Devotional Cinema: Screening and Reading by Nathaniel Dorsky

Devotional Cinema, Nathaniel Dorsky's meditation on the transformative power of the cinema he loves, from Yasujiro Ozu to John Ford, also provides an insightful opening to his own films. The ideas explored in this small, intimate book, first developed when Dorsky was a guest lecturer in UC Berkeley's Film Studies Program, center on how cinema “opens us to a fuller sense of ourselves and our world.” A filmmaker for over forty years, and a San Francisco–based film editor, Dorsky writes, “Shots and cuts are the two elemental opposites that enable film to transform itself. Shots are the accommodation, the connection, the empathy, the view of the subject matter we see on the screen. The cuts are the clarity that continually reawakens the view. When there is a balance of these essential elements, a film blossoms as light in the present tense and gives devotion the space to manifest.” Dorsky's meticulously edited films are composed of fleeting details of a daily life rarely glimpsed in cinema, from reflections in store windows, to pedestrians waiting for a light to change, to sunlight refracted on water or grasses gently moving in the wind. Sensuous, surprising, mysterious, his films are reverentially silent, and presented at a slowed speed, allowing us to discover the poetry of life. Dorsky will read from his book prior to screening two “devotional songs,” the new film Threnody (2004, 20 mins) and Visitation (2002, 18 mins); and a “cinematic song,” Love's Refrain (2000–2001, 22 mins).

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