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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Announces Documentary Fortnight 2011

The Museum of Modern Art presents Documentary Fortnight 2011: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media February 16–28, 2011.

Documentary Fortnight 2011: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media, running February 16 through 28 in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, celebrates its 10th anniversary with 20 feature-length documentary films representing 14 countries; two performance events; and thematic programs focusing on independently made contemporary Chinese documentaries and the legacy of New Day Films, the first distributor to be run by and for filmmakers. Documentary Fortnight 2011 is organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. The festival‘s selection committee consists of Sally Berger; Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director, Women Make Movies; and Chi-hui Yang, independent curator.

Doc Fortnight opens on February 16 with the international premiere of Gillian Wearing‘s Self Made (2010, Great Britain), the debut feature by the Turner Prize–winning artist. For the documentary, which considers personal identity, the individual in society, and how we construct our social selves, Wearing placed an advertisement in newspapers throughout Newcastle and London, asking readers if they would like to act in a film either as themselves or cast as a fictional character. Among the hundreds who responded, seven were selected to attend method acting workshops with renowned acting teacher Sam Rumbelow. Participants used their experiences and emotions to shape their characters, and then acted in their own mini movies. The film interweaves scenes of these processes; the result is an uncanny mix of reality, story, and fantasy. A discussion with Wearing and Rumbelow follows the screening.

The centerpiece of this year‘s festival is the New York premiere of Nostalgia for the Light (2010, Chile), from renowned filmmaker Patricio Guzmán, who is widely respected for his political documentaries about Chile. In Nostalgia for the Light, Guzmán uses an observatory in Chile‘s geographically unique Atacama Desert, where zero humidity allows astronomers an unobstructed view of the galaxy, to examine the confluence of astronomy and history. The Atacama desert also becomes the stage for a number of thought-provoking circumstances, such as a climate that has preserved mummified bodies over the 10,000 years of the human existence there, and the story of two 70-year-old women who come to sift the sands in hopes of finding remains of loved ones who were murdered during the brutal Pinochet regime. An official selection of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this 90-minute documentary has drawn critical acclaim. A discussion with Guzmán follows the screening.

The closing night film of the festival, The Arbor (2010, Great Britain), by artist filmmaker Clio Barnard, is based on the true story of the late playwright Andrea Dunbar (1961–1990) and her daughter Lorraine. The script was shaped around interviews with Lorraine Dunbar and family members, then partially filmed using an innovative technique known as ―verbatim theater;‖ actors lip-synch the documentary recordings of the people they‘re playing. Dunbar‘s daughter comes to terms with her own struggles when reintroduced to her mother‘s letters and plays in this saga of alcoholism, drugs, prostitution, sexual abuse, and violence in the run-down neighborhood of Bradford, England. A discussion with Barnard follows the screening. The Arbor will begin its theatrical run in New York at The Film Forum on April 27.

The International Film Selections in Documentary Fortnight 2011 feature several premieres, including the U.S. premiere of Gereon Wetzel‘s El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (2010, Germany), which follows chef Ferran Adrià and his team of experts for six months as they concoct new dishes for the 30-course menu of the world famous El Bulli restaurant. Two films having their New York premieres at the festival are Almost Married (2010, Italy), by director Fatma Bucak, which is the personal story of her return to Turkey after some years away to tell her very traditional father that she plans on marrying an Italian; and Xu Xin‘s absorbing six-hour documentary Karamay (2010, China), about the devastating 1994 fire in the Karamay Friendship Theater that killed 323 people, 288 of whom were school children. Xu Xin will be on hand to discuss the film after the screening.

Other International Selections include I Wish I Knew (2010, China), from acclaimed director Jia Zhangke, who was recognized with a MoMA retrospective for his work last year; El Ambulante, (The Peddler, 2010, Argentina) from director Eduardo de la Serna, about a resourceful itinerant filmmaker who travels around the country making fiction films with the residents of various towns; Un Dia Menos (One Day Less, 2009, Mexico), a film about an elderly couple anticipating a visit from their family that beautifully captures the love and tensions of a couple and the solitary struggles they must face; and the U.S. premiere of Criada (2009, Argentina) by filmmaker Matías Herrera Córdoba, which shows the daily life of 53-year-old Hortensia, who was taken from her family at a young age and became a maid in Catamarca, in a type of modern day slave labor.

The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019, (212) 708-9400

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