Announcing the Expanded 2016 Big Ears Film Series!


We’re proud to announce Big Ears Festival’s expanding film programming in an exciting collaboration with the Public Cinema, a Knoxville-based group dedicated to sharing vital works of contemporary American and international film. Films will be screened at the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the Square Room, and the downtown Regal Riviera Theater, with several cinema-related live events presented during the festival weekend.

All film events will be open to Big Ears passholders – and a new “film series only” ticketing option is on sale now at

Laurie Anderson will present her meditative and inspiring new film Heart of a Dog, free and open to Big Ears patrons and the Knoxville community. Praised by The New York Times as “wildly inventive, philosophically astute, and emotionally charged,” the film will be followed by a Q&A with Anderson. Big Ears will also commemorate revered sonic explorer Sun Ra and his Arkestra with a special 35mm screening of their sci-fi Afrofuturist classic Space is the Place (1972).

The festival will celebrate renowned label Factory 25 with 10 by 25: A Factory 25 Retrospective with Founder Matt Grady. A home for conceptually provocative narratives and documentaries, Factory 25 will present ten bracing, personal, and deeply unconventional gems from its catalog, all screening at the downtown Regal Riviera Theater. The retrospective will include, among other films, New Jerusalem (Rick Alverson, 2011), featuring Big Ears musician Will Oldham and produced by beloved label Jagjaguwar; Sun Don’t Shine (2012), the debut feature from Amy Seimetz, the writer/director behind Steven Soderbergh’s forthcoming television series The Girlfriend Experience; and Sex and Broadcasting (2015), Tim K. Smith’s “heartfelt, gritty, and informative” (Village Voice) chronicle of WFMU, the longest running freeform radio station in the USA. Founder Matt Grady, “one of the most important curatorial voices of new, independent American films” (Austin Chronicle), will be on-hand for the entirety of the festival.

Two other programs will feature live musical performances accompanying film. Filmmaker, composer, musician, and conceptual artist Tony Conrad will present works from across the breadth of his intersecting music and film creations, highlighting the interplay between his fruitful partnership with minimalist music pioneers La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and John Cale and his radical reduction of his cinematic creations to their most essential properties – light and darkness, black and white, sound and silence. In addition, “cello goddess” (The New Yorker) Maya Beiser will present her unique, arresting interpretations of Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint and Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops against the backdrop of film projections by Big Ears alumnus and esteemed filmmaker Bill Morrison.

Festival attendees will also have the chance to interact with some of the world’s leading film scorers, already in attendance at the festival. Following a screening of Bill Morrison’s latest short film, The Dockworker’s Dream, with an original score by festival performers Lambchop, Big Ears will host a film score discussion panel featuring several visiting performers (participants to be named at a later date).

Rounding out The Public Cinema’s programming are four events that spotlight important new voices in experimental film and video. Called a “breakout star of the avant-garde,” artist Jodie Mack will present and perform Let Your Light Shine, a collection of five short films that has screened in premier venues on four continents. Equally fluent in high culture and kitsch, structuralist experimentation and psychedelia, Mack has enjoyed solo screenings at the New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde, BFI London Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center, Los Angeles Filmforum, Anthology Film Archive, and more than a dozen other galleries and festivals.

Mack’s latest short film, Something Between Us, will also be included in Flicker and Wow, a Public Cinema-curated program of recent, critically-acclaimed short films. Titles will be announced in the coming days.

Finally, artist Shambhavi Kaul will premiere her latest video installation, Modes of Faltering at a new venue, the University of Tennessee School of Art’s Downtown Gallery, which will be free and open to public for the duration of the weekend. Kaul will also perform Planet, which includes a selection of her short films, along with a reading of her writing. Kaul’s work has been exhibited in galleries and on the film festival circuit, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, the New York Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Rotterdam, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Shanghai Biennale.