January 24 2013

The Field & Screen Series: A Q&A with Dave Filipi, Director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center for the Arts

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The Field & Screen Series: A Q&A with Dave Filipi, Director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center for the Arts Photos courtesy of The Wexner Center

Dave Filipi is Director of Film & Video at the Wexner Center for the Arts, where the fourth annual Field & Screen series will commence this February. The series takes a closer look at topics surrounding our food and environment, screening a number of films throughout the month, entirely open to the public. This year's films include the journeys of foragers, the radioactive repercussions of the 2011 Japanese tsunami, a popular safari park in Quebec and a look into our global sushi obsession, among others.

Along with regular film screenings, a panel discussion organized by Ohio State's Department of Art's Living Culture will follow the February 7 showing of "Covenant", which peers into raising livestock and the complexities of human-to-animal bonds. Before the Valentine's Day showing of "Step Up to the Plate", Heirloom Cafe, located inside the Wexner Center, will offer a special menu.

We are looking forward to this year's intriguing lineup, and we're pleased to learn more from curator Dave Filipi about the process of film selection, the origins of Field & Screen and which films are on his radar this year. 

Claire Hoppens: How did the Field & Screen series come about?

Dave Filipi: This is the fourth time we've presented each year. We organized the first series in the wake of Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma and the film "FOOD INC." All of a sudden it seemed like the food concerns of a relative few were being discussed by everyone and we wanted to present a series of films that explored issues related to food production and consumption as well as broader environmental issues. It definitely struck a chord with our audience and we've presented it each February since.

CH: Which of this year's films are you looking forward to the most, and why?

DF: Denis Cote's "Bestiaire" is a beautifully contemplative film and really dwells on our complex relationship with animals in a nice way. The screening of Michael Mercil's film "Covenant" will be a great event. Michael has created a series of projects in tandem with the Wexner Center over the past few years exploring the very issues we try to explore in Field & Screen, and this film is a nice punctuation mark on that body of work. People will really like "A Fierce Green Fire"; it's a captivating history of the environmental movement. Finally, "Wild Bill's Run" is a wonderful mix of documentary and tall tale. It starts with one man's quixotic quest to lead a team of snowmobiles from Minnesota to Moscow and only gets more interesting from there. Not to be missed.

CH: How were this year's films chosen?

DF: The simple answer is we try to pick the best films available that explore issues related to food and the environment. But instead of simply selecting what I like to call 'Pesticides are Bad' documentaries, we also like to show films that explore these issues in a more creative, sometimes indirect, manner. We also like to show films that present all of the wonderful qualities of food and our environment that give us pleasure. Sometimes we need a little reminder! If we only show didactic issue documentaries, we run the risk of preaching to the converted, and I don't find that terribly interesting.

CH: Why is the Field & Screen series so important to the mission of the Wexner Center?

DF: As a contemporary arts center, we're always examining the nexus between the arts and the issues of our time and the quality of our food and condition of our environment are two of our most pressing. Along with Field & Screen, our education department has presented an 'Art & Environment' course for school kids for years that explores that very intersection. Also, many, many contemporary artists are exploring environmental issues at the core of their work. It's in the air.

CH: How do you see the program progressing into the future?

DF: Community involvement and participation varies from year to year. It would be great to see this series serve as an even better catalyst for organizations and groups in the community to get together and share their respective interests and work. Otherwise, expect another Field & Screen series in February 2014!

Find the full Field & Screen calendar here. Tickets are $6 for Wexner Center members and students, and $8 to the general public.



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