Join us for this special prelude to Tate Modern's So I Can Get Them Told season, a retrospective of the films of American artist Kevin Jerome Everson.
This screening offers a sense of some key subjects and techniques artist-filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson has developed in his body of work. Everson’s films draw together formalist concerns for framing, materiality, duration and the filmmaking process with a desire to represent the everyday tasks and gestures of African American working class communities. The Island of St. Matthews betrays the artist’s deft weaving of different modes of filmmaking as it moves between interviews, painterly vignettes and staged scenes, as well as between black-and-white and colour film stock.
Old Cat was Everson's first single-shot 16mm film, a mode of filmmaking in which the entire film is captured in a continuous take whose duration is defined by the length of the reel of film. Everson used this long-take approach to make his 2010 feature Erie. Grand Finale demonstrates a sense of precision with regards to framing, depth, duration and location sound that is characteristic of his films shot on digital formats. Taking us to Mississippi, Virginia and Michigan, this programme not only explores some of the key formal registers Everson navigates in his work but also the places and communities to which he is connected.
The Island of St. Matthews
United States 2013, 16mm transferred to digital, colour and black and white, sound, 64 min
A poem and paean to the citizens of Westport, Mississippi, The Island of St. Matthews recalls all that was lost during the 1973 flooding of the nearby Tombigbee River. Stunningly shot on 16mm film, this feature combines interviews with community members with sequences of a waterskier on the river, a worker at the lock and dam, a baptism and a young couple enquiring about flood insurance. The sound of a church bell – a bronze sculpture made by the filmmaker – intones throughout, interspersed with a spare, elegiac score.
United States 2009, 16mm, black and white, silent, 11 min
Shot in a single, handheld, eleven-minute take, Old Cat captures a slow but pleasant motorboat journey along a river in Virginia.
United States 2015, HD, colour, sound, 5 min
A tightly framed take of two teenaged boys recording a Fourth of July fireworks display in Detroit gives way to a deeper shot in time for the grand finale.