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FotoFest 2004 - WATER

February 24, 2004

For Immediate Release
For Information and Visuals Contact:

Vinod Hopson
Press Coordinator
Tel (713) 223-5522 ext.26; Fax (713) 223-4411

Eileen Maxson
Film and Video Coordinator
Tel (713) 223-5522 ext. 31


FotoFest 2004 - Water
February 29, 2004 – April 16, 2004
Houston, Texas

HOUSTON, TEXAS (February 24, 2004) – Film and video are taking their place alongside FotoFest’s acclaimed photography programs at FotoFest 2004.

The Tenth Biennial of Photography and Photo-Related Art is presenting a six-week series of classical films, experimental videos, and political documentaries on Water. Eight of Houston’s most respected media arts organizations are joining FotoFest in spreading the word about Water.

“With a subject as complex and universal as Water, it is essential to work with as many related media as possible. Moving images and the spoken word deepen the effect and potential impact of this Biennial“, says FotoFest Artistic Director Wendy Watriss. “This is recognition of the growing importance of media arts in Houston’s art world and the emergence of important new media organizations in Houston over the past 10 years.”

With the coordination of video artist Eileen Maxson, programs are being curated by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Angelika Film Center, Aurora Picture Show, KUHT - Houston PBS, Microcinema International, Rice University Media Center, Southwest Alternate Media Project, and Voices Breaking Boundaries. A broad array of traditional and non-traditional venues are partnering in the presentations of these works: The Artery, Dean’s Credit Clothing, DiverseWorks Art Space, Lawndale Art Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Film Department.

“The six-week FotoFest 2004 film and video series represents the diversity of contemporary film and video discourse and the extent of Water’s impact on creative expression, these programs include activist documentaries, poetic narratives, avant-garde short films and videos, and independent features“, says FotoFest Film and Video Coordinator Eileen Maxson. “The works range from personal metaphor to geopolitics and the environment.”

The film and video series begins February 29, 2004, before the opening of FotoFest’s photographic exhibitions, with a political documentary on the controversy surrounding the building of India’s huge Narmada dam and Rice University Media Center’s screening of Jean Vigo’s classic films related to Water.

A special poster and schedule of the Film and Video programs is available now and during the Biennial. The poster is free of charge. A complete list of events and dates accompanies this release. Please check the FotoFest Web site,, for updates.


L’Atlante and Taris
Rice University Media Center, March 4 – 7, 2004, 8pm
The recently restored L’Atlante (1934) and Taris (1931), a classic film and an experimental short by legendary French filmmaker Jean Vigo. A champion of poetic realism, Vigo last masterpiece, L’Atalante, was originally censored for its anti-bourgeoisie subtext. The plot follows a newly wedded and disillusioned couple coping with the onset of jealousy and solitude. It is often praised as one of the greatest films of all time. Also being presented is Taris, an experimental documentary about French swimming champion Jean Taris - a comic, formally daring short that begins like a typical non-fiction film but ends in a meditation on water, weightlessness, and transcendence.

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Angelika Film Center, March 12 – 18, 2004
Pioneering Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s exploration of sexuality and desire, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge is the story of a frustrated and unemployed Tokyo businessman who encounters a beautiful young woman with an unusual affliction which causes her to fill with water. The relationship that builds between them becomes both vital and volatile. The film has been called, "…An inspired work by a 75-year-old master at the height of his powers", (Amy Taubin, Village Voice 10/2/02).

The Aurora Picture Show and Microcinema International highlight the growing international micro-cinema movement. The organizations screen a variety of experimental, documentary and short films in smaller, less traditional settings. The size affords them freedom from the concerns of larger commercial theaters allowing them to show work by less established and experimental media-artists.

Independent Exposure
Lawndale Art Center, March 18, 2004, 9pm
Microcinema will premier a program of new short video works that apply water as inspiration for personal and creative expression. Curated from an open call, the resulting program is an eclectic mix of directors and moving images from all over the world. After the FotoFest 2004 Biennial, the series will travel to microcinemas worldwide. Since 1996, Microcinema International has curated and presented Independent Exposure, a monthly series of short film, video and digital media curated by Microcinema International. Devoted to supporting innovative, culturally relevant, and typically marginalized moving image artists, the series has screened the works of over 1000 artists in 43 countries, including Palestine and Antarctica. The March installment of Independent Exposure features works by Ingeborg Verleisdonk (Netherlands), Kia Simon (USA), Hope Hall (USA), Patricia Townsend (UK), Reynold Reynolds & Patrick Jolley (USA, Ireland), Dylan Seuss-Brakeman (USA), Chel White (USA), Didier Oustrie (France), Mehmet Ozcelik (Denmark), Virginia Valdes (USA), Norma V. Toraya (USA), and Mark O'Connell (USA).

A special presentation of All Water Has a Perfect Memory, an experimental documentary by filmmaker Natalia Almada, accompanies this program. The film explores the tragic effects of the accidental drowning of the filmmaker’s sister. Told in Spanish and English, the film highlights the differences that race, gender, age and culture make in understanding death.

Interpreting Anthropogeomorphology
Aurora Picture Show, March 27, 2004, 8pm and March 28, 2004, 3pm
The Center For Land Use Interpretation, (CLUI), presents a program comprised of contemporary industrial, documentary, and government films about land curated, by CLUI’s Matthew Coolidge, from the center’s archives. CLUI is an inter-disciplinary research organization whose purpose is to understand and to interpret the nature and extent of human interaction with the Earth’s surface. Neither an environmental group nor an industry-affiliated organization, CLUI emphasizes a multiplicity of perspectives regarding the utilization of terrestrial and geographic resources. Coolidge is the Director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation and the author of several books that explore the margins of landscape.

The Garden in the Machine
Aurora Picture Show, April 3, 2004, 8pm and April 4, 2004, 3pm
Scott MacDonald is the acclaimed author of The Garden in the Machine: A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place, which examines the depiction of place in alternative cinema. Supplementing his acclaimed book, Scott MacDonald presents two distinct programs of avant-garde films and videos on the theme of Water. Included are works by moving-image makers who use mechanical, chemical, and electronic technologies as a means of transforming the screening space into a psychic or spiritual “garden” within the “machine” of modern life. Included will be works by Peter Hutton, Stan Brakhage, Bill Viola, Ernie Gehr, Ralph Steiner, Kenneth Anger, J.J. Murphy, Chris Welsby, Chick Strand, David Gatten, and Leighton Pierce.


Drowned Out
The Artery, February 29, 2004, 6:30pm
The Houston based progressive arts organization Voices Breaking Boundaries, will present three documentaries. The first, Drowned Out, opens the program February 29 at the Artery and is a feature length documentary about India’s controversial Narmada Dam. The dam, a project of the Indian Government, is poised to displace or drown 8000 families in India. With water rising from the dam, the people of Jalsindhi in central India have three choices: move to slums in the city, accept a place at a resettlement site, or stay home and drown. Best-selling author, Arundhati Roy, joins the villagers’ fight as they struggle through hunger strikes, rallies, police brutality and a six-year Supreme Court case. A panel discussion and dinner follow the screening.

An Injury to One
Dean’s Credit Clothing, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2004, 9pm
The Aurora Picture Show will collaborate with Voices Breaking Boundaries to present An Injury to One, at Dean Credit Clothing, a Downtown bar and lounge. An Injury to One centers around the 1917 murder of labor agitator Frank Little, but tells of the larger calamity of Butte, Montana. Much of the extant evidence of the crime is inscribed upon the landscape of the city, where an abandoned and flooded copper mine, once the lifeblood of the community, now registers as one of the most toxic sites in the country. An unapologetically leftist work of history, it draws together landscape, song and acute connections among the facts and footnotes of the official company line, to arrive at a poetic history as agitation. With music by Will Oldham, Jim O’Rourke, and Low.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, April 4, 2004, 7pm
A documentary about the small island 20 kilometers south of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Tiengemeten is the last remaining island in the southwestern delta of the Netherlands. Once a sandbank, it was rescued from the sea 200 years ago and settled by farmers on six farms protected by dikes and dunes. The film documents the on-going process of returning this farmland to the sea, beginning in 1996 and continuing through 2001. It focuses on images of the landscape—the order and the endless expanse of fields—and explores the relationship between humans and landscapes. Examining the plan developed by dozens of scientists for the return of the island to its natural state, the film considers what the future holds for Tiengemeten, reflecting not only philosophical issues surrounding open land, but also the complexity of the Netherlands’ structured society.

Area K
The Axiom, April 16, 2004, 8pm
The third film in the series co-sponsored by Voices Breaking Boundaries series, Area K is the story of Palestinian fishermen in Gaza and the Israelis that control their fishing grounds. Between the signing of the Oslo accord in 1991 and the recent Al Aksa intifada, a Palestinian fishing clan, isolated from international waters by an Israeli controlled military zone, strikes a deal with their Israeli counterparts. Acting on their unlikely partnership, Israeli settlers arrange permits from the Israeli military and police, to allow Palestinians to fish in restricted waters and to live and to work on the beach of Area K. This is a story about Arabs and Jews struggling together to catch fish in the midst of the painful, historical and territorial bloodshed of the Middle East. Dinner and a panel discussion accompany the screening.

KUHT, Houston’s PBS television station will present five separate programs on Water during primetime in March and April as part of FotoFest 2004. The programs include Texas: The State of Water, Water’s Journey, Okie Noodling, Clearwater - One Woman’s Prayer, and The New Garden “Harvesting Rainwater”. These half-hour and hour long programs deal with Water issues such as conservation, fishing, wetland reclamation and recreation. Check listings or the FotoFest calendar for dates and times.

In addition to the programs listed above, FotoFest is co-sponsoring three other special events as part of its Film and Video program.

Stories, Maps, and Notes from the Half-Light
Boxhead Ensemble
Aurora Picture Show, March 13, 2004, 8 pm & 11 pm

Improvising to a stellar program of poetic short films assembled by filmmaker Braden King and curator Astria Suparak, the Boxhead Ensemble will perform the North American premiere of Stories, Maps, and Notes from the Half-Light. Initially joining forces to create the critically acclaimed soundtrack to Braden King and Laura Moya's film, Dutch Harbor: Where the Sea Breaks its Back, members of the Ensemble's rotating lineup have participated in such notable musical groups as Wilco, Cat Power, Souled American, Freakwater, Gastr del Sol and Dirty Three, among many others. In this incarnation of the Ensemble, musicians Michael Krassner, Jim White, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Scott Tuma will accompany works by some of the most interesting filmmakers in modern experimental cinema, including Paula Froehle, Julie Murray, Phil Solomon, Guy Sherwin, and Jem Cohen.

Exit the Waiting Room: Contemporary Media Art in Houston
DiverseWorks Art Space, March 31, 2004, 7pm
DiverseWorks will host a panel discussion on media-art in Houston and Texas. Not long ago, media art in Texas was implicated as “a medium that is not a medium but a composite practice…an art form that had failed to develop a system of distribution, exhibition, or a market that could sustain artist growth and development.” (Johannes Birringer, ArtLies, Winter 1999-2000) More recently, the media-arts scene in Houston has been looking more optimistic, developing an increasingly national respect. In response to this, a diverse panel of media artists, curators and collectors will address Houston’s media-arts past, its contemporary practice and their hopes for its future. Panelists include Serena Lin Bush, artist; Duncan Ganley, artist; Andrea Grover, Founder and Director - Aurora Picture Show; Brian Wesley Heiss, artist and lecturer, Rice University; Jeanne Klein, collector; Michael Galbreth, artist; Eileen Maxson, artist; Gabriela Rangel, Assistant Curator of Latin American Art, MFAH, and Jeff Shore, artist. Moderated by Kimberly Davenport, Gallery Director, Rice University Gallery.

Texas Water
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, April 9, 7pm
The Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) will present new short films (27 minutes or less) by Texas filmmakers on, about, or inspired by Water. The selected works will be screened at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on April 9 when prizes will be awarded for the top entries. Additionally, during FotoFest, the program of the works selected will show continuously at a special FotoFest venue, where visitors may vote for their favorite piece. Selections may also be broadcast during the 29th season of the PBS series THE TERRITORY, sponsored by SWAMP.

For more information on FotoFest 2004 Biennial programming, 2004 visuals, and forthcoming FotoFest publications, please contact Mr. Vinod Hopson, Press Coordinator at 713/ 223-5522 ext 26 or

FotoFest, 1113 Vine Street, Houston, Texas 77002

SPONSORS - FOTOFEST 2004 (as of January 28, 2004)

Major institutional sponsors for FotoFest 2004 are Houston Endowment, Inc; Nan T. McEvoy Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; GoBase2-Manzanita Alliance; Axiom Design, Houston; The Brown Foundation Inc., Houston; William Stamps Farish Fund; Trust for Mutual Understanding; City of Houston and Texas Commission for the Arts through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County; Continental Airlines; The Warwick Hotel; Texas Commission on the Arts; The Bruni Smothers Foundation; The Wortham Foundation; H-E-B Grocery; The Houston Chronicle; Margaret Regan and Fletcher Thorne-Thomsen, Jr, Vine Street Studios

Continental Airlines is the official airline of FotoFest and FotoFest 2004

Additional institutional support has come from KUHF 88.7FM; the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S.; PaperCity Magazine; The George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation; The Clayton Fund; Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation; Cultural Services of the French Consulate in Houston; Arts Houston Magazine; British Art Council; George Mitchell Interests; The Oshman Foundation; Joan and Stanford Alexander Foundation; The Samuels Foundation of The Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community of Houston; Buffalo Bayou ArtPark; Buffalo Bayou Partnership, The Greentree Fund; Rice University Department of Visual Arts and Abrams, Scott & Bickley LLP

Special in-kind support has come from Rice University; Hines - Williams Tower Gallery; Weingarten Realty; McCord Development – One City Centre; Century Development – Reliant Energy Plaza at 1000 Main; Crescent Real Estate Equities - One Houston Center; TrizecHahn – One and Three Allen Center and Continental One; Heritage Hall at the JPMorgan Chase Building; Denise Bethel, Sotheby’s; MindOH! Design; Downtown Management District; Sicardi Gallery; The Wealth Group - Erie City Ironworks; Project Row Houses; Houston Community College, Central Art Department; Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Inc.; New World Museum - Armando Palacios and Cinda Ward; The Station – James and Ann Harithas; Aurora Picture Show; Microcinema International; Southwest Alternate Media Project; Voices Breaking Boundaries; Lawndale Art Center; DiverseWorks Art Space; Angelika Film Center; KUHT-PBS Channel 8; The Artery

A list of FotoFest institutional funders is available and listed on the FotoFest Web site,