Videos by Stephen Roszell

The remarkable Writing in Water (1984), which runs less than half an hour, consists of a collective account by a family and their neighbors in rural Kentucky of a visit by an old friend who has clearly lost his mind. Beautifully articulated, this tape gradually constructs two stories at once–an oblique narrative of a man going to pieces, and an equally fascinating and challenging portrait of how the family and their neighbors deal with it, practically and emotionally. The narrative method recalls Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, but Roszell’s editing and juxtapositions of sound and image are so beautifully structured that the work becomes mesmerizing in its style and content–and wholly original. The 58-minute Other Prisoners (1987), which alternates stories by guards and inmates at a Kentucky prison, is a more conventional documentary. But it’s a vivid and illuminating one, with a feel for southern story telling and alternating views of reality, and for using speech patterns and images to orchestrate narrative rhythms. Roszell, who is based in Chicago, will be present at this must-see program to introduce and discuss his work. (Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont, Friday, September 15, 8:00, 281-8788)

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