The Joy of Life
Sun 8/27/2023 • 7PM PDT
Billy Wilder Theater
In-person: filmmaker Jenni Olson.
Catwalk Construction of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
Men hang from wires, ropes and safety apparatuses high above the water, floating and disjointed from the ground below in this newsreel footage from September 19, 1935 of men working on the Golden Gate Bridge — just two years before it opened.
DCP, b&w, 11 min. Newsreel material provided courtesy of the Hearst Metrotone News Collection, as part of a joint project between The Packard Humanities Institute and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
The voice signals distress, sadness, growth and change as home videos are distorted, layered and reveal something new to the filmmaker who leads the viewer on their journey.
DCP, color, 8 min. Director: Ash Verwiel.
The Joy of Life
A lyrical voice tells two different stories: one of heartbreak and lovers past, another of the history and tragedy of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge, told over 16mm landscape photography of San Francisco in Jenni Olson’s beautiful first feature. The stories told among the warm light of San Francisco sneak up on you — layering beauty with tragedy, light with a foreboding darkness, making a lasting impact on the viewer. Olson has done a remarkable thing: by keeping the image and the story separate, they have captured the essence of a disjointed city. One that is in constant friction, reminding us that grief requires us to be present and in those sad moments, there is also great beauty.
Digital video, color, 65 min. Director: Jenni Olson.