Sylvia Schedelbauer


Sylvia Schedelbauer’s (Germany / Japan / USA) films negotiate the space between broader historical narratives and personal, psychological realms, mainly through poetic manipulations of found and archival footage. Her practice encompasses essay filmmaking, structuralist cinema, and metaphorical narratives, with a deep investment in the sensory agency of image and sound. Questions relating to her transnational identity have been pivotal to all her work: the concept of synchronicities, the expression of feelings of in-betweenness, and the straddling, bridging, mixing, and merging of perceived opposites. Schdelbauer’s films have screened at Anthology Film Archives, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, the Dhaka Art Summit, Media City Film Festival, Hanoi DocLab, the Irish Film Institute, Korean Film Archive, New York Film Festival, National Film Archive of India, the National Gallery of Art (Washington), Toronto International Film Festival, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Her awards include a VG Bild-Kunst Stiftung Kulturwerk award, the Preis der deutschen Filmkritik, and the Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental Film (Ann Arbor Film Festival). Schedelbauer was a 2019/2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She lives and works in Berlin.  


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: December 2 – December 23, 2020

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Sea of Vapours, 15 min, 2014

Sea of Vapours, 15 min, 2014

In Sylvia Schedelbauer’s Sea of Vapors, soft black-and-white images—both archival and original—flicker at more or less a constant rate before slowly dissolving into other images, the overall effect enhanced by the varying discernibility of shots, as well as by slight camera movements within them. Beginning with an image of the back of a woman’s head as the camera moves in, the film ends with a shot of what we assume is the same woman, raising to her lips, and then draining the contents of, a cup whose luminous round base conceals her face. Despite the teeming flow of images juxtaposed and superimposed in between—eye to mountainscape, face to fingernails, flowers to lips, rocks to sea, forest to child—we are struck less by associative or metaphorical links than by the sense that, with her simple gesture, the woman engages the phenomenal world, drinking in nothing less than the universe conjured throughout. – Tony Pipolo

Sylvia Schedelbauer’s films transform fragmentary found footage into hallucinatory landscapes merging large historical actions and evocative solitary gestures. Subtly using rhythmic montage and overlays of sound, Schedelbauer creates unsettling experiences in which seemingly familiar moments from the past become haunting reflections on the present. Compelling, resonant and sensually rich, these films brilliantly enrich a classic experimental film tradition. Schedelbauer was born in Tokyo and lives in Germany. Her elusive bi-cultural family history has been and continues to be the driving force behind her artistic vision. – Redcat

Screening co-presented with the Canadian Filmmaker’s Distribution Centre.