Film Festival

Audience Awards 2018 by Altered Esthetics

Each year, attending audience members vote on their favorite films after each Film Festival screening. Two films really stuck out to them; Thursday’s Child by local artist Maret Polzine, and The Dérive by returning artist Tanin Torabi, who won our Creative Vision Award in 2017.

MARET POLZINE - Thursday's Child (Minnesota)
Cody Lamb: composer/performer of music

Maret Polzine,  Thursday's Child

Maret Polzine, Thursday's Child

"Thursday's Child has far to go. My recollections of childhood invariably lead to memories of storm-watching: Of staring out my window with wide eyes and a soft mouth. As I gazed into the storm, I was never more receptive to the vast journey ahead of me, never more aware of my smallness. But it was also in this meditative state that I found I was not afraid of the void, but soothed by it. As a trans queer artist, I remember this limitless space, before boundaries and labels, as feeling enormous and significant. Thursday's Child has far to go, and what a comfort that is."

Maret Polzine is an artist and arts organizer based in the Twin Cities. Their work frequently features unnamable feelings, using traditional/digital animation techniques to describe elusive and often uncomfortable thoughts.

Maret Polzine,  Thursday's Child

Maret Polzine, Thursday's Child

TANIN TORABI - The Dérive (Iran)
Tanin Torabi: Director, performer
Milad Sanaei: Cinematography, Edit
Faran Fahimi: Music

 Tanin Torabi,  The Dérive

 Tanin Torabi, The Dérive

"An exploration of social and cultural issues. A dancer moves among the people in an old bazaar in Tehran capturing the responses and reactions. Dance is prohibited in Iran."

Tanin Torabi طنین ترابی was born in 1992 in Tehran, Iran. She earned her BA in Sociology in Tehran, and her MA in Contemporary Dance Performance from University of Limerick, Ireland. Torabi has made several award winning dance films and performances and currently works as a dancer, choreographer and dance film maker in Iran and Ireland.

Her most recent works are The Dérive, Invisible Point, Ruby, Beyond the Frames and Immensity. She has received more than 15 awards for her films to date and her works have been described as "rebellious, creative, inspiring, unbearably elegant and affecting, emblematic and poignant, empowering to women, and with an exceptional ambition that is layered with a complexity of personal and cultural nuance" by festival directors.

 Tanin Torabi,  The Dérive

 Tanin Torabi, The Dérive

All images courtesy of the artists.

Post written by Chelsea Arden Parker, edited by Sarah Kass.

Creative Vision Award 2018 by Altered Esthetics

Film Festival curators nominate five to six artists exhibiting in the current season for the Creative Vision Award. Local jurors then vote to select one artist from the nominees whose work demonstrates a commitment to their personal voice and vision over conventional storytelling.



Nicolas Bermeo - Heat (California)
Pete Burkeet - Mannequin (Ohio)
Karli Evans - Float (Florida)
Sam Gurry - jim (California)
Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson - House (North Dakota)
Robin Summons - Hallway (Australia)

We are very excited to announce Float by Karli Evans as our Creative Vision Award Winner! 

Karli Evans,  Float

Karli Evans, Float

The 2018 judges are Chamindika Wanduragala, John Kim, and Paige Dansinger. All three of these artists are local arts organizers, filmmakers, and educators. More information about them can be found on the 2018 Film Festival page.

Karli Evans,  Float

Karli Evans, Float

Float is a psychological short film about coming to terms with letting go described as a "Really compelling film. Excellent and beautiful. Sad."

Karli Evans,  Float

Karli Evans, Float

Navigating between still photo and moving picture mediums, Karli Evans is a visual artist living and creating in Miami. Energized by people watching and urban exploration, Evans utilizes creative storytelling as a way to document experiences, examine identity, and explore public personas. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Visual Journalism from the University of Miami, where she returned to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Photography & Cinematography. Her debut experimental film, Float, won best experimental script at New York City Independent Film Festival 2018, and was an official selection of Berlin Feminist Film Festival 2018 and Miami Fashion Film Festival where it premiered locally in December 2017.

Karli Evans,  Float

Karli Evans, Float

All images courtesy of the artist.

Post written by Chelsea Arden Parker, edited by Sarah Kass.

Sami Pfeffer by Altered Esthetics

We welcome Sami Pfeffer to be one of our Featured Artists for the 2018 Film Festival: Force Majeure. They create uncomfortable spaces- consensually- to ask for and offer the vulnerability of communal healing.

Altered Esthetics Film Festival will feature Pfeffer’s work on Friday, June 1st.

Sami Pfeffer,  Ritual

Sami Pfeffer, Ritual

A lot of your work directly invites the viewer to interact or reflect. Can you talk a bit about why you think this type of work is important, and why you continue to challenge the audience?

I'm a multidisciplinary artist currently exploring intersections of gender, survivorship, violence, and the effects of trauma on the body. I make interactive work because I think allowing the viewer to participate passively can reinforce our tendencies towards spectatorship and encourage us to remain distant and disbelieving in response to actual harm. Through my work, I ask folks to to engage with their own discomfort in relatively safe settings, such as theaters and galleries, so that they have more capacity to recognize and response to those feelings in "real world" spaces.

Can you talk about the importance of the audience presence in your work? How is it elevated in this setting versus a solo viewing?

This is a great question. Most of my film work has been screened for multiple people at once. Only Cervical Exam, and now Ritual, have been offered as installations. I'm curious to learn more about which films are more palatable alone and which require audience solidarity.

Sami Pfeffer,  Untitled

Sami Pfeffer, Untitled

Some of your work can be hard to watch. What are you challenging, in concern to your body work? What are you asking the audience for and what do you wish they take away from their experience?

I agree that some of my work can be hard to watch. Often though, what's hard to view changes from person to person. For example, Untitled includes footage of me having what I call a DIY gender confirmation surgery- genitals carved into my upper thigh. There's real blood, real cutting. I usually sit onstage during the screenings of this piece and watch the audience experience the film. I have always contextualized my presence as an act of shared responsibility- I witness the audience’s discomfort and share it greatly; I struggle to sit still, I feel exposed and self-conscious, I get sweaty and shaky on stage.

Recently, I received feedback from some folks of color that this piece feels gratuitously violent, especially because I'm a white person watching others experience harm. I am sitting with this response because I am aware of the histories of gendered/genital violence enacted by white folks on people of color as well as the act of being white and passively watching others hurt.

Still, I also think that naming the piece as violent exposes biases often held by cis folks about how trans bodies should or shouldn’t be modified. For me, the piece is a reclaiming of a gratuitously violent aspect about being trans- being studied, particularly by the medical industry, and the daily humiliations and dangers I face when I seek medical care. And for me, the film itself does not depict violence. I am avidly consenting to the cutting and I’m surrounded by other trans folks (as opposed to mostly cisgender nurses and doctors) changing my body in ways that feel powerful, necessary, and accessible.

So I guess I'm hoping to challenge biases in general. My own and others'. Because bias is specific to individuals (and often general populations), the challenge I hope to offer is accountability to those biases. I hope that people examine why they feel uncomfortable viewing something and that they offer criticism with those reasons in mind.

A lot of your work includes the use of your own body. Can you speak to this form of storytelling, and why you choose yourself as the subject?

To me, art often violates consent. I make work about my own abusive relationships, for example, and I violate the consent of perpetrators by not asking them for permission to speak to experiences that we shared. I accept that violation because to not make that work would feel like a silencing of my own voice and in those situations, I prioritize my consent over theirs. In order to mitigate those violations though, I often center my body as a site for exploring my experiences with harm because feels like a way of acknowledging that my experiences may not align with someone else's, and ensuring that my work is grounded in my individual truths and not in universal declarations.

I also hope that by grounding conversations about shame, discomfort, or trauma in my own experiences, viewers are more supported in being able to explore their feelings towards those parts of being. I want to offer vulnerability as I ask for it.

Sami Pfeffer,  Cervical Exam

Sami Pfeffer, Cervical Exam

Can you give us some hints about the new work you’ll be screening?

Yes, absolutely. The new piece, working titled Void, is an examination of the losses sustained by leaving an abusive relationship. This piece involves removing, frame by frame, a lover's body from footage of us together. Often, this means removing pieces of myself when we overlap. When this relationship ended, I experienced the loss of this person, of our mutual friends who were unable to support me in naming their behaviors as abusive, of self-esteem and self-trust, and of community spaces out of fear of seeing this ex move through the world unaccountable to their actions. Also, unlike previous break-ups, I felt a lot of shame about the grief I sustained for this former partner, and so the film is also about the gradual subsiding of that shame and acceptance of complex feelings for someone who has hurt me.

Can you speak on the other films in your night (Friday, 6/1)? How do these films from local/ national/ international artists fit with your work?

When Chelsea invited me to curate my evening, she asked if there were any key themes to look out for as she went through the entirety of the submissions. I told her to send films my way that were hard to like/ deeply uncomfortable to view. Overall, I'd say that films I've selected challenge the viewer to engage with bodies in complex ways. I chose the title, Knots, for my evening because the films represent the tangles within which we find ourselves, especially when we avoid parts of ourselves that we hold discomfort and shame around. I also like that Knots sounds like nots,  as in have-nots, or cannots. The films in my evening represent bodies and concepts that are not valued in ways that I think they should be.

Sami Pfeffer’s work will be on view on Friday Night, Knots, alongside musician MIEHYK, as well as local, national, and international filmmakers.

Purchase advance tickets here.



All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Chelsea Arden Parker, edited by Sarah Kass.