A feast of animation at the ICA
Co-curator taps a 'small world' in New England
When the Institute of Contemporary Art opened the doors to its new waterfront home last December, the first event in its swank theater space was a program of short films by New England filmmakers. The first to be screened was a joint project by Cambridge animator Karen Aqua and Joanna Priestley - a Spanish-tinged film named "Andaluz."
Ten months later, Aqua returns to the comfy theater with stadium seats as a co-curator of a program of New England animation, in a show today at 3 p.m.
The work of more than a dozen animators from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont is scheduled, with several premieres: "Line Dance," by David Ehrlich; "Einstein's Riddle," by Gina Kamentsky; "The Windmill," by Daniel Sousa; "The Beatbox Bastard on a Date," by Joel Frenzer; and "Sensorium," by Aqua herself. That work, she says, is her first totally abstract film and a collaboration with her husband, Ken Field, a composer and musician.
"I asked all my New England friends and colleagues who do animation - it's a relatively small world - if they had any new or recent films to show," says Aqua. "I really bugged a few people who have been working on new projects to try to finish them." Some of the works are dark, others funny, others abstract, she says. "It's a testament to how good the work can be around here."
ICA director of film and video Branka Bogdanov says the collection runs the gamut from puppet animation, hand-painted and hand-drawn animation, and stop-motion animation to pixilated live action and digitally animated typography.
A film by Max Coniglio, who died earlier this year, is part of the program. Other filmmakers in the show are Steven Subotnick, Steve Gentile, Luke Jaeger, Ruth Lingford, Chip Moore, Tim Szetela, and Agnieszka Woznicka. Subotnick will give the introduction.
ICA information is available from 617-478-3103 and icaboston .org.
NOHO FILM FEST: The Northampton Independent Film Festival opens on Friday with "The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED," a look at the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. The invite-only gathering brings together thinkers as disparate as Al Gore, anthropologist Jane Goodall, and actress Julia Sweeney to talk about questions such as "Who Are We?" and "What Are the Most Gorgeous New Things Being Created in Our World?"
Festival director Jeffrey Dreisbach writes in the program that "although it is somewhat unusual to show a documentary for a festival opening, the message is one of hope and awe - and one that resonated so profoundly that we received former area resident and film producer Steven Latham's permission to use the title for our theme this year." Latham, who "premiered" the movie on
The film festival is in its 13th year and takes place over five days: Friday, Saturday, and next Sunday, and the following Friday and Saturday.
More than 130 features and shorts are scheduled, including "Honeydripper," a new work by writer/director John Sayles starring Danny Glover as the owner of a juke joint in Alabama in the 1950s and newcomer Gary Clark Jr. as the talent who shows up with a guitar (Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.). There's a concert by John Sebastian and Ernie and the Automatics on closing night.
The festival is held at venues throughout the city and on the campus of Smith College. A 60-page pdf of the full schedule is online at niff.org, or call 413-582-1832.
ELLIS ISLAND REVISITED: Brookline producer and writer Lorie Conway brings her documentary "Forgotten Ellis Island" to the Museum of Fine Arts today at noon. Conway received exclusive access to film at the buildings of the Ellis Island Hospital, the facility that processed millions of immigrants arriving in the United States at the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th. Conway produced the 70-minute documentary and a book of the same name.
Conway wrote and produced "The Incredible Voyage of Bill Pinkney," the story of the first African-American to sail around the world alone, which won a Peabody Award. She also made "Fabulous Fenway," a history of the ballpark.
This new documentary was scheduled to have its world premiere last week at the Great Hall on Ellis Island. In addition to today's show, it will play the Boston Public Library on Dec. 6. The movie's website, forgottenellis island.com, has information about the project as well as a virtual tour of the complex and clips of interviews with people who passed through the hospital's doors.
CONVERSATIONS WITH: Alan Lightman, an adjunct professor at MIT and author of the bestselling novel "Einstein's Dreams," which speculates about the dreams Albert Einstein might have had when he was working on his theory of relativity, will be the guest speaker at a screening of the 2001 Japanese horror film "Pulse" tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. The program is part of the continuing series Science on Screen (617-734-2500 and coolidge.org).
Also tomorrow at 7 p.m., director Lodge Kerrigan will be at the Harvard Film Archive with his 2004 movie "Keane." It stars Damian Lewis as a father looking for his abducted daughter, and Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") as a young girl who lives nearby. Kerrigan is a visiting faculty member at Harvard, and "Keane" was produced by Andrew Fierberg, an associate of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard (617-495-4700 and hcl.harvard.edu/hfa).
SCREENINGS OF NOTE: Jazz pianist and New England Conservatory faculty member Ran Blake has put together a free evening inspired by film noir for Halloween: He and others will play and read as accompaniment to "The Spiral Staircase" on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Jordan Hall (617-585-1122 and www.newenglandconservatory .edu/concerts).
Judy Belushi Pisano will be at the Regent Theatre in Arlington on Friday at 7:30 p.m. to show "Don't Look Back in Anger," a film from 1978 featuring her late husband John Belushi. The short played on "Saturday Night Live" and features Belushi as an old man visiting the graves of other "SNL" cast members. The evening is a celebration of John Belushi and a fund-raising event for the Arlington agency Right Turn, which helps musicians and other artists in recovery from addiction (781-646-3800 and right-turn .org).
And pianist Martin Marks, a lecturer in music and theater arts at MIT, will accompany a collection of silent travel films called "The Open Road" on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at the MFA. The shorts, made by Claude Friese-Greene in 1924 during a road trip in Great Britain from Land's End in the southwest of England to the upper northeast corner of Scotland, were recently restored by the British Film Institute (617-267-9300 and mfa.org/film).
Leslie Brokaw can be reached at email@example.com.