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September 18 - September 19

Timestage. The Cinema of Sharon Lockhart

As one of the very few contemporary artists equally talented and influential in both still photography and cinema, the work of Sharon Lockhart (b. 1964) has engaged a rich and fascinating dialogue between two media whose deep affinities are all too often misunderstood. Lockhart’s early work drew frequent inspiration from the Seventies art cinema canon so central to her aesthetic, restaging key emotional moments into abstractly theatricalized tableaux, from the first kiss of French school children in Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses (1968)—reimagined in Auditions (1994), her enigmatic serial portraits of Los Angeles youth—to the defamiliarization of late Cassavetes in her short film, Khalil, Shaun, A Woman Under the Influence (1994).

Favoring a static camera, and dynamic mise-en-scène that plays with depth and surface and renders ambiguous the distance between theatrical and natural gesture, Lockhart’s subsequent film work balances its polished, high art aesthetic and formal rigor with a keen and politically astute ethnographic attention to its arresting and markedly “foreign” subjects—the Japanese small town girls basketball team in Goshogaoka (1998) and the largely indigenous population of a tropical Brazilian hamlet in Teatro Amazonas (1999). Using nonprofessional actors these two films make bold, unexpected use of the overtly theatrical space of the basketball court and the lavish titular opera house to discover cinematographic majesty and mystery within the everyday.

With her latest work, Lunch Break (2009), and its companion piece, Exit (2009), Lockhart’s cameraturns upon her native New England, using an iron works in Maine to offer an arrestingly tactile vision of the rhythm and space of labor in the 21st century. The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to welcome back Sharon Lockhart for the opportunity to discuss her latest work and two seminal early films.

In recognition of her extraordinary contribution to cinema, Sharon Lockhart has been invited to Harvard to honor Richard P. Rogers, wondrous teacher, filmmaker and friend.

Special Event Tickets $10
Friday September 18 at 7pm

Lunch Break

Directed by Sharon Lockhart, Appearing in Person
US 2008, HD, color, 80 min.

For the first time in her films Lockhart unleashes a mobile camera, although one fixed to a carefully calibrated path that cuts a carefully timed cross-section through the Bath Iron Works in coastal Maine during the midday repast, as workers sit along a central passage to eat and talk. By deliberately slowing the film down, Lockhart opens up the wealth of details, textures and gestures captured by each frame and echoed by the richly evocative and complexly multilayered soundtrack designed by Becky Allen and filmmaker and Lockhart mentor James Benning. Lunch Break’s gradual passage through the aged factory offers a meditative and melancholic reflection on the architectural, social and phenomenological space of a notably anachronistic mode of industrialized labor.

B-52 bomberExit

Directed by Sharon Lockhart, Appearing in Person
US 2008, HD, color, 40 min.

Like the Lumière brothers before her, Lockhart steps outside the factory in order to film her lyrical companion piece to Lunch Break. Structured around five separate takes filmed across the work week, Exit captures the temporal and physical “shift” from labor to rest of workers exiting the iron works and observes the subtle differences and symmetries that sustain the rhythm of factory labor.

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Free FSC Event
Saturday September 19 at 5pm

Sound Safari: Bath, Maine

For more information about this event, please visit the Film Study Center website.

Created while a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Lunch Break was made with support from Harvard's Film Study Center.

Special Event Tickets $10
Saturday September 19 at 7pm


Directed by Sharon Lockhart, Appearing in Person
US 1997, 16mm, color, 63 min.

Lockhart spent an extended residency in the Tokyo suburb of Goshogaoka, closely observing and getting to know the local girls basketball team that is the subject of her structurally complex study of ritualized motion, collectivity and cultural difference. The uncanny presence of a curtained stage within the high school gymnasium, and at the background of the static long takes that structure the film, lends a theatrical weight to the team’s rhythmic practice and the exercises carefully choreographed by Lockhart in close collaboration with the girls. Matching the intensity of the girls’ practiced drills is Lockhart’s immobile framing, which gives almost Olympian gravity and beauty to the young athletes while also hinting ironically at the inherent heroization of subject cast by the predominately Western ethnographic gaze.

Teatro Amazonas

Directed by Sharon Lockhart, Appearing in Person
US 1999, 35mm, color, 40 min.

Teatro Amazonas reverses Goshogaoka’s frontal tableau by placing a static camera on the stage of the eponymous opera house, a beautiful architectural folly built in Manuas, in the heart of the Brazilian jungle at the height of the rubber boom. Lockhart’s film stages a brilliant conceptual gambit that bridges geographic and cultural distance to bring two disparate audiences face to face, the cinematic audience meeting the eyes of Manaus locals who were each individually interviewed and invited by Lockhart to hear a minimalist choral work specially commissioned from American composer Becky Allen. Deflecting the traditional perspective of ethnographic cinema Teatro Amazonas celebrates the artifice and absurdities of ritualized culture and engenders a mode of heightened visual spectatorship.

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