Constructing the Past

61 min

How do we remember history? What visual means are used to recount it and who narrates it? What does the image purporting to remember the past for us conceal? These questions are at the core of the program “Constructing the Past.” The images in these films were either unearthed or conceived especially to operate within history: to conceal, alter, or create it from a contemporary perspective. Crucial to this process is the use of materials from popular culture and the adoption of cinematic syntax. By employing these strategies, the artists guide us to the sites in which collective memory is shaped and images acquire their power.




Saturday, June 18th

In Event of Moon Disaster

Francesca Panetta & Halsey Burgund
2019 7:54 min

In July 1969 the United States sent astronauts in the Apollo 11 spacecraft to land on the moon. Two speeches were written for US President Richard Nixon ahead of their takeoff: one praised the historic achievement, the other was a eulogy, in case the astronauts did not return to Earth. MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality, together with filmmaker Francesca Panetta and artist Halsey Burgund, used the text of the speech that was never broadcast to create a technological-artistic-educational project addressing the dangers of deepfake technology in the current post-truth era. In addition to the video work that will be screened at the festival, the award-winning project also includes a website for educators and media professionals who wish to delve into the far-reaching implications of the growing use of this technology. In Event of Moon Disaster illustrates the creative and critical potential inherent in collaborations between artists, journalists, filmmakers, and computer scientists.

Project’s website:

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The Return to Osiris

Essa Grayeb
2019 13:46 min

On June 9, 1967, the then Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, gave a dramatic speech on radio and television, informing the Egyptian people of their country’s defeat in the war against Israel, and announced his resignation. By collecting, cataloging, and rearranging visual materials associated with that speech, Palestinian artist Essa Grayeb’s work sheds new light on the challenge of conveying historical and political events via artistic means. The film weaves numerous stylistically divergent excerpts together extracted from Egyptian films and television programs produced between 1976 and 2016, and edited to reconstruct Nasser’s original text. The artist thus assumes the role of the historian as a source of knowledge and interpretation, while exposing the practices of creation and emptying of meaning via visual systems of representation, and their manifestations in popular culture.

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Newsreel 63 – The Train of Shadows

Nika Autor
2017 38 min

Nika Autor’s celebrated film, which represented Slovenia at the 2017 Venice Biennale, begins with an attempt to delve into a short clip filmed by refugees while crossing Europe, as they hide between the wheels of a train. The artist uses archival photographs and scenes from the history of cinema to comprehend the interrelations between photography, history, and the mechanical movement toward freedom, asking: who owns the image, who is entitled to use it, and for what purposes? A member of the Newsreel Front collective, Autor draws on news materials to develop a critical perspective on society. The collective members thus associate themselves with an activist artistic trend that evolved in the 1960s and 1970s as an alternative for the official news journals, linking themselves to contemporary social protest against globalist capital.

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