Jun 19, 2008

Orphans 6/Flaherty 54

The 54th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar begins this weekend. I'll be there for the whole week, watching dozens of films whose titles are completely unknown to attendees. The dawn-to-midnight pace of the Flaherty and the refectory-style learning have influenced the shape and tone of the Orphan Film Symposium since its inception. And there's now lots of cross-over attendance. Filmmaker Bill Brand (BB Optics and Hampshire College), Elaine Charnov (the Mead Festival/AMNH), and Ariella Ben-Dov (MADCAT Women's Int'l Film Festival), for example, all attended Orphans 6 and now we are driving up to Colgate U. together for the seminar.

Chi-hui Yang (SF Int'l Asian American Film Festival) is curating "The Age of Migration."

Last year I saw only a single film at the Flaherty that I had previously seen. It's great to be exposed to so much new (to me) work all at once. From what I infer from recent chatter, the Flaherty might also be hosting some of the guest artists who brightened Orphans 6.

There are some other nice serendipitous connections between the venerated Flaherty Seminar and the upstart Orphans. Yvonne Ng, new graduate of the NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, did her thesis on the large collection of audio recordings of 50+ years of the seminar. You'll be able to read it soon, online at the NYU MIAP website. I recommend it.

Two staffers who help International Film Seminars executive director Mary Kerr organize the Flaherty are orphanistas. Tori Wunsch is at IFS full time since getting an M.A. in Cinema Studies at NYU. Laura Major, who also worked on the 2007 Flaherty, was a very helpful co-producer of the 2006 Orphan Film Symposium in South Carolina. Now she's working an MLIS degree at USC and returning to help run the Flaherty this year.

So it's a good interrelationship, this Flaherty-Orphans thing. Both are intensive experiences that have their devotees and regulars. "Content is king" at both, meaning people come for the viewing.