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“From the Ground Up” with Filmmaker Su Friedrich

April 24, 2009 @ 7:00 pm 9:00 pm EDT

Wake up and smell the global economy with acclaimed filmmaker Su Friedrich as she takes you from Guatemala to South Carolina to New York City to see how her morning cup of coffee has passed through the hands, and lives of countless people. With few words, From the Ground Up shows how an ordinary cup of coffee occupies center stage in the world economy. 

Co-sponsored by the Honest Weight Food Co-op.

Traveling with the filmmaker of “From the Ground Up” from Guatemala to South Carolina to New York City and seeing each phase of coffee production unfold—the growing, picking, processing, distribution, brewing and selling—one comes to understand that most products we use have passed through the hands, and lives, of countless people in numerous countries.

As the world’s second most traded commodity after oil, it’s all about the coffee, and about everything else we consume, consume, consume…

“With deep intelligence and a very light touch, Friedrich invites you to wake up and smell the global economy.” —Stuart Klawans

“Hands, over and over again. The fast hands of women, children’s hands, calloused workers’ hands, the groomed hands of gentlemen, the manicured hands of ladies: coffee junkies have no idea how many hands the beans pass through, and how much manual labor goes into that one cup which is supposed to wake you up and bring you pleasure, or which you carelessly spill… Friedrich seems to allow her camera to simply observe, even while she juxtaposes the under-age coffee pickers and their hundred-pound baskets with the plantation owner’s thoroughbred horse, or counterposes the many bare-footed little children with the large mansion. But her mostly unimpeded view lets the spectator think independently.” —Magdalena Miedl, BIORAMA

Su Friedrich has produced and directed eighteen 16mm films and digital videos, including From the Ground Up (2007), Seeing Red (2005), The Head of a Pin (2004), The Odds of Recovery (2002), Hide and Seek (1996), Rules of the Road (1993), First Comes Love (1991), Sink or Swim (1990), Damned If You Don’t (1987), The Ties That Bind (1984), Gently Down the Stream (1981), and Cool Hands, Warm Heart (1979). With the exception of Hide and Seek, Friedrich is the writer, director, cinematographer, sound recordist and editor of all her films.

Friedrich’s films have won many awards, including BEST NARRATIVE FILM AWARD at the Athens International Film Festival, OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY FEATURE at Outfest in Los Angeles, SPECIAL JURY AWARD at the New York Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, GRAND PRIX at the Melbourne Film Festival, the GOLDEN GATE AWARD at the San Francisco Film Festival and BEST EXPERIMENTAL NARRATIVE AWARD at the Atlanta Film Festival. Her work is widely screened in the United States, Canada and Europe and has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, The London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, The Stadtkino in Vienna, the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver, the National Film Theater in London, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Cinema, the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the First Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the Cork Film Festival in Ireland, the Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand, The Bios Art Center in Athens, Greece, and the Anthology Film Archives in New York.

Friedrich is the recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts (1996), an Independent Television Service production grant (1994), an NEA Fellowship (1994), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1990), a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1989), a DAAD grant as artist-in-residence in Berlin (1984), as well as multiple grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation

Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Royal Film Archive of Belgium, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the National Library of Australia, as well as many university libraries. The films are distributed by The Museum of Modern Art, Outcast Films, Canyon Cinema, The Canadian Filmmaker’s Distribution Center, Light Cone in Paris and the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek in Berlin.

The films have been reviewed in numerous publications, including Variety, Premiere, The Village Voice, Artforum, The New York Times, The Nation, Film Quarterly, The Millennium Film Journal, Sight and Sound, Flash Art, Cineaste, The Independent, Heresies Art Journal, Afterimage, and The L.A. Weekly. Essays on her work as well as excerpts from her scripts have appeared in numerous books, including Women’s Experimental Cinema (2007), 501 Movie Directors (2007), Contemporary American Independent Film: From the Margins to the Mainstream (2005),Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000 (2002), Left In the Dark (2002),  The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture (2002), Girl Director: A How-To Guide (2001), Collecting Visible Evidence (1999), Experimental Ethnography (1999), The New American Cinema (1998), Play It Again, Sam (1998), Film Fatales (1998), Cinematernity (1996),  Screen Writings (1994), Women’s Films (1994), Queer Looks (1993), Avant-Garde Film: Motion Studies (1993), Vampires and Violets (1992), and Critical Cinema: Volume Two (1992).

Her DVD collection is distributed by Outcast Films.

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