The 2022 Berlin International Film Festival has revealed its first titles for the festival, which will run from Feb. 10-20, 2022, including films from CalArts’ faculty Nina Menkes, James Benning, and alum and former School of Critical Studies visiting faculty Travis Wilkerson (Film/Video MFA 01).
Menkes’ documentary Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power is based on her cinematic presentation, Sex and Power, the Visual Language of Cinema, which uses film clips by directors from the 1940s through the present, to show how the visual grammar of cinema contributes to conditions that create discriminatory hiring practice, pay inequity, and a pervasive environment of sexual harassment in the film industry and beyond.
It features commentary from Daughters of the Dust director Julie Dash, actress Rosanna Arquette, and feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, who coined the term “male gaze.”
She won an International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI Prize) for the feature documentary Massaker, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2005. In 2011, her feature film The Bloody Child (1996) was named one of the most important films of the past 50 years by the Viennale International Film Festival, Austria.
Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power will first have its premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
The partially Kickstarter-funded documentary, Nuclear Family, billed as “a domestic comedy about nuclear war,” follows the Wilkerson family as they take an apocalyptic road trip through the American West. This will mark the film’s European premiere. The documentary was directed both by Erin Wilkerson and Travis Wilkerson.
Benning’s The United States of America (2021), an update on his 1975 short film with Bette Gordon, will have its world premiere at the festival before debuting in the US at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in March 2022 as part of UCLA Film & Television Archive’s free screenings series.
Film and video curator Steve Anker, who was dean of the CalArts School of Film/Video from 2002 until 2014, writes of the pandemic-era film:
“Both elegiac and lovingly rendered, critical and celebratory, The United States of America is Benning’s paean to the ideals and hard truths of the American cultural landscape. Emerging from the era of COVID-19 and its social restrictions, Benning’s USA … portrays the country’s 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as sites that exist in the imagination as well as through representational sounds and images. But while The United States of America is meditative and reflective in ways that are characteristic of Benning’s earlier work, this is a landscape that is haunted by its past, evidence of which can be seen, heard and felt throughout the film.”
An interview with the minimalist filmmaker, who has taught at CalArts since 1987, is featured in the Dec.-Jan. 21-22 issue of Art Monthly.
—by Sharon Knolle