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"American Originals Now" With Jem Cohen At The National Gallery (DC) Feb 12, 27th


Since the early 1980s, American filmmaker Jem Cohen has been creating a unique oeuvre of shorts and features that extends the principles of portraiture to nonfiction cinema. Working in collaboration with his artist subjects, usually over several years and in a range of formats, Cohen's work both documents and transcends conventions. Shorts and excerpts from works in progress, introduced by the artist himself, are followed by Instrument, his feature on the musical group Fugazi. This program is the initial installment of a new quarterly film event, "American Originals Now." Program details follow the jump.

Jem Cohen: Recent Shorts and Other Works
February 12 at 2:30PM
East Building Concourse, Auditorium

Director Jem Cohen in person

A program of new shorts surveys a range of concerns, from artists' creative processes to life lived on the streets of contemporary America. Cohen's patient lens portrays steady labor, scenes from the everyday, or simply hanging out, always colliding with provocative soundscapes. Titles include Anne Truitt, Working (2009, 13 minutes), a portrait of an artist and trusted friend; Half the Battle (2008, 12 minutes), "a reflection on the phenomenon of the touring musician"; Night Scene New York (2009, 10 minutes), observations of Chinatown commissioned by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas; and a few rousing excerpts from works in progress, including a feature recorded in Vienna, Austria. (Approximate running time 90 minutes)

February 27 at 5:00PM
East Building Concourse, Auditorium

Members of Fugazi in person

One of Washington's most successful bands, Fugazi is the epitome of DIY (Do It Yourself) ethics. Its members are both subjects and collaborators with Cohen on this documentary, part of the 2000 Whitney Biennial and winner of many awards. Incorporating more than 10 years of recordings, Instrument weaves personal and concert footage, observational film, collected sound, and Fugazi's own original music into an epic portrait of the band, their environment, and the counterculture of the 1980s and '90s. "I thought of bringing 'dub' to documentary—of a project where unadulterated real-time performances, abstract, rough-hewn Super-8 collages and archival artifacts would collide and conjoin in a way that honestly represented musical experience"—Jem Cohen. (1999, digiBeta, 115 minutes)

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