Sunday, November 23, 2014
CAM and The 23rd Annual Whitaker Foundation St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) present a screening of The Island of St. Matthews, a new feature film from CAM exhibiting artist Kevin Jerome Everson. The evening begins with two shorts by Everson—Stone (2013, HD, 6:50, color), which was awarded Best Documentary Short at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, and Juneteenth Columbus, Mississippi (2013, 16mm, 2:10, color, silent), both made in Columbus, Mississippi, around the same time as Island. Considered one of the most interesting and original voices in contemporary experimental cinema, Everson will be on hand to take questions after the screening.
A richly evocative and open-ended work and a beautiful example of Everson’s unique approach to the experimental documentary form, The Island of St. Matthews is a meditation on the loss of family history in the form of heirlooms and photographs. Years ago Everson asked his aunt about old family photographs. Her reply—that “we lost them in the flood”—was the catalyst for this film, a poem and paean to the citizens of Westport, a community just west of Columbus, Mississippi, the hometown of the filmmaker’s parents. Residents, young and old, are seen and heard reminiscing about the 1973 flood of the Tombigbee River. Everson combines these interviews and conversations, filmed in front of a church, at a beauty school, on porches and backyards, with sequences of a waterskier on the Tombigbee River, a worker at the lock and dam, and a young couple meeting with an insurance agent about flood insurance. The sound of a church bell—an original bronze sculpture made by the filmmaker and similar to the bell used to warn residents of an impending natural disaster—intones throughout, interspersed with a spare, elegiac score.
The screening is followed by a short Q&A with the filmmaker and the SLIFF Closing Party and Award Ceremony.