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NYFF 2011. Nathaniel Dorsky's "The Return"

"He has assumed the mantle of the late Stan Brakhage, absent the wilderness-prophet persona."

This particular roundup should really be seen as a sort of supplement to Michael Sicinski's outstanding piece here in the Notebook. As Nathaniel Dorsky's The Return screens tomorrow and Sunday as part of the New York Film Festival's Views from the Avant-Garde program (and that roundup's forthcoming), here's a sampling of more views.

"As unburdened, freely (dis)associative works, it's barking up the wrong tree to assign meaning to a film by Nathaniel Dorsky," wrote Phil Coldiron in a dispatch from Toronto to the House Next Door, "but his latest, The Return, with its recurring images of permeable or false boundaries (mesh, dirty windows, trees and shrubs) and final vision of the sun breaking both through and around a cloud seems to me a film of great hope; perhaps that's what returned following the sadness, paranoia, and uncertainty of Dorsky's trio at Wavelengths last year."

"Working in the same mode as he has been for nearly two decades now, his reel long, silent films resist cognition; furthermore, they depend on this resistance." Blake Williams for Ioncinema: "They function in the mode of devotional cinema, which is symbolic, transformative, and transcendent all at once. The Return was shot last Spring, and represents the 'return' of many things: life from the dormancy of Winter (present in the numerous images of leaves and flowers in emergence), Dorsky to the festival circuit (he was at TIFF last year with three films, so it was by no means an extended absence), and, carrying the most significance, light from darkness."

Also from Toronto, Bart Testa wrote for Cinema Scope that Dorsky "is so exemplary of what we understand an avant-garde filmmaker to be: serious, stubborn, aesthetically self-aware, a man with a project it is inconceivable he would ever abandon. In this respect, he has assumed the mantle of the late Stan Brakhage, absent the wilderness-prophet persona; Dorsky’s is more the professor-as-stand-up until he digs into a discussion, which he rarely does with audiences." He has, however, as noted earlier, spoken at length on camera with Francisco Algarín Navarro and Félix García de Villegas. But back to Testa: "Dorksy unveils ordinary things to introduce quiet conundrums in complete silence — about space, objects, light — and then he begins to unveil places and things in their manifestation to the eye. The tone tends to be even, with only slight modulation. Dorsky is not inclined to elation or sadness, but creates a contemplative cinema, almost impossible to paraphrase. He manifests an ideal of experimental cinema that seems uncannily whole, despite an assured run of films consisting of beautifully partial views."

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