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April 4, 2019

In Order for Disorder: An Evening with Fern Silva

Presenting his own films as well as influential works, Silva takes us on a trip by blurring geographical locations and blending cinematic strategies associated with non-fiction film making. Derived from the witty, raw and formally groundbreaking work of Peter Hutton, Betzy Bromberg and Thom Andersen, Silva intricately weaves parallels that conjure disparate histories within his own subject matter and those of his counterparts, pulling the viewer in for the sake of disruption: from the smoky plumes in Boston Fire (Hutton) to the weightlessness of a hovering camera and upheaval in Passage Upon the Plume, followed by devastating loss in Ride Like Lightning, Crash Like Thunder and Ciao Bella (Bromberg), outward through the phenomena of missing time in The Watchmen and dramatically charged soundtrack of Melting (Andersen). 

Rooted in histories of experimental film and ethnography, Fern Silva’s works are sensuous, polyvocal montages of people and places, the natural and unnatural worlds. Silva uses his own field recordings, clips from widely viewed films, and footage from obscure or pedestrian broadcast sources to upend the progressive linearity of conventional storytelling in a move toward narrative disorder; he does this by surfacing various historical moments within more contemporary ones and venturing into narratives of darkness, destruction and the paranormal. Some of Silva’s films render specific geographical locations as speculative realities, blending fictitious and real aspects of their social and cultural histories, while others are atmospheric and surreal, foregrounding the playfulness and rigor of Silva’s associative strategies.
– Alicia Ritson, New Museum

The Harvard Film Archive welcomes Fern Silva, a 2018-19 Radcliffe-Film Study Center Fellow, for an exciting evening of film and conversation.

Special thanks: Meredith Quinn—Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard; and Peter Gallison—Film Study Center, Harvard.

Fern Silva's film prints courtesy Canyon Cinema.

$12 Special Event Tickets
Fern Silva in Person

Thursday April 4 at 7pm

Boston Fire

Directed by Peter Hutton
US 1979, 16mm, b/w, silent, 8 min


Passage Upon the Plume

Directed by Fern Silva
US 2011, 16mm, b/w, silent, 7 min


Ride Like Lightning,
Crash Like Thunder

Directed by Fern Silva
US 2017, 16mm, color, 9 min


Tender Feet

Directed by Fern Silva
US 2013, 16mm, color, 10 min


Ciao Bella

Directed by Betzy Bromberg
US 1979, 16mm, color, 13 min


The Watchmen

Directed by Fern Silva
US 2017, 16mm, color, 10 min


Wayward Fronds

Directed by Fern Silva
US 2014, 16mm, color, 13 min



Directed by Thom Andersen
US 1965, digital video, color, 6 min


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