In the twentieth century, the natural and social sciences alike imagined the world as composed of individuals with distinct bodies, genomes, and competing vested interests. Twenty-first-century research has shown that symbiosis is a near-requirement for life – even for Homo sapiens. Life is symbiosis “all the way down.” However, when conditions suddenly shift, once life-sustaining relationships sometimes turn deadly. The Agosto Foundation sponsored Symbiont film series is a storytelling response in times of vulnerability and radical ecosystemic changes. Each film will include a personal introduction by its creator.
—Pavel Borecký, curator of Symbiont
The three-part program features the Czech premieres of two films from the acclaimed Karrabing Film Collective, a unique ethnographic probe into the spiritual heart of the Arawak people Thinking Like a Mountain, as well as a captivating journey across the Sonora desert along the US-Mexico border in El Mar La Mar, by the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab.
The Symbiont Series: Stories of Transforming Mutualism was organized in collaboration with the Agosto Foundation, Anthropictures, and the Cinema Ponrepo. It was curated by social anthropologist Pavel Borecký.
The research organization Anthropictures consists of seven anthropologists. In the Czech context, they have mostly been associated with projects of community development, education, migration and integration. Apart form their more traditional ethnographic methods, photography and documentary film also play a large role in their work. Program curator Pavel Borecký is the creator of several films himself.
The Symbiont series picks up the thread of previous screenings and discussions organized by the Agosto Foundation with the kind support of the Cinema Ponrepo. These screenings largely focused on the themes of future, nature, landscape, society, art, ecology and entropy. Apart from focusing on land art, guerrilla gardening or genetic engineering, the featured films also explored the subject of filmmaking as such, and often made use of archival film material, such as in the film Dawson City: Frozen Time, directed by Bill Morison, The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, directed by Ben Rivers, and Arcadia by Paul Wright.
23 September 2019, 8:30 PM
Windjarrameru, The Stealing C*nt$ (2015, 35m). Conceived and produced by the Karrabing Film Collective
Four young Aboriginal men are holed up in a chemically compromised mangrove swamp having been falsely accused of stealing two cartons of beer, while at the edge of the standoff miners ransack the country. Windjarrameru, The Stealing Cnt$* operates in the realm of docu-fiction and improvisational realism.
The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland (2018, 26m). Conceived and produced by the Karrabing Film Collective
In the not-so distant future, Europeans will no longer be able to survive for long periods outdoors in a land and seascape poisoned by capitalism, whereas Indigenous people do seem able to. A young Indigenous man, Aiden, taken away when he was just a baby to be a part of a medical experiment to “save the white ‘race’,” is released into the world of his family. As he travels with his father and brother over the landscape, he confronts two possible futures and pasts.
21 October 2019, 8:30 PM
Thinking Like a Mountain (2018, Germany, Colombia, 93m). Written and directed by Alexander Hick
The Arhuacos are the guardians of the forest and the ice of Colombia’s highest mountain, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They draw from this unique environment a sustained and singular spirituality. For the first time in their history the Arhuacos have invited a filmmaker, Alexander Hick, to visit the most remote communities and sacred sites in the heartland of their territory. Thinking like a Mountain tells the story of resistance and preservation of nature, which is a voyage through space and time: from the shores of the Caribbean to the stars that light up the night on the glacier; from the Arhuacos’ encounter with the first colonising whites, to the homecoming of an Arhuaco guerrillero following the lay-down of arms by the FARC.
18 November 2019, 8:30 PM
El Mar La Mar (USA, 2017, 95m). By Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki
El Mar La Mar weaves together harrowing oral histories from the area with hand-processed 16mm images of flora, fauna and items left behind by travelers. Subjects speak of intense, mythic experiences in the desert. A man tells of a fifteen-foot-tall monster said to haunt the region, while a border patrolman spins a similarly bizarre tale of man versus beast. A sonically rich soundtrack adds to the eerie atmosphere as the call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere landscape.