The Powerhouse Community Arts Center will host filmmaker Olivia Wyatt, who will screen two films, Staring Into the Sun and The Pierced Heart & the Machete, and field questions about her work, Thursday, November 1 at 7 p.m. Wyatt produces ethnomusic field recordings and experimental films reminiscent of Les Blank and Werner Herzog. She is currently on tour promoting her recent work with covering music from Ethiopia.
Wyatt is a filmmaker and photographer living in Rockaway Beach, New York, and is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is a member of the Sublime Frequencies collective. She directed, produced, shot and edited Staring Into the Sun (2011), a feature documentary, 136-page Polaroid book, and CD of field recordings about tribal music and culture in Ethiopia, that was released by Sublime Frequencies in the summer of 2011. Her second feature-length film is about two religious pilgrimages in Haiti, The Pierced Heart and The Machete (2012). She recently collaborated with Bitchin Bajas (members of Cave) for a Vinyl/DVD release, Vibraquatic (2012), which included 3 films she made to correspond to their music. She was also a videographer for the experimental documentary, Below the Brain (2011), which explores the West Indies day celebrations in Brooklyn.
Wyatt’s other films include two documentary shorts, several music videos, and some animations. She also co-produced Treebop a children’s television show on CAT3 TV in Columbia, Missouri. Her films have been featured at the Milano Film Festival in Italy, the Picknick Im Kino Film Festival in Hamburg, the All Tomorrow’s Festival in England, the Arnhem Mode Biennale in the Netherlands and the True/False Film Festival in Missouri. She has also screened at the Barbican in London and her work has also been published in National Geographic, Capricious, Spin, Slate, Famous Magazine, Multimedia Muse, Tiny Vices, Elle and XLR8R.
Staring into the Sun is the latest ethno-folk cinema classic from Sublime Frequencies. Ethiopia is known to be one of the oldest areas inhabited by humans and presently has over 80 diverse ethnic groups. Photographer/filmmaker Olivia Wyatt explores 13 different tribes throughout Ethiopia in this visually stunning film. Traveling from the northern highlands to the lower Omo Valley, Wyatt brings together the worlds of Zar spirit possession; Hamer tribal wedding ceremonies; Borena water well polyphonic singing; wild hyena feedings; and bizarre Ethiopian TV segments; presenting an enchanting look at these ethereal images, landscapes and sounds from the horn of Africa. The tribes featured in this film are captured with an unflinching sense of realism and poetic admiration resulting in a visual and aural feast of the senses.
The Pierced Heart & The Machete is a film exploring two Haitian Vodou religious pilgrimages that take place each year in mid-July. The first pilgrimage is for Èzili Dantò, Vodou goddess of love, art, and passion. Worshipers from all over the world descend upon the town of Ville-Bonheur, in the southwest region of Haiti, to worship, celebrate, and bathe in the sacred waterfall, where Dantò resides. The second pilgrimage is for Dantòs’ husband Ogoun, Voudou god of war, iron, and healing. His pilgrimage takes place at the end of July and is in the northern part of Haiti in the town of Plaine du Nord. Practitioners bathe in a mud pool and make sacrifices for Ogoun. The film explores through worship and celebration the similarities of each pilgrimage and the varying characteristics of these two spirits.