Past Film/Video | Contemporary Screen

Cinetracts '20

(Various, 2019–20)

Stream | Artist Residency | Wex Commissioned Project | World Premiere

World premiere of this Wex residency project! This virtual program shares short films that speak to the year’s events made by filmmakers from around the world.

In 1968, a group of French filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker crafted short, quickly made cinematic responses to the political and social upheaval that shook Paris in May of that year. Inspired in part by this project, called Cinétracts, the Wexner Center commissioned 20 short films by filmmakers from around the world. See a complete list below, as well as interviews and essays illuminating their work at the bottom of this page.

Wexner Center Film/Video curators David Filipi, Jennifer Lange, and Chris Stults invited artists to capture “the zeitgeist in your own backyard,” in hopes a global portrait would emerge from this index of diverse locales. The project was launched in 2019, supported by a 2019–20 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award, and called upon both established and emerging filmmakers to participate.

In line with the Cinétracts ‘68 manifesto, artists were given a set of guidelines with which to work: Films should be two minutes in length, shot in one day, all sound must be native to the footage, and the completed work should indicate the date and location of the production. The COVID-19 pandemic and months of protest in response to police violence against the Black community led many filmmakers to reconsider their original concepts.

Included in the finished contributions are portraits of specific times and places, such as Tony Buba’s record of a protest demanding a civilian review board for police in his native Pittsburgh and a glimpse of Serbian life on the day of the country’s fraught 2020 parliamentary election by Želimir Žilnik. A number of the films further reflect how the present is inextricably linked to the past, from Kelly Gallagher’s stop-motion consideration of the abolitionist history of her current hometown of Syracuse to a cinematic statement by Karrabing Film Collective on the ancestral resilience that informs current generations of Aboriginal people’s resistance to the enduring effects of colonialism.

The participating filmmakers are:

Natalia Almada (Mexico/San Francisco, CA)

Tony Buba (Braddock, PA)

Charles Burnett (Los Angeles, CA)

Tamer El Said (Egypt/Germany)

Akwaeke Emezi (Nigeria/US)

Su Friedrich (Brooklyn, NY)

Kelly Gallagher (Syracuse, NY)

Cameron Granger (Columbus, OH)

Christopher Harris (Iowa City, IA)

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation, WI)

Karrabing Film Collective (Australia)

Bouchra Khalili (Morocco/Germany)

Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil)

Rosine Mbakam (Cameroon/Belgium)

Natasha Mendonca (India)

Sheilah and Dani ReStack (Columbus, OH)

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico)

Cauleen Smith (Los Angeles, CA)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)

Želimir Žilnik (Serbia)

Additionally, other works by Cinetracts ’20 contributors will be available through the Wex website the week of the premiere, along with conversations with select filmmakers. And three programs of short films by Cinetracts ’20 participants will screen throughout September and October as part of Free Space, a gallery-based, community-oriented initiative on view through December 27.

Cinetracts ’20 kicks off a national tour with a presentation at the Brookyn-based UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art on October 29. Watch this page for more dates to be announced.

More about Cinetracts '20

Two people walk down a city street carrying red and white balloons.

Image courtesy of Su Friedrich

A polaroid marked with the date 6/30/20 depicts a house shaded by trees and sits in the center of the frame while surrounding text says "Here is where I live, at the corner of Comstock and Madison, in Syracuse, NY".

Image courtesy of Kelly Gallagher

A computer desktop window has multiple windows open; Spotify plays the "A Bit Of Soul" by Aretha Franklin while a video of a man shaving his hair plays in the foreground.

Image courtesy of Cameron Granger

A row of children lay napping on a tile floor with an electric fan pointed at them.

Image courtesy of Apichatpong Weerasethakul

A woman with braids sits in a doorway wearing a brightly colored dress and a red mask.

Image courtesy of Rosine Mbakam

A triptych of images depicts a speaker at a rally against police reform.

Image courtesy of Tony Buba

Two men on bikes push a cart laden with tarps, blankets, chairs, and other objects.

Image courtesy of Želimir Žilnik

More about the filmmakers chevron-down chevron-up

Natalia Almada’s Cinetracts contribution, Max, considers our relationship with technology—what it demands from us and what it offers us in return. Her past films include El General (2009), El Velador (2011), Everything Else (2016), and others. She was the recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Fellowship. 

Tony Buba’s Cinetracts contribution documents a protest in Pittsburgh calling for the formation of a civilian police review board. His past films include Washing Walls with Mrs. G. (1980), Lightning Over Braddock (1988), Struggles in Steel (1996), and others. He was the recipient of a 1985 Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Charles Burnett’s Cinetracts contribution considers the personal and social ripple effects of the execution of a man in Texas. His past films include Killer of Sheep (1977), My Brother’s Wedding (1983), To Sleep with Anger (1990), and others. He was a 2017 recipient of a Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Tamer El Said’s Cinetracts contribution takes the viewer on a drive through Cairo, Egypt. He introduced his first feature film, In the Last Days of the City (2016), at the Wex in 2018. He is the founder of Cimatheque - Alternative Film Centre in Cairo, a space dedicated to teaching and independent film programming.

Akwaeke Emezi’s Cinetracts contribution sees the filmmaker performing a ritualistic blood bath to process their embodiment as a nonhuman entity/an ogbanje/a deity’s child. Emezi is best known for their books Freshwater (2018), Pet (2019), and The Death of Vivek Oji (2020). They were awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for their video work, and Freshwater is in early development as a TV series at FX. They won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa and were one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees in 2018. 

Su Friedrich’s Cinetracts contribution captures a sunny Mother’s Day in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Her past films include Sink or Swim (1990), Hide and Seek (1996), Seeing Red (2005), and others. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected Sink or Swim for inclusion in the National Film Registry. 

Kelly Gallagher’s Cinetracts contribution expands upon a historical marker she discovered in her Syracuse neighborhood. Her past films include FROM ALLY TO ACCOMPLICE (2015), More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters (2016), MY GOSSIP (2018), and others. She was the subject of a 2018 Wex retrospective.

Cameron Granger’s Cinetracts contribution captures the conflicting interests of presence, isolation, and digital disappearance against the backdrop of the pandemic, the struggle for Black liberation, and the surveillance state. Working in video and installation, he has had residencies with the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and Red Bull Arts Detroit. His most recent projects include Ten Toes Down at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and “A library, for you,” a community library project.

Christopher Harris’s contribution to Cinetracts is inspired by the uprisings in Chicago following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the prisoner population in the Cook County Department of Corrections. His past films include Reckless Eyeballing (2004), Halimuhfack (2016), and still/here (2019), and others. He is a 2020–21 Fellow with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. 

Sky Hopinka’s Cinetracts contribution collapses time and history through a running list of events that all occurred on the day of filming. His recent films include wawa (2014), I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become (2016), and Dislocation Blues (2017). His first feature, maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020), premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He is a recipient of a 2020 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Film/Video and a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Karrabing Film Collective’s Cinetracts contribution follows the group’s memorable and eventful bushwhacking sessions to clear a road to a distant, remote beach. Layers of current and historical events and ancestors circle around. Karrabing Film Collective consists of more than 30 intergenerational Aboriginal filmmakers from Australia’s Northern Territory. Their work has been exhibited at museums such as the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia, the Tate Modern, and MoMA PS1. In 2015, they received the Visible Award, the first European award for socially engaged artistic practice in a global context. 

Bouchra Khalili’s Cinetracts contribution traces the evolution of public sentiment and police reaction to striking health care workers in France before and during COVID-19. Her past works include The Mapping Journey Project (2008–11), The Speeches Series (2012–13), and The Tempest Society (2017), which premiered at documenta 14 in Athens, Greece. Her film Twenty-Two Hours (2018) was developed during her 2017–18 fellowship with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Gabriel Mascaro’s Cinetracts contribution is a metacinematic response to the conditions of watching (and being watched) in the time of COVID-19. His past films include the documentaries High-Rise (2009) and Housemaids (2012) and the narrative films Neon Bull (2015) and Divine Love (2019), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was supported by a residency in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio.

Rosine Mbakam’s Cinetracts contribution examines the lack of representation of African frontline health-care workers in Belgium during the COVID crisis. Her feature films include The Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman (2016) and Chez Jolie Coiffure (2018). Recently featured on NPR, she was called “one of the foremost filmmakers of creative nonfiction working right now” by The New Yorker’s Richard Brody. 

Natasha Mendonca’s films include Jan Villa (2011) and Strange Love/Ajeeb Asheeq (2016). They received the Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and a jury prize at the 20th Contemporary Arts Festival at SESC_Videobrasil. Mendonca is the recipient of a 2018 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award, which supported their newest work Land of the Breasted Woman (2020).

Dani and Sheilah ReStack’s Cinetracts contribution shows their family unit undertaking a vision quest during the earliest days of the COVID lockdown. The ReStacks have collaborated on films and installations including Strangely Ordinary This Devotion (2018) and Come Coyote (2019). Their works have screened at the Whitney Biennial, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and other notable venues. 

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s Cinetracts contribution reflects on the possibilities of this moment, following her teenage son and daughter and one of their friends during lockdown as they set out in a forest to make a film about making a film. Santiago Muñoz’s past films include Fábrica Inútil (2002), Farmacopea (2013), Marché Salomon (2015), and Oneiromancer (2017). She is the recipient of 2016 United States Artist Fellowship and a 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Film/Video.

Cauleen Smith’s Cinetracts contribution defies presidential narratives surrounding the global pandemic. Part memorial, part meditation, the film contemplates the number of Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19. Smith is an interdisciplinary artist whose works in film and video include Drylongso (1998), The Fullness of Time (2008), Remote Viewing (2011), The Way Out Is The Way Two: Fourteen Short Films about Chicago and Sun Ra (2012) and H-E-L-L-O (2014). She is the recipient of a 2016 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Film/Video, a Rockefeller Media Arts Award, and a Creative Capital Award.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cinetracts contribution alternates between scenes from the filmmaker’s home, a makeshift nursery for kids whose schools have been closed due to the pandemic, and Twitter posts documenting protests about the disappearance of a Thai political exile. All the while, the winds and rains of change reverberate. His past films include Tropical Malady (2004) and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), as well as installations such as Unknown Forces (2007), Primitive (2009), and Fever Room (2015). Among his many awards are the 2008 Fine Prize from Carnegie International, the 2010 Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival, and a 2013 Sharjah Biennial Prize.

Želimir Žilnik’s Cinetracts contribution documents a somber day in Serbia as a farce of a parliamentary election takes place amidst the pandemic and boycotts from opposition parties. Žilnik remains one of the most prominent figures of the Yugoslav Black Wave and has made numerous notable short films and features, such as Black Film (1971), Uprising in Jazak (1972), Marble Ass (1995), and Logbook_Serbistan (2015). He has won awards at festivals around the globe, including a 1969 Golden Bear and 1995 Teddy Award, both from the Berlin International Film Festival. He has been the subject of major retrospectives from São Paulo to Harvard and included in exhibitions such as documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the Sharjah and Venice biennials.

Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation

Huntington Bank
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation


Past Film/Video

Cinetracts '20