Rhythm of the Cities

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September 8, 2011

11:01 PM

Walking down the street in Cadiz, Spain, Sarah Klotz ’14 stops abruptly and pulls out her camera. In front of her there is a group of young Spanish boys in the middle of a soccer game. After scoring a goal, two boys embrace. The other kids continue playing, skipping and jumping as people walk by.

For the boys and the people passing by, this is just a normal moment, nothing to stop for and watch. For Klotz, this scene has just become one part of her global city symphony project, on which she is collaborating with students in study abroad programs across the world.

“The city symphony projects used all 14 summer study abroad programs, contacted all program directors, and talked with the Reves Center to get student representatives at each project,” Jes Therkelsen, teaching filmmaker-in-residence, said. “They would go out in their city and collect pieces from the city they were living in.”

Klotz and other student representatives collected footage throughout their study abroad program of both the cities in which they were living and the cities they visited. The goal of their filming was to collect footage that could be used to create a global city symphony film.

“The hope was that there would be a lot of similarities between all of these international cities,” Therkelsen said. “Tim and I are teaching the class where we are going to take that footage and edit it together to create a global city symphony.”

The global city symphony project came out of visiting assistant professor in Film Studies, American studies and English Tim Barnard’s idea for a production project in collaboration with this year’s William and Mary Global Film Festival held at the end of February.

“When we picked the theme of the city for the film festival, I was like, ‘This is a perfect project to teach students about this type of documentary history and at the same time add to that history,’” Barnard said.

The project began over the summer with collection of footage, but continues into the fall with a Global Film Festival — City Symphony Project class team taught by both Barnard and Therkelsen. The class has three parts.

“We are watching and discussing city symphonies that have been done in the past, we are making a city symphony about Williamsburg, and we are taking the footage from all of the cities in the world and creating a global city symphony,” Therkelsen said.

The global city symphony attempts to connect many cities in one piece, and the Williamsburg project attempts to make a local connection to the global cities.

“Doing the class, even working on the global side, I will get something more out of Williamsburg because we are trying to relate the global one to Williamsburg,” Klotz said. “Maybe I will get to see Williamsburg in a different light too.”

Both film projects will premiere at the film festival in February. While the production of both projects is an accomplishment in itself, the ability for the students to display their work in February is an added opportunity.

“We are really happy that we can create that opportunity for students, because that is the thing that is most interesting to students,” Barnard said. “An aspiring filmmaker wants an audience for their films. We can sort of give them that opportunity.”

The class consists of a group of 14 students. While the students are working to produce these two projects, Klotz is the only student who filmed abroad this summer and is now a part of the production process. For Klotz, filming for the project while studying abroad in Spain shed new light on the cities she visited.

“When you have a camera in your hand, you are supposed to be looking for these interactions, you start noticing the personality of the city better, in a slightly different light,” Klotz said. “Especially thinking about how this would go into a documentary about how this goes around the world, you notice the commonalities and differences of the city. You learn more about the community.”

Klotz has worked in photography before, but this is her first filmmaking project.

“I didn’t know what I was doing at all, but what I gathered from the feel of the project was that they are supposed to be really unique interactions,” Klotz said. “Stuff you wouldn’t find in every city, unique to that city but at the same time that had interactions that could somehow be woven into the bigger picture.”

Therkelsen believes this project connects to the College’s main goals to focus on international endeavors. The project uses study abroad experiences to create a new filmmaking product.

“It touches upon a lot of things that represent William and Mary,” Therkelsen said. “It is very international. It encourages students to go out and explore. When you have a camera, you look at things differently. It was almost like a treasure hunt.”

__The videos that have been taken around the world and in Williamsburg can be seen at vimeo.com/user7029895.__

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