Planet C
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Planet C

Artist Cinemas

Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (clip), 2008.

June 14, 2021
Planet C
A new program of films and essays convened by Charles Mudede
June 14–July 26, 2021
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e-flux is pleased to present Planet C, a program of films and essays in six episodes, put together by Charles Mudede. It is the seventh cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film.

Planet C features films by Alex Rivera, Stephanie SyjucoAdam Sekuler and Karn Junkinsmith, Charles Mudede and Roxanne EmadiSaki Mafundikwa, and Zia Mohajerjasbi

It will run from June 14 through July 26, 2021, screening a new film each week accompanied by an essay by Mudede written in conversation with the filmmaker(s).

The program opens with Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer (2008), streaming from Monday, June 14 through Sunday, June 20.

“In 1987, I walked into the Rainbow, a cinema house in Harare, Zimbabwe, sat in a half-filled theater, and watched what was to become, for me, the greatest visualization of a spacecraft (a US military dropship) descending on an alien planet. The movie: James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). The sequence: stars above, ambient planet below, the sound of army snare drums, the abrupt release from the mothership, the violent shaking of the soldiers and civilians, the breaking from the alien clouds, the stabilization of the spacecraft, the images of the planet’s surface on a monitor, the smooth landing and deployment of the tank. 

Because this sequence is baked into my being, I decided to call my contribution to the Artist Cinemas series Planet C. It too involves the descent to a cinematic world that is certainly alien to you but happens to be of my own making. This world, Planet C, has a history. It began taking shape in 1977, when I watched my first movie in a theater (Star Wars at the Guild 45th Theatre in Seattle, Washington). It matured during the ‘80s, hardened during the ‘90s, and, since the 2000s, is the home of everything that relates to films (making them, watching them, writing about them). 

The Galactic Empire is here on Planet C, and so is the vividly virid vegetation of postcolonial war cinema. There’s a wasteland of dead nuclear reactors, and lasers that can detect the collision of black holes. And we have cities in the dust. Cities with the rubble of buildings that were once part of a short-lived experiment with public housing. Planet C (Claire? Charles? Cinema?) has its fair share of disaster Edens.

The films I selected for the series capture, in one way or another, aspects of my cinematic world. Alex Rivera’s science fiction film Sleep Dealer (2008), for example, is really a realistic retelling (or dub) of Star Wars (1977), my first movie experience.  Stephanie Syjuco’ Body Double (Platoon) (2006) appropriates one of the five films, Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986), that shaped my mid-1980s movie-watching years in Harare, Zimbabwe. Adam Sekuler and Karn Junkinsmith’s Handford Reach (2009) is a short musical that takes place in an area that has obsessed my cinematic imagination since I first visited the Tri-Cities, Washington in the 1990s (nuclear waste, radioactive rabbits, LIGO, and more). My documentary with Roxanne Emadi Twilight of the Goodtimes (2010) concerns the urban catastrophe made sublime by Blade Runner (1982); Saki Mafundika’s Shungu: The Resilience of a People (2009) concerns a similar catastrophe but at a national scale (2009); and Zia Mohajerjasbi’s The Charcoal Sky (2017) transforms the Good Times catastrophe into souls drifting through the green-tinged light of the Pacific Northwest.

This is Planet C. As a filmmaker, I hope it and the one who inhabits it, myself, become for you much like that plantoid in the ninth episode of the second season of the original Star Trek, ‘Metamorphosis.’ These purple trees, that green horizon, and me, a floating cloud of consciousness needing the company of humans.”  

—Charles Mudede 

Program

Week #1: Monday, June 14–Sunday, June 20, 2021 
Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer, 2008
90 minutes

Sleep Dealer, a film set in the near future, begins with Star Wars (1977) (a young man whose rural home is destroyed by military forces becomes a rebel in the struggle against the Empire). It also has a good dose of RoboCop (1987) (the privatization of policing), Blade Runner (1982) (global corporations that dominate a gloomy urban underworld of illegal operations and sleazy bars), Strange Days (1995) (virtual reality and the marketing of memories), and finally, The Matrix (1999) (body nodes and cyber insurgency).

Week #2: Monday, June 21–Sunday, June 27, 2021
Stephanie Syjuco, Body Double (Platoon), 2006
120 minutes 

The 1986 Hollywood war movie Platoon is set in Vietnam, but was filmed in the Philippines. Stephanie Syjuco captured a digital file of Platoon from the web, blocked out all of the actors and action, and left only the surrounding landscape in long and short four-sided shapes that fade in and out like memories of a forgotten world. 

Week #3: Monday, June 28–Sunday, July 4, 2021  
Adam Sekuler and Karn Junkinsmith, Interpretive Site: Hanford Reach, 2009
8 minutes 

This short film is set in one of the most interesting places in the world, the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington. Here in this Disaster Eden (the dust of downwinders, lasers detecting the collision of black holes, the graveyard of nuclear reactors), the dancers, choreographed by Karn Junkinsmith, dance on a radioactive landscape photographed by Benjamin Kasulke.  

Week #4: Monday, July 5–Sunday, July 11, 2021  
Charles Mudede and Roxanne EmadiTwilight of the Goodtimes, 2010
11 minutes

This documentary approaches (or remixes) the sad and long history of public housing in the United States like a DJ on two turntables and a microphone handed to Hegel.

Week #5: Monday, July 12–Sunday, July 18 2021  
Saki Mafundikwa, Shungu: The Resilience of a People, 2009
54 minutes 

In 2000, the Zimbabwean economy collapsed as a consequence of two negative forces, one external and the other internal. The external: neoliberal globalization; the internal: party corruption. Shungu: The Resilience of a People starkly surveys the ruins of this twin catastrophe.

Week #6: Monday, July 19–Sunday, July 25 2021  
Zia Moharjerjashi, Charcoal Sky: Chapter 5, 2017  
9 minutes

This work is all about the light of the Pacific Northwest. That is all you need to know. Zia Mohajerjasbi, who is now based in Los Angeles, is a cinematographer whose best work so far begins and ends with the sharply slanted light of Seattle.  

Charles Tonderai Mudede is a Zimbabwean-born cultural critic, urbanist, filmmaker, college lecturer, and writer. He is senior staff writer of The Stranger, a lecturer at Cornish College, and has collaborated with the director Robinson Devor on three films, two of which, Police Beat and Zoo, premiered at Sundance, and one of which, Zoo, screened at Cannes. In the fall of 2018, he directed his first film, Thin Skin, from a script he wrote with Lindy West and Aham Oluo. He has also written for the New York TimesCinema ScopeTank MagazineLA WeeklyNest Magazinee-flux journal, and C Theory.

About Artist Cinemas   
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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