Abigail Child is a preeminent experimental filmmaker, noted for her signature works in the found footage genre. These short films, constructed in a rapid-fire montage style, are composed with arresting, dense images and multilayered, dissonant soundtracks. In each of them, Child creates an artfully designed, self-contained universe, replete with sexual tension and lurking danger, which lies on the border between fiction and documentary reality. In The Future Is Behind You (Tribeca Film Festival 2005), Child ingeniously weaves together anony- mous home movie footage to create her own fictive account of a Jewish family's coming-of-age on the eve of World War II. In her documentary On the Downlow, Child and cinematographer Arthur Jafa (Crooklyn, Daughters of the Dust), investigate the lifestyle of four African American men living in Cleveland, Ohio. The cityscapes are filmed in surreptitious, staccato fashion, coupled with a roving but unobtrusive camera that penetrates the protagonists' familial spaces. Weaving these visuals together with startlingly frank on-camera narration by each protagonist, Child creates a compelling collective portrait of the physical, psychological and emotional travails of an underground lifestyle finally surfacing above ground. Each of the four protagonists must come to terms (in distinctly individual fashion) with the reality of his intimate involvement with same- sex partners, and confront the ensuing personal, familial and social issues that this process entails. In fitting with the film, we recognize in poignant fashion that their individual human struggles will continue in the real space and time that exists beyond the final frames. Screened with The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman in the program Coming Out.
ABIGAIL CHILD has created a wide variety of experimental, narrative, and documentary films since 1970. Her award-winning art has been extensively exhibited in both solo and group shows, including The American Century, 1950-2000 at the Whitney Museum, the Whitney Biennial (1989, 1997), the New York Film Festival & Video Side Bar (1989, 1993), as well as the London, Rotterdam, Pesaro and Torino Film Festivals, among others. Her work is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. She is also a poet and author; her most recent book is This Is Called Moving: A Critical Poetics of Film. Child, who graduated with a M.F.A. from Yale University School of the Arts, has taught film/video production and history at various schools and is currently Chair of Film/Animation at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.