Strange Truth 2021
Strange Truth 2021 explores the non-fiction imagination in the films of Garrett Bradley, Sam Feder, and Cecilia Aldarondo.
All events are free and open to the public and will be held virtually, hosted by the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Theater 5, their online film hub. The live events are conversations with the filmmakers, and all the films will be available to stream for a limited time prior to each event. Closed captioning will be available during the live events.
Strange Truth is an annual series programmed by Haverford College Visual Studies faculty Vicky Funari and John Muse. This year, Strange Truth is a Tri-College collaboration, co-programmed with Patricia White at Swarthmore College, and Kate Thomas and Julien Saudeau at Bryn Mawr College.
Series Presenters & Sponsors:
Strange Truth is made possible by Haverford College: John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, Visual Studies, VCAM (Visual Culture, Arts, and Media), Haverford College Libraries; Swarthmore College: Film and Media Studies, Black Studies, Black Cultural Center, New Black Film Aesthetics; Bryn Mawr College: Film Studies, English; The Bryn Mawr Film Institute.
Schedule of Events
AN EVENING WITH GARRETT BRADLEY
Monday, February 22, 2021
New Orleans based filmmaker and photographer Garrett Bradley will discuss her profoundly moving feature documentary, TIME, in which she delicately captures one family’s milestones and everyday joys as they fight to free their father from prison. With TIME, Bradley won the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award and the 2021 International Documentary Association Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award.
Moderated by Nina Johnson, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies, Swarthmore College.
This event is free. Please register to receive the Zoom link and information on how to stream Bradley’s film TIME in advance of the event.
TIME, 2020, 1hr 25min
Directed by Garrett Bradley, produced by Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn, and Garrett Bradley
Viewers with Amazon Prime subscriptions can watch TIME at any time. Once registered for the February 22 event, viewers who do not have Amazon Prime will receive a free link to watch the film from Saturday, February 20, 7:00 p.m. to Monday, February 22, 7:00 p.m.
A thought-provoking hymn to love, family and the power of Black female courage.
—Ian Freer, Empire Magazine
Fox Rich is a fighter. The entrepreneur, abolitionist, and mother of six boys has spent the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is serving a 60-year sentence for a robbery they both committed in the early 90s in a moment of desperation. Combining the video diaries Fox has recorded for Rob over the years with intimate glimpses of her present-day life, director Garrett Bradley paints a mesmerizing portrait of the resilience and radical love necessary to prevail over the endless separations of the country’s prison-industrial complex.
AN EVENING WITH SAM FEDER
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
With the films DISCLOSURE (2020), KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER (2014), and BOY I AM (2006), Sam Feder has become a key figure in transgender film and representation. They will discuss their award-winning documentaries and their approach to trans aesthetics and politics, as well as the unique production process that trained transfolk to work on DISCLOSURE.
This event is free. Please register in advance to receive the Zoom link and information on how to stream Feder’s films DISCLOSURE and KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER in advance of the event.
Moderated by Patricia White, Professor and Chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College.
DISCLOSURE, 2020, 1hr 47min
Directed by Sam Feder, produced by Amy Scholder
Viewers with Netflix subscriptions can watch DISCLOSURE at any time: Disclosure on Netflix. Once registered for the March 10 event, viewers who do not have a Netflix subscription will receive a free link to watch the film from Tuesday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. to Wednesday, March 10, 7:00 p.m.
In using all trans contributors the result is a film that’s a powerful, timely, and ultimately hopeful piece of trans screen representation in itself.
—James Kleinmann, The Queer Review
Executive produced by Laverne Cox, DISCLOSURE is a breakthrough for transgender representation on screen. By and about transgender people, the film documents the effect of media representations of transpeople though fascinating archival clips from across film history and interviews with leading transgender artists and activists. Its 2020 Netflix release and grassroots screening campaign brought DISCLOSURE to a wide array of audiences who will never see transgender images the same way, and the film has been widely hailed as one of the best documentaries of 2020.
KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER, 2014, 1hr 12min
Directed by Sam Feder
Viewers will have a 4-day viewing window to stream this film, from Sunday, February 28, 12:00 noon to Wednesday, March 3, 7:00 p.m.
A must see documentary and a treasure trove of preserved queer/trans history.
—Ewan Duarte, IndieWire
Transgender-dyke. Reluctant Polyamorist. Sadomasochist. Recovering Scientologist. Pioneering Gender Outlaw. Meet Auntie Kate! Trailblazing performance artist-theorist-activist Kate Bornstein takes us on a mind-bending quest through her world, as she dismantles gender and seeks answers to the age-old question: What makes life worth living? KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER captures rollicking public performances, intimate encounters, and painful revelations. Bornstein’s 1994 book Gender Outlaw secured her place in history, but as she paved the way for generations of gender non-conforming people, she alienated others, resulting in protests and open letters that went viral on the internet. By turns meditative, provocative, and playful, the film bears witness to a pioneering gender outlaw who inhabits a space between male and female with wit, style, and astonishing candor.
AN EVENING WITH CECILIA ALDARONDO
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Cecilia Aldarondo is a documentary filmmaker from the Puerto Rican diaspora, who makes films at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her 2020 film LANDFALL premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, which called the film a love letter to “an island unfairly battered by increasingly dangerous weather and corrupt bureaucracy.” Aldarondo will discuss LANDFALL and her previous film MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART.
Moderated by Lina Martínez Hernández, Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish, Haverford College.
This event is free. Please register in advance to receive the Zoom link and information on how to stream Aldarondo’s films LANDFALL and MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART in advance of the event.
LANDFALL, 2020, 1hr 33min
Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, produced by Ines Hofmann Kanna
Viewers will have a 4-day viewing window to stream this film, from Sunday, March 21, 12:00 noon to Wednesday, March 24, 7:00 p.m.
..an exquisite film, by turns tender and compassionate, cinematically adventurous and self-assured.
—Brett Story, Filmmaker Magazine
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALL is a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the US colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis that crippled Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms — one environmental, the other economic — juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. Featuring intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become?
MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART, 2016, 1hr 12min
Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo
Viewers will have a 4-day viewing window to stream this film, from Sunday, March 14, 12:00 noon to Wednesday, March 17, 7:00 p.m.
So raw, it speaks universally for the unresolved family conflicts that are common to all.
—Laura Davis, One Room With A View
Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. The intimate lens of the film refracts on a wider cultural context: the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and in particular, how families treat their LGBT members in a Latin American cultural and religious context. A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART explores the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS and how faith is used and abused in times of crisis.
Cecilia Aldarondo is a documentary director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora, who makes films at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her latest film, LANDFALL, offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico. LANDFALL had its World Premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, screened at Hot Docs and the Blackstar Film Festival, and has already garnered multiple awards, including the Viewfinders Award at DOC NYC, Best Documentary at Boston Latino International Film Festival, and Grand Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival. Her 2016 documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast on POV in 2017. She is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow, a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and the recipient of a 2019 Bogliasco Foundation Residency. In 2019, Aldarondo was named to DOC NYC's “40 Under 40” list and is one of the Filmmaker Magazine “25 New Faces of Independent Film” for 2015. She teaches at Williams College.
Garrett Bradley works across narrative, documentary, and experimental modes to address themes of race, class, familial relationships, social justice, southern culture, and the history of film in the US. Her collaborative and research-based approach takes multiple forms — deep dives into historical archives, in-depth dialogues prompted by Craigslist want-ads, or an extended engagement with the communities and individuals she seeks to represent — and results in works that combine both scripted and improvisatory scenes. In 2020, Bradley became the first Black American woman to receive Best Director in the US Documentary Feature Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, for her feature documentary TIME, in which she delicately captures one family’s milestones and everyday joys as they fight to free their father from a 60-year prison sentence. TIME went on to win the 2020 Gotham Award for Best Documentary and is currently screening on Amazon Prime. ALONE, Bradley’s New York Times Op-Docs short on the toll of incarceration on family members, won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize and was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards. Her work has been exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her short work AMERICA creates an imagined archive of early 20th century Black life and is the basis of a current solo exhibition at MoMA, a collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem, PROJECTS: GARRETT BRADLEY. In 2020, Bradley received the International Documentary Association’s Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award.
Cited by Indiewire as one of the “exciting trans filmmakers shaking up Hollywood,” Sam Feder has created several award-winning documentaries that center the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and conflict within the queer and trans community. Feder seeks to connect transgender struggles and liberation to the context of the present and legacy of the past, by showing that our communal history makes our present lives possible. Feder’s films have been programmed by the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, CPH:DOX, MOMA PS-1, The British Film Institute, The Hammer Museum, and in hundreds of film festivals around the world. The 2020 Netflix Original documentary DISCLOSURE is an unprecedented, eye-opening look at transgender depictions in film and television, revealing how Hollywood simultaneously reflects and manufactures our deepest anxieties about gender. Feder’s feature documentary KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER, a sparkling portrait of the trans icon and Gender Outlaw author, was named one of the best LGBT documentaries of 2014 by The Advocate, and won multiple awards including the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Feder’s 2006 film BOY I AM was named one of the best films on gender by Curve Magazine and won the Seattle Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Audience Award. Feder’s work has been supported by Ford Foundation/JustFilms, Fork Films, The Jerome Foundation, Frameline Completion Fund, Crossroads Foundation, Perspective Fund, Threshold Foundation, IFP Film Week, and Good Pitch USA/Doc Society.
Nina Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Swarthmore College. She has published work interrogating desegregation policies and on a sociology of Black Liberation and contributed to documentary films and videos on the barriers to exiting sex work and the impact of Islam on black life in Philadelphia. Her book project interrogates the impacts of Brown v. Board on the politics of the black elite. Her current research is a multi-method study of the impacts of mass incarceration at the neighborhood level, complemented by her teaching in correctional facilities. She is a member of both the Graterford and Chester Think Tanks, who work to raise the level of public awareness of issues related to the criminal legal system and provide opportunities for engagement across the barriers that prisons create.
Lina Martínez-Hernández, originally from Colombia, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Spanish Department at Haverford College. Her research focuses on queer aeshetics and politics in the Hispanic Caribbean. She also develops pedagogical collaborations that focus on community engaged learning between Haverford students and Latinx communities in Philadelphia. She recently published the essay "The Queer Hispanic Caribbean: Contemporary Revisions and its Genealogies" as part of New Perspectives on Hispanic Caribbean Studies. You can visit the website Caribe Cuir, created in collaboration with Haverford Students. Lina is also part of the Philadelphia Language Justice Collective and works as a community interpreter with multiple organizations serving Spanish-speaking communities in the area.
Vicky Funari is a documentary filmmaker and educator. Her films include MAQUILÁPOLIS (2006), a look at globalization through the eyes of Mexican factory workers; PAULINA (1998), about a resilient woman who redefines herself after having been trafficked as a child; LIVE NUDE GIRLS UNITE! (2000), about the first strippers’ union in the US; and SKIN-ES-THE-SI-A (1994), about gender codes in sex work and performance art. Her work has screened at Sundance, Locarno, Rotterdam, SXSW, Ambulante, Oberhausen, IDFA, and Tribeca, and has aired on PBS and the Sundance Channel. Funari is committed to co-creative processes with the people represented in her films, and to community co-designed impact campaigns. Her current project is POOL STORIES (working title), a multiplatform documentary on healthy aging and ladies in a pool. Other work includes editor of Julie Wyman's STRONG! (2012); producer of collaborative documentaries including DIZHSA NABANI (2018); and programmer of the Strange Truth series (2009-2021). She is Senior Lecturer of Visual Studies at Haverford College.
John Muse writes criticism, makes experimental films, paintings, and installation works, and teaches visual studies at Haverford College.
Julien Suaudeau is the Director of Film Studies at Bryn Mawr College. As a filmmaker, he has directed documentaries and short fiction films, and has published extensively on film history, film theory and French cinema in Positif. His most recent book, Le Spectateur zéro (2020) is a conversation with film editor Yann Dedet, who worked with François Truffaut and Maurice Pialat. Suaudeau is the author of four novels: Dawa (2014), Le Français (2015), Ni le feu ni la foudre (2016), Le Sang noir des hommes (2019). His fiction work focuses on contemporary France seen through the lenses of colonial and postcolonial history, racism, immigration, laïcité, terrorism, and socioeconomic inequalities. Suaudeau writes about France and the Americas on Slate.fr.
Kate Thomas teaches and writes about nineteenth-century British literature and culture, and queer studies. She recently completed a project on the postal system in Victorian Britain, which relates the rise of communication networks to enfranchised and sexual subjectives. She has also published on Victorian temporalities and queer theory in SAQ and GLQ, and is working on a book of these topics entitled Lesbian Immortalities.
In addition, Thomas has been developing a research and teaching topic on Victorian food culture. The book project, entitled Victorian Fat and Thin is on food and class in the age of mechanical reproduction. The class is called "Eating Culture" and it pays particular attention to the relationship of food to nineteenth-century colonial and imperial discourse, analyzing how food both traces and guides global networks of power, politics, and trade.
Patricia White is Professor and Chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College and a member of the editorial collective of Camera Obscura, the advisory board of Film Quarterly, and the Women Make Movies board. She is author of Women’s Cinema/World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms and co-author with Timothy Corrigan of The Film Experience: An Introduction. Her book on Hitchcock’s Rebecca is forthcoming in May 2021 from BFI FIlm Classics.