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CANCELED: Now Playing! Light Field Trips Out on Celluloid at The Lab

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Still from Sílvia das Fadas' 'A casa, a verdadeira e a seguinte, ainda está por fazer,' 2018. (Courtesy of the artist and Light Field)

NOTE: This show has been canceled due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Bay Area is thick with visiting filmmakers this week, barring last-minute changes on account of the coronavirus. (To wit, the International Ocean Film Festival, scheduled for March 12–15, just announced its postponement.) Topping the list is Souleymane Cissé, the Malian director who’s achieved African immortality and an international reputation via just nine films. Cissé, who turns 80 in a month, graces BAMPFA’s African Film Festival (continuing through May 8) with discussions and screenings of his 1987 masterwork Brightness (March 12), 1978’s Baara (March 14) and 1982’s The Wind (March 15).

Over the course of eight independent features since 1994, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has exposed and examined the alienation and betrayal of ordinary Americans in Western locales both scenic and barren. The Bay Area release this weekend of what’s shaping up to be her biggest theatrical success, First Cow, brings Reichardt to the Smith Rafael Film Center (March 12) and the Roxie (March 14), the latter with her underseen Certain Women (2016).

Still from Stuart Moore’s ‘Zinn,’ 2018. (Stuart Moore/Courtesy Light Field)

Light Field, the eclectic and invigorating annual exhibition of art on celluloid at The Lab (March 13–15), will host a number of Bay Area filmmakers, with a smaller turnout from further afield. That shouldn’t stop anyone with an abiding love—aesthetic, experiential or nostalgic—for the medium of film. And yes, film absolutely still exists, as do many artists around the world in thrall to its properties and possibilities.

One waxes rhapsodically about the unique and ephemeral qualities of celluloid at the risk of sounding like a Luddite, a Flintstone or an academic. Either you get the gritty, grainy realness of film or you don’t—until, that is, you see that British filmmaker Stuart Moore’s exquisite shots of undulating riverbeds in Zinn have a texture and depth that transcends simply capturing a moment. It’s the difference between, say, an etching and a snapshot.


Even snapshots have more gravity on celluloid. In Borgo, Lucie Leszez shuffles black-and-white snippets of Bologna like pages in an old scrapbook. Sandra Davis filmed her crackling 1988 opus of nature’s and man’s mysteries, An Architecture of Desire, in Chicago’s posh Graceland Cemetery and in the ancient Anasazi homeland of Chaco Canyon (New Mexico). Portuguese filmmaker Sílvia das Fadas is even more ambitious, creating the docu-essay A casa, a verdadeira e a seguinte, ainda está por fazer (The House Is Yet to Be Built) from texts by the likes of Brecht and footage she shot at unusual public art structures in various countries.

One of these years, you’ll only be able to see a film projected in a museum or a basement (after the revolution, and only if you know the password). This weekend, incredibly, you only have to go to 16th and Capp.

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