SUN SONG (2013/video/15min/silent)

SYNOPSIS
A poetic journey from the darkness of early dawn into the brightness of the midday sun in the American South.
Filmed entirely on the number 16 bus route in Durham, North Carolina over the course of six months, Sun Song
is a celebration of light and a meditation on leaving.

SCREENINGS
2015
Art Toronto - Toronto, Canada
Parallel Screen - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Cine Migrante Film Festival - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cinema L'Univers - Lille, France
Winnipeg Underground Film Festival - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Frontline Club - London, England
Next International Film Festival - Bucharest, Romania
Images Festival - Toronto, Canada
Transmissions Festival of Independent Cinema - New Delhi, India
Copenhagen Short Film Festival - Copenhagen, Denmark
Moving Festival of Video Art - Kyoto, Japan
Les Rencontres Traverse Video - Toulouse, France
Beursschouwburg - Brussels, Belgium
The Public Cinema - Knoxville, Tennessee
Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains -Tourcoing, France
2014
Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Doclisboa International Film Festival - Lisbon, Portugal
Transient Visions Festival of the Moving Image - Johnson City, NY
Festival des Cinemas Differents et Experimentaux de Paris - Paris, France
Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival - Port of Spain, Trinidad
WNDX Festival of the Moving Image - Winnipeg, Manitoba
International Film Festival Message To Man - Saint Petersburg, Russia
25 FPS Festival - Zagreb, Croatia
Arkipel International Documentary + Experimental Film Festival - Jakarta, Indonesia
Media City Film Festival - Windsor, Ontario
Lima Independiente Festival del Cine - Lima, Peru
Internationales Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg - Hamburg, Germany
European Media Art Festival - Osnabruck, Germany
IC DOCS International Film Festival - Iowa City, Iowa
Crossroads Film Festival - San Francisco, California
Ann Arbor Film Festival - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Recontres Internationales - Paris/Berlin/Madrid
International Film Festival Rotterdam - Rotterdam, Netherlands
2013
BFI London Film Festival - London, England

AWARDS
Grand Prize, Hamburg Short Film Award - Internationales Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg, 2014
Prix de la Competition Internationale - Festival des Cinemas Differents et Experimentaux de Paris, 2014
Third Prize, International Competition - Media City Film Festival, 2014
Best Short Film - IC DOCS International Film Festival, 2014
Award for Best Cinematography - Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2014

PRESS
Sheer Playfulness and Deadly Seriousness by Darren Hughes
SENSES OF CINEMA March 2014

"Finally, I attended the Drive with Care program because I was intrigued by the publicity images and one-sentence
description for Joel Wanek’s Sun Song: “Experience pure poetry on a silent bus journey from night into day in Durham,
North Carolina.” As it turned out, Sun Song was the lone standout in what was otherwise a weak and scattershot
program. After the screening Wanek talked a bit about the Alabama-born jazz musician Sun Ra, who claimed that he
must have been born on another planet – how else to explain the treatment he and other African Americans received
here on earth? Sun Song is a kind of naturalistic sci-fi film that imagines a journey back home to some forgotten, more
perfect world. Wanek, a recent graduate of Duke University’s Experimental and Documentary Arts program, shot Sun Song
over six months during daily rides on public buses. He’d shoot in the morning on the east-bound route and in the evenings
while headed west, so that the bus was always driving directly into the light. The film begins in the dark, early morning hours
and ends awash in a warm glow . . . Sun Song is one of those projects that is so perfectly conceived there’s a risk that the
film itself might be redundant. But its genius is in the execution, in its particular manifestation of is-ness. Wanek is not
another Walker Evans, who famously carried a concealed camera onto Depression-era New York subway trains in order to
capture the “true” faces of passengers. The subjects of Wanek’s portraits are active participants in this journey, which lends
the images a curious grace and dignity, and the world they inhabit is cloistered, commonplace and sublime. Wanek’s shots
of streetlight passing rhythmically over the bus’s sparkling, everyday, slip-resistant floor would not be out of place in Dorsky’s
recent work – they have that quality and are that beautiful. And the final three minutes of Sun Song are as exciting and as
impeccably edited as anything I’ve seen in years. It’s the most radical depiction of space travel since the highway scene in
Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972)! That Wanek was able to produce such a mature, surprising, and deeply human piece so early in
his filmmaking career (Sun Song was his MFA thesis project) gives me great hope. Films like this are justification enough to
celebrate avant-garde shorts programs at our major festivals."

Rotterdam 2014. Deep Breaths by Daniel Kasman
MUBI NOTEBOOK February 2014

"Across the world, a different kind of journey through time and space is discovered and crafted by American filmmaker
Joel Wanek in his sweet assembly-travelogue Sun Song. It is a short, softly silent digital montage of over a season's
worth of rides on a single bus line in Durham, North Carolina, condensed into a single hyper journey from dawn to dusk,
dark to light to encroaching dark, effortlessly edited to seem like the observations of light changes and passenger types
across a one trip.

The portraits reminded me of unaltered versions of Chris Marker's PASSENGERS exhibit on riders in the Paris Metro, yet
the film for all its gentleness has more perverse suggestions than just records of people and characterization of the
streaking luminosity throughout the ride. Only workers and students could possibly be taking a city bus route so early, and
so the looks of held anticipation on the people's faces, mostly black, are in unspoken dialogue with the atmospheric
prettiness of window light and passing shadows.

The effect of the editing's unification of multiple trips creates a tenor of these people never getting on or off the bus,
indeed being sealed or trapped in its journey, and thus its somewhat dreamy vision of busing average people and of being
unable to leave called to both Luis Buñuel's Illusion Travels by Streetcar and The Exterminating Angel. There is no end to
the trip in Sun Song, but the light's role does eventually have a hand in the conclusion, coming first flickering and then
laying upon the seats and a final passenger like a passing revelation of an unspoken blessing."

Rotterdam 2014: A Top Ten in Disorder by Javier H. Estrada and Fernando Vilchez Rodriguez
NUMERO CERO February 2014

"Probably the most simple and exciting work seen at Rotterdam was the short film from Joel Wanek, Sun Song. The filmmaker
observes bus passengers in Durham, North Carolina, focusing on faces, shadows, reflections of light on the floor and seats.
Wanek, although not using any sound, spent six months filming the bus to get to the essence of his subjects. Perhaps that is
why Sun Song, in all its purity and essentiality, has as much (or more) to do with photography and the origins of the moving
image than with the current cinema."