The “Radical Nonfiction: Fantasy, Observation and Elasticity in the Documentary Film” series kicks off with a screening of Robert Greene’s film Bisbee ’17. Set in Bisbee, Arizona, an eccentric old mining town, the film combines collaborative documentary, western and musical elements to follow several members of the close-knit community as they attempt to reckon with their town’s darkest hour. In 1917, nearly 2,000 immigrant miners, on strike for better wages and safer working conditions, were violently rounded up by their armed neighbors, herded onto cattle cars, shipped to the middle of the New Mexican desert, and left there to die, known as the Bisbee Deportation. The film documents locals as they play characters and stage dramatic scenes from the controversial story, culminating in a large-scale recreation of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary. Followed by clips from some of Greene’s other films and a conversation with Greene and Vox critic Alissa Wilkinson.
ABOUT THE FILM SERIES
Fantasy, Observation and Elasticity in the Documentary Form
Programmed by ROBERT GREENE
Documentary film is full of contradictions; the staged meets the observed, intervention meets the authentic. Documentary film uses observation to show us the world we inhabit, but nonfiction images are also records of the fantasies of both filmmakers and subjects. What we believe, how we subjectively formulate our experiences — the fantasy of our own realties— can be captured and magnified by the camera and how we edit images together. This is documentary: an elastic, ever-changing attempt at working with the world as it is and as we hope it be. RADICAL NONFICTION is a series put together by filmmaker Robert Greene to take the current pulse of this ever-changing form. The images of RaMell Ross use legacies of racial objectification to create new ways of seeing. Zia Anger takes the role of the filmmaker playing herself to new heights of immediacy. Lawrence Abu Hamdan uses sound and precise performances to electrify his political interventions. Meanwhile, Garrett Bradley has found a language all her own, mixing performance, history, journalism and the gallery space to challenge modes of representation in exciting ways. Films by these innovators (and a look at Greene’s own work) serve as a temperature check for this enduringly exciting cinematic form.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
ALISSA WILKINSON joined Vox in 2016 as a staff writer and film critic. Before Vox, she spent a decade writing criticism and essays for a wide variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Christianity Today, and many more. Alissa has also appeared as a commentator on many radio and TV programs, and served on documentary juries at Sundance, Sheffield Doc/Fest, DOC|NYC, and the Hamptons Film Festival.
Alissa is an associate professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in Manhattan, where she teaches criticism, film studies, and cultural theory. She is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and was a ‘17-18 writing fellow with the Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction Program.
ROBERT GREENE’s latest film BISBEE ’17 (2018) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and screened on POV on PBS. His previous film KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE (2016) won a Jury Award for Writing at Sundance. Robert’s documentaries include the Gotham Awards-nominated ACTRESS (2014), FAKE IT SO REAL (2011) and the Gotham Awards-nominated KATI WITH AN I (2010). Robert was an inaugural Sundance Art of Nonfiction fellow in 2015, is a three-time nominee for Best Director at the Cinema Eye Honors and received the 2014 Vanguard Artist Award from the San Francisco DocFest. His first documentary, OWNING THE WEATHER (2009), was screened at the COP15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Robert has edited over a dozen features, including HER SMELL (2018), GOLDEN EXITS (2017), QUEEN OF EARTH (2015) and LISTEN UP PHILIP (2014) by Alex Ross Perry, Amanda Rose Wilder’s award winning APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT (2014), Charles Poekel’s Spirit Awards-nominated CHRISTMAS, AGAIN (2015) and Douglas Tirola’s HEY BARTENDER (2013). He has been a Sundance Edit Lab Advisor and was on the U.S. Documentary Jury for Sundance 2017. Robert writes for outlets such as Sight & Sound and Indiewire and serves as the Filmmaker-in-Chief for the Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri.
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