DAVID GATTEN FILM SCREENING AND DISCUSSION
N.C. State University
Caldwell Hall G107, 2221 Hillsborough St.
Fri., Feb. 15, 5-7:30 p.m.
This is the true story of how the ocean made a movie.
To be more precise, filmmaker David Gatten collaborated on a movie with the Atlantic Ocean, where the Edisto River empties its freshwater into the ocean’s salt along the South Carolina coast. Gatten put unexposed 16mm film stock into a crab trap, tied the ends of a 50-foot rope to the trap and his ankle, and dropped it into the water.
“The ocean made the movie,” Gatten says. “The exposure, the processing, the chemistry, the physical interaction—everything—was entirely the ocean. I didn’t do anything other than decide how long it should be in the water, at high tide, ebb tide, low tide. And how much film I was going to put in. The ocean and crabs decided how much film I was going to get back. They did the editing. They did the sound. I was the producer.”
Gatten made three such films in 1998, returning to the South Carolina coast in 2007 to make three more. This more recent set, along with five other 16-mm films from his acclaimed career, will be screened in a mini-retrospective on Friday evening at N.C. State.
It’s a rare chance to see the work of one of the country’s foremost experimental filmmakers with Gatten at the projector’s controls. In his omnipresent overalls, he’ll introduce the films, something he doesn’t often get to do but considers an integral part of the screening. Neither dramatic nor scripted nor off-the-cuff, he nonetheless sets the films up with a precise, evocative monologue before bringing the screen to life an exact beat after he stops talking. A screening is a performance, to his mind.
On Friday night, WOODPECKER, Alex Karpovsky’s low-key, hilarious “ficumentary,” screens at the Center for Documentary Studies in Durham. The screening is part of the Southern Circuit Filmmakers tour, which mostly features documentaries, with the occasional fiction film thrown into the mix. Genre-wise, Woodpecker throws a curve of its own, with a concocted plot about a pair of intrepid birdwatchers threaded through a conventional documentary about the fabled ivory-billed woodpecker, a species thought to be extinct until sightings began to crop up in the Arkansas bayou in 2004.
If you haven't heard of Roger D. Hodge, you're likely familiar with the magazine he used to edit: Harpers Magazine.The 43 year old, who first began working at Harpers as a fact checker in 1996, was recently sacked from the editorship, which he assumed in 2006.
Why was he canned? Well, that's the subject of tonight's event, which bears the perhaps intentionally florid title of "My Rise and Fall: Roger Hodge on the State of Magazines."
Tonight at the Center for Documentary Studies, Hodge will engage in a public conversation with Duncan Murrell, a Pittsboro writer and teacher who has published in Harpers, the Independent Weekly and points in between. The talk is free and begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of CDS.
The last Hodge piece we read was a corker called "The Mendacity of Hope." In it, he called out Barack Obama's failure to remotely live up to the hopes of his supporters—by perpetuating the travesty of Guantánamo Bay and escalating the war in Afghanistan, among other things—and he also criticized liberals for projecting such wishes on a man who, after all, ran as a centrist.
The piece is here, but subscription is required.