July 22, 2022
Community Spotlight: Artist and Experimental Filmmaker, Eileen Roscina: Guest Artist & Juror to this year’s teens for the Anti-Hero Short Film Festival
The Anti-Hero Short Film Festival, creates a space for teens to share and celebrate perspectives, narratives, and experiences that have been left out of history by highlighting the voices of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQI+communities returned for a second year - this time at MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater. Co-created by two former participants in MCA Denver’s teen leadership programs, Clarise Reichley and Soah Blake, the teen film festival shines a spotlight on the creative teen voices within the Denver community.
This year, Denver artist, experimental filmmaker, and naturalist, Eileen Roscina, was invited to be a guest artist and juror for the teen film festival. Eileen’s work examines human’s spiritual and social (dis)connection with nature and seeks to raise questions about realizing a radically different metaphoric mapping of time, space, and our place in the world. I had the pleasure of emailing Eileen to learn more about her practice as a storyteller through film.
Hi Eileen! How have you been doing?
Great! I have been enjoying the first summer with my son, in the garden, and making art—trying to strike that elusive balance of mother/artist which keeps me honest.
How were you inspired to become a visual storyteller through film?
Film holds such power as a medium. It can be a visceral experience, holding a viewer's attention for an extended period of time. Sometimes when I watch a film, I feel it in my whole body, unlike other forms of storytelling. I was initially drawn to film because I am interested in time, our experience of time, and time-based works in general.
Your approach to filmmaking takes on a more avant-garde process with the tactile processes you move through. How does this help create your film's aesthetic?
I am a tactile person and love a roll of celluloid film as an object. Oftentimes, I manipulate and augment the physical film strip: painting, removing layers and rephotographing it until I achieve the desired effect. Through these processes, I am interested in creating moving experiences despite the viewer’s acute awareness that they are watching nothing but a film representation. My film practice questions not only the representation and the film medium but also the idea of perception itself.
Do you feel depth is added to the story when shot on film over digital? What does film help you accomplish that digital may not be able to?
I think you can effectively tell a story with either, but I believe depth is added to my work because of my deep love of the process of working with film. Despite my best efforts to turn digital, I adore Super-8 and 16mm. Aside from having the inherent film “look” that is dreamy and luscious, I love the accidents that can occur with celluloid. There is an element of chance and some of my most interesting shots are due to a strange light leak, water damage, or a wacky shutter. These are things that could never be fabricated by digital means. I also cherish the waiting period between when you shoot, and when you receive your film back from the lab/process it, seeing it for the first time. This is in direct opposition to our world of instant gratification. Sometimes the results are terribly disappointing, but most of the time it's pure magic.
Your background in biomimicry and studying biophilia, how has this influenced you in your films?
My work with natural subjects and patterns in nature has trained my eye to see the detail more clearly. So much of my process is quiet observation, patiently waiting for the light to shift, or noticing an unusual undulating shadow. It's all about deep seeing.
Who is your favorite anti-hero character?
The person who comes to mind is an artist from China named Catty Wong who did a short-term residency at RedLine when I was also a resident there. Her story is incredible and it has stayed with me. She created this Pink Republic installation, subverting the meaning of the color red in Chinese culture. She has been and is met with such forceful opposition, sometimes being silenced, yet continues to create with unbelievable bravery. She is one of my anti-heroes.
Additionally, I recently read this Jessica Klein piece from I’ll Show Myself Out about the mother being on a “hero’s journey” which really struck a chord in me. My mom, and all moms are also anti-heroes.
You were our guest artist for this year's Anti-Hero Short teen film festival. How was your experience in working with the teen group?
Utterly inspiring. This group of teens was more competent and had better communication than half the working adults I know. I was blown away by their professionalism, consideration, and vision. It gives me great hope for the future of film programming and festivals.
Are you working on any current projects you could share with us?
I currently have my film In the Yards playing at the University of Wyoming Art Museum and my new film Seed Summer Tomb will be playing at the Memesis Documentary Film Festival in August. That film is the first in a recently completed trilogy, each segment offering a multidimensional view of motherhood. The entire trilogy will be showcased at Friend of a Friend Gallery in Denver in August. I am part of the group show Cultivate at CVA in Denver on the theme of food justice, opening in late August. This year I am featured in the Fall Artist Showcase which is an exhibition partnership between BMoCA and Anythink Libraries. I also have a solo show this winter at Alto and much more in the 2023 year to come.
Follow Eileen at: