Julie Orser and Jon Irving, USA, 2011 - This documentary short follows a Los Angeles family who've lost their home, as they try time and again to find a new place to settle.
  • Imagining Emanuel - Directed by Thomas Ostbye, Norway, 2011 - The film follows Emanuel, who claims to have arrived in Norway as a stow away on a boat from Liberia, and attempts to prove who he is to authorities who have no knowledge of him except his own explanation of who he is. The film is a study about identity and how we determine it.
  • Marija's Own - Directed by Željka Suková, Croatia, 2011 - The filmmaker pays tribute to her grandmother, Marija, whose funeral was interrupted by a storm. Six years later, she and her cousins (one of whom is played by an actress) invite Marija's elderly friends to attant an elaborate dinner party the stage to celebrate the dear, departed Marija.
  • Nainsukh - Directed by Amit Dutta, India, 2010 - Life in 18th Century India is evoked in this film that focuses on the life of Nainsukh, a famous painter from northern India, who worked in the naturalist Mughal style. As a master of the art form, Nainsukh depicted the formalities of court life and the more ordinary moments of daily life. The director uses reenactments of 18th-century life in India in juxtaposition with Nainsukh's paintings.
  • Polvo (Dust) - Directed by Angela Reginato, Mexico, 2011 - Composed of Super 8 home movies and other rare footage, the short film chronicles the disappearance of a French woman's son and husband from Mexico City during the late 1970s.
  • Rouge Parole - Directed by Elyes Baccar, Switzerland/Tunisia, 2011 - On December 17, 2011, a young man set himself on fire to protest oppression in Tunisia, and inages of his charred body ignited a popular revolution. The film chronicles Tunisia's Arab Spring.
  • Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis - Directed by Roddy Bogawa, USA, 2011 - This entertaining profile of the career of Storm Thorgerson, the artist who designed numerous iconic record album covers for top rock bands, including Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and Genesis, among others, includes lengthy interviews with Thorgerson, as well as with many rock stars.
  • Ukrainian Time Machine: Kalendar - Directed by Naomi Uman, Ukraine/USA, 2008 - A short in which the filmmaker uses snapshots to explore the meaning of each month in the Ukrainian calendar.
  • Ukrainian Time Machine: Video Diary 2-1-2006 to the Present - Directed by Naomi Uman, Ukraine/USA, 2011 - The filmmaker returns to the Ukraine, where her great-grandparents had lived a century ago, and used a video camera to document her personal experiences of discovering her roots and reflecting on her life, in a video diary that covered the period from 2006 (when she shot Kalendar (referenced above) to the present.
  • United in Anger: A History of ACT UP - Directed by Jim Hubbard, USA, 2012 - A feature length documentary that focuses on ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) from a historical perspective, recounting how a small group of men and women banned together in affinity groups, harnessing their grief and courage, to save each other's lives by staging demonstrations and other actions, including civil disobedience, that forced the U.S. government and mainstream media to respond to the AIDS crisis.
  • Ivan & Ivana - Directed by Jeff Silva, USA, 2011 - As a sollow up to his first film, Balkan Rapsodies, about the crisis in Kosovo, filmmaker Jeff Silva follows his lead characters, Ivan and Ivana, from Serbia to their new life in suburban California, where they are in debt and seem to be being suffocated by the American dream.
  • ¡Vivan las Antipodas! - Directed by Victor Kossakovsky, Germany/Argentina/Netherlands/Chile, 2011 - In this fascinating study of global opposites, the filmmaker travels with his camera to locales that are as far away as they can be on the Earth's surface, including Rios, Argentina, and Shanghai, China; Russia's Lake Baikal and Patagonia in Chile; Miraflores, Spain, and the beach at Castle Point, New Zealand.
  • When the Bough Breaks - Directed by Ji Dan, China, 2011 - A study about two girls growing up in an improverished family on the outskirts of Beijing. They are determined to continue their education in order to assure themselves a better future, but they must stand up against their conservative parents in order to do so.
  • Wildness - Directed by Wu Tsang, USA, 2012 - In East Los Angeles, at the Silver Platter, a LGBT-friendly bar, a group of young queer artists of color stage a weekly performance art party that clashes with the cultural comforts of the Latin immigrant community that have frequented the bar since 1963.
  • Without Gorky - Directed by Cosima Spender, Great Britain, 2011 - Expressionist painter Arshile Gorky's granddaughter interviews her grandmother, mother and an aunt to find out about her famous grandfather's life and the woes that plagued him throughout his life, and especially preceding his suicide in July of 1948.

Paper Tiger Television

  • Paper Tiger Television 1 (of 3): Designs For a Rrradical New Media - In early February 2012, The PTTV video collective, working with The New School's Vera List Center for Art and Politics, hosted "Being the Media: Designing a New Rrradical Media," a conference about the themes of media justice at the core of Paper Tiger's work. Participants created radical new media prototypes, presented bu the presented at MoMA's Documentaries Fortnight by the participants.
  • Infiltrating the Underground - 2008 - Author/activist Anne Elizabeth Moore looks at corporations' attempts to co-opt the styles of alternative culture.
  • Paper Tiger Television 2 (of 3): Reading the Newspaper and Reality Television
  • Sunday Times - 1981 - Noted American media critic and scholar Herb Schiller dissects The New York Times in this PPTV show.
  • Reality Unreeled: The Really Real Unreal Reality of Real Reality TV - 2010 - Media critic Jennifer L. Pozner explores the economic and cultural meaning of reality television through an analysis of shows like Survivor and the genre's use of stereotypes and exploitation.
  • Street Art Take Over - 2010 - Teams of whitewashers and artists transform illegal billboards in Manhattan from street-level advertising to art in the New York Street Art Takeover 2009, organized by Jordan Seiler of Public Ad Campaign.
  • Paper Tiger Television 3 (of 3): Reading Sock Ads and Television News War Coverage: Sock Ads: Judith Williamson Consumes Passionately in Southern California - 1988 - This examination of consumer culture in America, by radical critic Judith Williamson, author of Decoding Advertisements and Consuming Passions, considers how the development and marketing of products in a capitalist system supplants freedom of choice.
  • TV's Gulf War: Bill Nichols Analyzes TV's Coverage of the Gulf War - 1991 - Documentary film professor and media critic Bill Nichols deconstructs the U.S. media's coverage of the first Gulf War to expose how the TV news constructs information, blurring fact and fiction.
  • Thai Worker Collective TV Ad - 2010 - PPTV made this commercial for sweat-free products made in worker-owned production facilities with dignified labor practices in Bangkok.

Other Events

  • An Evening with Phil Collins: (from the catalogue) In his films, photographs, installations, and live events, Phil Collins explores the nuances of social relations in various locations and global communities. He often subverts the conventions of photojournalism to focus on the inherent contradictions of individual and collective systems of representation. Dissecting the political and aesthetic implications of popular visual formats, Collins's works indicate that the meaning of a picture-be it still or moving-resides neither in its form nor in its subject-matter, but rather in the transferences it establishes between the producer, the subject, and the viewer. Throughout, Collins maintains a combination of critical consciousness, immediacy, and the recognition of the camera's ambivalent potential as an agent of both emancipation and exploitation, desire and betrayal. For this Modern Mondays discussion, Collins presents a selection of his works, including how to make a refugee (1999), dunia tak akan mendengar (2007), zašto ne govorim srpski (na srpskom) (2008), use! value! exchange! (2010), and marxism today (prologue) (2010).
  • A Field Guide to the Interactive Documentary: Guided Tour 1: Zach Wise - The State of Storytelling in the Age of Interactivity - Award-winning former New York Times senior multimedia producer Zach Wise provides an illustrated look at the state of the interactive documentary landscape, and the convergence of the nonfiction, journalism, gaming, and art worlds. What new kinds of cross-platform/disciplinary forms are being created? Wise charts recent movements in technology and storytelling with a historical, cross-disciplinary perspective.
  • A Field Guide to the Interactive Documentary: Guided Tour 2: Lauren Cornell and Ingrid Kopp - 10 Interactive Projects You Should Know About - What is on the leading edge of the profusion of creativity, research, and technological development surrounding the new media/interactive world? What projects are changing the way we interface with art and stories? Two of New York's leading minds in the realms of new media art and interactive documentary showcase and discuss innovative projects. Featuring Ingrid Kopp, Tribeca Film Institute New Media Film consultant, and Lauren Cornell, executive director of Rhizome.org.

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