WORK documents the recording process of the first album by the Buffalo-based new music ensemble Wooden Cities. The film features 56 minutes filmed during their summer 2018 recording sessions, as well as director Mani Mehrvarz’s interviews with Wooden Cities’ musicians and ensemble director Brendan Fitzgerald. The film also includes cutting-edge animations to two sections of Frederic Rzewski’s The Price of Oil (recorded for the first time ever for this album), emphasizing the piece’s themes of labor and environmental justice, and made using stop motion techniques amounting to over 8,000 frames. Also, featured are Cardew’s Red Flag Prelude—a musical commemoration of the martyrs of the early labor movement—and Wooden Cities’ Chain Gang, a dynamic free improvisation.
“This striking film provides welcome opportunity to meet the musicians of the Buffalo, N.Y. ensemble, Wooden Cities; and see its artistic and educational mission come to life through a series of interviews, rehearsals, and an extended, animated performance. Recommended!” — Jeffrey Stadelman, Composer
“Work captures the collective’s democratic process, as the ensemble decides what kind of music they want to make—and the new Wooden Cities’ album begins to take form. A testament to passion of the performers and the thrill of creation, the film itself is a work of interdisciplinary art, melding documentary footage, music, and cutting-edge animation.” — Kirsten Miller, New York Times bestselling author
“With an extremely important and present political message, the film, through the dramatization archeology of media, shows us the deep roots of neoliberal exploitation. The compositional structure of the film equally emphasizes the poetic-typographic, musical, graphic-animation treatment of the structure, in comprehensively successful experimentation with form.” — The Unforeseen – International Experimental Film Festival
SCREENING | VIRTUAL PREMIERE: FIGHT FOR GOOD The documentary was premiered at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State College, on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 7:00 PM. The Premiere was followed by a discussion Panel live-streamed on Burchfield Penney’s Facebook page. This was the first event in over a year in Burchfield since Covid.
The event began with a greeting video message received from the NYS Assemblywoman, Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes; the Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino was also in attendance.
Watch the welcome video from the NYS Assemblywoman, Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes:
ABOUT THE FILM
Buffalo Documentary Project, in collaboration with Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., presents a 22-minute film exploring the center’s work, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color, highlighting the inequities of our healthcare system. The CHCB’s overarching mission is to reduce health disparities in our society and city. In “Fight for Good,” a CHCB executive and two physicians—all women of color—are captured in an unguarded style, revealing both their personal motivations and their higher goals.
Director and Editor: Mani Mehrvarz Featuring: Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Dr. Kenyani Davis and Dr. Shilpa Kapoor Director of Photography: Matthew A. Nardone Art Director and Researcher: Maryam Muliaee Audio: Michael Bouquard Interview: Naila Ansari and Mani Mehrvarz Camera Operator: Joe Blodgett Photography: Brett Roedel Gaffers: Mark Pasqualotto and Kash Costner
STATEMENT By Dr. LaVonne Ansari
In the summer of 2020, the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. was approached by the Buffalo Documentary Project to explore the possibility of sharing our stories with respect to the COVID-19 Pandemic that was plaguing the world and severely threatening the lives of the communities that we serve. Fast forward to the Spring of 2021, and we are both humbled and honored to benefit from the tremendous film-making artistry of the BDP team. Indeed, we are extremely grateful to have this opportunity to share the experiences and voices of our all too often unheard women, men and children of color. By dedicating ourselves to serving them, we stand with them.
But much more than that, in body, mind and spirit, we are them.
By participating in this 22-minute film entitled Fight For Good, we have shared and learned by giving voice to our common humanity, including our innermost fears of personal vulnerability and loss. Herein are our frustrations and hopes for a healthcare system that is on one hand truly miraculous, and on the other, afflicted with implicit bias and systemic racism. Ultimately, our unshakable belief is that the fight for good is both righteous and winnable!
We are truly blessed through the communications medium of film, to have this opportunity to invite you to engage in what we believe are some of the most important conversations of our present time. We invite your perspective, input, and ultimately, your voice. We are but one, but with yourself, and others, “we” quickly become many and as “many”, our power to affect change is infused with significance and possibility.
Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.