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The Promise of Happiness: Jeffrey Skoller at 16beaver

Jeffrey Skoller
7pm Friday 11 November 2007
16beaver Group - 16 Beaver St., 4th floor, New York NY

Filmmaker, scholar, and critic Jeffrey Skoller will present The Promise of Happiness, the first in a new three-part work on video, tomorrow night at 16beaver. The work is a video essay on the revolutionary struggles in 20th century Vietnam. Tapping into the rich historical documents of a "cinema of revolution" — film artifacts of the the utopian aims of radical social transformation — Skoller examines the history of both these films and the supporting (or opposing) social configurations, with a strong look towards the future. "What meanings do we make of such imagery in the present, and of what use can be made of them, as they, along with the viewer, travel through time from a past historical moment to the present?" the press release asks. Mixing historical and contemporary footage, Skoller's work evokes the socialist struggles for social justice and cultural freedom and offers a chance to look at how those desires and aspirations have been woven into, transfigured, distorted, or otherwise, present-day society. In 2006 the filmmaker published Shadows, Specters, Shards: Making History in Avant-Garde Film (University of Minnesota Press) an art historical text in which he examined the capacities for film art to engage with historical issues. Continuing in the tradition of many of the filmmakers on which he has written about critically — Ernie Gehr, Jean-Luc Godard, Daniel Eisenberg, Abigail Child, Ken Jacobs, and others — Skoller's work functions both as a melange of historic documents and an experimental documentary look at Vietnam's present social conditions.