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Ian Cheney’s (’18) films, THIRTEEN WAYS and PICTURE CHARACTER, premiere

 

Alumnus Ian Cheney’s (’18) thesis documentary, THIRTEEN WAYS, will screen at the DC Environmental Film Festival on Thursday, Mar 21, 2019.

A series of scientists (and, for good measure, a few nonscientists) travel to a plot of Maine land they have never seen before. One-by-one, through all four seasons, they walk the land and describe what they see. What unfolds is an unusual meditation upon the human relationship to the natural world and the power of different ways of seeing.



PICTURE CHARACTER, directed by Cheney and Martha Shane, will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC on Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Emojis (Japanese for “picture character”) have emerged as a way for billions to communicate. Their widespread use and ability to convey complex and subtle feelings could mean the world is on the cusp of discovering a new language. Directors Martha Shane and Ian Cheney take us deep into the world of picture characters, from the private non-profit international consortium that standardized emoji offerings and decides on the introduction of new ones, to the campaigns for new emojis such as those depicting menstruation and Argentinian mate, and to the very beginnings of emojis in Japan. 

Picture Character follows the path of smiling poops and heart-eyed faces, tackles the development of skin tones, and tracks the evolution of the global digital language. Like a good use of a chin scratching emoji, the documentary is both thought-provoking and fun, and it will insure that viewers never look at another emoji, or think of language itself, the same way again.  (Sudeep Sharma)

Be sure to check out the full lineup of 2019 Tribeca Festival films.

We expect to see both of these films have a busy festival year–stay tuned!

VCFA at Sundance Film Festival 2019!

VCFA had fantastic representation at the Sundance Film Festival this year! In addition to pleasure-goers, like our own Annie Howell, several alumni and students were there to speak and show support for their projects.

Ian Cheney (’18), Jason Rosenfield (’18) and VCFA faculty member Annie Howell

 

Recent VCFA graduate Jason Rosenfield was at the festival in support of the new Amazon docuseries LORENA which he worked on as Supervising Editor. LORENA will be available to stream on Amazon February 15th, 2019.

Lorena Bobbitt became a household name in 1993, when accounts of a mutilation dominated headlines: she cut off her husband’s penis, and the country collectively gasped. Twenty-five years later, Joshua Rofé excavates the scandalized case through a modern cultural lens. Each episode of this four-part docuseries, executive produced by Jordan Peele, builds upon the last, exposing the issues surrounding the couple and their criminal trials—Lorena’s then-husband, John Wayne Bobbit, for marital sexual assault, and Lorena for malicious wounding. In unearthing the long-term abuse that precipitated the infamous night, Rofé dives into a wider discussion about the lack of support for domestic-violence victims, the power and fragility of the word penis, John’s increasingly unpredictable life post-recovery, and how the public’s insatiable appetite for the Bobbitts’ story paved the way for the 24-hour news cycle. Rofé’s re-examination restores depth to a woman reduced to parodies and caricatures and prompts us to reconsider our preconceptions.

 

Alumnus Ian Cheney (’18) was at the festival as one of five inaugural Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project fellows to participate in a panel discussion titled “Exploring Boundaries” which focused on the intersection between science and storytelling. Cheney was selected as a recipient of the Science Sandbox Nonfiction grant in November 2018 for his film THE MOST UNKNOWN which he directed and produced.

Ian Cheney (’18) center, enjoying a meal with Lena and Werner Herzog, and Greg Boustead (co-producer THE MOST UNKNOWN).

Through imagination and exploration and a deep sense of wonder, scientists and artists aim to reveal deeper truths about our world—in different and sometimes surprisingly similar ways. Join us, our project fellows, and other special guests as we celebrate the inaugural year of the Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project and engage in a conversation between legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog and renowned astrophysicist and novelist Janna Levin about experimental science storytelling.

 

Current VCFA student Damon Davis also attended the festival, as did recent VCFA residency special guests Ramona Diaz and Nancy Schreiber. We hear Mike Day was also spotted out in the crowd!

 

Susan Kelechi Watson (THIS IS US), Annie Howell, and Anna Margaret Hollyman (SISTER AIMEE). Kelechi Watson and Hollyman starred in Howell’s 2012 film (co-directed with Lisa Robinson), SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS. Hollyman also starred in Howell and Robinson’s 2016 film CLAIRE IN MOTION.

 

Student Spotlight: Ian Cheney’s film THE MOST UNKNOWN premieres March 16th, 2018

THE MOST UNKNOWN, a documentary film directed by current VCFA MFA in Film student Ian Cheney, premieres today (March 16, 2018) at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen. THE MOST UNKNOWN, is a “scientific exploration of the unknown, where the greatest mysteries of physics and nature can be found at the bottom of the ocean and in outer space.”

Ian Cheney’s film demonstrates how a meeting of researchers can take place across disciplines, and it is a magnificent portrait of the desire of modern research to understand the unknown and make it tangible. A project, which brings us all the way where research is not about results and peer reviews, but about approaching adventure. -CPH:DOX

Check out the trailer below and this Motherboard write up to learn more!

Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. His most recent films include THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO, released by IFC Films / Sundance Selects, and the forthcoming documentary film BLUESPACE, which explores the terraforming of Mars and the waterways of New York City. Ian is in his final year here at VCFA, and we are thrilled to see his thesis work, as well as his future endeavors!