“As filmmakers, we strive to listen closely to the world, relinquish our own predetermined goals, and move beyond conventional framings in order to look more deeply at the present moment,” the filmmaker and anthropologist J. P. Sniadecki once wrote. A collaborator in Harvard’s famed Sensory Ethnography Lab, the “studio” behind such groundbreaking works as Sweetgrass and Leviathan, Sniadecki first came to prominence with his documentary Demolition, which followed life on a construction site in Chengdu, China. His feature Foreign Parts (2010, codirected with Véréna Paravel) solidified his standing as one of the US’s foremost “new ethnographic” filmmakers, artists who looked towards cinema as a way, he says, “to allow viewers to have their own sense of the fabric of a place, and to gain experiential knowledge of life there.” His acclaimed new documentary, The Iron Ministry, will screen at BAM/PFA on April 25 as part of the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival.
An exciting voice in documentary film, Sniadecki also teaches at Cornell University and curates independent cinema from China for his series Emergent Visions. We are proud to have him as our guest for our Afterimage series, in conversation with local critic Max Goldberg. Goldberg works as an archivist and writes on cinema for publications including Cinema Scope, The Brooklyn Rail, Keyframe, and, until its recent demise, the San Francisco Bay Guardian.