Early Monthly Segments is delighted to be presenting a new film by the Berlin-based filmmaker Ute Aurand. Inspired by the diary films of Jonas Mekas, Aurand began making her own 16mm films in the 1980s recording her friends, colleagues, performances and travels. In large part edited in camera her films preserve the intimacy and immediacy of the moments she observes with a distinctive dynamic enthusiasm. To Be Here is the third in a trilogy of 16mm travelogues that include films shot in Pune, India (India, 2005) and Japan (Young Pines, 2011). In each her passionate curiosity is complimented by an empathetic approach and sensitivity to the subtle details of these places and the gestures of the people that inhabit them.
In To Be Here Aurand focuses her hand held Bolex on the USA via locations in New England, New York and Arizona. Near the start of the film she combines a series of close ups of the hand written lyrics for America the Beautiful with portraits of their author Katherine Lee Bates. Then, interspersed with landscapes and interiors Aurand goes on to show us vintage photographs of additional exceptional American women including Hester C. Whitehurst Jeffrey, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. At the heart of the film is a visit with the students of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, young women who appear to be poised to take on the mantle of their historic grandmothers depicted earlier in the film: strong, studious and confident. Aurand’s own ‘America the Beautiful’ provides us with glimpses of the landscapes and towns that these students will inherit. From the elegance of a shaker salon to the dusty neon of a desert truck stop, to gardens and oceans and a full moon over a bucolic field, To Be Here depicts an America abundant with poetry and promise.
Screening with Gunvor Nelson’s iconic 16mm portrait of her daughter My Name is Oona. In this masterpiece of layered images Nelson depicts her daughter at play while the soundtrack provides a musical affirmation of the girl’s own voice.
My Name is Oona, Gunvor Nelson, 1969, USA, 16mm, b&w, 10 minutes
To Be Here, Ute Aurand, 2013, USA/Germany, 16mm, b&w and colour, 38 minutes