Saturday, January 02, 2021

A New Year

By rights this should be a long post, since technically it would cover almost 6 months of unreported activity. On the other hand, on New Year's Day I edited a 2-minute video compilation of the work I made in 2020. I propose that viewing it will fill in most of the blanks - non-verbally.


While editing, I relived some of what I learned from in 2020, and for those of you with the inclination to read on, I hereby articulate it - verbally. 

Furthering voices other than my own.

Dancing is an Old Friend, in which Jenny & Leah led the way.

4th of July in which I was inspired to share some moments - including dancing - of Nyack's Black Lives Matter actions.

Out of Ruin, in which choreographers Miki & Danielle of Island Moving Company envisioned a world which I helped to make more visible.

A Different Day in which Rhode Island College students created movement, footage and text which I directed and edited remotely.

Taking time to let images register.

Brinks, with Daniel Wolff.

Drift of the World with Daniel Wolff

Re-imagining Tradition.

Through Her Eyes: A Newport Nutcracker Re-imagined. Again my role was to further the vision of the two choreographers, who in turn were tweaking a holiday - and local - tradition within the limitations imposed by the raging virus.

Nutcracker 2020 Re-imagined. Made for Ryde Youth Dance Ensemble, with students from Coupe Theater Studio where my son Amos grew up dancing. So in this case a holiday tradition combined with a family tradition. Shot locally, performed by children and supported by an army of volunteers.

There were a few other projects in 2020 - video versions of Ayiti & Evolution of a Silhouette with poet/husband Daniel Wolff, and the live project for the teenagers at Steffi Nossen which was scratched very early in the pandemic. It bears noting that I was actually paid for many of the above; you may have noticed that so much in the arts and elsewhere has moved online, which has meant that my skills as a director and editor are more in demand 

Since lockdown, I've dedicated myself to an ongoing Facebook project: posting of nature videos taken as a daily practice and as a gift to those who can't leave home. One of the housebound friends was Aileen Passloff - known to some of you through Her Magnum Opus - who enjoyed those images until early November. In an article called "The Artists We Lost in 2020," The New York Times quoted Aileen: 

"I was as strong and tireless and full of passion, and loved dancing as deeply as one could ever love anything." 

Today I posted Outside #246.

Which brings me to another New Year's reflection: might it be time for me to find a new way to communicate with friends, fans, family? That's where I post the news of Official Selections in film festivals in a more timely fashion, where you can find links to view recent projects, or trailers for them. You can also follow me on Vimeo. As for the list of where my work has been accepted, attached to this blogspot there's a rather impressive Filmography, if I do say so myself.

I'm not a fan of Facebook, but it's an immediate connection, albeit to a small pool of the above 3f's.  On the other hand, when I send out a reminder to check out my blogspot, I get a similarly small pool of responses. I hasten to add: since you happen to be reading this, I remain grateful that you swim in that pool, however small. And if you want to follow me on Facebook, well, you probably already do.

For now, Lord knows I don't have much interest in creating a website. So I've updated some of the links on the right which lead to actual press for some of what I've made recently: perhaps another silver lining of lockdown is that online presentations have become more print-worthy. Presumably, a few of you reading this are strangers who found their way here to learn more about me. 

For now, I'll continue with this mode of communication. In fact, during the dog days of 2020 I did archive all of the posts (which go back to 2006!) on an external hard drive, for inclusion in the archives at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts - if it ever re-opens. 

For now, I wish you the best that 2021 can offer. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

SO overdue

Like me, I suspect you've been experiencing Quarantine Time: weeks seemed to drag by and suddenly we were 100 days in.  We mark time's passing in different ways. Since March I've become quite habituated to a schedule of 3x/weekly Meals on Wheels deliveries. Partway through the pandemic I started a daily series of 30-second nature videos on Facebook most particularly for my NYC and shut-in friends, recently posting Outside #82!  In early June I hit the 1,000 mark of masks sewn for Nyack MaskMakers, and was told we'd stockpiled enough for the next surge.  A few days after George Floyd's killing, I joined a group of residents protesting nearly every afternoon in downtown Nyack. In fact, lately the balance in my life of making art and actively working for change feels just about right. Social justice IS climate justice / there's no art on a dead planet.

Then the dog days of July arrived with a hot-and-humid bang as we all prepared for some kind of opening - only to buckle down in earnest as news of spikes in the south and west make us tremble again. All this time it felt almost unseemly to be crowing here about the ups and downs of my brilliant career. Nonetheless, I decided to post, finally, to prove that time hasn't ground to a complete halt. 

Jenny Tortorello Walker & Leah Barsky who'd danced with me since they were teenagers at Coupe Studio invited me to make a dance about their friendship - remotely of course. They spent a few weeks chatting over Zoom and sending me footage via WhatsApp.  It was a truly collaborative project, and completely zero budget. For those of you who have heard me whine endlessly about music permission, you'll find it ironic that I was utterly delighted to be able to pay these accessible and talented artists for the use of their music at this moment when all artists are so under-employed. It's called Dancing is an Old Friend and it will actually premiere at Mobile Dance Film Festival at the 92nd St Y - remotely of course. Previews have been very positive - and funnily enough, there's more dance-y dancing in it than most of my "dance films."

Delighted with the response to Drift of the World (below), I was glad to collaborate on a second video with poet / husband Daniel Wolff, called Brinks. No dancing (or ducks) but a chance to create a visual world that neither illustrates nor distracts from a powerful poem concerning history and revolution, both personal and political. Zero budget again - unless you count the six-pack I had to buy (okay, okay ... and drink) in order to gather the necessary footage. Check it out.

Meanwhile there have been quite a few festival outings for quite a few of my films - remotely of course. Imagine my disappointment in not attending Athens Marathon Film Festival - that would be Athens, Greece where I've aways wanted to travel - to receive the nomination for Best Editing for Through Mabel's Eyes.  The award for Best Director bestowed by Trail Dance Virtual Film Festival for Her Magnum Opus was gratifying - remotely of course. Roxie was part of a "Watchalong" at Women Over 50 Film Festival; Through Mabel's Eyes is soon to be shared at Senior Movie Film Festival in Poland and Moscow Shorts in Russia; In search of lost time at Experimental Music & Dance Feedback Film Festival and Rogue Dancer. Tumult screened last week at ReelHeART which is based in Toronto - they even had an awards ceremony remotely of course - and is an Official Selection of Choreoscope: the first time my work has been accepted by that Barcelona festival.

And finally, I've been invited to direct a dance film with Island Moving Company back in Rhode Island, where I've had the pleasure of working so often.  This will feature choreography by co-artistic directors Mikki Ohlsen & Danielle Genest, and cinematography by Jon Gourlay who did such beautiful work on Mabel, our first project together. We've all been in conversation - remotely of course - but I am delighted to report that we'll be shooting IN PERSON albeit with masks and social distancing.  And then of course, I'll have all that luscious footage to keep me busy as fall arrives. 

And with the arrival of fall, perhaps some good news, starting with a new president. Please.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

All virtual all the time

Although many festivals are postponing their celebrations until it's safe to congregate in person, others are creating virtual festivals, making their archives viewable for free for the duration of the pandemic. One such is the venerable Black Maria Film Festival which has been in existence for 39 years, and has included Renzi work multiple times. Now you can view over 100 films as part of the virtual festival, including 3 of mine: Her Children Mourn, A Thousand Miles from the Sea and In search of lost time.

Skybridge, made pre-pandemic, will have its premiere as expected, at the Hunter College Dance Concert on May 9th at 7:30. However,  instead of being the outlier in a concert of live work before a live audience, all of the work will be shared on screen - not as expected.

A new world. Time will tell if it's a brave one.

Meanwhile, I've kept busy sewing masks and volunteering at People to People and Meals on Wheels. With all of my collaborators and locations on lock-down, I've had few opportunities to make work. But here's something "directed by" me - not a dance film but a thoughtful poem written by Daniel Wolff accompanied by some scene-stealing ducks.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Coronavirus Calendar

In case you read this in the next few days ... there are two online festivals sharing Renzi work.

begins Friday April 3 at 8:00
via YouTube Live Stream, time-sensitive, obviously.
Over the course of 3 days, its programming will include 3 Renzi films: 

Her Magnum Opus  (Saturday at 7:30 EST)
Where Love Leads 
Through Mabel's Eyes

It may seem like an odd way to "premiere" this newest film ... but then these times are nothing if not unprecedented.

Moving Body - Moving Image
Saturday April 4 at noon
two 45-minute programs plus added bonus films, including Her Magnum Opus.
May it bring some balm, since its synopsis begins: 

"A circle of friends gather..." - and not on Zoom.

Another laurel - again online - for Through Mabel's Eyes 
is from a festival in Bucharest, Romania called Film in Focus. It's not clear to me how this one works ... again, the usual rules are suspended, even for "Official Selections".