Campus Life: Film Previews

Caroline Fassett, Staff Writer

On Nov. 18, filmmaker Sarah J. Christman will lead the discussion “Alchemy and Ecosystems” following the screening of the short films “Single Stream,” “Gowanus Canal,” and “As Above, So Below,” the latter two are directed by Christman herself. This event is a part of the University’s Film/Media Series screenings, which are held at the Campus Theatre at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evenings.

I was able to preview the entirety of the first short film “Single Stream,” directed by Pawel Wojtasik, Toby Lee, and Ernst Karel. The picture explores the tenuous journey taken by various articles of trash when arriving at the dump. The garbage travels in one single stream, hence the title.

Though this subject may sound dull, the entire process is captured in slow motion, adding a dramatic appeal to the scooping up, piling, and crushing of trash. Every sound within the picture is clear and concise–from the stacking of plastic water bottles to the crinkling of paper as workers donning neon vests and face masks sort through piles of recyclables. The ironic twist of the film is its focus on the beauty and artistry of the handling of trash; the camera zooms in on colorful stacks of aluminum soda cans and shows shreds of twinkling garbage as it falls through the sky to be collected by an industrial truck. The camera often gets so close to the trash that the viewer can decipher the brands of many discarded items, from Tide detergent bottles to Bud Light beer cans to boxes of Domino’s pizza.

Christman’s films are clearly connected to the theme of “Alchemy and Ecosystems.” Her film “Gowanus Canal” closely examines one of the most contaminated urban waterways in the nation, under which microorganisms thrive amid toxic waste. “As Above, So Below” draws upon the ephemeral life of material objects and explores the recycling of matter through documenting Christman’s family’s decision to have her stepfather’s ashes transformed into a memorial diamond. The film won a Jury Prize at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival.

An associate professor in the Film Department at Brooklyn College, Christman’s work has been screened widely, including at the MoMA Documentary Fortnight, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Filmforum. Any students that are majoring or interested in film and media studies are guaranteed to be both entertained and educated at the film screening and subsequent discussions.

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