Prismatic Ground Presents

Prismatic Ground Presents

30 Episodes

One of the most creative and galvanizing venues for film exhibition to emerge during the pandemic, Prismatic Ground is a festival centered on the intersection between experimental and documentary film. This selection of shorts from its first three editions, in April 2021, May 2022, and May 2023, offers an eclectic cross section of aesthetically and politically radical work. Highlighting filmmakers whose approach to image-making eschews traditional narrative in favor of abstraction and sensation—and whose techniques span animation, archival collage, 16 mm photography, and digital technology—Prismatic Ground shows how avant-garde techniques can be deployed to confront violent histories of colonialism, genocide, and capitalism, introducing audiences to a cinema of radical potential. The additions from year three confront topics as varied as migration, community, family, and loss with rigorous attention to form and breathtaking emotional power. The fourth edition of Prismatic Ground runs from May 8–12, 2024.

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Prismatic Ground Presents
  • Life on the CAPS: Parts 1&2

    Episode 1

    Directed by Meriem Bennani • 2018–2021 • Morocco

    Meriem Bennani conjures an immersive augmented-reality world in the first two parts of a trilogy that issues a wild, up-to-the-minute commentary on diasporic cultures and the West’s dystopian immigration policies. A talking crocodile named Fiona a...

  • Promised Lands

    Episode 2

    Directed by Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa • 2018 • Uganda, Austria

    PROMISED LANDS is a fragmentary, essayistic meditation on (among other things) art, fact, fiction, memory, rights to land, place, and displacement that marks the culmination of a substantial body of work by the late artist Emma Wolukau-W...

  • As If No Misfortune Had Occurred in the Night

    Episode 3

    Directed by Søren Lind and Larissa Sansour • 2022 • United Kingdom, Denmark

    AS IF NO MISFORTUNE HAD OCCURRED IN THE NIGHT is a three-channel video work featuring an Arabic-language opera on loss, mourning, and inherited trauma, performed by Palestinian soprano Nour Darwish and accompanied by arc...

  • L’escale

    Episode 4

    Directed by Paul Shemisi, Nizar Saleh, Rob Jacobs, and Anne Reijniers • 2022 • Congo, Belgium

    Filmmakers Paul Shemisi and Nizar Saleh travel from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Germany for a screening of their new film. During a layover in Angola, they’re stopped at the airport because the ...

  • Theta

    Episode 5

    Directed by Lawrence Lek • 2022 • United Kingdom, South Korea

    In the abandoned smart city of SimBeijing, a self-driving police car confronts their existential troubles with their built-in AI therapist in this Sinofuturist exploration of identity, surveillance, and empathy.

  • Yaangna Plays Itself

    Episode 6

    Directed by Adam Piron • 2022 • United States

    YAANGNA PLAYS ITSELF is an ode to the memories of El Aliso, the sycamore tree that once stood at the center of Yaangna, the Indigenous Gabrieleno village that Los Angeles grew out from.

  • All the Days of May

    Episode 7

    Directed by Miryam Charles • 2023 • Canada
    Starring Schelby Jean-Baptiste, Florence Blain Mbaye

    Following the shooting of a documentary on the death of her daughter, a mother reflects on her own life and especially on the passing of time.

  • Exterior Turbulence

    Episode 8

    Directed by Sofia Theodore-Pierce • 2023 • United States

    A year of stormy weather and temporal rupture is recalled in fragments in this collage of seizure dreams, horses, long-distance conversations from bed, and loose reenactments from Marguerite Duras’s BAXTER, VERA BAXTER.

  • A Movement Against the Transparency of the Stars of the Seas

    Episode 9

    Directed by Esy Casey • 2023 • Philippines, United States

    In this contemplation on the meanings of movement in the experience of migration, the grace and skill of a Filipina domestic worker are juxtaposed with devotional dances to the Santo Niño statue that Magellan brought to the islands in 152...

  • Keeping Time

    Episode 10

    Directed by Darol Olu Kae • 2023 • United States

    The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (The Ark) has been a legend in Los Angeles’s avant-garde jazz community for over sixty years. But since the death of its founder, pianist and composer Horace Tapscott, the band has spent the last three decades ebbi...

  • Home When You Return

    Episode 11

    Directed by Carl Elsaesser • 2021 • United States

    “Stretching and blurring the boundaries of video essay, experimental film, and home movie, traces of a 1950s homemade melodrama by amateur filmmaker Joan Thurber Baldwin intermingle with a mournful homage to the author’s grandmother and her vacat...

  • Madness Remixed

    Episode 12

    Directed by Rhea Storr • 2021 • United Kingdom

    MADNESS REMIXED examines the fetishization of Josephine Baker’s body through data-moshing analogue film. What unfolds is a questioning of which images of Black bodies should be reproduced and on what terms.

  • Squish!

    Episode 13

    Directed by Tulapop Saenjaroen • 2021 • Thailand, Singapore
    Starring Anongnart Yusananda, Aacharee Ungsriwong, Brett Burgs

    SQUISH! is a meditation on the self through lurid and liquid forms; filtered through both old and foreseeable technology informed by Thai animation history and contemporary ...

  • Strangers

    Episode 14

    Directed by Rajee Samarasinghe • 2022 • Sri Lanka, United States

    “This footage was shot shortly after the civil war in Sri Lanka on the occasion of my mother’s long-delayed reunion with Kamala, the aunt she lived with as a child. Kamala was living a life of solitude at this point and has now sin...

  • Declarations of Love

    Episode 15

    Directed by Tiff Rekem • 2022 • United States

    A fragmentary rumination on an aging father figure and his nearness to the gender-reveal-party fire that scorched the San Bernardino foothills in 2020.

  • Heron 1954–2002

    Episode 16

    Directed by Alexis McCrimmon • 2022 • United States

    HERON 1954–2002 is a visual eulogy that taps into the phenomena of makeshift memorials and small gestures of mourning. Honoring the life of a loved one who died due to an accidental opioid overdose, the film materializes the process of overdue ...

  • Maman Brigitte

    Episode 17

    Directed by Ayanna Dozier • 2022 • United States

    MAMAN BRIGITTE stitches together the intimacy of a private ritual involving the Voudou loa Maman Brigitte (who governst the barrier between the living and the dead) with the sounds of the body (spitting, running, vomiting, etc.). These “interior” ...

  • Oliver Sees Indigo

    Episode 18

    Directed by Ryan Clancy • 2022 • United States

    This film enacts an attempt to regain attachment following a period of heroin addiction, near-death experiences, and oxytocin deficiency. The camera shifts between moments of fragile devotion as it searches for a higher power in threads of shared su...

  • Three Songs Without Z.

    Episode 19

    Directed by Karthik Pandian and Andros Zins-Browne • 2022 • United States
    Starring Zakaria Almoutlak

    A portrait of Zakaria Almoutlak, a sculptor and media activist from Homs, Syria, who fled the civil war in 2015.

  • We Knew How Beautiful They Were, These Islands

    Episode 20

    Directed by Younes Ben Slimane • 2021 • France, Tunisia

    At night, a stranger digs graves, buries the dead, and watches over them. In the dark, he reveals the personal belongings of the deceased to us. These objects, separated from their owners, bear their scars and story, while others melt until...

  • Loose Corner

    Episode 21

    Directed by Anita Thacher • 1986 • United States
    Starring Catherine Lloyd, Owen Roth, Jeffree Clapp

    Like the challenges to our assumptions posed by “Alice in Wonderland,” issues of scale, materiality, and relationships are raised within a child’s “game-like” structure in this film/installation w...

  • Reckless Eyeballing

    Episode 22

    Directed by Christopher Harris • 2004 • United States

    Taking its name from the Jim Crow–era prohibition against Black men looking at white women, this hand-processed, optically printed amalgam is a hypnotic inspection of sexual desire, racial identity, and film history.

  • my favorite software is being here

    Episode 23

    Directed by Alison Nguyen • 2021 • United States

    This video work by visual artist Alison Nguyen centers on a computer-generated woman raised by the Internet in isolation in a virtual void. From the apartment where she has been placed, Andra8 works as a digital laborer, surviving off the data fro...

  • Maat
    Episode 24


    Episode 24

    Directed by Fox Maxy • 2020 • United States

    Unfolding as an exhilarating stream-of-consciousness collage of phone videos, found footage, computer games, and digital detritus, MAAT is an at once playful and pointed exploration of Indigenous identity and activism.