‘The Experiment’ Season 2 Finale with Fern Silva and Laura Kraning

The Experiment – Season Two Finale – Laura Kraning & Fern Silva


The Experiment is pleased to present for its second season finale a selection of short films by Laura Kraning and Fern Silva. The recurring thread of the series this year concentrates on a comparative cinema wherein particular pairs of filmmakers are gathered to celebrate commonalities and contrasts found in their cinematic aesthetics. The films and videos of The Experiment are a testament to the convergence of documentary and experimental tableaus that, as our featured filmmakers pronounce, “traverse the border between the objective and the subjective, the real and the imaginary,” (Laura Kraning) and “reflect the tensions between mystification of the observational and experiential and the realization of moments in time as a form of unification.” (Fern Silva)

*Q&A and reception with filmmakers will follow the short films.

Laura Kraning


34° / -117°, 2009, 16mm, color, 1m

An elevated embankment traverses the hazy orange glow of an industrial zone on the outskirts of Los Angeles where a flood control dam is envisioned as a futuristic ruin. – LK

 Skynoise, 2009, DV, color, 5m

A journey across the ethers through portals attuned to shifting frequencies; trees like antennae, lines etched into a frozen landscape, searchlights and electric patterns vibrate in the night sky. – LK

 Devil’s Gate, 2011, Blu-ray, b/w, 20m

Devil’s Gate explores the metaphysical undercurrents of a Southern California landscape scarred by fire. The film lyrically depicts the physical and mythological terrain of Devil’s Gate Dam, located at the nexus of Pasadena’s historical relationship with technology and the occult, and intertwining with its central figure, Jack Parsons, who some believe to have opened a dark portal in this place. The film merges an observational portrait of a landscape transformed by fire, ash and water with a fragmentary textual narrative, providing a view into man’s obsession with controlling and transcending the forces of nature and spirit. It can be seen as unearthing a subconscious of the landscape, as the echoes of the past reverberate in the present and infect our perception and experience of place. – LK

 Fern Silva


Sahara Mosaic, 2009, 16mm-to-video, color, 10m

 An orientalist kaleidoscope that constitutes a geographically complex yet cinematic whole. From Egypt to Las Vegas: the old and the new world are reflected and doubled in this experimental travelogue. – FS

 Peril of the Antilles, 2011, 16mm-to-video, color & b/w, 6m

Peril of the Antilles was filmed at the beginning of November 2010 while visiting a friend in Haiti. At this specific time, the cholera epidemic was on its way to Port-au-Prince, Hurricane Tomas was on the horizon, presidential elections were in a couple weeks and the first Gede (day of the dead) took place since the January quakes. Along the way I acquired a very curious copy of a music video of Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly (Haiti’s newest president and once bad boy of Compas), from his early Nineties heyday… shot in a familiar location… rajé gain´ zoreille… – FS

 Passage Upon the Plume, 2011, 16mm, b/w, silent, 7m 

“Those who go thither, they return not again.”

Plumes dust the arid land, east to west, shape-shifting as they lift in ascension. Something lowers. An ark ran aground where revolution took root: ropes raise stones in baskets. Hearts heavier and lighter than the feather, permitted passage. Tethered or freed, resting from life or dawning anew. – Charity Coleman

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Philip Solomon: American Falls

“American Falls is a single-channel triptych adaptation of a 55-minute, six-channel, 5.1-surround installation commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It was inspired by a trip that I took to the capital at the invitation of the Corcoran in 1999, where I first encountered Frederick Church’s great painting Niagara; took note of a multichannel video installation being projected onto the walls of the Corcoran rotunda; and went on walking tours of various monuments to the “fallen” throughout the DC area. The architecture of the rotunda in the vicinity of Niagara invited me to muse on creating an all-enveloping, manmade “falls”, re-imagined as a WPA/Diego Rivera cine-mural, where the mediated images of the American Dream that I had been absorbing since childhood would flow together into the river with the roaring turbulence of America’s failures to sustain the myths and ideals so deeply embedded in the received iconography.” – Philip Solomon

Hosted by Jessica Betz, former assistant of Philip Solomon who performed a great deal of the chemical, optical and installation work on American Falls. Jessica will also be present for a Q\&A following the screening.

“Should anyone imagine that the art of alchemy died with the Middle Ages, Phil Solomon’s American Falls testifies to the contrary: both to the possibilities of photographic and digital transformation and to the magical emanations of their fusion….More than any other independent film or video I can think of from the past decade, American Falls invokes the specter of a nation whose present unraveling is all too rooted in its history. How sad it is to realize that Solomon’s masterwork, painstakingly crafted over thousands of hours, cannot hope to reach as many people as the lamest television commercial. Anyone still touched by the poetic viability of the avant-garde should not miss this opportunity to see it.” –  Tony Pipolo, Art Forum
Reviews of American Falls:


Read more: http://events.nydailynews.com/new-york-ny/events/show/205051326-american-falls-with-qa-the-experiment#ixzz1WWJJ9gcj

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Richard Sandler and Howard Guttenplan: Rare Shorts

The Rare Shorts of Richard Sandler and Howard Guttenplan

This second screening of The Experiment in 2011 features works by two filmmakers who have been key figures in the New York independent film scene for the greater part of the last 40 years: Richard Sandler (director of underground masterpiece The Gods of Times Square) and Howard Guttenplan (director of the legendary Millennium Film Workshop). Please join us for a screening of rarely seen shorts and fragments followed by a reception and discussion with filmmakers. Drinks will be available at the bar. Thank you!

Richard Sandler

Shorts and Fragments


Radioactive City, 2011, S8mm/Mini-DV, 20m

A diaristic portrait of Los Angeles focusing on two main events from the last six months: The disaster of the Fukushima power plant and an outbreak of sports rivalry-related violence at Dodger Stadium resulting in a man going into a coma.

Forever and Sunsmell, 2011, S8mm, 13m

Super-8 film footage meditation on New York’s East Village and Central Park set to the music of John Cage and the lyrics of E.E. Cummings

More titles TBA! 

“Watching Richard Sandler’s documentary is like discovering a box of old photographs. Here are the sidewalk preachers, pleasure seekers, and urban malcontents that populated Times Square before it was cleaned up, when the theatres showed films with titles like “Horny Frat Girls.” Sandler is an accomplished street photographer, and his practiced eye does much with limited means; he builds atmosphere by framing his subjects against the oversized fashion ads and news zippers. He accumulates impressions, theologies, and rants, and presents them virtually without narration; the result is a tone poem of the righteous and the possessed…” – Michael Agger (review for The New Yorker of the Gods of Times Square)

Howard Guttenplan

Diary Film Series


A selection of diary films created and curated by the filmmaker himself.  Running time estimated between 45 and 60 minutes.  Potential titles include Western Diary, European Diary, Dream Series: ((Part 2) Eye-Con), Caracas Diary, Haiti Diary, Laporte Diary, Middle East Diary and NYC Diary.

“He creates a visual flow of rich impressions of singular intensity.  There are always surprises.  Is it a blue sky or merely a small patch of color on a wall?  Real objects and their shadows intermingle to such an extent that it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and other begins.  The compositional space of the framed image is shifted and divided in every possible way.  At times close-up and far shot become interchangeable; small clusters of repeated patterns grow and develop into larger ones with the speed and nervous twitches of an artist’s brush.” – Bob Cowan (Take One Magazine)

“For the most part, a written diary records what we do, as well as attitudes towards those actions.  But a film diary can only be a record of what is seen.  This fact is the basic condition of the genre.  In order to present us with a sense of whom he or she is, the film diarist must work obliquely, portraying the whole person through only one aspect of life, perception.  Each image is read as a decision or choice of where and how to look.  The film is a string of such choices, from which the personalities of the diarist emerges through correspondences and regularities in the imagery.” – Noel Carroll

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Richard Garet and Peter Hutton in person


‘The Experiment’ Season Two:
Examining the convergence of documentary and avant-garde modes of cinema.

Curated by Lorenzo Gattorna & Peter Buntaine.

Please join us for this special screening of ‘At Sea’ and ‘Melting Ground’
with filmmakers Peter Hutton and Richard Garet in person for a Q&A and reception.

‘At Sea,’ Peter Hutton, 2004-07, 16mm, color & b/w, silent, 60m

“The momentum of more than forty thousand tons is as absolute as the darkness” (John McPhee, Looking for a Ship). Hutton’s most recent film—a riveting and revelatory chronicle of the birth, life, and death of a colossal container ship—is unquestionably one of his most ambitious and profound. A haunting meditation on human progress, both physical and metaphorical. At Sea charts a three-year passage from twenty-first-century ship building in South Korea to primitive and dangerous ship breaking in Bangladesh, with an epic journey across the North Atlantic in between.” – MoMA

“Hutton’s exquisite images, precise, observational style, and use of long takes and silence encourage the mind to roam. These ships come to seem like inspiriting physical measures of mankind’s outsized capacity for hard work and boundless imagination, by which we overcome the isolation of the human condition. ” – Film Comment

‘Melting Ground,’ Richard Garet and Asher Thal-Nir, 2011, video, b/w, sound, 40m
(Published by Contour Editions, Catalog Number ce.dvd_0002)

“….As if Erik Satie and Albert Pinkham Ryder had taken a helicopter ride in Alaska together in order that they might locate a cipher or secret alphabet in the clouds, the mist and the glacial moraine below. Aerial adumbrations of wilderness unfolding in time like a Chinese landscape painting from the Sixteenth Century. Topography as stand-in for the unconscious. With geology and waterfall as phantasm, a panorama of lost places flickering in the eidetic harbor of dream. Of what was and never will be again, as much in metaphor, in mind, in memory as in actual place. Who am I? Where am I going? What can I become?” – David Baker

“The imagery of Melting Ground consists of an uninterrupted single handheld take, while flying in a helicopter over Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska in August 2005. Garet submitted the footage to rigorous processes of digital manipulation, altering the take natural condition, light, motion, rhythm, and duration. The audio was specifically composed for the imagery. Asher’s sonic construction commenced by making recordings with microphones placed inside the body of a piano, very close to the hammers, and emphasizing not only the tactile qualities of the instrument, but also the timber and sensorial richness of its sound. Additionally, Asher focused on layering and synchronizing loops of the piano’s sounds to create irregular structures in which new melodic phrases would arise through chance.” – Contour Editions

For more information about Richard Garet + Asher Thal-Nir, please visit the label at: www.contoureditions.com

For more information on past events from the curators, please visit their website at:

For more information on Maysles Cinema, please visit their website at:

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The Experiment 4: Retrospective

This exhibition serves as a ‘retrospective’ of stylistic and technical revolutions in the development of documentary and avant-garde filmmaking. These include: the city symphony, abstract expressionism, surrealist science, structuralism, diarist cinema, optical printing, computer generated imagery, double exposure, digital distortion and time lapse photography.

Daybreak Express, D A Pennebaker, 1953, 16mm, color, sound, 5m
Lights, Marie Menken, 1964-66, 16mm, color, silent, 7m
The Love Life of an Octopus, Jean Painleve, 1967, Betacam, color, sound, 14m
Canyon, Jon Jost, 1970, video, color, silent, 6m
Not The First Time, Hollis Frampton, 1976, 16mm, color, silent, 5m
Nice Biscotts #2, Luther Price, 2005, 16mm, color, sound, 10m
Light is Waiting, Michael Robinson, 2007, digital video, color, sound, 11m
The Third Body, Peggy Ahwesh, 2009, video, color, sound, 9m
Albert and David Maysles appearing on The David Letterman Show

Louis Lumiere, selected short films
Thomas Edison, selected short films

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The Experiment 3: Personal Ethnographies


Ben Russell – Trypps #6

Fern Silva – After Marks

Robert Fulton – Path of Cessation

Henry Hills – Failed States

Apichatpong Weerasethekul – Phantoms of Nabua

Maya Deren – Divine Horsemen

Albert Maysles – Safari Ya Gari


After Marks

Fern Silva, USA/India, 16mm to digital, color, sound, 2008, 7m

“A pursuit for a departed presence within faded memory.” – Fern Silva

“If any single idea runs through these pieces, it’s a complicated relationship between subject and observer, between what the camera captures and the camera itself. Elements of some kind of documentary experience pepper a few shorts more than others, but each has the feel and temperament of a personal experience, like a diary entry or photo collection. In Silva’s “After Marks,” the camera observes street scenes and young men/boys playing in what looks like India: ignited fireworks streak the celluloid at one point, what could be overexposed black-and-white stock captures young men riding a moped in another. The soundtrack offers a panoply of street sounds, as if field recordings of a random intersection.” – Bret McCabe

Failed States

Henry Hills, USA, 16mm to digital, color and b/w, silent, 2008, 10m

“Boys love to spin until they collapse. Is the world then spinning out of control? Preparations for renegotiating the Nonproliferation Treaty.” – Henry Hills

Trypps #6 (Malobi)

Ben Russell, USA/Suriname, 16mm, color, sound, 2009, 12m

“From the Maroon village of Malobi in Suriname, South America, this single-take film offers a strikingly contemporary take on a Jean Rouch classic.  It’s Halloween at the Equator, Andrei Tarkovsky for the jungle set.” – Ben Russell

Path of Cessation

Robert Fulton, USA/Tibet, 16mm, color and b/w, sound, 1974, 15m

“A transition from a static study of a Nepalese courtyard to a swirling collage of exotic overlay. This is quite an amazing film.” – Calvin Ahlgren, San Francisco Chronicle

“We are not tricked into the belief that we’ve visited Tibet by proxy. Here is the wonder of your works, Bob: that you know, always, whatever part of the World you bounce light off, you are in yr. own backyard…albeit all these strange (and familiar) creatures move thru that infinite ‘yard’ of yr. mind. How simply wonderful…Each film a growth: all of the same spirit. What more can I say but…Thanks!” – Stan Brakhage

“In Path of Cessation the image that is communicated to us by Fulton is a highly mystifying one. Rather than analyze, or enter into a dialogue with the Tibetan culture that he photographs, Fulton has succumbed to it, and through the process has presented us a work of great surface, as well as formal, beauty.” – Lucy Fischer, The Soho Weekly News

Phantoms of Nabua

Apicahtpong Weerasethakul, Thailand, digital video, color, sound, 2009, 10m

“Like A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, Phantoms of Nabua is a portrait of home. The film portrays a communication of lights, the lights that exude, on the one hand, the comfort of home and, on the other, of destruction.

Phantoms of Nabua is part of the multi-platform Primitive project which focuses on a concept of remembrance and extinction and is set in the northeast of Thailand.

Last year as a tribute to a place I often visit I wrote an article called Wing Rim Beung (Jogging Around the Swamp). It’s an impression of a swamp in my home town in the northeast. In one paragraph there’s a description of a light near the swamp:

‘There is something more beautiful at this swamp however; a wooden pole with a soft white neon lamp attached to it, located at one corner next to a large tree. No matter how many years I pass by, I always have to stop and look whenever I go running. The lamp is always blinking on and off, as if its ballast is in a state of permanent decline. The lamplight is momentarily reflected in the large tree nearby, briefly revealing its green leaves in the darkness. I call it ‘the flash of lightning on the banks of the swamp’.’ (Published in GAGARIN: The Artists in their Own Words, volume 9 #1, March 2008.)

Perhaps for an economic reason, most of the houses in Asia are illuminated by fluorescent lights. Even though these lights make the skin look pale, even dead, for me they relate to home, to being home.

The film’s setting is a rear projection of Nabua (from the Primitive installation) and a recreation of a fluorescent light pole back in my hometown. I used this setting as a playground for the teens who emerged from the dark with a football raging with fire. They took turns kicking the ball that left illuminated trails on the grass. Finally they burned the screen, which revealed behind it a ghostly white beam of a projector.” – Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Safari Ya Gari

Albert Maysles, USA/Kenya, 16mm to digital, b/w, 1961, 10m

“This early travelogue film, made in a Kenyan train station, captures an impromptu musical performance. Some passengers eagerly join in while others sleep blissfully unaware of the performance taking place around them.” – Maysles Institute

Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti

Maya Deren, USA/Haiti, 16mm to digital, b/w, sound, 1985, 52m

“In 1947 Deren won the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prix Internationale. The same year she was also awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (10) to begin research on the Voudoun (voodoo) ritual in Haitian culture. A book, recordings of the sounds of the rituals, and the beginnings of a film were the results of her extraordinary research. Deren recorded two albums of Voudoun music “Divine Horsemen” and “Meringues and Folk Ballads of Haiti”. In 1953 she published the definitive study of the Voudoun ritual: Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti. Deren consulted with luminaries like Joseph Campbell and Gregory Bateson in her research and she shot more than 18,000 feet of footage during her three visits between 1947 and 1954. During her research Deren’s position became ambiguous. On one hand she was distanced from the project, a medium for the transmission of ideas, but she was also closely involved in the ritual. Her insights on the Voudoun ritual emerge from her participation in the ceremonies. On one of her trips to Haiti, Deren was initiated as a Voudoun priestess.

In 1985 Deren’s third husband Teiji Ito and his new wife Cherel assembled and edited the Haitian footage that had remained incomplete since Deren’s death. The footage was spliced together to form an anthropological structure and a voice-over narration was added to clarify the details of the ceremonies. Upon its release, critics expressed reservations that the film was at odds with Deren’s style and contrasted with her original conception of the film.” – Wendy Haslem, Senses of Cinema

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The Experiment 2: Experiments in Portraiture


Ben Rivers – Origin of the Species

Stan Brackage – I…Dreaming

Paolo Gioli – Filmarylin

Robert Todd – Stable

Naren Wilks – Bridge Study

Kelly Spivey – Make Them Jump

Seth Fragomen – Seance

David Baker – AB OVO

Jay Hudson – S21

Marie Losier – Snowbeard

Seoungho Cho – WS. 2, WS. 3

Sean Berman – Screen

Gregory Vanderveer – Albert Maysles for Index Magazine

Lorenzo Gattorna – Boys and Girl

Peter Buntaine – Bushwick/Heavy Woods


Origin of the Species

Ben Rivers, UK, 16mm, color, sound, 2008, 16m
“A film begun as a portrait of S, a 75-year-old man living in a remote part of Inverness-shire. S has been obsessed with Darwin’s works for much of his life. Since a child he has wondered at life on Earth and, though he never became an academic, found in Darwin many answers to his questions. The film images concentrate on the mysterious geography of his world; his garden—from the microcosmic to the grand; the contraptions and inventions he’s made; his isolated patch of land where he has built his house after a life of traveling and working around the world. The soundtrack has S heard discussing his take on life on Earth and humans place upon it. The film attempts to span from the beginnings of the world up to an uncertain future.” – Ben Rivers


Stan Brackage, USA, 16mm, color, sound, 1988, 6m

“I… Dreaming occupies an atypical position within the work of Stan Brakhage. Out of nearly 400 films made between 1952 and 2003, I… Dreaming is one of around only 30 which have a soundtrack, the rest being silent. It consists of home-movie footage (Brakhage picking his toenails, his grandchildren playing), accompanied by a soundtrack compiled by Joel Haertling of Stephen Foster songs. Typically, Brakhage’s films eschew classical Hollywood style, avoiding traditional depth perspective through a variety of techniques. However, in I… Dreaming most shots are composed in depth, and the spectator is even able to construct a three-dimensional space from the differing angles on the family house shown.” – Malcom Cook


Paolo Gioli, Italy, 16mm, b/w, silent, 1992, 10m

“Marilyn Monroe, the most photographed woman in the world, machine-gunned with pictures, bombarded to the bone, to the marrow, under the nails, to the blood.  Infinite suffering of a whole life captured in one image, captured by one image.  Marilyn died because she had been photographed too much, she died irradiated.  Nailed to the pickaxe of the dark room, Marilyn’s life is a Passion, she’s Christ resurrected into a woman.” – Paolo Gioli


Robert Todd, USA, 16mm, color, sound, 2003, 7m

“Portrait of a New England farm: back and there again.The family-run farm is a staple of romantic Americana. Industrialization’s reformation of our material and ideological makeup brought with it an idealized notion of the Farm as a point of origin and innocence, and in so doing created a cultural rift between agriculturists and bourgeois.This film brings the aesthetics of that romanticism to a rather complicated crossroad, creating, through the maker’s necessarily bourgeois eye and means, an ersatz cycle of life that resists simplicity.” – Robert Todd

Bridge Study (2718 Crossings)

Naren Wilks, UK, S8mm, b/w, sound, 2009, 3m

“This film is a study of the structural symmetry of a pedestrian bridge, made by crossing it 2718 times. For each crossing, a single frame of super-8 was shot. The film takes the viewer on an impossible dual journey across the bridge, and attempts to serve as a testament to the architectural wonder of it and other bridges like it by revealing its perfect symmetry. The film also acts as a document of a performance that took place on the bridge: a man (me) with a super-8 camera walking back and forth across it constantly for 1 month.” – Naren Wilks

Make them Jump

Kelly Spivey, USA, 16mm, color, sound, 2009, 11m

“Optically printed from found footage of animals with children, with subliminal messages… an experimental film that uses snippets from discarded educational films including a bullfrog-jumping contest, a story of a child in a Harlem project who finds an abandoned duck, and a girl whose best friend is a cow.” – Kelly Spivey


Seth Fragomen, USA, 16mm, color, sound, 2009, 5m

“A woman died in the loft where this was shot in 2008. I lived there shortly after she passed away. Her presence was strong and I wanted to make contact with her. Making this film was how I connected with her. I’m not sure why the film took the form it did, but it felt right.” – Seth Fragomen

Ab Ovo

David Baker, USA, video, color, sound, 2009, 10m

Latin:  from the beginning

A memory locus.

Memory is a thing with holes in it, a dream-like exaltation.

What are the possibilities embedded in this mask?

“Time is built into the body in the sense of becomingness.”

(Stages of becoming, senses of becoming –

transitory blossoms.)

l’orée du songe

“A shore of dreaming.”

“…as I am it is inevitable that I should

sometimes feel like a shadow walking

in a shadowy world.”

Specters are summoned across thresholds of reverie.

An oracle in low light effulgence.

A rumination on mortality.

Escrito en el agua

(written in the water).

Echoes hypnotiques,

participatory discrepancies in out-of-phase synchronicities.

Ghostly imbrications.

“Making the body available..”

Entrainment to its light pulses,

a clairvoyant syntax of primordial beginnings.

Lie down, dream with me.


Jay Hudson, USA, S8mm, b/w, silent, 2007, 2m

“S21 was a notorious prison located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979). Out of an estimated 17,000 prisoners who entered S21, there were only twelve known survivors. The inmates were all photographed before they were shackled, brutally tortured for months, and then eventually executed. This film consists of a series of photographs of the condemned, shown one after another until they blend together. It is a simple meditation on the extremes of human power and its ability to suppress the intrinsic value of life.” – Jay Hudson


Marie Losier, USA, 16mm, b/w, sound, 2008, 3m

“Losier’s poignant short film offers a moving tribute to New York icon Mike Kuchar, filmed on his last day before leaving Manhattan to relocate to San Francisco.”

WS. 2, WS.3

Seoungho Cho, Korea, video, color, sound, 2003-2004, approx. 13m

“The video works of Korean artist Seoungho Cho are distinguished by a lyrical confluence of complex image processing and sound collage. His works are formalist, almost painterly explorations of subjectivity and the subconscious. These poetic meditations often focus on isolation and estrangement in relation to culture and landscape.  White Sands 1-3 are various poetic interpretations of a specific landscape.”


Sean Berman, USA, video, color, sound, 2010, 3m

“Scientists have confirmed the presence of a silly man trapped between the image and this screen.” – S.B.

Boys and Girl

Lorenzo Gattorna, USA, 16mm, b/w, sound, 2010, 3m

“Ruth Orkin…American Girl in Italy 1951…Giacomo Puccini…Nessun Dorma” – L.G.

Bushwick – Heavy Woods

Peter Buntaine, USA, 16mm, color, sound, 2010, 8m

“A double-exposed image of the past and present of a neighborhood in Northern Brooklyn.

Albert Maysles

Greg Vanderveer, USA, video, color, sound, 2009, 10m

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