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Tin House Reels: Joseph Cornelison
This week’s featured film Manto, by Joseph Cornelison, is a departure from our recent run of animated shorts at Tin House Reels; this is a largely live-action film that marries the history to the American south to the Greek myth of Manto, the daughter of Tiresias, who was said to see the future with more clarity than her father.
“I wanted to do a film that combined the idea of…power [with] ideas of freedom, [and] I had…wanted to make a film about the mythological seer Manto for some time,” Cornelison said. “Manto interests me because she was [a greater seer] than her father, but still spent a large part of her life as a slave. I realized that Manto had probably been resurrected in America at some point, and I wondered what she was up to. Manto is a story about…rebellion in the American south, told through three different generations.
“The film was shot in Milledgeville, Ga in the spring of 2013. I didn’t have a crew of any kind but my cast was extremely supportive and patient. Milledgeville served as a great inspiration while shooting the film – much of the town’s architecture was used as a framing device for conveying the film’s ideas.
“The film covers three time periods (30’s, late 60’s and present day) but the film is ultimately one narrative. It was important to me that the mythological elements in the film interwove seamlessly with the historical artifacts (photographs, radio broadcasts), which is the primary reason for the film’s lyrical structure. Much of radio excerpts were taken from depression era town hall recordings. I originally intended to script these speeches, but my research led me to these recordings. The depression era photographs are from my extended family (I’m from a long line of Southern farmers).
“Manto is a collage film. It has a central narrative, but it is communicated through a variety of media – video, photographs, audio, and paintings, among others. The paintings in the film are used to give the narrative a greater context. Courbet, Bruegel, and others are referenced to illuminate the trials of the protagonists and visually communicate their interior lives. Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to organize all the seemingly disparate elements to find the core narrative and its central ideas.”
Joseph Cornelison is a filmmaker living in the south east. He is a recent graduate of Georgia College, where he studied art history. He is a great admirer of pine trees. He is currently making a film about a band of Mesopotamian slaves who became the world’s first astronauts.
Tin House Reels is a weekly feature on The Open Bar dedicated to the craft of short filmmaking. Curated by Ilana Simons, the series features videos by artists who are forming interesting new relationships between images and words.
We are now accepting submissions for Tin House Reels. Please upload your videos of 15 minutes or less to Youtube or Vimeo and send a link of your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also send us a file directly.