The Figure Skating Champion Shares a Private Moment on the Ice
Renowned American figure skater Sasha Cohen, clad in pale Nina Ricci, glides and spins in this lyrical short film from Jake Sumner. Currently studying at Columbia University, Cohen grew up in California and competed at the top level of skating for more than a decade, winning a gold medal in the US Figure Skating Championships and silver medals at the Winter Olympics and the World Figure Skating Championships. “We wanted to explore the transformation that happens when she’s on the ice,” explains Sumner, who collaborated with stylist Emily Barnes for this film. “When we met, she told me that she tries to become part of the music to deal with the pressure and we thought this would be an interesting focus.” Cohen’s off-the-rink star turns include appearances in Blades of Glory and Project Runway, as well as a collaboration with Klingbeil on a line of skating boots. “When you see her perform, it’s like watching something superhuman,” says Sumner. And if she wasn’t a skater-student-designer, she’d be...
If I were an animal, I would be… a monkey.
If I were a season, I would be… spring.
If I were a dish, I would be… a cupcake.
If I were a film, I would be… My Fair Lady.
If I were a writer, I would be… Vladimir Nabokov.
If I were a mythological being, I would be… Athena.
If I were a work of art, I would be… “The Kiss” by Klimt.
If I were a song, I would be… “Girl from North Country” by Bob Dylan.
If I were a natural phenomenon, I would be… a rainbow.
If I were a cocktail, I would be… a bellini.
If I were a fruit I would be ... a pineapple.
If I were an object, I would be… a seashell.
If I were a quality, I would be… passion.
Our New Open Call For Experimental Films Launches With Evan Prosofsky's Directorial Debut
Artificial waves crash and swimsuit-clad patrons frolic in the strange suburban utopia of World Waterpark in Alberta, Canada, in cinematographer Evan Prosofsky’s first directorial effort, launching an open call for submissions to our new Shorts on Sundays series via the NOWNESS Vimeo channel. The aquatic playground cast as the uncanny protagonist in Waterpark is located inside the West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping destination. “I never seemed to adjust to the absurdity,” says the director of shooting in his hometown’s famous fantasyland. “Even as a kid, I just couldn’t believe we had flamingos, submarines, roller coasters, and pirate ships in our mall.” The increasingly sought-after cinematographer became known as the lensman behind several of last year’s most shared music videos, including Grimes’ “Oblivion,” Bat for Lashes’ “All Your Gold” and Grizzly Bear’s “Yet Again.” Sound features prominently in Waterpark, too, with the soundtrack composed by Prosofsky’s friend Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, infusing the innocent family environment with a seductive, contemplative undertone. “[Evan] told me of his experience there as a child,” says the Taiwanese-born Canadian musician of the effort. “That helped me understand his perspective, and I liked how neutral and non-judgmental it was.” Shot over a span of three years, the labor of love hints at the anxiety that lays dormant behind an otherwise glossy North American leisure culture. “Once I was in there,” Prosofsky recalls of shooting in plain view. “No one paid me the slightest bit of attention.” We asked Emily Kai Bock to share her thoughts on her collaborator's uncommon vision and process.
Waterpark is an early glimpse into the way Evan has structured his life around the craft of cinematography—being a typical teen working at the West Edmonton mall, but using his money and time off to go to the expense of documenting the space for hours on 16mm. It's rare to find that kind of devotion and love for the craft with a cinematographer. I've led him into many situations on several videos where his equipment could have been confiscated or ruined by the conditions. When we were shooting Grizzly Bear's "Yet Again" I remember watching him as he read the manual for a HydroFlex underwater housing before dropping it into a swimming pool with his own 35mm camera inside. The camera was safe, but it demonstrated that getting the shot was more valuable to him then his own equipment. His knowledge has provided an unwavering buoyancy through our sink-or-swim shoots.
Visit the NOWNESS Vimeo page for more information on how to submit to our Shorts on Sundays open call.
The Artist Takes Manhattan With His Inflatable Cartoon Creation
A 41-foot-high monochrome balloon courtesy of the artist KAWS, aka Brian Donnelly, is the airborne star of today’s film from director Jake Sumner. The helium-filled polyurethane version of KAWS’s famous “Companion”, a cartoon-like ghoul that sits with its head in its hands as though weeping, was immortalized in all its tragi-comic glory as it drifted along the Upper West Side towards downtown Manhattan last month during the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “I grew up partly on Central Park West and really loved watching the parade as a kid,” says Sumner, whose recent directorial work includes a music video for Lissy Trullie’s “It’s Only You Isn’t It,” starring Chloë Sevigny. “There was always a very magical feeling to the way the balloons moved.” Part of a dual, simultaneous release of a partner short for I Am Other, the Google channel belonging to musician and KAWS enthusiast Pharrell Williams, this film sees the melancholic creation surreally hovering behind traditional blow-up effigies of Kermit the Frog, Hello Kitty, and the 86-year-old parade’s first floating figure, Felix the Cat. The inclusion of "Companion" proved something of a watershed moment for Donnelly, whose artistic career began with tagging in New Jersey and New York’s derelict buildings and highways. Now, a 16-foot sculpture of KAWS' haunting character is on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, while a solo exhibition of his work can be seen at Paris' Galerie Perrotin. “His rise has been mind-blowing,” says Sumner. “It's amazing he's been able to make the leap to that giant level while still keeping his work really fun.”