13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (2020)

Ana Vaz

13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird Ana Vaz Brazil/Portugal16mm > digital31 min2020

Taking its title from the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird“, Vaz’s film is composed of a series of attempts at looking and being looked at. Beginning as a city-state commission under the name and attitude of Unschool, the film became a kaleidoscope of the experiences, questions, and wonders of a couple of high school students after a year of experiences with filmmaker Ana Vaz, questioning what cinema can be. Here the camera becomes an instrument of inquiry, a pencil, a song. “The film is a song you can see,” wrote one of the students in a collective constellation of phrases and drawings made during one of the workshops. The phrase is a perfect description of a film that explores a nascent ecology of the senses. – Berlinale 

Although 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird departs a bit from Vaz’s recent works, where there is an evident intention to challenge colonial discourses and imaginaries which sustain history and other socio-cultural processes, here it is committed to deepening reflections on the nature of record, about the act of capturing time, but also about the impossibility of cinema to transmit the exactitude of the real, where the senses are delivered to another type of suspension. – Monica Delgado

Streaming Details

This film is available to stream globally.

Program Partners

This film is co-presented with Stenar Projects.

Image credits: all artworks, stills, and portraits courtesy of the artist © Ana Vaz and Stenar Projects. Special thanks to Catarina Boieiro.

about the artist

Ana Vaz (Brazil) is an artist, filmmaker and writer born in Brasília in 1986. Her films, installations, and performed texts explore complex environments, territories, and hybrid histories offering critical reflections on the relationship between colonialism, modernity, and impending ecological disaster. She received a BA in Media and Communications from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (2009), and an MA in Cinema and Visual Arts from Le Fresnoy – studio national des arts contemporain (2013). She completed post-graduate studies at École Supérieure Nationale des Beaux Arts de Lyon (2014). Vaz was also a member of the Sciences Po École des Arts Politiques (SPEAP), conceived and directed by French philosopher, anthropologist, and sociologist Bruno Latour (2015). She has completed 15+ films since 2007 which have been exhibited widely at festivals, museums, and galleries, including Tate Modern, Palais de Tokyo, Jeu de Paume, Curtas Vila do Conde, Visions du Réel, New York Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Flaherty Seminar, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinéma du Réel, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Matadero Madrid, Cinémathèque royale de Belgique, Gulbenkian Foundation, Vdrome, and five previous editions of Media City Film Festival. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kazuko Trust Award, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Grand Prize, Media City Film Festival and Fronteira Festival (2015); Grand Prize, Cinéma du Réel (2016); Punto de Vista Festival and 25FPS Festival (2020). Her films are in the permanent collections of Centre national des arts plastiques, Kadist, and elsewhere. Together with Tristan Bera, Nuno da Luz, Elida Hoëg, and Clémence Seurat, Vaz is also a founding member of the collective COYOTE, a cross-disciplinary group working in the fields of ecology, ethnology, and political science. She was an MCFF Chrysalis Fellow (2019–2020) and Sundance Film Institute Nonfiction Grantee (2020). Her films are distributed by Cinema Guild, Light Cone, Spectre Productions, CFMDC, and Stenar Projects. She currently lives and works between Lisbon, Portugal and Paris, France.