November 1, 2005
MASS MoCA Brings Tarnation's Jonathan Caouette to North Adams for Screening and Q&A
(North Adams, Mass.)-- Famously edited for just $200 using iMovie software on a Mac computer, Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation sparked an entirely new style of documentary filmmaking: juxtaposing Super-8 footage and family snapshots, among other media, to tell this harrowing autobiographical tale. The filmmaker will be at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Thursday, December 1 at 8 P.M., for a screening of his film and a post-film discussion about his working methods and story.
Roger Ebert proclaimed Tarnation "remarkable . . .a powerful and heartbreaking film," continuing "Caouette shows himself to be a documentarian of rare skill."
Caouette had no intention of making a feature documentary about his life and family when he began compiling the 160 hours of audio and video material he had recorded over his life. After learning that his troubled mother, Renee, had suffered brain damage from a lithium overdose, Caouette returned home to Houston, Texas for five months to pick up the pieces of a broken life and revisit past demons. Compelled to work fast by his mother's dire health, Caouette completed the film in just 4 weeks.
Renee was a young beauty queen, until she fell ill from a suspected mental disorder. Her parents opted to have her undergo shock therapy treatments, which only heightened her symptoms. Caouette was born in 1972 and was raised in Houston by Renee and his grandparents, also spending time in the foster care system. He often sought the fantasy world of cinema as a refuge from the harsh reality of his childhood, and became a prolific amateur recorder of his home life in film and on audio tape.
Packed with details from Caouette's life, including answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, snippets of 80s pop culture and dramatic reenactments, Tarnation creates an intimate portrait of an American family torn apart by epic dysfunction.
MASS MoCA partners with Williams College's Oakley Center on the films presented in the Cinema Lounge this season. The season, which begins with the screening of Tarnation, leads up to a major conference titled Extreme Documentary: Alternative Vérité on April 7 and 8, 2006. The conference, held at Williams and MASS MoCA, will bring together leading practitioners and critics for two days of screenings and panel discussions. Invited participants include: Werner Herzog, Frederick Wiseman, Jonathan Caouette, Mieke Bal, Faye Ginsburg, Walid Raad, Kevin MacDonald, and the Yes Men.
Doors open for Tarnation at 7 PM and food and drink from Lickety Split will be available before and during the screening. Club B-10 features comfortable couches and café tables as well as a full bar.
Tickets for Tarnation are $6. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available in advance through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katherine Myers
(413) 664-4481 x8113
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