Lauded by Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post as a filmmaker responsible for “some of the liveliest work on the microcinema circuit, [where] film, video art, and music collide with edgy, confrontational, unpredictable and often exuberant intensity” Renwick presents her award winning short film “Britton, South Dakota” in Berlin for the first time. The body of the film is constructed from reels of found footage shot in the small town of Britton, South Dakota circa 1930. Among 2 1/2 hours of daily life in Britton’s were 8 remarkable minutes of vivid portraits of the town’s children. Not knowing what a movie camera was the children sit, cry and stand staring into the lens with out any pretense of the silver screen.
The parade of small, anonymous faces looking out from the past with their now period hair styles and almost costume-like outfits read like cinematic dolls which the lack of narrative invites to redress with futures/histories. Johnnee Eschleman’s melancholy score composed from whale songs, thunderstorms and keyboard organ music further loads these fleeting antique moments with shifting and indistinct portent.
“Not only found footage, but a found film made 60-some years ago directly addressing contemporary structural concerns. I wish I had made this film today. Oh, it was made today.” James Benning
“Britton, SD is of course the greatest of films, one of the few to get to the core of human matters and then stay there for a bit without turning away.” Jem Cohen
2005 Gus Van Sant Award Best Experimental Film, Ann Arbor Film Festival
2004 Gecko Prize, Cinematexas
2003 Northwest Film Festival Best Experimental Film, James Benning, Judge
Vanessa Renwick is represented by PDX Contemporary Art and lives and works in Portland, OR.
Vanessa Renwick’s CV