On October 8, the Wexner Center for the Arts presents the world premiere of Cinetracts ’20

Thu, Sep 17, 2020

Virtual program shares short films that speak to the year’s events made by filmmakers from around the world.

On Thursday, October 8 at 7 PM EST, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University will debut the films commissioned for its Artist Residency Award project Cinetracts ’20. A virtual screening of the 20 short works will be presented on the center’s website, wexarts.org.

The international slate of contributors includes more than 20 filmmakers: 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), and Želimir Žilnik (Serbia).

The initiative was inspired by Cinétracts ’68, a radical project in which French filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker responded to the political uprising in Paris of May 1968. Wexner Center Film/Video curators David Filipi, Jennifer Lange, and Chris Stults invited artists to capture “the zeitgeist in your own backyard,” in hopes that 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.

“We had just presented the original Cinétracts ‘68 project at the Wex,” said Filipi, the center’s Director of Film/Video. “As we discussed the upcoming Artist Residency Award, we seized upon the notion that 2020 was going to be a politically-charged US election year like no other. We made the scope international to avoid insularity. Little did we know that 2020 would include a global pandemic and a year of civil unrest in the US that inspired protests in other cities around the world. We could not be more excited about these films and how they function both as individual works and in dialogue with each other.” 

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.

In discussing their work on Cinetracts ‘20, several artists spoke of how the project provided more than an opportunity to make something new and distinctive.

“I’m someone who works in a very solitary manner and in 2020, I’ve really been thinking about the ways collaboration can gesture toward solidarity and community with others,” said Gallagher. “The idea of this project and all of us working together, if separately, and just the joy of creating was emotionally quite a welcome gift.”

As Christopher Harris shared, “So many of the filmmakers who are also included are people whose work is deeply important to me. They’ve encouraged me and challenged me to try to make the best work I can make.”

Following the premiere of Cinetracts ’20 on October 8, the program will be available to view indefinitely at wexarts.org. Additionally, other works by Cinetracts ’20 contributors will be available through the 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 that will launch on Thursday, September 17.


Event information

Cinétracts ‘20 will premiere via wexarts.org on Thursday, October 8 at 7 PM EST, and will be available to stream indefinitely. The virtual presentation will be supplemented during the week of the premiere by additional film programming and online content, and related short film programs will screen onsite as part of the community initiative Free Space. All will be free to view. 

Gallery hours are 11–4 PM Sunday, Tuesday–Wednesday, and Friday–Saturday; and 11 AM–7 PM Thursday.

Please note: due to university guidelines on the COVID-19 pandemic, face coverings are required in all areas of the center. More info on campus safety guidelines, bus routes, parking, and other visitor information are available here or at (614) 292-3535.


Thumbnail image: from Su Friedrich's Cinetracts '20 contribution 5:10:20, courtesy of the artist

Film/Video programming is made possible with support from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, American Electric Power Foundation, The Columbus Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Huntington Bank, and Nationwide Foundation.