First Person Rural: The New Nonfiction 

3/26/11 to 4/17/11

The films in this series share an embrace of a cinema of and for the senses. A hybrid of documentary, fiction, and experimental film, works such as La libertad, Sweetgrass, The Sky Turns, and Alamar offer quiet, observational long takes; direct-sound recording; and a “narrative” seemingly just happened upon while the camera was rolling. Drawn largely from the 2010 Flaherty Film Seminar, they constitute a pastoral cinema that investigates our complicated relationship to the environment.

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Past Films

  • Sweetgrass

    • Sunday, April 17 5:30 PM

    Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ilisa Barbash (U.S., 2010). Ilisa Barbash in Person. Immerse yourself in the last sheep drive across Montana's spectacular Beartooth Mountains, complete with dramatic river crossings, beautiful scenery, afternoon naps, bear raids, and thousands of “baaaaahs.” “A gorgeous and-believe it or not-riveting documentary…about sheep” (Washington Post). With short The Way. (107 mins)

  • Tropic of Cancer

    • Thursday, April 14 7:00 PM

    Eugenio Polgovsky (Mexico, 2004). A surreal, pointed look at homeless families in the Mexican desert and their mode of survival: selling birds, plants, and snakes to wealthy passers-by. A quietly observed portrait of a hardscrabble life, and a proud heir to the agit-prop of Bunuel's Land Without Bread. With short Unnamed Film. (109 mins)

  • Alamar

    • Saturday, April 9 6:30 PM

    Pedro González-Rubio (Mexico, 2009). The Mexican Caribbean's stunning Banco Chinchorro, home to the world's second largest coral reef, provides setting and inspiration for this effortlessly beautiful film, which follows a Mayan father and young son as they spend a summer working (and playing) along the coast. With shorts Tropical Breeze and A Crisis Passed in Sleep. (81 mins)

  • Agrarian Utopia

    • Sunday, March 27 3:00 PM

    Uruphong Raksasad (Thailand, 2009). Electric storms, morning mist, and organic crops are but a few of the “characters” in this visually stunning document about farming life in a time of globalization. Two Thai families deal with local nature-and global finance-to survive the seasons. With short Kalendar. (131 mins)

  • The Sky Turns

    • Sunday, March 27 5:30 PM

    Mercedes Álvarez (Spain, 2004). A filmmaker returns to her native village in remote northwest Spain to document its residents, landscape, and dramatic skies. A sublime contemplation of time, memory, and mortality. (110 mins)

  • La libertad

    • Saturday, March 26 6:30 PM

    Lisandro Alonso (Argentina, 2001). A young woodcutter in the Argentine pampas goes about his day: chopping trees, preparing food, enjoying the nighttime sky, in this meditative document of rural life. “Inscrutable and exterior, it could be the simplest definition ever of pure cinema” (N.Y. Times). With short Cheese. (89 mins)