16th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival

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Online from Thursday 17 September to Sunday 11 October 2020, all access digital Festival passes cost £7.50. Be sure to check the Festival’s evolving calendar of live-streamed free access events, podcasts and essays.

Rock Bottom Riser: Work in Progress

Available online

17 September – 11 October, 2020

This programme contains 2 films.

In this Programme:

Rock Bottom Riser: Work in Progress

(Fern Silva, 2021, 72 mins)

The Watchmen

(Fern Silva, 2017, 11 mins)

Rock Bottom Riser: Work in Progress

(2021, 72 mins)

As part of the inaugural edition of BFMAF’s Previews strand, we will speak with artist–filmmaker Fern Silva about his feature debut Rock Bottom Riser, to be released in 2021. This upcoming film arrives on the heels of a decade-plus of widely-exhibited and critically-praised short form filmmaking, extending the depth of Silva’s typically analytical and essayistic focus on a politics of place. The winner of awards from Ann Arbor Film Festival, Curtas Belo Horizonte and 25FPS, Silva’s films have screened in numerous film festivals, cinematheques, museums and in exhibitions including the 2017 Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival.

For over a decade, my art practice has been focused on 16mm filmmaking. I shoot and edit my films in order to engage directly with the environments I cover and the politics surrounding them. Rather than focusing on a single perspective, my films examine the influence of industry on culture and ecology while referencing their various depictions throughout cinema history. They are drawn to subjects that defy national identity while considering methods and strategies associated with established genres and documentary modes, incorporating mythology, phenomena, and historical accounts. Rock Bottom Riser is my first feature and began with my interest in Mauna Kea land preservation, its cultural impact, and the resiliency that has kept it from further desecration. Mauna Kea is a symbol of resistance.

From the earliest voyagers who navigated by starlight to the discovery of habitable planets by astronomers, Rock Bottom Riser examines the all-encompassing encounters of an island world at sea. As lava continues to flow from the earth’s core on the island of Hawaii—posing an imminent danger—a crisis mounts. Astronomers plan to build the world’s largest telescope on Hawaii’s most sacred and revered mountain, Mauna Kea. Based on ancient Polynesian navigation, the arrival of Christian missionaries, and the observatory’s ability to capture the origins of the universe, Rock Bottom Riser surveys the influence of settler colonialism, the search for intelligent life, and the discovery of new worlds as we peer into our own planet’s existence. —Fern Silva

Fern Silva (1982) is an artist and filmmaker who works primarily in 16mm. His films examine the influence of industry on culture and ecology while referencing their various depictions throughout cinematic history. They’ve been presented at festivals, museums, and cinematheques including the Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, Rotterdam, New York, London, and Hong Kong International Film Festivals, Anthology Film Archives, Harvard Film Archive, New Museum (NYC), and MOMA P.S.1 (New York). Silva has previously taught filmmaking at the University of Illinois (Chicago), Bard College (New York) and Bennington College (Vermont).

Filmography

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)

Director

Fern Silva

Production Country

United States

Production Year

2021

Duration

72 mins

Dialogue Language

English

Print Contact

Fern Silva

The Watchmen

(2017, 11 mins)

In The Watchmen, pulsating orbs, panopticons, roadside rest stops, and subterranean labyrinths confront the scope of human consequences and the entanglement of our seeking bodies. Regressions in missing time, caught in the act of captivity, confined to the carceral and perpetuated by movie sets, television sets, and alien encounters at bay. The corporeal cycle of control revolves as steadily as the sight of those who watch from above.

“Rooted in histories of experimental film and ethnography, Fern Silva’s works are sensuous, polyvocal montages of people and places, the natural and unnatural worlds. Silva uses his own field recordings, clips from widely viewed films, and footage from obscure or pedestrian broadcast sources to upend the progressive linearity of conventional storytelling in a move toward narrative disorder; he does this by surfacing various historical moments within more contemporary ones and venturing into narratives of darkness, destruction, and the paranormal. Some of Silva’s films render specific geographical locations as speculative realities, blending fictitious and real aspects of their social and cultural histories, while others are atmospheric and surreal, foregrounding the playfulness and rigour of Silva’s associative strategies.”

— New Museum

In The Watchmen, pulsating orbs, panopticons, roadside rest stops, and subterranean labyrinths confront the scope of human consequences and the entanglement of our seeking bodies. Regressions in missing time, caught in the act of captivity, confined to the carceral and perpetuated by movie sets, television sets, and alien encounters at bay. The corporeal cycle of control revolves as steadily as the sight of those who watch from above.

Director

Fern Silva

UK Premiere

Production Country

United States

Production Year

2017

Duration

11 mins

Print Contact

Fern Silva