UDVFF 6: Buried in Song

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the sixth 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.

If you enjoy this week’s program, we ask that you please donate to the Mis Ángeles Downey Food Bank by clicking the button below:

TitleYearFilmmakerRuntimeReading
Al Greene – Jesus is Waiting1974Soul Train6:57
Dislocation Blues2017Sky Hopinka16:57Walker
Landscape Series #12013Thi Nguyen4:55
Apex (excerpt)2017Arthur Jafa7:43Jafa Interview
Nina Simone “Feelings” Live performace at Montreux Jazz Festival1976Thierry Amsallem10:26
A Set of Miniatures (an aging process, a kind of quiet, a certain worry)2015Johnathan Schwartz9:10
Tung1966Bruce Baillie4:45NYT
Aretha Franklin -Amazing Grace, Live at the New Temple Missonary Baptist Church, Los Angeles1972Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliott9:45
Study of A River1997Peter Hutton15:47
Jesse Jackson – David And Goliath Speech, Tendly Baptist Church, Philadelphia1984Omniverse Records7:26

by Noah Rosenberg

Here is a list of media that has spoken to me recently, all in the format of moving image – Youtube, Vimeo – but with varying sensory focus; many are chosen for the music, some silent, others focused on words. Reflecting upon this list, I believe it explores a relationship between two of my compounding interests: 1) the rich history and contemporary discourse of African American spirituality (it is not my aim at all to comprise a thorough list, what I have included is just a handful of films), and 2) representations of landscape, with a particular focus on memory, decay, and myth.

I grew up in a reformed Jewish house playing and listening to a lot of American blues, folk, and jazz. It is interesting how, similar to reformed Judaism, while listening to this music you hear the roots of spirituality and the pain that produced it — but since the world you live in is secular, that spirituality becomes buried in the song. It is as if contemporary musicians (and listeners) are trying to dig it out, but end up celebrating and separating the beauty that is produced from the spiritual, rather than both together. My desire to dig to the root of (not that I think it’s possible) these songs, is similar to my desire to dig to the root of landscape: I’m interested in exploring cultural memory, and the abstractions that can lead us backwards and towards new ways of seeing.


Noah Rosenberg is an artist working primarily with film and painting. His work has been shown in many venues including the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, The Basement Gallery, Varsity Theater, and Wolf Kino, Berlin. He holds a BA in Studio Art, BA in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity, and minor in Philosophy, from the University of California, Davis. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles. 

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