Professor Isidore Bethel and Contemporary Filmmaking Practice: Talking Pictures

Contemporary Filmmaking Practice: Talking Pictures is a new course offered by Parsons and taught under Professor Isidore Bethel. Bethel, is a French-American filmmaker whose work has screened in the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Selection, at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), and on American public television. Most recently, Bethel was editor and production consultant on a film which is now on a festival tour. The film’s title, Caballerango, follows a family reflecting on a young man’s disappearance in a Mexican village under the watchful eyes of the horse who saw him last.  Aside from the aforementioned project, Bethel brings his professional knwoledge to our students through this five week intensive class spanning the duration of Saturday, split into two sections.  Morning sections focus on presentions and discussions with contemporary practitioners, guiding the students through museum and gallery visits, film screenings, performances and readings.  After a lunch break, the class regroups for afternooon sessions based on responding to the morning visits of that same day through conversations, discussions and written responses.

Caballerango | Horse Wrangler

The course uses the above outline to look into the importance of moving images and their ability to become an integral part of our daily lives, stemming from their origins in documentary to silent narratives and talking pictures, from experimental forms to the advent of video and digital formats in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Today, the methods of filmmaking allow us to see them as entertainment, as illustration, as background, as poetry, as advertising, as activism, and as art.  They explain narratives and forms of discourse that will be unpacked within the course and analyzed.  Professor Bethel aids the students in understanding the theoretical standpoint, the specific language from the disciplines of narrative film studies and art criticism, which serve as starting points for discussion. These learnt discursive tools help our students to improve their understanding of moving images’ multifaceted influences on our lives –as well as enrich approaches to our chosen disciplines.

This course introduces students to contemporary practitioners working in narrative fiction, nonfiction, and art in Paris. Students actively analyze moving image works themselves as well as makers’ discourses surrounding their practice. The class improves students’ abilities to write and speak about others’ creative work with insight, precision, and confidence. Many guests within the class include film producers, actors,writers,directors, curators, festival programmers, editors, and artists.  Over the next few weeks, Professor Bethel and her class are welcoming Lucas Habte, an Ethiopian-American filmmaker living in New York City, known for his documentary films, Christian Valdelièvre an individual present in the creation of the Cinemex theaters chain which ended with the investment of JPMorgan in the capital of the company, and the founder of Lulí Producciones, Cine Pantera and Titán Producciones, Francis Leplay, a French actor and novelist, Claire Babany, a programmer for the Chicago International Film Festival and member of the French production company Les Films du Poisson, Eugénie Michel-Villette founder of Les Films du Bilboquet and producer of eight nonfiction feature films and Laurent Bécue-Renard, a French director and producer, to name a few. These guest speakers will provide insights to their works, and their opinions within the industry allowing our students to network and be exposed to the inside ideals from professionals within the business.

To conclude the course, students get to create a learning portfolio, which archives ones working process, the skills learnt, and the connections made between assignments, courses, and years – as well as housing ones completed work. The courses in the first year emphasize process– how you start, what happens next (and why), and how you end up at your final iteration of each project. Therefore showing preliminary work (sketches, drafts, notes, research, etc.) as well as final documentation of your work will help to tell your story and make connections that may not otherwise have been apparent.

Overall,  Professor Isidore Bethel and Contemporary Filmmaking Practice: Talking Pictures provides a new vision to the art form that is cinema, imagery, video and overall filmmaking, through the intelligent and professional vision of Bethel.