Meet the jurors of IC DOCS, April 11-13

Karel is a maker of experimental nonfiction sound works and electroacoustic music.

This year marks the 11th edition of the Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival, a diverse showcase of short documentary and experimental film and media, that runs April 11-13 at the Bijou and Public Space One.

As a smartly programmed fest featuring work that’s 30 minutes or less, it’s appropriate to embrace the event’s shorter, more tongue-friendly moniker IC DOCS. And see docs you will. Perhaps IC DOC’s most distinct feature is its annual invitation of two notable filmmakers to serve as jurors. Over the years, the festival has brought some terrific guests to town—Sarah Price, George Stoney, Martha Colburn, Bill Daniel and Sam Green, to name just a few.

The tradition continues this year with jurors Cathy Lee Crane and Ernst Karel. Crane and Karel will join us as audience members and each will also present a selection of their own work.

Following IC DOCS, Crane will also show her short film Composer and I at Prairie Lights on April 14.
Crane is an award-winning filmmaker and professor at Ithaca College. Making films since the late 1980s, her work crosses between short collage, literary adaptation, hybrid forms and experimental biography. Her feature Pasolini’s Last Words explores the murder and last year of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s life through archival material, lyrical re-imaginings and Pasolini’s own writing. Noted critic Noël Burch calls Crane ” … one of the most interesting filmmakers in the tradition of the avant-garde working in the United States today.”

Crane says she will share clips from several of her films “in order to engage a set of conceptual and aesthetic concerns that pertain to documentary filmmakers; working with non-actors, staging subjects on location, and opening up the fact and fiction divide in a way that may take the non out of non-fiction.”

Asked about her own formative cinema experiences, Crane singles out “those in which I have been surprised. [Chris] Marker’s Sans Soleil provoked a profound understanding of image/sound poetics, [Maya] Deren’s Meshes in the Afternoon confirmed that pycho-geography is something that can (and should) be rendered by figures on location, everything by Tarkovsky reminds me that one could engage with political questions through a meditative measure and Wong Kar-Wai’s work with Christopher Doyle emphatically insists that the image, how the frame holds the movement of a figure, is key to cinematic meaning.”

Following IC DOCS, Crane will also show her short film Composer and I at Prairie Lights on April 14 in conjunction with a reading by Alexandra Chasin, who wrote the script and story from which the film is adapted.

WHAT's ThAT SOUND? Ernst Karel is a very, very good listener.
Ernst Karel is a very, very good listener.

Karel is a maker of experimental nonfiction sound works and electroacoustic music. He currently manages the Sensory Ethnography Lab and the Film Study Center at Harvard University, where, as Lecturer on Anthropology, he teaches a class in sonic ethnography. Karel’s recent projects are edited and composed using unprocessed location recordings; in performance he often combines location recordings with analog electronics to create pieces which move between the abstract and the documentary. Nonfiction films on which he has done sound work include Sweetgrass, Foreign Parts, Lunch Break, People’s Park, Leviathan and the upcoming Single Stream.

See the print version

Karel will offer festival goers a chance to rest their eyes and open their imagination with a selection of sound-only location recordings. Careful listeners will be amply rewarded by detail-rich soundscapes.

Among the work Karel will share at IC DOCS are recordings made at a materials recovery facility in the Boston area, where large amounts of single-stream recycling is fed into and sorted by a large network of conveyor belts, machines and human workers. He’ll also feature work from his Swiss Mountain Transport Systems project, consisting of location recordings of various transport systems specific to mountainous terrain. As Karel says of location recording, “Everything becomes your instrument.”


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For details on the full IC DOCS program and schedule, visit

Andy Brodie is the co-founder of FilmScene, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the presentation and discussion of film as art. FilmScene will open a full-time art house cinema and cafe on the Pedestrian Mall this fall. Details at

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