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Fern Silva

Fern Silva (1982) is an artist and filmmaker who works primarily in 16mm. He studied film at the Massachusetts College of Art and Bard College and is a fellow at the Film Study Center at Harvard University. His early films centered on his relationship to Portugal and have since expanded, underlining the influence of industry on culture and the environment. For over a decade, his 16mm films have been screened widely in festivals, museums, and cinematheques including the Media City, Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, Rotterdam, New York, London, Melbourne, and Hong Kong International Film Festivals, MOMA PS1, Anthology Film Archive, and the Harvard Film Archive. He’s taught filmmaking at various institutions including the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bard College, and Bennington College. Silva’s short film The Watchmen was presented at BFMAF 2017 and his film Rock Bottom Riser, as a work in progress debut feature, was part of BFMAF’s 2020 inaugural Previews programme, newly renamed for BFMAF 2021 as our Work in Progress strand.


Rock Bottom Riser (2021), The Watchmen (2017), Ride Light Lightning, Crash Like Thunder (2017), Scales in the Spectrum of Space (2015), Wayward Fronds (2014), Tender Feet (2013), Concrete Parlay (2012), Passage Upon the Plume (2011), Peril of the Antilles (2011), In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails (2010), Servants of Mercy (2010), Sahara Mosaic (2009) After Marks (2008), Spinners (2008), Notes from a Bastard Child (2007)

11 September 2021

Rock Bottom Riser is an immersive, exploratory and deeply inquisitive study of an island world at sea. The film fashions a layered and heterogeneous portrait of Hawaii through its cosmogony, its uncertain future and the scattered lens of the present. Through a combination of research, observation of the islands’ landscape and conversation with many different people who call it home, artist-filmmaker Fern Silva highlights the complexity and contradictions of a place which can be understood as beautiful and serene but also under constant existential threat.



Run Time

70 mins


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