During the past 12 years, Kevin Jerome Everson, a filmmaker and associate professor of Art at the University of Virginia, has completed three feature films and nearly 50 short 16mm, 35mm and digital films that focus on the working class culture of Black Americans and others of African descent.
Everson’s works often take viewers back to his hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, and nearby locales. The area is explored yet again in his latest film Erie, which had its West Coast premiere at REDCAT last night.
Erie consists of 10 single-take, 16mm black-and-white shots filmed in and around Lake Erie communities, including Mansfield, Cleveland, Buffalo and Niagra Falls. The sequences are thematically linked through the exploration of the African American migration from the South to the North, as well as the revelatory realities of every day life.
Tonight, the Structuring Strategies class and film series at CalArts looks at other films from Everson’s vast oeuvre in a program titled, To Do Better.
From LA Weekly (9/30/2010) on To Do Better:
A good portion of the shorts aim for the caustic rather than the poetically soothing. In found-footage piece Playing Dead a bloodied young man describes to a television reporter how he had to lay absolutely immobile to survive an unprovoked attack by a group of armed men. As soon as one even begins to imagine this nightmare the film ends, blowing through the conscious like a tornado. Meanwhile, the almost tangibly grainy Undefeated and Ninety-Three revel in the small ecstasies of existence: a man shadowboxing by the side of the road as his friend fixes their car, and a nonagenarian blowing out the candles on his birthday cake in super-slo-mo. Longer works include Company Line, a half-hour documentary about the migratory history and current disenfranchisement of Mansfield’s black citizens, and Old Cat, a single 10-minute shot of two men paddling silently around a lake, the two films individually representing the twining documentary and formalist strands of Erie.
Structuring Strategies with Kevin Jerome Everson
CalArts Bijou Theater
Tonight (Tues. Oct. 5)
A list of films that will be screened during tonight’s program follows:
- Old Cat (2009) will eventually and pleasantly get to a destination. (16mm, 11:25, black and white, silent)
- Lead (2009) is a story of an early 20th Century Robin Hood. (16mm, 3:00, black and white)
- Company Line (2009) is a film about one of the first predominantly Black neighborhoods in Mansfield Ohio. The title, Company Line, refers to the name historically used by residents to describe their neighborhood, located on the north side of town close to the old steel mill. The Company Line began during the post-war migration of Blacks from the south to the north in the late 1940s. The neighborhood was purchased in the early 1970s and its residents were scattered throughout Mansfield. City employees and former residents of the Company Line narrate the film. (30:00, black and white, color)
- Home (2008) is about disappointment in northern Ohio. (super-8, 1:30, black and white)
- Undefeated (2008) is about mobility and immobility, or just trying to stay warm. (16mm, 1:30, black and white)
- The Citizens (2009) includes Muhammad Ali talking about life, Althea Gibson returning home as a champion, Fidel Castro playing baseball and three gentlemen being escorting into court all under the watchful eye of the media. (16mm, 5:45, color and black/white)
- The Reverend E. Randall T. Osborn, First Cousin (2007) is about the art of the cut-away. (16mm, 3:30 minutes, black and white)
- North (2007) is about trying to find one’s way. (HD, 1:30 minutes, color)
- A Week in the Hole (2001) is a film about a factory employee’s adjusting to materials, time space and personnel during his first day of work. (mini DV, 6:00, color)
- Second and Lee (2008) is a cautionary tale about when not to run. (16mm, 3:00, black and white)
- Ike (2008) is about a person showing their special gift–if pushed. (16mm, 2:30, black and white)
- Playing Dead (2008) is a film about lying still to stay alive. (16mm, 1:30, color)
- Something Else (2007) is a film about the found footage as subject matter and Miss Black Roanoke, Virginia 1971 expressing her thoughts about the upcoming Miss Black Virginia 1971 Pageant. (16mm, 2:00, color)
- Ninety-Three (2008) is a wonderful age to celebrate. (16mm, 3:00, black and white, silent)