Prismatic Ground Presents
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 two editions, in April 2021 and May 2022, offer 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 two confront topics as varied as addiction, ritual, family, and loss with rigorous attention to form and breathtaking emotional power.
The third edition of Prismatic Ground runs from May 3–7, 2023.
Home When You Return
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...
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.
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 ...
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
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.
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 ...
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
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.
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
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...
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...
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
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...
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.
A New England Document
Directed by Che Applewhaite • 2020 • United States, United Kingdom
Using found footage with selected images and text from the Marshall Collection at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, A NEW ENGLAND DOCUMENT reconstructs the genocidal impulses of two ethnographers’ ...
Letter From Your Far-Off Country
Directed by Suneil Sanzgiri • 2020 • United States, India
Shot with 16 mm film stock that expired in 2002—the same year as the state-sponsored anti-Muslim genocide in Gujarat—and filmed amid the anti–Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Delhi, LETTER FROM YOUR FAR-OFF COUNTRY finds filmmaker Su...
Directed by Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner • 2020 • Germany, Netherlands
Inspired by the existence of taxonomies of monsters at the heart of early modern European science, A DEMONSTRATION explores and reinterprets a way of seeing the natural world that is almost impossible to imagine from tod...
Two Sons and a River of Blood
Directed by Amber Bemak and Angelo Madsen Minax • 2021 • Mexico
The self-made family unit of two dykes and a trans man imagine a kind of erotic magic that will allow for procreation based solely on desire.
Bodies in Dissent
Directed by Ufuoma Essi • 2021 • United Kingdom
BODIES IN DISSENT is an exploration of the body as a central site of remembrance and resistance, exploring ideas around “bodily insurgency” and using the body as an archive, a point of return, a position of refusal, and a broker between transgenera...
Directed by Janah Elise Cox • 2021 • United States
Two tons of snow—flown from New Hampshire to Puerto Rico in 1952 in order to “gift” Puerto Ricans a “white Christmas”—become a metaphor for the colonialist paternalism of America’s relationship to Puerto Rico.