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Christopher Harris in person

Christopher Harris in person

Reckless Eyeballing (2004) by Christopher Harris

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Christopher Harris

Sunday February 25, 2024, 7:30 pm

At 2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90057

In person: Christopher Harris

Tickets: $10 general, $8 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members


Filmforum commissioned five artists to make new work, generously funded by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.  We’ve hosted four thus far, and Christopher Harris is our fifth.

With support from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Filmforum has been honored to commission a new work from Christopher Harris, and this film – Speaking in Tongues: Take One - will have its premiere in our screening, along with most of his other short films, with the filmmaker in person to discuss his work.

Christopher Harris makes experimental films and video installations informed by Motown, P-Funk, bebop, free jazz and beyond. Often drawing on archival sounds and images, his work features staged re-enactments, hand-cranked cameras, rear-projection, close-focus cinematography, re-photography, photochemical manipulations, and screen captured video among other strategies. Like his production techniques, his influences among them Black literature, avant-garde structuralist film, and most significantly, all forms of Black music—are eclectic. Working through incongruity and slippages, between sound and image, between past, present and future, and between absence and presence, his films, like the music from which it takes inspiration, embodies the existential complexities and paradoxes of the Black experience in the U.S.

 His films have exhibited internationally, including solo screenings at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the Walker Art Center, and the Locarno International Film Festival. Additional screenings include the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Flaherty Seminar, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.  Harris is the recipient of the 2023 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts in Film/Video, a 2015 Creative Capital Award and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, Radcliffe, and Chrysalis. Harris is based in Iowa where he is the F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor of Film and Video Production in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa.

Special thanks to Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.  Thank you to Stephanie Spray, Joie Horwitz, and the USC Center for Ethnographic Media Arts

Masks are highly recommended at Filmforum shows - N95 or KN95.

Chris Harris will also be presenting his film still/here at USC on February 23. 

Harris RecklessEyeballing 4

Reckless Eyeballing,

Reckless Eyeballing

2004, 16mm, black and white, sound, 14 min.

Taking its name from the Jim Crow-era [prohibition against black men looking at white women], this hand-processed, optically-printed amalgam reframes desire by way of everything from D.W. Griffith to Foxy Brown and Angela Davis: "Your lover belongs to this band of murderous outlaws."--Cinematexas International Short Film Festival

Dreams Under Confinement smaller

Dreams Under Confinement

Dreams Under Confinement

2020, HD, color, sound, 2.5min

(Commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts) 

Frenzied voices on the Chicago Police Department’s scanner call for squad cars and reprisals during the 2020 uprising in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as Google Earth tracks the action through simulated aerial views of urban spaces and the vast Cook County Department of Corrections, the country’s third-largest jail system. In Christopher Harris’s Dreams Under Confinement, the prison and the street merge into a shared carceral landscape. --New York Film Festival

Distant Shores 3 smaller

Distant Shores

Distant Shores

2016, 16mm-to-HD, color, sound, 3min

A sunny afternoon on an architecture tour boat in Chicago is haunted by the specter of the European refugee crises as a disembodied narrator recounts a much more dangerous voyage across altogether different waters. The hazardous journey is the unseen other of the carefree trip down the Chicago River and across Lake Michigan.

Halimuhfack 300 dpi by Christopher Harris



2016, 16mm-to-HD, color, sound, 4min

A performer lip-synchs to archival audio featuring the voice of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston as she describes her method of documenting African American folk songs in Florida. By design, nothing in this film is authentic except the source audio. The flickering images were produced with a hand-cranked Bolex so that the lip-synch is deliberately erratic and the rear-projected, grainy, looped images of Masai tribesmen and women recycled from an educational film become increasingly abstract as the audio transforms into an incantation. Performer: Valada Flewellyn

Descending Figures smaller

28.IV.81 (Descending Figures)

28.IV.81 (Descending Figures)

2011, 16mm-to-HD, color, silent, 3.5 min.

28.IV.81 (Descending Figures) is comprised of footage Harris shot at a performance of Christ’s Passion, staged as an attraction at a Florida amusement park. We see a well-coiffed, Christian-metal Jesus getting scourged by costume-shop Romans with headset mics, while zaftig women in tennis shoes weep and wail. Meanwhile, the audience penetrates the diegesis quite often—an arm with a camera pops in, or we see the crowd standing around in the heat looking bored. But more significantly, Harris’ use of dual-screen and end flares result in mutual image competition. Jesus gets whipped while yellows and reds ping-pong back and forth across the display. The Romans move through fogs of zipping white projector light. The images themselves operate contrapuntally (close-ups and medium shots, mismatched reaction shots, etc.), but Harris’ use of the pure filmic light continually disrupts these faux-holy scenarios from coming into being. This flimsy display of devotion is shown up by something genuinely overpowering, or at least recognizably real. In a way, this seems to sum up Harris’ practice. Filmic images are things with actual impact in the world, and as such they have an unavoidable ethical dimension. If you’ve got some eyeballing to do, go hard or go home. --Cinema Scope Magazine

Harris BedouinSpark 1

28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark)

28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark)

2009, 16mm, color, silent, 3 min.

Approximates a small child’s fantasy world in the dark. In a series of close-ups, the nightlight is transformed into a meditative star-spangled sky. An improvisation, edited inside the camera and shot on a single reel. The stars swirl in silence. --International Film Festival Rotterdam

Sunshine State smaller

Sunshine State (Extended Forecast)

Sunshine State (Extended Forecast)

2007, 16mm-to-HD, color, sound, 8 min.

Florida, 2007. Somewhere in a quiet outer suburb of the Milky Way galaxy, we live our lives in the pleasant warmth of our middle-of-the-road star, the Sun. Slowly but surely we will reach the point when there will be one last perfect sunny day. The sun will swell up, scorch the earth and finally consume it. --International Film Festival Rotterdam

Speaking in Tongues: Take One

2024, 16mm-to-HD, b/w, sound, approx. 10-15 min.


Speaking in Tongues: Take One is a film about Black ecstasy and the carceral forces arrayed against it.