Anthropological Films (2009)

During the summer of 2009, I began making a series of “anthropological films” to reflect the sights, sounds, and moments in New York that many New Yorkers seem to ignore — whether through juxtaposition or direct observation. I didn’t know that I was embarking on a series when I first started out. But all films are created without any preconceived theme. I completely capitulate to the subconscious. In the editing, I try and make sense of what I’ve shot and use the footage to create variations on the common anthropological theme, which shifts with each film.

I plan to shoot ten short films before the end of 2009. Three have been three made so far. I have no idea what the other films will be about, but I will know when to make them once some moment, sight, or piece of music steers me in the right direction through a divine act of serendipity. There is no specific order in which these films should be watched, but the careful viewer watching in chronological order may see specific themes develop.

1. Bubbles: A Consideration

On June 12, 2009, I attended a bubble battle in New York. But the event wasn’t really a battle — at least not in the traditional sense. Hundred of people who didn’t know each other gathered in Times Square to blow bubbles. It seemed like such a simple act, but it turned out to be so much more. And I hope that the above film, “Bubbles: A Consideration,” gives anyone who wasn’t able to attend a sense of the possibilities.

2. Dia de los Vivos

On June 28, 2009, I attended The Flower Parade. I knew nothing about the parade, but learned very quickly that its intent was to celebrate Colombia. The above film, “Dia de los Vivos,” presents the spirit that I observed and participated in.

3. Golden Hour

“Golden Hour,” which was shot at and around Riverside Park between July 7 and July 9, 2009. Like the other two films, this installment deals with certain glimpses ignored by most New Yorkers. This latest film chronicles aspects of how we live that were put into place decades ago by developer Robert Moses. (I recommend Robert A. Caro’s The Power Broker, if you’re not familiar with the subject.)

4. Subway

“Subway” was shot and edited on July 14, 2009. For some unknown reason, I took my camera with me for a job interview. Since I had arrived at the Times Square station early, I began shooting. I figured that this was something I would work on later. But that evening, I became haunted by the subway and felt compelled to finish the film. So I rode the subway for a few hours and, to my surprise, it all came together. For those noting the absence of rats, I should point out that I did go out of my way to look for them, but my quest for vermin proved unsuccessful (at least in relation to the human emphasis). And since the film is more about the human relationship with the subway system, I don’t feel that (for this film anyway) rats were entirely necessary.


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