Conversations with Filmmakers

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz
December 5, 2014
In November, students in the Motion Picture Arts division had the chance to speak with two professional filmmakers who visited via Skype conversations. 

We screened "Sun Songfor a class of post-production students. "Sung Song" premiered earlier this year at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and won the Best Cinematography prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The film is a lyrical and observational documentary that depicts a full day cycle on one bus in Durham, North Carolina. Critic Darren Hughes, reviewing Rotterdam for Senses of Cinema, called the film “perfectly conceived […] a mature, surprising, and deeply human piece.” 

After a screening of the film, the film’s director, writer and editor, Joel Wanek, Skyped with our class to discuss the ideas that helped shape Sun Song. The film itself is silent, a conscious and controversial choice. Joel helped students to understand this choice by connecting his work to Zen poetry and haikus: the image as a visual snapshot, an expressive and meditative burst of color and light. Joel also touched upon the ethics of making an observational documentary, how to respectfully and transparently enter a community with the purpose of documenting. The same ethical questions underscored a screening and discussion.