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Big pictures, smaller screens: Gearing up for the 17th Annual ICDOCS online

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Video still from Sky Hopinka’s ‘maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore’

From Thursday, April 30 to Saturday, May 2, the 17th Annual ICDOCS film festival will be presented as a free live-streamed event due to health concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Q&As with the filmmakers following the film screenings will still take place, albeit entirely online. Jurors will also still review programmed films in competition. A full schedule is below; more information about the festival can be found at the festival website.

Michael Wawzenek, a third year University of Iowa Film and Video Production MFA student in the Department of Cinematic Arts, and ICDOCS Programming Director, has worked closely with Festival Director and Department of Cinematic Arts Head of Film and Video Production Christopher Harris to transition the festival online.

Wawzenek acknowledges the challenges of shifting the festival online, but also reflects that, “Some of the program themes actually began to emerge as we moved into this isolation period … feeling dizzy/unstable, investigating domestic spaces, trying (and often failing) to connect with loved ones and family, and reflecting on death/the passage of time.”

In addition to the program themes that have naturally coalesced during this period of quarantine, Wawzenek also expresses excitement for the range of filmmakers screening work this year.

“I feel that this mixture of the local and the global keeps ICDOCS engaging and unpredictable,” he said.

The 17th annual festival features filmmakers that past attendees (and regulars of the Vertical Cinema and Headroom series) might be familiar with, including Kevin Jerome Everson and Jodie Mack, while also embracing newcomers, younger filmmakers and University of Iowa alumni.

“Part of what’s so exciting about ICDOCS every year is the attention given to new voices and to films that strike out in bold new directions,” said Nate Kouri, a member of the programming committee. “Those will be the films that you might not get a chance to ever see again.”

The festival will kick-off its opening night with a Bijou Film Board selection of two Sky Hopinka films: LORE (2019) and maɬni — towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020). Molly Bagnall, Bijou’s executive director, touts Bijou’s enthusiasm for Hopinka, one of experimental cinema’s luminaries.

maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore – trailer from Sky Hopinka on Vimeo.

“The Bijou subcommittee dedicated to ICDOCS collaboration had a couple meetings to decide the nature of our involvement, and landed on Hopinka’s work,” Bagnall explains. “Hopinka is featured in the fest almost every year and his films are beloved by many on Bijou. This year, he released his first feature length film [maɬni…], so it seemed the perfect opportunity to bring that film, which may not otherwise play in Iowa City, to the fest (especially since it would normally not be eligible due its length).”

Other favorites to watch out for in the lineup include Ben Balcom’s Garden City Beautiful (2019), a film that balances the ethereal with the humdrum hustle and bustle of midwest city life. Overlaying long takes are voice overs adapted from a letter describing the future of Milwaukee written by Victor Berger in 1895. The temporal collapse, between a text that feels at once so prescient, but from long ago, coupled with shots of freeways or sidewalks, creates an intriguing, oneiric atmosphere. The shot of a woman lying in a patch of grass, reciting part of the letter with her eyes closed, could be something out of The Zone in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979).

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Then there’s UI MFA alum Carl Elsaesser’s Itinerary of Surfaces (2020), a meditation on the domestic, in all its quotidian particulars, desires and love. A series of various spheres recur throughout the film (a globe, a whirring fan, an aperture) like the haloed bell throughout Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway — keeping time, nesting all the images, holding them together.

Emily Drummer, another MFA alum and 2017 recipient of the Princess Grace Honoria, will screen Field Resistance (2019), a quasi-futuristic film about ecosystems, technology and communication. The vibrancy of the colors in some shots rival the lush technicolor of a Douglas Sirk film, and the shots of a red strobe alarm lights bristle with the unnerving disquiet of inanimate objects like Hal in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Even though we will not be able to gather together this year in person, staring up at the luminous screen, scurrying to refill our coffee mugs in-between programs, this year’s ICDOCS is still worthy of celebration and concentration.

And Bagnall points out a silver lining: “With the fest being online this year, there is much more opportunity for increased engagement across communities, which is very exciting.”

To rephrase Norma Desmond’s (in)famous statement in Sunset Boulevard, these films are big; it’s just the screens that got small.

Still from Carl Elsaesser’s ‘Itinerary of Surfaces.’ — via the artist’s website

Full Schedule

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Opening Night Program — Out Of Competition @ 6 p.m. CST
LORE / Sky Hopinka / US / 2019 / 10:16
maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore / Sky Hopinka / US / 2020 / 1:20:09

Competitive Program #1 — “New Shoes” in “Eden” @ 8:30 p.m. CST
Field Resistance / Emily Drummer / US / 2019 / 15:45
Wasteland No. 2: Hardy, Hearty / Jodie Mack / US / 2019 / 6:40 / silent
Animal Farm / James Hollenbaugh / US / 2019 /2:53
Vesuvius At Home / Christin Turner / US & Italy / 2018 / 14:00
Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness / Saif Alsaegh / US / 2019 / 8:47
¡PíFIES! / Ignacio Tamarit / Argentina / 2017 / 4:00
Larga Distancia (Long Distance) / Juan Manuel Calisto / Peru / 2019 / 12:14
We Were Hardly More Than Children / Cecilia Condit / US / 2019 / 8:39

Friday, May 1, 2020

Competitive Program #2 — A lot of responsibility isn’t it? @ 2 p.m. CST
If the edges start to hurt / Emma Piper-Burket / US & France / 2020 / 3:44
NEGRUM3 (BLACKN3SS) / Diego Paulino / Brazil / 2018 / 21:56
When It Is Still / Anna Kipervaser / US / 2018 / 10:00 / silent
RUN! / Malic Amalya / US / 2019 / 11:00
Отнасяйте се с мен като с койот! (Treat Me As a Coyote!) / Nэno Бэlchэv (Neno Belchev) / Bulgaria & United States / 2018 / 2:20
A Country Drive /Trevor D. Byrne / US / 2020 / 7:35
Continuous Becoming / Robert Orlowski US / 2019 / 9:17
Untitled / Paul Razlaf / Germany / 2019 / 2:41 / silent
Amusement Ride / Tomonari Nishikawa / Japan / 2019 / 6:00

Michael B. Gillespie — Juror Program @ 4PM CST
Condor / Kevin Jerome Everson / US / 2019 / 8:00
A Love Song for Latasha / Sophia Nahli Allison / US / 2019 / 19:00
Sensus Plenior / Steffani Jemison / US / 2017 / 34:36
Maravilla / Darius Clark Monroe / US / 2019 / 11:00
Mi Piel, Luminosa (My Skin, Luminous) / Gabino Rodríguez and Nicolás Pereda / Mexico & Canada / 2019 / 40:00

Competitive Program #3 — To Paint, Extract, Reverse @ 6:30 p.m. CST
Chinese Portraiture / Zhou Hongxiang / China / 2019 / 12:50
Oh My Homeland / Stephanie Barber / US / 2019 / 4:00
International Face / Natalie Tsui / US / 2019 / 7:16
COLOR-BLIND / Ben Russell / Polynesia, France / 2019 / 30:00
Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition / Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys / US / 2019 / 7:00

Competitive Program #4 — Living Space @ 8:30 p.m. CST
Cease & Desist / Ryan Steel / Canada / 2018 / 3:10
Book of Hours / Annie Macdonell / Canada / 2019 / 8:00
A is For Artist / Ayo Akingbade / UK / 2019 / 4:55
Amazonia / Roger Beebe / US / 2019 / 24:37
I Signed The Petition / Mahdi Fleifel / UK, Germany & Switzerland / 2018 / 10:37
Something To Touch That Is Not Corruption Or Ashes Or Dust / Mike Stoltz / US / 2020 / 6:35
Itinerary of Surfaces / Carl Elsaesser / US / 2020 / 8:00
Billy / Zachary Epcar / US / 2019 / 8:03

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Competitive Program #5 — Bodies become Bodies @ 12 p.m. CST
Alejandro & Miguel / Joie Estrella Horwitz / Mexico / 2019 / 8:52
Union / Kevin Jerome / Everson / US / 2019 / 2:59 / silent
At Midnight Plays A Dance-Tune / Roy Seerden / Netherlands / 2018 / 30:00
Her Type / Masha Vlasova / US / 2017-2019 / 4:30
Traces / Carleen Maur / US / 2019 / 4:06
Umbilical / Danski Tang / US & China / 2019 / 6:53
Rodez / Stefano Miraglia / France / 2017 / 3:00 /Silent
A Song About Love / Rikkí Wright / US / 202 / 14:39

Competitive Program #6 — A Primal Scream @ 2 p.m. CST
I Can’t / Lori Felker / US / 2020 / 5:00/ Silent
SIR BAILEY / Matthew Ripplinger / Canada / 2018 / 8:00
LIMEN / Kathryn Ramey / US / 2019 / 2:06
Ascensor / Adrian Garcia Gomez / US / 2019 / 8:02
A Month of Single Frames / Lynne Sachs with and for Barbara Hammer / US / 2019 / 14:00
Pilgrim / Cauleen Smith US / 2016 / 11:00

Sylvia Schedelbauer — Juror Program @ 4 p.m. CST
Wishing Well / Germany / 2018 / 13:00
Sea of Vapors / Germany / 2014 / 15:00
Sounding Glass / Germany /2011 / 10:00
Remote Intimacy / Germany / 2007-08 / 14:30
Memories / Germany / 2014 / 19:00

Competitive Program #7 — Under the Paving Stones @ 6 p.m. CST
Sojourner / Cauleen Smith / US / 2018 / 22:00
In Film/On Video / Ignacio Tamarit / Argentina / 2018 / 3:30
Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower / Ryan Ferko / Canada, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia / 2019 / 17:00
Black Bus Stop / Kevin Jerome Everson, Claudrena N. Harold / US / 2019 / 9:25
The Lilac Game / Emma Piper-Burket / US / 2019 / 4:15
Garden City Beautiful / Ben Balcom / US / 2019 / 11:00

Awards Announcement @ 8:30 p.m. CST


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