Personal confessions are injected into the binary code of digital video files. An aggressive virus -- every letter of every transgression degrades the video exponentially, until there is nothing left but a decomposed visual corpse.
On January 22, 1987 an unjustly convicted Budd Dwyer grasped onto the pages of his final speech as Pennsylvania's State Treasurer before shooting himself in front of news cameras. Our current year of armageddon, recession, and occupation resonates as a fitting time to step into Budd's shoes. I set up a mini news conference with antiquated, glitchy analog cameras, mixers, players, and decks with the goal of recording Budd's speech in one take. I rehearsed, recorded, rewound, and re-recorded while operating the equipment within a closed-circuit huddle. Words, sentences, and pages drifted away as Budd's speech evolved into a meditation on the oppressive aspects of my own life. My obsession to create the perfect copy of Budd's speech might erase it.
A PARTY RECORD PACKED WITH SEX AND SADNESS (2011) ////
A high & low fidelity record of obsessions past & present. A hooded man named Cobra Commander (drawn naked) and a boy with black glasses. A fanged woman named Shadow-La and a girl in a rose colored wig. Belinda (Heaven on Earth), Madonna (Live to Tell), and headphones (worn naked). An airport terminal. Home. The Montgomery Ward catalog circa 1980. That orange bedspread, that red flowered couch.
THE EVIL EYES (2011) //// An homage to the death of the soap opera.
Set in the 1960's, THE EVIL EYES is the story of a grandmother faced with her mortality, a mother in mid-life crisis, and a son realizing his sexuality - a dysfunctional family whose unspoken angst manifests in the latest episode of their beloved supernatural soap opera, Before Dawn.
TINA SLOAN, veteran of GUIDING LIGHT, stars as Before Dawn's the death-cursed matriarch whose daughter slowly vanishes into thin air as her grandson channels the family's fate in his crystal ball.
Inspired by the original Dark Shadows, cinematographer BRADFORD YOUNG evokes a dreamlike atmosphere using monochromatic studio cameras of the era. Filming took place at St. Cecilia's Convent in Brooklyn, New York. In contrast, the colorful 1960's living room was shot separately in high definition on location in suburban New Jersey.
The Evil Eyes premiered as part of the 49th annual New York Film Festival in 2011.
Written and Directed by Bobby Abate
Produced by Bobby Abate and Ben Howe
Distributed by the Video Data Bank
Rebecca gazes into the crystal ball. It is afternoon in a Brooklyn neighborhood of industrial buildings. Rebecca has a way with words just as words have a way of seeking her out. The crystal ball intensifies this. The A train rumbles over the Manhattan Bridge. Rebecca gazes into the crystal ball. Nighttime in a suburban neighborhood of burnt out buildings. Words have a way with Rebecca just as Rebecca has a way of seeking them out. The crystal ball intensifies this.
Shot using analog video equipment from the early Seventies, Gossip is the second in a series of works stepping into the mystic beyond which encircles us on every side. The first was LOVE ROSE (2010). Icelandic artist Thorana Bjornsdottir collaborated on the soundtrack. Featuring Rebecca Budrose.
Presented in HIGH DEFINITION, GOSSIP premiered a the 49th annual New York Film Festival (2011) as part of Views of the Avant Garde.
LOVE ROSE (2010) //// A surreal vision of one man's endeavor to contact the spirit world and come to terms with nightmares of a mysterious death. A séance is orchestrated according to instructions written in 1920 by revered parapsychologist Hereward Carrington, voiced here by novelist Lynne Tillman. Roses, seen as light by spirits, are placed in the room but these flowers are plastic; a requisite round table is surrounded by wooden chairs that remain empty despite stern warnings to never sit alone. Altering the invocation with rules he has broken, the undaunted romantic finds himself entering another dimension rendered in the distinct textures of black and white analog video. Through the delicate tubes of cameras nearly 40 years old, darkness is carved by trails of light, plastic roses are crowned by black halos, and scan lines swirl upwards and beyond towards a fateful realization. On a path illuminated by lifeless flowers and surveilled by forgotten cameras, this self-styled mystic will ultimately come to see the only escape from a colorless world is to cross over to the other side. (Also featuring a performance from JESSICA WATSON.)
CERTAIN WOMEN (2004) CO-DIRECTED WITH PEGGY AHWESH //// Based on the novel of the same name by populist Southern genre writer Erskine Caldwell (written in 1957). Caldwell´s ´pulp´ storytelling, proto-feminist stance and unabashed social dramatization are a distinct vision of the condition of women -- specifically working class women. There is little redemption in the tales of Erskine Caldwell, but there is over-the-top despair, social criticism and the reality of human wickedness. Bobby Abate and Peggy Ahwesh shot in a variety of low-end video formats, including spy-cam, VHS and DV. The cast is comprised of non-professionals chosen by the directors for their unique personalities, stock character looks and on-screen magnetism. Both directors participated fully in all aspects of the video´s making including production design, cinematography, sound design and editing. This cautionary tale of four heroic yet ordinary women is fashioned out of the past but relies on the filmmakers´ observations of the present historical moment and its political reality.
74 MIN, VIDEO /// Available screening formats: DIGIBETA, BETA, MINI-DV, DVD, DIGITAL
SOOTHSAYER (2004) //// Prophecies of doom, disaster and political catastrophe envisioned by some of the world’s most famous psychics between the 1960’s the year 2001 are conjured up through 3D-animation, industrial films, text and historical footage -- the sum of which combine to form a visually stunning meditation on the forces that guide us into a dark, paranoid and uncertain future.Soothsayer reconsiders yesterday’s daunting and sometimes whimsical predictions for the future after they’ve been outpaced by time.
THE THREE RAVENS (2009) //// is a 10-minute tape focused on greenish night-vision textures and certain high-camp performance values, organized around a dysfunctional family "celebrating" several birthdays. We see an elderly woman in apparent dementia staring as her "party" goes on around her, squares of blood-red sheet cake passed around the bedside. Monologue fragments purvey tragic bitchitude, wherein any birthday is a mere occasion for embarrassment and cruelty. ("I'd rather have a root canal," says one woman, than attend the party to which she just wheedled an invite.) Amidst the lo-fi green of the night photography we see fireworks, driving shots, a loose confederation of atmospheric images that, in concert, dip the viewer into a zone of squalor and anxiety. The Three Ravens trades in ugly, disturbing emotions in a light, even frothy manner. (Parsed from a review by Michael Sicinski)
(DON'T WANT A) PIECE OF ME (2008) //// My entirely experimental re-write of Britney Spear's song "Piece of Me" shot with spy cam and vintage television sets. A frisky homage to Joan Jonas's 70's analog masterpiece, "Vertical Roll."
3:30 MIN, B&W VIDEO /// Available screening formats: DIGITAL, DVD
SYLVANIA (2005) //// The set of Bewitched is a spiritual battleground of overlapping zones - human, alien and cyborg - in Bobby Abate's latest ontological mystery film. In SYLVANIA, we find ourselves in the interiors of the 1960s television series Bewitched, a space like an implanted memory now occupied by spirographic mandalas, a prowling alien (protector or intruder?), a naked woman (asleep or dead?). An unshaven figure who might be the video maker or his double looms like a cyborg in nebulous space. His movements make us wonder if he is an apprentice to the robot-like figure, or the puppet master of the scene, a paradox like the role of television itself - reflective, instructive and/or indoctrinating. - Mark MacElhatten
THE TANTI MAN (1999) //// A summer memoir of my love affair with Salisbury Beach and a strange and charming drifter. When I lived in Boston, I was obsessed with a beach town on the north shore of Massachusetts complete neon pizza shacks, a run-down amusement park, pin ball machines, and a roller skating rink collapsed into the ocean. Populated by colorful weirdoes and misfits, I felt more at home here then I did in Boston -- it was a place for those who somehow felt protected amongst the crumbling facades and faded memories. At the time, I felt most comfortable in tenuous spaces and in fleeting encounters with unavailable men. THE TANTI MAN is highlighted by melodramatic, terrfied journal entries from my teenage years -- internalized homophobias that kept me fumbling though uncertain places and relationships for too long. (Camera: Bobby Abate & Tracey McGuirl and featuring Chad Cooper)
14:30 MIN, 16mm Color Sound /// Available screening formats: 16mm Color Sound, Min-DV, DVD, Digital, Beta
ONE MILE PER MINUTE (2002) //// A joyride through a landscape molded by seductive televison and corporate America where disaster and terror are logos for your consumption. This is the age of the culture jammed consumer preened with Friends hair, Survivor courage and Fox News awareness. A generation emptying their wallets for the most important corporate product of all: lifestyle. The psychological road trip across battered America travels at One Mile per Minute.
MEET ME AT THE PAVILION (1996) //// My first 16mm film, made with the support and inspiration of Mark Lapore. MEET ME AT THE PAVILION is a series of re-staged 8mm home movie moments that show a woman (my mother) as isolated and lost in a landscape of memory and music. Scenes were shot on super-8 black and white reversal stock and optically printed to 16mm. PAVILION is the first of two films I shot at Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts - a small run-down beach town frozen in the past. I revisited this location location to shoot THE TANTI MAN in 1999.
LUCKY (2001) //// is the third installment of the REAL VIDEOS TRILOGY. Crafted from softly pixilated QuickTime, NetMeeting sessions, emotive vintage pop, airplane disaster footage, online porn, streaming Hollywood trailers, and the curious hypnotic qualities of taping off computer monitors, Bobby Abate's internet-sex-n-death thrillogy explores new anxieties made possible by technology, and the profoundly intimate places that tiny images and lonely piano chords burrow deep within the soul. Real Videos is like a tender and tumultuous visual virus, created to infect a world where humans live through movies, die through malfunctions and, in between, email their love. - Ed Halter, 2001
11 MIN, WEB VIDEO /// Available screening formats: Beta, Mini-DV, DVD, Digital
YOOL IS BLOO (1997) //// Once upon a time, a jealous little elf named YOOL felt quite neglected, lonely, and positively enraged. It was Christmas Eve and he knew Santa was away cavorting in other people's living rooms. The thought of Santa engorging himself on countless helpings of fatty milk and gooey cookies sent him into a rage, plus he knew all about Santa's secret kisses. Yool began smashing everything in sight, including his little elf friends with their upturned noses. A trusty hammer goes a long way on a lonely Christmas night.
From 1997, YOOL IS BLOO was shot on 16mm film and optically printed. Only two prints were made. One of them was given to Mark Lapore in a Castle-Film style box as a Christmas Gift that year. Additional camera by Rebecca Budrose.
4 MIN, 16MM COLOR SOUND /// Available screening formats: Mini-DV, 16mm-Color
MY HEART WILL GO ON + ON (2010) //// A karaoke sketchbook animation for a conditional re-write of TITANIC'S icy classic. For this tenuous journey, the original song's melodramatic orchestration has been down-produced to syncopated simplicity before crossing an emotional bridge fashioned from a sample of MAMA by PAUL MAURIAT (1967). In this animation's iceberg-white haze of raised-ranch bliss, one might come to discover that the heart might always go on and on and on, even if it strays of course.
5.5 MIN, HD ANIMATION /// Available screening formats: Digital
BOBBY ABATE (Brooklyn, NY) makes films and videos that fuse nostalgia, psychodrama, and spectacle with a distinctly modern resonance. His recent work, the occult themed LOVE ROSE (2010) and GOSSIP (2011) premiered at the New York Film Festival and his 1960's era supernatural drama THE EVIL EYES (2011) won \aut\FILM Award for Best LGBT Film at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival. Other exhibitions and screenings include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Moscow International Film Festival, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Cinematheque, and the ICA in London and Palm Beach. Critics celebrated his underground feature CERTAIN WOMEN co-directed with Peggy Ahwesh; and MOMA called the film "as sustained and as successful as Todd Haynes' acclaimed Far From Heaven" with an "almost opposite approach." Film Comment Magazine named Bobby one of the top 25 emerging FILMMAKERS FOR THE 21st CENTURY. Among other accolades, he is also the recipient of the Princess Grace Award. He is currently working on his first mainstream feature DRESSED IN BLACK with DAMSELS IN DISTRESS co-producer CHARLIE DIBE.