Media Arts Program

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

$8 general, $6 students/seniors, $5 members

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New Films by Vincenzo Mistretta

(Helmut Dosantos' DISSENT, presented by co-director Vincenzo Mistretta)


Buffalo-based Italian filmmaker Vincenzo Mistretta is a media and visual artist whose works range from single-channel experimental works and documentary, to multi-media installations. He served as Director of Photography, co-writer and producer for this evening's featured short, Dissent, and produced Walking in the Holy Land while living and working in Italy. He has received grants and fellowships from the Italian Fulbright Foundation; the Vin­ciguerra Filmmaking Grant; the Niagara Council for the Arts, NY; the Erie County Arts Council, NY, and others. He has screened and exhibited his work internationally including at Open Video Projects in Rome, Italy; Netwerk / Center for Contemporary Art, Brussels, Belgium; O’Curt Film Festival in Naples, Italy; the New York In­ternational Film Festival, New York City; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY, and others. From 1999 to the spring of 2006 he taught filmmaking and film analysis and history at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Subsequently, he received a Fulbright fellowship to go to Italy to work on a documentary film on the international peace movement “Women in Black”. 

Walking the Holy Land (Vincenzo Mistretta, 2008, 16mm-DV)

In an essay style cinema "Walking the Holy Land" (20min) is a study of the act of walking through the city of Rome. The act of walking is presented as a personal crusade to an act of social defiance to a mode of protest and conflict within a social order that confines the individual politically and personally.

Dissent (Dir. Helmut Dosantos, 2012, 16mm-HD)

Inspired by the Short Story "The Judgement" by Franz Kafka

An old father, still a tyrant despite his age. Edward, the son, devoured by his Oedipus complex. And Karla, the young woman betrothed to Ed­ward, who dreams about her future husband's attempt to break free from the yoke of his father and assert his own will. However….

"The way we exist today is the wonderful result of unique human evolution. Yet we could always expand our existential horizon: what if we started to conceive of a more malleable reality? Could we believe that both waking life and dreams are simultaneously real and imaginary?" asks filmmaker Helmut Dosanto. "Dissent merges these two aspects through a vision, a (generational) dispute, and a verdict. Dissent is a story within a story, a mise-en-abîme of ancient human figures still firmly rooted in general consciousness."

DIRECTOR BIO     Helmut Dosantos worked in Paris as a photographer until he found his vocation as a filmmaker and moved to Prague where he studied at FAMU, the Czech Film Academy. He carried on with his studies on directing actors at the renowned EICTV (Escuela Inter­nacional de Cine y TV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He has written, directed and produced various short films and music videos. He is now developing a new short film as writer/director, “Palin­genesia”, to be filmed in Mexico next summer. In addition, he is currently writing his first feature film project with close friend and collaborator Stuart Easterling: “Simposio”. And he is also writing and developing another feature project, “Leo and Libra”.


A mutual friend introduced us in 2008, in Rome, where we were both working on different projects. Since then, Vincenzo and I had looking to find an opportunity to collaborate together. Where to film appeared to be the first big dilemma, especially since he was going back to the United States and I was moving to Mexico. Nevertheless, we began to exchange ideas about the story for a short film. We wanted to do something small and contained, something we wouldn’t go broke for. We were far from knowing then that the project was to take a much greater amplitude.

Guided by our fervid attraction to Central European literature and German Expressionism, we chose as our primary source of inspiration the novel “The Judgment”, written by Franz Kafka. Then, we started writ­ing. And this is how “Dissent” was born. Vincenzo suggested that I come visit him in Buffalo (NY). He thought the consumption and spoliation of this once prosperous town and the remains of its glorious past would be the perfect setting for our story. Indeed, it was. As I first arrived, I felt I was in the right location, and also soon discovered a place with a strong desire to revive its past dynamism. We liked that and found it appropri­ate to the essence of our story. The final version of the script ultimately developed during the scouting. We visited a great number of locations and bothered dozens of people, insisting that they show us their property. I soon realize it was all but easy around there… it probably isn’t anywhere. But this was definitely our first time approaching people this way. In less than two months, we came up with a script we were both really excited about. Thus the film began to take shape. Things evolved rather quickly. And soon, the entire project took much bigger proportions than we could ever have imagined. I recall the people’s looks as we – those two naïve foreigners –were saying we wanted to film at the Graycliff Estate, a residence built by Frank Lloyd Wright nearby Buffalo, today a Museum. There is nothing new about filming in historical locations, of course, but with no budget at our disposal, it sounded very unlikely. Yet, to everyone’s great surprise, including our own, we received a positive response from the Conservancy’s Board of Directors fairly soon after our request.

Many other good things had happened after that first fortunate event: we ended up filming in two houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright, and in the former Masons’ Lodge of South Buffalo, a gorgeous Neo-clas­sic building, which became our third main location and certainly the one with the most oneiric touch. Then, the local Film Commission gave us free and full access to any outdoor location we requested. It would be too long to enumerate all the support we received there. Nevertheless, we are indeed grateful to everyone who helped, as well as to those who didn’t, since thanks to them we became more determined to go forward.

I don’t know whether people liked our film and therefore they helped, or if they just liked those two foreigners with plenty of ideas but almost no money. Maybe the ravaging financial crisis made people more sensitive to projects like our own, I am not sure. The fact is, though, that almost everyone we tried to involve agreed to contribute somehow, in the way that they could. [...] The entire production was strewed with major setbacks. But though it was an intensely difficult film to make, we reached a kind of communion that bound us from our very early steps all the way to its final completion. Every hindrance we encountered always led us to better solutions and results. We hope now that such good momentum can accompany Dissent through its concluding stage.