Social Justice

Chressanthis@Alternative

This  “Flash Exhibition” is open Sunday, May 10, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and May 11-15 by appointment.

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Using traditional photographic techniques, digital tools, painting and drawing Chressanthis combines images from around the world: Europe, Greece, Russia, Thailand and across North America. Subjects are as varied as shepherds living on a mountaintop beneath an ancient temple, a Muslim family in coastal Thailand, a rapper and his crew in Oaktown California, the people living at the end of the Trans Siberian railway, the estuaries of Eastern Quebec, Nomads in Mongolia who carry a satellite dish with them.

“I always look where the ancient and traditional intersect with the archetypal and modern.”

artist website: http://www.chressanthis.com/
Alternative website: http://www.alternativerentals.com/   


Chressanthis@Alternative – Saturday, May 9, 2015

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Cinematographer and artist, James Chressanthis, ASC, GSC will be mounting an installation of his large scale mixed media and photographic works.

Alternative Digital Cinema, 5805 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles – Tel: (310) 204-3388

Reception: Saturday May 9, 2015 from 3:00 to 8:00 pm.

This is a “Flash Exhibition” and will be open Sunday, May 10, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and May 11-15 by appointment only.

Using traditional photographic techniques, digital tools, painting and drawing Chressanthis combines images from around the world: Europe, Greece, Russia, Thailand and across North America. Subjects are as varied as shepherds living on a mountaintop beneath an ancient temple, a Muslim family in coastal Thailand, a rapper and his crew in Oaktown California, the people living at the end of the Trans Siberian railway, the estuaries of Eastern Quebec, Nomads in Mongolia who carry a satellite dish with them.

“I always look where the ancient and traditional intersect with the archetypal and modern.”

artist website: http://www.chressanthis.com/
Alternative website: http://www.alternativerentals.com/   

image above: Bella Medea Pink  (2013) pigment ink print on Somerset cotton rag paper


Reprise from 2010: Vladivostok: A Soviet Time Machine

Vladivostok Train Station

Vladivostok Train Station – the end of the Trans Siberian Railway its cornerstone was laid by Czar Nicholas and actor Yule Brynner’s grandfather. I walked Vladivostok looking everywhere. I can’t read any signs so I focus completely on the people, what they are doing, details of dress, what they carry, their energy. It’s busy here, jammed with traffic but as packed as the streets are the sidewalks flow with people, most walk with purpose, the ones that wait sit with intention.The light is amazing, a silky veil of marine clouds softens the edges, it often glows. I’m shooting a black and white photographic portrait so in keeping with this city’s face: harbor, ships, train station, shopping districts, pedestrian underpasses filled with little shops, new construction everywhere beside decaying buildings and crumbling roads, passageways, begging bubuschas and striking, gorgeous fashionistas (are all the Russian women so beautiful?) strutting on amazing heels, North Korean laborers digging with picks and shovels, choking traffic jams of Japanese cars, army trucks and smoky diesel buses, the whole city a fifties Soviet time machine pasted with gaudy billboards, bustling with the brightly dressed carrying Blackberries and iPhones.

I conduct a filmmaking seminar workshop at Far Eastern State Technical University. The students are bright, friendly and optimistic. They smile so much I kid them that they defy the stereotype of dour Russian pessimism. They laugh at that, they want to be free of their Soviet baggage and the opening of my film reminds them of their grandparents world only half known through the propaganda of official history versus first hand accounts. You get the feeling they want to throw that deadweight overboard but can’t. I point out parallels in the American experience that they have to “own” their history to ultimately be free of it (or free of repeating it). Through their lives Laszlo and Vilmos show us that out of great tragedy can come great art and beauty and ultimately forgiveness and renewal. When talk turns to the corporate and political oligarchs or Putin, an unspoken tension arises, looks and shrugs acknowledging that this is the big problem and challenge of their time.

Cinema is the universal language, its inherently natural to communicate with images, ever more so with each succeeding generation. The seminar becomes a workshop, I gather everyone in a tight group. Our camera has a live feed to a large flat screen monitor and we review the grammar of shot making, that we all grasp, even if we have not analyzed how we see movies and television. I tell them first of all that they already have a deep grasp of the language of images and cinema and we know how to read them as well as we do our native language. The camera is a pointing device; you point it at what is important. It is free to move and point at anything your own mind decides: “This girl’s hand writing a note panning up to her face watching the class, panning over to this man’s face watching her, panning to the rest of the group.” We quickly review all the kinds of shots and angles we can make without restriction: wide angle, telephoto detail, high or low, close and intimate or distant and objective, camera movement with almost invisible subtlety or swiftly with sharp dramatic intent. We stage little scenes and try different camera grammar. I ask them what is the next shot that we need to see? They realize they know intuitively how to shoot. We talk about the editing of those shots and point of view. To make a film you the filmmaker has to have a point of view.


Cesar’s Last Fast – World Premiere – 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Cesar breaks his fast_RobinBecker

Cesar Chavez breaks his 36 day fast with Ethel Kennedy, his mother Juana Estrada Chavez and Rev. Jesse Jackson, August 21, 1988

Cesar’s Last Fast – World Premiere – 2014 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Feature Documentary Competition
January 19, 2014 – 3:00 PM – Temple Theater, Park City

In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his Fast for Life, a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities.
Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, director Richard Ray Perez weaves together the larger story of Chavez’s life, vision, and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez’s moral clarity in organizing and standing with farmworkers at risk of his own life humbled his family, friends, and the world.
Cesar’s Last Fast is a moving and definitive portrait of the leader of a people who became an American icon of struggle and freedom.

I was very fortunate to have filmed Cesar Chavez during his 36 day fast. My wife Robin was with me and recorded sound. She also shot the remarkable still photo below of the moment that Cesar broke his fast, taking holy communion with Ethel Kennedy, his mother and Jesse Jackson while I filmed the culmination of his astonishing act of sacrifice. The lessons that Cesar taught us are even more relevant today given the plight of low wage workers everywhere and the threat to the environment, our air, our water, our food.

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Robin Becker and James Chressanthis, 1988, Delano, California the day Cesar Chavez broke his 36 day fast