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Director presenting 16 mm film shot in Suriname

courtesy of dinka.org

Director Ben Russell will present his debut film at 7 p.m. on Thursday at The Wexner Center for The Arts.

Russell’s film, “Let Each One Go Where He May,” is a compilation of 13 “shots,” each lasting about 10 minutes.

“It’s a non-fiction film that follows two brothers who are the descendants of runaway slaves,” Russell said. “From the capital city Paramaribo of Suriname, past the last inhabited village on the Upper Suriname River.”

Suriname, the setting, is a small country in the northern region of South America. The path the characters take is the same path their ancestors took as they fled enslavement by Dutch settlers.

Russell lived in Suriname for two years while he was a member of the Peace Corps. He has since visited twice to make this and several other films based in the nation. His involvement in the country eventually inspired “Let Each One Go Where He May.”

“I was really just struck by how relative time was and how much things were changing in the rural traditional community I lived in,” Russell said. “It seemed really important to me.”

Although the piece is technically a film, Russell said he does not view himself as a filmmaker, but rather as an artist. Russell thinks of this project as more of a piece of art. Some viewers agree with this artistic mentality.

Josh Getzinger, a comparative studies major, watched the film and said that it should not be classified with traditional films.

“The movie is like an academic journal. Professors write articles for academic journals and no one reads them except people in those professions, just like most people who watch this film are going to be art critics,” Getzinger said. “There’s not a lot of popular appeal.”

The film has been shown at several film festivals and continues to be shown not only across the country, but internationally. It premiered in Toronto at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009. Russell said the film has done really well, although he acknowledges it’s not for everybody.

Throughout the film, crews follow the two brothers and capture the men as they walk through the wilderness of Suriname. The crews used a 16-mm “steady cam” camera. Russell said 16-mm film does not have a lot of use in today’s more traditional movies. He also said the filming played a minimal role during the project.

The non-traditional aspects of the movie, such as using 16-mm film, affirm the idea that Russell is not aiming to produce the next blockbuster, but instead is an artist working in film.

“My ambition is that I am really interested in producing a sort of embodied experience for the viewers that also produces a reflection of the state of the world,” Russell said.

Russell said he is currently working on another movie that will follow the death metal music movement in the Netherlands.

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