Ackland features Indigenous filmmaker’s experimental ‘Gush’

The screening by the Film Forum is a companion piece to the current museum exhibition celebrating Indigenous artists.

Two women speaking in the front seat of a car with a mountain range outside of their front window.
The Ackland Film Forum hopes this screening will inspire film buffs and aspiring filmmakers. (Submitted photo)

For film buffs at Carolina, the Ackland Film Forum has always provided a healthy stream of cinematic delights, be they mainstream throwbacks or underrated gems. On Feb. 29 at the Varsity Theatre, the forum — a collaboration between the Ackland Art Museum and the College of Arts and Sciences’ film studies department — will host a screening of “Gush,” an experimental film from San Diego-based artist Fox Maxy.

Ackland Film Forum: “Gush”/ 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29/ Varsity Theatre/ RSVP

The screening will be in conjunction with the Ackland’s current exhibition “Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum,” which celebrates Indigenous artists and the work they create.

Associate professor Martin Johnson works closely with the forum’s programming and wanted to show a film as a companion piece to Ackland’s exhibition. “Gush,” which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is the first feature film made by Maxy (Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Payómkawish).

“I wanted to think about Indigenous art as it relates to now,” Johnson said. “Some of the work being shown at ‘Past Forward’ is contemporary, but a lot isn’t. Showcasing Fox’s film is a way of showing how a contemporary indigenous artist is working through material that can be related to the exhibition, as well as touching on ideas that are more novel or unexpected.”

Collected from years of footage, “Gush” is described as a feature-length rumination of male and female power set against an apocalyptic world. The team at the Film Forum expect the experimental film, free of the constraints of most narrative features, to provoke heavy discussion.

“When watching ‘Gush,’ you really feel you’re immersed in the singular vision of an artist,” Johnson said. “There’s very interesting ways in which themes are visualized.”

Allison Lathrop has been instrumental in the Film Forum since its inception. She has overseen the diverse films shown by the forum for almost 15 years. For her, showing a more experimental film like “Gush” has its benefits.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity to expand your horizons of what types of films you think you like,” Lathrop said.

Maxy will be available to answer questions after the screening, and Lathrop believes having the artist open to engaging in dialogue with an audience is yet another benefit of showcasing contemporary artists. For film fans, it should make for an unforgettable night, and for film students, a screening like this could be inspiring.

“I think ‘Gush’ is the kind of film that prospective filmmakers can look at and say, ‘Oh, I can find a way of making something like this,’” Johnson said. “Of course they won’t have Fox’s same perspective, but they can find their own way of using film to express themselves. I think the best films are the ones that inspire us to want to tell our own stories.”

Click here for more details on the screening.