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March 31, 2013

People’s Park by Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki

$12 Special Event Tickets - Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki in Person
Sunday March 31 at 7pm

People's Park

Directed by Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki
US/China 2012, digital video, color, 78 min

On a pleasant, sunny day in Chengdu, China, hundreds flock to People’s Park to exercise, stroll, eat, chat, sing and dance. For 76 minutes, a camera snakes through the park slowly but ceaselessly, observing all the activity in one long shot. People’s Park looks back to the first films projected for an audience, made by the Lumière brothers, who took their camera outdoors and shot everyday events for a duration limited by the length of the roll of film that would fit their camera. Libbie D. Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki revisit that idea 120 years later, in an era when handheld digital cameras are small enough to be quite mobile and can hold well over an hour’s worth of images.

The result is a refreshing opportunity to observe daily public life in China, whose vastness and complexity are all-too-often seen (in this country) primarily through the lens of journalism, reduced to information. Like other filmmakers affiliated with Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, J.P. Sniadecki has endeavored in his previous work (Demolition [2008], Foreign Parts [2010]) to use the moving image to capture quotidian experiences and daily existence in depth and in breadth. While those films skillfully utilized a moving camera to follow their protagonists, here the camera is set free to explore a space (and a block of time), achieving an elegant balance between plan and chance. — David Pendleton

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