Founded in 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Big Ears Festival is a renowned event bringing together, music, film, literature, art installations, and more. Year after year, their cinema-related section continues to showcase an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary voices, striving to explore boundary-pushing works in the field. Ahead of next month’s festival, we’re pleased to unveil the 2020 edition of the film lineup.

As part of their Standard Definition program, which explores the transition from celluloid to digital, the festival will present films from Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, Abbas Kiarostami, and Hal Hartley, along with U.S. theatrical premieres of Dominik Graf’s Friends of Friends and Franco Piavoli Affettuosa presenza and Paesaggi e figure. Also in the lineup is rarely screened works by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Kevin Jerome Everson, along with Michael Snow’s 2002 film Corpus Callosum and his most recent project, Cityscape.

Argentine-British artist Jessica Sarah Rinland will also get the spotlight, featuring not only the majority of her films, but also an installation at the UT Downtown Gallery. Three films by New Orleans-based director Lily Keber will also screen, including a work-in-progress version of her new film Cuba.

Another section, Stereo Visions, presents boundary-pushing uses of 3D in cinema, featuring the restored El Corazon y la Espada, which was the first 3D production in Mexico. There’s also Lewis M. Foster’s Technicolor production and the first 3D musical, Those Redheads from Seattle, Ken Jacobs’s Blankets for Indians, and short work by Lillian F. Schwartz, Nazli Dincel, Scott Stark, Sebastian Buerkner, Malcolm Le Grice, Johann Lurff, and Blake Williams.

As part of their music component, Tindersticks will give their first U.S. performance in nearly a decade, and in addition to that live show, the film lineup will present four of the band’s most recent collaborations with Claire Denis: Bastards, Let the Sunshine In, High Life, and a rare theatrical screening of The Waiting Room, a “visual album” of Tindersticks’ 2016 release, which includes a short film by Denis.

Continuing the tie-in with their music presentations, there will also be a number of live performances, including Kronos Quartet and Sam Green’s A Thousand Thoughts (read our interview with the director here), Kim Gordon’s Sound for Andy Warhol’s Kiss, the world premiere of Electric Appalachia, featuring harpist Mary Lattimore, guitarist William Tyley, and film archivist Eric Dawson of the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) in a meditation on electricity and modernity in East Tennessee, drawing footage stretching from the New Deal to the World’s Fair. Phill Niblock will screen segments from The Movement of People Working, a long series of films made between 1973 and 1985 in rural areas in countries around the world. Niblock will provide the score for these films, which will be interspersed with live video from filmmaker Katherine Liberovskaya.

Curated in collaboration with The Public Cinema, a Knoxville-based group dedicated to sharing vital works of contemporary American and international film, the film program will be screened at the downtown Regal Riviera Stadium 8 Theater and the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, with the cinema-related live events also presented during the festival weekend, which runs March 26-29.

See the full lineup below.

Standard Definition

Friends of Friends

Affettuosa Presenza – US PREMIERE
Franco Piavoli, 2004

James Fotopoulos, 2001

Michael Snow, 2019

Company Line
Kevin Jerome Everson, 2009

Corpus Callosum
Michael Snow, 2002

Down There
Chantal Akerman, 2005

Abbas Kiarostami, 2003

Friends of Friends – US PREMIERE
Dominik Graf, 2002

The Gleaners and I
Agnes Varda, 2001

The New Math(s)
Hal Hartley, 1999

NYC 3/94
Hal Hartley, 1994

The Other Also
Hal Hartley, 1997

Paesaggi e figure – US PREMIERE
Franco Piavoli, 2002

The Sisters of Mercy
Hal Hartley, 2004

Kevin Jerome Everson, 2005

Bill and Turner Ross, 2012

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 1999

Worldly Desires
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2005

Jessica Sarah Rinland

Those That At a Distance Resemble Another

Adeline for Leaves
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2014

Black Pond
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2018

Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2008

Darse Cuenta
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2008

Electric Oil
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2012

Expression of the Sightless
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2016

The Flight of an Ostrich (Schools Interior)
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2016

Moths Interior
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2018

Necropsy of a Harbour Porpoise (Seeing From our Eyes into Theirs)
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2015

Not as Old as the Trees
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2014

Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2010

Those That, At a Distance, Resemble Another
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2019

Ý Berá – Aguas de Luz (Bright Waters)
Jessica Sarah Rinland, 2016

Lily Keber

Lily Keber, 2018

Bayou Maharajah (pictured above)
Lily Keber, 2013

Cuba (a work in progress)
Lily Keber, 2020

Stereo Visions

2008 (pictured above)
Blake Williams, 2019

Above the Rain
Ken Jacobs, 2019

Sebastian Buerkner, 2018

Blankets for Indians
Ken Jacobs, 2012

Johann Lurf, 2019

Alla Kovgan, 2019

El Corazon y la Espada
Edward Dein and Carlos Vejar hijo, 1953

Marking Time
Malcolm Le Grice, 2005

Lillian F. Schwartz, 1970

Nazli Dincel, 2009

Shape Shift
Scott Stark, 2004

Those Redheads from Seattle
Lewis R. Foster, 1953

Tindersticks and Claire Denis

Bastards (pictured above)
Claire Denis, 2013

High Life
Claire Denis, 2019

Let the Sunshine In
Claire Denis, 2017

Toward Mathilde
Claire Denis, 2005

The Waiting Room
Various Directors, 2016

The 2020 edition of Big Ears Festival takes place March 26-29. See more information here.

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