Visiting Artist Nathaniel Dorsky: Seasonal Songs

This event took place Dec 6 - Dec 7, 2017

$12 General Admission
$9 Student/Senior
$7 Member

Nathaniel Dorsky
Series - Visiting Artists

On Film

** Both programs screening on 16mm film! **

Visiting Artist

** Director in attendance, plus introductions and Q&A by film scholar Johanna Gosse **


Nathaniel Dorsky is one of a rare breed of filmmakers whose work can be classified as essential viewing. In his visually handsome films, Dorsky renders the prosaic a poetic experience, editing nature, light, and figure to create an utterly sensual cinema.

Dec. 6: 70 min

  • Song (2013, 18.5 min) | Song was photographed in San Francisco from early October through the winter solstice in late December, 2012.
  • December (2014, 14.5 min) | I have been wanting to make a shorter film in and about a briefer period of time. December was photographed during this often turbulent month and edited soon after. It has a purity of form which I find quite rewarding.
  • February (2014, 16.5 min) | February was photographed during the first weeks of early spring in San Francisco. For me there is a haunted sense of restlessness in its form, some desire for a new freedom, a fresh sense of cinema. It feels to me to be the conclusion of an exploration that began with Triste, some 20 films earlier. What will follow, I do not know.
  • Avraham (2014, 20 min) | In most of my films I have had the burden of adding a title afterwards. Sometimes the word or words would come automatically, but more often with great difficulty. In the case of Avraham, the title came first. It was not only the film’s inspiration but the very thing that determined every shot and every cut.

Dec. 7: 87 min

  • Elohim (2017, 31 min) | Elohim, or divine beings, the energy of light as creation.
  • Intimations (2015, 18 min) | How delicately the light imbues our fleeting life.
  • The Dreamer (2016, 19 min) | This year our mid-summer’s night was adorned with a glorious full moon. The weeks and days preceding the solstice were magically alive with crisp, cool breezes, bright, warm sunlight, and a general sense of heartbreaking clarity. The Dreamer is born out of this most poignant San Francisco spring.
  • Abaton (2017, 19 min) | Abaton, a sacred place, a sanctuary for dreaming and healing.

Film descriptions by N. Dorsky.

“The major part of my work is both silent and paced to be projected at silent speed (18 frames per second). Silence in cinema is undoubtedly an acquired taste, but the delicacy and intimacy it reveals has many rich rewards.

“In film, there are two ways of including human beings. One is depicting them. Another is to create a film form which, in itself, has all the qualities of being human: tenderness, observation, fear, curiosity, the sense of stepping into the world, sudden murky disruptions and undercurrents, expansion, pulling back, contraction, relaxation, sublime revelation. In my work, the screen is transformed into a “speaking character”, and the images function as pure energy rather than acting as secondary symbol or as a source for information or storytelling. I put shots together to create a revelation of wisdom through delicate surprise. The montage does not lead to verbal understanding, but is actual and present. The narrative is that which takes place between the viewer and the screen. Silence allows these delicate articulations of vision which are simultaneously poetic and sculptural to be fully experienced.” – Nathaniel Dorsky

Johanna Gosse

Johanna Gosse

Johanna Gosse is a historian of modern and contemporary art specializing in experimental film and media, and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is currently completing a book on Bruce Conner’s experimental films, based on her dissertation research. In 2015, she received an Arts Writers Grant for her second book project, on the artist Ray Johnson and network aesthetics. Her writing has been published in journals such as Camera Obscura, Radical History Review, Art Journal, Art and the Public Sphere, Moving Image Review & Art Journal, and the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, exhibition catalogues such as Bruce Conner: It’s All True (SFMoMA and MoMA, 2016), and edited collections, including Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015) and Experimental and Expanded Animation (Palgrave MacMillan, forthcoming).

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