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From 1972 to 1981, Robert Gardner conducted a Boston television series that became a reference and a cult show for the experimental cinema community: Screening Room. The program, which welcomed some of the most relevant avant-garde filmmakers of that time, offered not only in-depth interviews with the guests, but also the opportunity to discover their work. Today, in 2020, Screening Room remains a source of inspiration. Gardner’s legacy, in combination with the spirit of the times and the possibilities brought to us by technological advancement and the internet encouraged us to develop a show that will be broadcast on streaming. Camera Obscura, which also follows the steps of Janine Bazan and André S. Labarthe’s Cinéastes de notre temps, is a creative endeavor – an interpretation of Gardner’s show with a bold aesthetic and in an innovative format in tune with our times. The show, which will bring to the audience an-in detail presentation of the creative processes of a selection of filmmakers, is also an invitation to discover their work, as it will feature chosen excerpts of their creations. The name Camera Obscura is a reference to the optical device that inspired painters and anticipated cinema centuries before its creation – a box-like, unlit construction where a ray of light coming from the outside projects, through a small hole in one of its walls, a moving image that is seen on the surface opposite to the opening. The (S8) aims to be that ray of light, travelling from wave to wave on its way to project its images on the wall of any room in the world.

Amy Halpern is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles and the creator behind a series of mesmerizing, compelling films that make the most of the associative, sensorial power of cinema. Halpern, who started her filmmaking career in the early 70s, uses light, physical elements (substances and objects of different densities, textures, and colors), and different kinds of beings in films that reveal a special sensitivity to shot-framing and where the editing establishes powerful, primal associations. Physical sensations of every kind that address all five senses, synesthesia, gestures, and sensuality are brought together in creations that sometimes suggest vague stories. Her combinations of visual elements now and then complemented with sound –introduced in unexpected, imaginative ways– often bear poetic titles that add an extra layer of meaning. In this episode of Camera Obscura we’ll explore Halpern’s words and films to delve into the spell cast by her cinema.