We are thrilled to announce ‘Convento’ made the list of Top Documentary Films of 2011 on The Documentary Blog. We are joined by ‘Fake it So Real’, ‘The Interrupters’, ‘Senna’ and many more. Special thanks to my crew!!
Portrait of Dutch artist family and kinetic sculpture
"The List" June 25th 2011 by Sean Welsh
Jarred Alterman, director of the documentary Convento, takes me round the tie-in exhibition at Teviot Row House, full of the kinetic sculptures by Christiaan Zwanikken that populate Alterman’s dreamlike film. Passing a gang of creepy, animated and ululating palm leaves, we head upstairs to a cyborg hare that shares its perspective on art (a response to Joseph Beuys’ How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare). Elsewhere in the room, Zwanikken is setting up for an improvised musical performance to follow the UK premiere, which Altermann later claims will feature ‘a local snake charmer’ playing the musical saw. Two goat skulls atop an odd contraption butt heads and a small mechanical man wrestles enigmatically with his hands tethered to the sky. It’s all an excellent accompaniment for Alterman’s film, which has proven to be one of the quiet and thoroughly deserved hits of the festival. I spoke with Alterman to try to unravel some of the mysteries of his film.
Jarred Alterman’s striking film is the story of the Zwanikken family living in a converted monastery in Mertola, Portugal. Here he talks to EIFF about micro-narratives, Charlie Chaplin and robotic ants. Alterman’s statement ‘I hate art-speak’ might be surprising given that ‘Convento’ focuses on a family of artists, however this is exactly the appeal of his film and its characters, robotic or otherwise.
CONVENTO screens at the MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) this Friday at 7:00pm with Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche’s short film Hilvarenbeek. Second screening this Sunday May 8th 12:00pm at the historic Charles Theatre.
Unorthodox subjects demand an equally unorthodox documentary — an “unortho-doc?” — like “Convento,” a quiet and curious film about a quiet and curious family living in a former monastery in Portugal, the Convento Sao Francisco de Mertola. They’re the Zwanikkens: mother and former prima ballerina Geraldine, animal and nature lover Louis, and Christiaan, the “kinetic artist” who spends most of his time designing bizarre sculptures, like the one above, that fuse animal bones and remains with working robotics to create moving (practically living) works of art. In this former house of God, Christiaan gets to play God himself, giving life to these weird little robo-beasts… (click above link for full article)