Apparition of the Eternal Church

Monday, January 28, 2008

Apparition of the Eternal Church

The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium presents filmmaker Paul Festa as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, Feb. 3.

The screening of Apparition of the Eternal Church will be held in the planetarium on SC State’s campus on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. The screening is free and moviegoers will have an opportunity to speak with the filmmaker. Space is limited; reservations are encouraged. To make reservations, or to receive additional information, contact the museum at (803) 536-7174.

A reception that will precede the screening, at 5:30 p.m., Festa will engage the audience in a discussion about the film and his work as a filmmaker. There will also be a post film discussion.

Also, as part of SC State’s recognition of Black History Month, the department of English and Modern Languages has partnered with the Beta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., to host the Annual African-American ‘Read-In’ Chain where author Nicole Rouse will read from her best seller Happily Ever After. That event will begin at 4 p.m. Rouse will also be present at the reception at 5:30 p.m.

In this award-winning film, Apparition of the Eternal Church, 31 artists and thinkers listen to a ten-minute piece of music through headphones and describe what they hear. What all but a few don't know is that the music is Olivier Messiaen's monumental organ work Apparition of the Eternal Church. A devout Catholic and the organist at the Church of the Trinity in Paris, Messiaen wrote this music to send listeners to the heights of spiritual ecstasy.

In actuality however, Festa's listeners respond in wildly different fashions. Some do respond with the sort of religious emotion Messian expected; others see strange narratives about death, sexuality, and persecution wrapped up in the seemingly religious work. Still others find the experience to be an excruciatingly painful ten minute version of Dante's Inferno.

In an encounter that is part conversation, part battle, and part revival meeting, artists including authors Harold Bloom and Lemony Snicket, filmmakers John Cameron Mitchell and Sandi Dubowski, drag star Jackie Beat, and the Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic--put the violent contradictions of Messiaen's music into words. The result is a collective interpretation improvising its way through an aesthetic landscape defined by paradox. Resolution comes up against eternity, eroticism against asceticism, spiritual ecstasy against physical torture.

Paul Festa, filmmaker and writer studied violin at the Juilliard School before graduating in 1996 with prizes and honors from Yale College, where he studied English. His essays have appeared in Nerve, Salon, Best Sex Writing 2005 and Best Sex Writing 2006. Apparition of the Eternal Church, his first movie, has screened at film festivals throughout the United States and Europe, winning several prizes including “Best North American Independent Feature Film” at the 2006 Indianapolis International Film Festival. Currently revising his first novel, Paul lives in his hometown of San Francisco with his partner James and their dog Ziggy.

The Southern Circuit, produced by the Southern Arts Federation, provides independent filmmakers with the opportunity to travel to communities across the South, where they screen their films for local audiences and engage in post-screening conversations about their work. Produced without studio backing, many of these films would never be seen on a screen in this area of the country without Southern Circuit.

Created by the S.C. Arts Commission in 1975, Southern Circuit takes independent filmmakers on a journey into communities across the South. Chosen by a panel of experts for the quality of their work, the filmmakers screen their recent films for local audiences. Produced without studio backing and struggling to secure a distributor, many of these films would never be seen on a screen in this area of the country without the film festival tour. In July 2006, the Southern Arts Federation adopted the Southern Circuit with the intent of fostering the next evolutionary stage of the program.