Professor of Film and Photography
Abraham Ravett holds a B.F.A and M.F.A in filmmaking and Photography and has been an independent filmmaker for the past thirty-five years. He was born in Poland, raised in Israel and the USA. Mr. Ravett received grants for his work from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Foundation for Jewish Culture: Fund for Documentary Filmmaking, National Endowment for the Arts, The Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, The Japan Foundation, The LEF Foundation, The Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, and a 1994, filmmaking fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His films have been screened internationally including several one-person shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art;. His work has won “Top Prize” at the Viennale 2000, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Onion City Film/Video Festival. In 1999, he collaborated with dancer/choreographer, Bill T. Jones, on his solo performance, "The Breathing Show." A retrospective of his films was shown at the 2014 Festival Film Dokumenter Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
This is an introductory course for students who would like to explore their interest in documentary practice. Through a combination of screenings, lectures, readings and technical workshops, we will explore a critical/historical overview of this genre and incorporate our knowledge and experience to produce individual or collaborative projects in a variety of "modes of representation". Projects need not be restricted to a particular medium; in fact, students will be encouraged to explore the ways in which film, video, and/or animation can be utilized together. The emphasis in our screenings will be geared towards films that profile musicians, composers, and the music making experience.
This course teaches the basic skills of 16mm film production, including camera work, editing, animation, optical printing and preparation for a finished work in film and video. Students will submit weekly written responses to theoretical and historical readings and to screenings of films and dvd's that represent a variety of aesthetic approaches to the moving image. There will be a series of filmmaking assignments culminating in a final project. The bulk of the work will be produced in 16mm format including a variety of ways to self process film or create cameraless moving images. Digital image processing and non-linear editing will also be supported.
Recycled Images: "Through the disorderly fund which his knowledge places at his disposal, the allegorist rummages here and there for a particular piece, holds it next to some other piece, and tests to see if it fits together-that meaning with this image or this image with that meaning. The result can never be known before-hand, for there is no natural mediation between the two." (Walter Benjamin) From Esther Shub to Joseph Cornell, from Bruce Conner to Abigail Child, filmmakers have explored the use of recycled images and created "found footage films." The allegorical use of archival and discarded footage has provided both inspiration and raw material allowing image makers to "comment on the status of the image in society or to deconstruct cinematic language."(Jacob Proctor) Utilizing a combination of weekly screenings, assigned readings in film history, theory and cultural studies, the course will provide an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue about this evolving genre and support a forum where students can actively develop their own found footage projects.
Starting with the pioneering work of Eadweard J. Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey and continuing into the 20th century with Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, photographers combined their interest in the single image presented sequentially with a tandem interest in making motion picture films. The tradition of working in both mediums continued with Man Ray, Weegee, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Danny Lyon, Gordon Parks, William Klein, Andy Warhol, and more recently with Shirin Neshat, among others. Adding to this list one would also consider the photographic work of such filmmakers as Rudy Burckhardt, Stanley Kubrick, Wim Wenders, Sharon Lockhart and Tacita Dean. Rather than thinking of mediums discreetly, the goal of this workshop is to have students engage in the evolving histories of both mediums, move effortlessly between analog and digital technologies, and develop a body of work that embraces the links between the still and moving image.
"I think that to find what is real one must look very closely at one's world, to search for those things which contribute to this reality which one feels under the surface. These are few and one uses them to create. These are the core around which the world moves, the axis around which it turns...To be an artist means to search for, find, and look at these things; to be an artist means never to avert one's eyes." Akira Kurosawa "I want to portray a man's character by eliminating all the dramatic devices. I want to make people feel what life is like without delineating all the dramatic ups and downs." Yasujiro Ozu "My films do not treat sensational events or, for that matter, contain much drama. Depicted are images of everyday Japan and the daily lives of its people." Sumiko Haneda This course will involve a detailed study of the Japanese cinema. It will highlight works in the dramatic narrative, documentary and experimental traditions. The films screened will use the past to explore the meaning of the present, examine the relationships within families, investigate formal issues in cinematic construction and attempt to articulate broader social issues within Japanese society. Participants will be asked to complete a series of papers plus a final project based on class discussions, film screenings, and assigned readings.