When you think of cutting-edge film art, the Southern Tier might not be the first cultural hotspot that comes to mind. But for the past decade, Transient Visions: Festival of the Moving Image has brought art cinema to the region as the only festival of its kind.
Founded by associate film professor Tomonari Nishikawa and Brian Murphy, teaching support assistant in the film department, the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary on October 21 and 22 this year at the Spool Contemporary Art Space in Johnson City. For those who prefer a virtual format, the program — made up of nine films from the nine previous festivals — will also be available on the festival website Oct 14-20
The seed for the festival was planted in 2010, when Nishikawa first heard about Spool from his colleagues. He started attending weekly meetings there, where he met Murphy.
“We are both filmmakers, creating short films and videos that would fall into the genre called artistic, experimental or personal cinema, so I asked Brian if he would be interested in starting a new film festival to showcase such movies to Spool,” Nishikawa said. .
While such festivals were available worldwide, nothing like it existed locally. Murphy was also involved in live audiovisual performance, so the duo – who have worked as festival curators since 2013 – decided to invite performance artists who work with the movement images, as well as filmmakers. Additionally, Spool’s open gallery space is very flexible, allowing for a wide range of multimedia performances, Murphy said.
“We want the festival to function as a platform for artists to meet in this region and beyond, to exchange and share ideas, while developing mutual relationships,” Nishikawa said.
The festival averages about 300 entries per year, which are reviewed by four programmers: Nishikawa and Murphy, WSKG producer Alyssa Micha, and Taylor Dunne, an assistant professor teaching film production at Keene State College in New Hampshire. While reviewing and choosing individual programs, each discovers themes and ideas, which they then present in four separate programs, Murphy said.
“It is the only festival that focuses solely on art, experimental and personal cinema in this region. If you like something different and challenging, please come,” Nishikawa said.