Friday 11.09.07 – Jeffrey Skoller – Memories of the Revolution & The Promise of Happiness

Comments Off on Friday 11.09.07 – Jeffrey Skoller – Memories of the Revolution & The Promise of Happiness

FRIDAY 11.09.07 — Jeffrey Skoller — Memories of the Revolution & The Promise of Happiness
1. About This Friday 11.09.07
2. About The Promise of Happiness Part One: Vietnam
3. About Jeffrey Skoller
4. About Shadows, Shards, Specters: Making History in Avant-Garde Film
1. About This Friday 11.09.07
What: Screening/ Discussion with Jeffrey Skoller
When: 7pm
Where: 16beaver, 4th Floor
Who: Free and Open to all
Please join us this Friday evening for a screening and discussion with filmmaker, activist, and scholar Jeffrey Skoller. Skoller’s most recent video essay “The Promise of Happiness” examines the aftermath of revolutonary struggle and war in Vietnam. An extremely timely piece, the essay asks questions about the status of revolutionary hope and aspiration and its legacy. According to Skoller, there is so much more to say and think about in relation to the American war in Vietnam, particularly given the resonances with the protracted American occupation of Iraq. Please join us for an evening in which we consider the lessons from Vietnam and the role that images and activism can play in contemporary international struggles.
2. About The Promise of Happiness:
Full Title:
The Promise of Happiness: Picturing the Age of Revolution
Part 1: Vietnam
A video essay by Jeffrey Skoller
30 minutes, Digital Video, 2007 USA
The Promise of Happiness is a three part video essay that investigates the legacy of 20th -century socialist revolution as it has been expressed in cinema–arguably the art form most intimately linked to social and political transformation. This “cinema of revolution” was a figuration of these utopian impulses, but for the moment, the age of revolution is no longer seen as a viable model. The ardently idealist and complex film images, however, remain. What meanings do we make of such imagery in the present, and of what use can be made of them, as they, along with the viewer, travel through time from a past historical moment to the present? While the expression of that promise of happiness is fleeting and in some cases a pre-figuration of ultimate disappointment, these cinematic artifacts become the residue of hope and potential for future social change.
Using a mix of archival film materials from different periods, and my own footage shot in contemporary Vietnam during the last few years, The Promise of Happiness Pt # 1, explores the transformations currently taking place in Vietnam 30 years after liberation from centuries of colonial domination. The film explores questions about how we might think about the aftermath of protracted war. What were the ideals, hopes, and failures? How do things change over the course of war? What is left after? How did the ideals that motivated the Vietnamese to create a new kind of society fare? The film expresses the ambivalence that so permeated my own experience of Vietnam—at once feeling the excitement and energy of the new moment of Vietnam’s opening up to the world, and the sense of the loss of an idealism that for me, embodied the Vietnamese struggle for a Socialist society.
The Promise of Happiness challenges us to ask if and in what ways do the idealism and aspiration of those past struggles for social justice and cultural freedom still inhere in the fabric of contemporary society and in the consciousness of its people? What of this legacy, forgotten or rejected, remains latent, to be rethought in the present?
3. About Jeffrey Skoller
Jeffrey Skoller is a filmmaker and writer who has made over a dozen films that have been exhibited in museums, universities and festivals internationally. Screenings and exhibitions include: The Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; Portland Art Museum, OR; The Gene Siskel Film Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of the Moving Image, NY; JP Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Whitney Museum, NY; P.S. 1, NY; Flaherty Film Seminar, NY; Arsenal Kino, Berlin; Mannheim Film Festival, Germany; The Latin American Film Festival, Havana; National Film Theatre, London. His essays and articles on experimental film and video have appeared in Film Quarterly; Discourse; Afterimage; Cinematograph; New Art Examiner among others. He is the author of the book Shadows, Specters, Shards: Making History in Avant-Garde Film (Minnesota UP, 2005). Skoller is currently Associate Professor of Film Studies at UC Berkeley.
4. About Shadows, Specters, Shards: Making History in Avant-Garde Film (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005)
Shadows, Specters, Shards offers in-depth readings of works by some of today’s most innovative filmmakers including Ernie Gehr, Abigail Child, James Benning, Zoe Beloff, Craig Baldwin. Abraham Ravett, Ken Jacobs, Daniel Eisenberg, Charles Burnett, Eleanor Antin, Jean-Luc Godard, Patricio Guzmán. In the book, Skoller explores relationships between contemporary aesthetic practices in time based media and historiographic representation. Using the materiality of cinematic time, Skoller identifies a cinema of evocation rather than representation, calling attention to those aspects of history that exceed the visible and representable, but nonetheless profoundly impacts our experience of everyday life. Skoller’s analyses are informed by his own practice as a filmmaker and a range of cultural theories including Benjamin’s concept of allegory and Deleuze’s notion of the “time-image.” The book suggests a new ethics of image-making–one that deepens the relation between making art and making history.
“A passionate and close reading of a body of previously neglected avant-garde films, which in Jeffrey Skoller’s hands are revealed to be at the cutting edge of some of the most significant social and intellectual debates of the last three decades. Shadows, Specters, Shards is a timely and provocative contribution to film culture and scholarship.: -Yvonne Rainer, Filmmaker, Journeys From Berlin/1971, Privilege, Murder and MURDER
“Jeffrey Skoller addresses some of the richest, least acknowledged, avant-garde movies of the last two decades; in his scrupulous analysis these movies are revealed both as artifact and art work.” -J. Hoberman, film critic, The Village Voice.
“A singularly important work in the fields of film studies and visual historiography. Students and scholars of avant-garde film, history and representation, visual culture, Jewish studies, and progressive political activists will find this book especially useful.” -Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Electric Animal and Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) and Professor of Film Studies, University of Southern California