Sunday, September 2, 2012

Magic in Movement: Celia Rowlson-Hall's A Study in Color (2011)

While her masterpiece so far is undoubtedly the mesmerizing Prom Night (2012) all of the short works of New York based filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall are deserving of serious recognition and study. Among my personal favorites is the dazzling A Study in Color, a three-minute film made last year for Brooklyn's Keller clothing and shoe company.

A Study in Color was one of the first films from Rowlson-Hall I saw after I was introduced to her work via the haunting Prom Night. Directed by, and starring, Rowlson-Hall, the dialogue free A Study in Color is a wonderful example of absolute pure-cinema...a work of striking visual impact that is a model of both economy and vision.

A bold short-film powered by some of the most exquisite speed-manipulation I have ever seen, A Study in Color finds Rowlson-Hall questioning the notions of time and space in film, within a work that could have just been a simple advertisement for shoes. Along with her director of photography Ian Bloom and composer Jonathan Melville Pratt, Rowlson-Hall created a work that feels especially close in spirit to several early cinema pioneers (her willingness to play with the speed of the film recalls The Lumière Brothers, while her jaw-dropping imaginative visual style is more in line with Méliès). Everytime I watch Celia's films, I am always struck by by the idea of what those early mavericks would have done if they would have had access to today's technology.

What I love most about Celia Rowlson-Hall and her films is the joy of creation found in each. These are some of the most original and distinctive works I have come across in some time and Rowlson-Hall's love for film and movement shines through in each. To say that Celia Rowlson-Hall is a young filmmaker to watch is an understatement. She is, simply put, one of the most brilliant and daring young American directors in recent memory and the news of a possible upcoming feature-length work is extremely exciting.

A Study in Color is an especially jubilant and joyous celebration of the power of film as a visual medium and Celia's smile that closes it says more than any dialogue could hope to.

My chat with Celia can be read here and the majority of her work can be found at her Vimeo page (follow her at Tumblr as well). Ideal starting points are both Prom Night and A Study in Color as well as One Sunday, Pinata and Mariah's Lollipop, her recent collaboration with Lexy Hulme but all of her short films are extremely valuable.


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