17th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival

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9 – 12 September 2021

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Thanks to all who have entered films to this autumn’s festival. We will let you know about the selection status of your film by the 9th of August.

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

From the earliest Polynesian voyagers who navigated by starlight to the discovery of habitable planets by astronomers, Rock Bottom Riser examines the all-encompassing encounters of a 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. Referencing Hawaiian creation chants, the arrival of Christian missionaries, and the observatory’s ability to capture the origins of the universe, Rock Bottom Riser looks through a lens onto the influence of settler colonialism, the search for intelligent life, and the exploration of new worlds as we peer into our own planet’s existence.

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’s artistic practice has been focused on cinema, primarily in 16mm. His films consider methods and strategies associated with established genres and documentary modes. Rather than focusing on a single perspective, 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 (NYC). They’ve been featured in publications including Film Comment, Cinema Scope, and Filmmaker Magazine. He’s taught filmmaking at institutions including, the University of Illinois Chicago, Bard College, and Bennington College and has received support from the Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, MacDowell, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Filmography

Rock Bottom Riser | release date 2021 72mins.

The Watchmen | 2017 10mins.

Ride Light Lightning, Crash Like Thunder | 2017 8.5mins.

Scales in the Spectrum of Space | 2015 7mins.

Wayward Fronds | 2014 13mins.

Tender Feet | 2013 10mins.

Concrete Parlay | 2012 18mins.

Passage Upon the Plume | 2011 6.45mins.

Peril of the Antilles | 2011 5.45mins.

In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails | 2010 13mins.

Servants of Mercy | 2010 14mins.

Sahara Mosaic | 2009 10mins.

After Marks | 2008 7mins.

Spinners | 2008 7mins.

Notes from a Bastard Child | 2007 9mins.

Director

Fern Silva

Production Country

United States

Production Year

2021

Duration

72 mins

Dialogue Language

English

Print Contact

Fern Silva

The Watchmen

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.

Fern Silva (b. 1982, USA/Portugal) is an artist who primarily works in 16mm. His films consider methods of narrative, ethnographic, and documentary filmmaking as the starting point for structural experimentation. He has created a body of film, video, and projection work that has been screened and performed at various festivals, galleries, museums and cinematheques. He studied art and cinema at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. He is Visiting Faculty at Bennington College and is based in New York.

Filmography

THE WATCHMEN (2017), Ride Like 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

UK Premiere

Production Country

United States

Production Year

2017

Duration

11 mins

Print Contact

Fern Silva