A few days ago we received news that was hard to believe: that Amy Halpern had passed away. It was hard to believe because only a couple of months ago in Coruña she had been demonstrating a magnetic, inexhaustible energy. She presented two sessions of her films: one of them, Falling Lessons, was almost an act of poetic justice: a tense, moving projection, arousing the certainty of seeing a long-ignored masterpiece. The other session, with no fewer than 13 new films fresh out of the oven, showed her very particular, intelligent and extremely sensitive way of seeing cinema (and the world, life). She also gave us a master class on sound (and silence) in cinema, which even led another of the guest filmmakers to change their entire conception about this subject. But beyond all of this, she was a tireless presence, always willing to help with anything, concerned about the physical and emotional state of each and every one of us, sharing infinite love, enthusiasm and amazement at each session, always ready to celebrate, but also with a combative awareness of all the violence and injustices in the world. All of that strength seemed inexhaustible and eternal, as old as the world while at the same time extremely young.
Based on this, one can perceive the pleasure and emotion, albeit not without responsibility, of working with Amy Halpern and her films. That is the ultimate goal of this line of work: to discover not only works, but also the people who change our lives. This relationship began with the discovery of her cinema through a Canyon Cinema programme curated by Antonella Bonfanti. The pandemic meant Amy was not able to come in 2020, but that same year we dedicated a special Camera Obscura to her, our particular programme of interviews, where we were able to see and hear her, and she celebrated with us through the ether of the Los Angeles night and Galician morning. Many virtual conversations followed throughout the quarantine, and later in preparing for this trip, which for her was a powerful commitment to life in the face of fears of the virus. Each conversation went beyond the practical, reaching out to a very deep place, always touching the sensitive spot that she knew needed to be touched, as if she were some kind of sorceress.
The week she spent in Coruña, she came to spread all of that among everybody who works and visits (S8). With that intelligent and profound point of view, we felt that everything would turn out well, and with the herbs from her garden purifying our hall, we began this year’s (S8). We do not know a single person who has not been deeply impacted by both her cinema and her presence. Never has a screening ended with so many hugs and tears of genuine emotion. That is why amid the sadness, a joy springs from us for having helped all of this to happen, for all of her generosity to have been able to find its echo in the well-deserved affection and recognition that she received. As a final gift, she leaves us her films, unique as only they can be in their quality of expressions of such a high spirit.
Finally, we would like to thank and send some words of encouragement to her partner David Lebrun, also an accomplice in all of these meetings.
More info about Amy Halpern here: https://amyhalpern.com/