UDVFF: Program 3 – ‘The Death Channel’

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the third program of our Virtual Film Festival, which offers a weekly watching schedule of moving image works available for free streaming, and curated by our expert contributors. Previous programs can be found here. Next week’s program is ‘In Proximity’, curated by Tijana Perović.

If you enjoy this week’s program, we ask that you please consider subscribing to Michael’s Patreon or making a donation to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.


As always, links to all of the films and supplementary materials referenced can be found in a table after the program notes.


by Michael Sicinski

For this program, I wanted to consider the medium of transmission. For quite some time, many of us have been experiencing 16mm and 35mm films (as well as digital videos) as digital files, DVDs, or as bits of streaming information. It’s something we now take for granted, even though we should always at least have it in the back of our minds.

But of course, the idea of having access only to home media, and the private viewing experience in particular, is something new. We did not count on toxicity or being under house arrest. We didn’t count on everything suddenly becoming television, the medium that exists almost exclusively in the private realm.

Rehearsals for Retirement (2007), dir. Phil Solomon

So since this program is decidedly not a conventionally public presentation, I tried to imagine having 75-90 minutes of airtime on some obscure cable TV channel. As I considered our current predicament, something occurred to me. There are cable channels that focus on almost every aspect of life — sport, politics, religion, travel, life with animals, science, history, children of all ages, weather conditions, and so forth. The only exception is death.

This is probably for the best. Given the parameters of commercial television, a hypothetical “death channel” would probably just be infomercials for low-cost coffins and a lot of shows about juice cleanses and probate law. But I programmed what might like to see, just prior to experiencing the warmth of a more penetrating light. Thanks for tuning in.

THE DEATH CHANNEL — Waiting at the end of your dial.℠

TitleYearFilmmakerRuntime (min)Reading Material + Resources
It Is Here Where We Are…2018Andrew Busti1Binary Stars
The Quiz Broadcast (Part One)2008Mitchell & Webb2That Mitchell and Webb Look
Apt. 3092014Rosario Sotelo1Reconfiguring Representation
Victory Over the Sun2007Michael Robinson13Victory Over the Sun
COVID-19 / Fried Fish2020Madonna Ciccone1Madonna Fish Fry
The Quiz Broadcast (Part Two)2008Mitchell & Webb3
Life is an Opinion, Fire a Fact2012Karen Yasinsky10Conversation w Karen Yasinsky
Barneys New York2020Sara Cwynar9Barneys Closing Sale
37/78: Tree Again1978Kurt Kren4Sentimental Punk
The Quiz Broadcast (Part Three)2008Mitchell & Webb3
Strange Space1993Leslie Thornton7Ron Vawter
Rehearsals For Retirement2007Phil Solomon13Sicinski on Solomon
Lachrymae2000Bryan L. Frye4Copyright in a Nutshell
All My Life1966Bruce Baillie3NYT on BB

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MICHAEL SICINSKI is a writer and teacher based in Houston, Texas.

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