Oct 22, 2007

Sun King

Andrei B. Severny was born in Russia in 1913. According to the New York Times, he was a "leader in Soviet astronomy and an authority on the physics of the sun and the stars". The second Andrei in this story, Mr. Tarkovsky, was born in Russia in 1932. He is remembered as one of the most influential Russian filmmakers of the history. In 1952, Andrei the astronomer won the Stalin Prize for his study of solar flares. In 1972 Andrei the filmmaker made Solaris - the same day I was born. Five years later, in 1977, the third Andrei in this story was born, also in Russia: he is Severny's grandson. Although he had no idea at that time that he could have any kind of relation with his grandfather's solar flares or with Tarkovsky's Solaris, the connections are particularly close.

Andrei Severny, the photographer and filmmaker, spent most of his career in the business world. In 2004 his life changed and he moved from Moscow to New York. This prolific and talented artist who used to take pictures for the world wide renowned Moscow-based magazine Monitor, had also a prolific beginning of his new career with five short films in two years. All of them have different perspectives and tell different stories, but they share something in common: its unique defiant cinematography. Notably influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, and in some way also under the inheritance of Andrei B. Severny, this third man brings textures and moods that automatically make us travel to a new atmosphere, as if we were floating against gravity.

The audience becomes Tom, Tom becomes Andrei, and Andrei depicts a magic tale of astronomy and suspense beyond imagination, crossing limits one more time with his hidden but active camera: third eye; third Andrei. Probably Tom On Mars is his most engaging film, although the experimental way in which he tells the story of Frames, mixing a beautiful 16mm film with the digital "making of" provokes us the need to watch more. Growing and walking on the experimental path we find Ocean Whisper: reality, fiction and metaphors are melted into a very old look and feel; reminiscence of a projector from the childhood, traveling back to a melancholic present. His last but not least film, Disparait, v, are the best example of what mixed media fundamentally tries: it is not about having and mixing, but multiplying different layers. All these sensations invite us to imagine, to reflect about solitude and vanishing into the city movements, and especially to co-create.

From sun flares to other planets, and from past thoughts to present consciousness, I also feel connected to them - actually 2004 was the same year I also switched careers and moved from Buenos Aires to New York. This mystically shared experience make me believe I'm a sun king too. Little Bay Blues cries, probably because it's not a comic anymore. The transformation is a fact, and everybody is naturally scared about the unknown; us and them. The bad thing is that the unknown is unavoidable. The good thing is that in Andrei Severny's hands there is nothing to fear... except about ourselves.

Andrei Severny's filmography:

Little Bay Blues (trailer)
3', 16mm, 2004

Ocean Whisper
5', 16mm, 2004

12', 16mm/digital, 2005

Tom On Mars
7', 16mm, 2005
Writer/Director and Cinematographer

Disparait, v
5', mixed media, 2005
Writer/Director and Cinematographer
Milano Film Festival 2005, Italy (
official selection)

* Picture above copyrighted by Andrei Severny

Oct 17, 2007

Real Mondays at the MoMA

It's Monday and I'm arriving at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I feel similar sensations that I had back in 1999, when I first came to the city and the Museum. Eight years later, the same smell captivate me - nice, clean and particularly recognizable in a few New York buildings. The whole experience of walking into the MoMA reminds me of those days as a tourist, and make me realize again that I'm in New York; I'm at the MoMA. After a conversation with Sally Berger (Curator, MoMA) I understand that the Museum has a strong commitment with its mission, and a constant pursuance for new challenging materials. There is one goal that I believe it specially represents its main soul:

"...these forms of visual expression are an open-ended series of arguments and counter arguments that can be explored through exhibitions and installations and that are reflected in the Museum's varied collection..."

This goal is directly interwoven with the Modern Mondays series. The organizers of the film exhibitions asked themselves: where is the cutting edge of the motion picture? Following the Museum's long tradition of exploring cinematic experimentation, these screenings salute "innovation on screen" and invite us to meet new and old filmmakers, to enjoy not only their films but also to engage in dialog with them. This series developed from a program that commenced in 1968 entitled Cineprobe. In the mid '70s, a complementary program of new video work was screened in Video Viewpoints. Both of these programs were combined into a new program entitled MediaScope in 2002 and from there, Modern Mondays was born, bringing today thought-provoking questions with more than one answer.

This Monday - inaugurating the 2007 cycle - presented Michael Haneke's Funny Games (1997), a film that has been remade ten years later, marking an unusual chapter in cinema history: the filmmaker is the same, what changed are actors (Tim Roth and Naomi Watts) and country (U.S.A.). A remake that remains exactly the same, according to Haneke, except that unfortunately in today's world, violence is even worse. Feeling the subway rumbling beneath my feet in the Roy and Niuta Titus 1 Theater, I was ready to be delighted for first time by Haneke's original version of Funny Games, here in the Museum of Movement and Art.

After the film ended, Joshua Siegel (Assistant Curator, Department of Film at MoMA) introduced writer and director Michael Haneke as one of the best examples of what represents Modern Mondays. After a small conversation, they opened to Q&A with the audience that filled the theater:

- "The rules had become boring. We had to break them." I believe him: in this disturbing film, an animal and a child are killed, and both the characters and the filmmaker play with the audience. Haneke was asked why he needed to show this extreme violence in a film. He shot back: - "Why did you stay? Probably you needed it." There is a particular scene where part of the audience applauds a murder... but Haneke stops and rewinds, making everybody realize that in this parody of adults playing funny and kids behaving seriously, there are more things to question down beneath the surface.

Toward the end of this great night, I was lucky enough to ask Michael Haneke one of the last questions: - "I wonder what would you do if you have to define the word real for the dictionary..." He replied masterfully, summarizing the very essence of these Mondays: -"I had a philosophy professor who told me once that, if you are forced to define something, you're going into a slippery path, so it's better to avoid it..."

He laughed - another funny game around the permanent quest for meaning. It was probably the best answer I could obtain.

Modern Mondays full schedule

Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator; Jytte Jensen, Curator; Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator; Rajendra Roy, Celeste Bartos Chief Curator; and Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film; and Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator; and Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media.
Modern Mondays is supported by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Media sponsorship is provided by Artforum.

The Museum of Modern Art
(212) 708-9400
11 West 53 Street,
between Fifth and Sixth avenues
New York, NY 10019-5497

Getting to MoMA
MoMA is located at 11 West Fifty-third Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Subway: E or V to Fifth Avenue/53 Street; B, D, or F to 47-50 Streets/Rockefeller Center. Bus: M1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to 53 Street.

* Picture above: Arno Frisch has
Stefan Clapczynski under control in Michael Haneke's Funny Games (1997)

Oct 7, 2007

Ten Steps - LALIFF 2007

Una historia de amor en diez pasos, caminando entre los límites de la realidad y la imaginación. A love story in ten steps, walking the limits between reality and imagination.

Ten Steps, my first 16mm Short Film, will be screened at the 11th annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. The festival commitments are:

To promote awareness and distribution of Latin cinema by bringing our Latin cultures to the public's awareness through film, the most influential audiovisual medium of our time.

To showcase and nurture existing and emerging creative talent while serving as a springboard and catalyst for the promotion of Latin films and filmmakers.

Comencé la pre-producción de Ten Steps en Septiembre 2004 y la filmé en Nueva York durante el primer fin de semana de Diciembre, en el mismo año. Lalo Molina fue el cinematógrafo, gaffer y el único miembro del equipo! Lo ayudé como grip, asistente de cámara y todo lo demás. Los actores hicieron más que actuar: también creyeron en el proyecto. Me hice muy amigo de Ivan, y lo mismo pasó con Lalo. Finalicé la edición en Steenbecks durante el verano de 2005, y finalmente un BetaSP estuvo listo para ser proyectado en el showcase de estudiantes de New School en Noviembre de 2005. El film fue mostrado en el programa Cortos I-Sat en desde entonces en diferentes países de Latinoamérica. Es grandioso y gratificante ver gente aún interesada en mostrarlo, y espero que le guste a más gente. Ten Steps es mi primer bebé, y espero tener muchos más.

I shot started the pre-production of Ten Steps in September 2004 and I shot it in New York during the first weekend of December, the same year. Lalo Molina was cinematographer-gaffer and the only crew member! I helped him as grip, assistant camera and everything else. The actors played more than a role: they believed in the project too. I became a good friend with Ivan, and the same happened with Lalo. I finished editing the project in Steenbecks during the summer of 2005, and finally a BetaSP was ready to be screened in the New School students showcase in November 2005. The film was broadcasted since then in a television program called Cortos I-Sat for Latin American countries. It's still great and rewarding to see people interested in showing it, and I hope more people like it. Ten Steps is my first baby, and I hope to have many more.

Ten Steps
USA / 2005 / 7:07
Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA
October 13th, 2007

Director: Pablo Goldbarg
Producer: Pablo Goldbarg
Screenwriter: Pablo Goldbarg
Executive Producer: Pablo Goldbarg
Cinematographer: Lalo Molina
Editor: Pablo Goldbarg
Art Director: Pablo Goldbarg
Sound Design: Pablo Goldbarg
Music: “Preludio Nueve” (Astor Piazzolla)

Cast: Ivan Magrin-Chagnolleau, Carole Agostini