Three Films

“Three Films” is a patchwork video sculpture, a meditation on the creative process, and a window into the traveling lifestyle of experimental musician Oren Ambarchi. Each of the three pieces here lingers, shifts, and evolves–set against a rotating backdrop of New York, London, Berlin, Krakow, Porto, Kitakyushu, Tokyo, and the spaces in between.

With contributions from rock legend Keiji Haino (Fushitsusha), avant-garde artist Phew, and Ambarchi’s longtime collaborator Jim O’Rourke (Sonic Youth), this trio of loosely connected experimental short films evokes the tightrope at the heart of Ambarchi’s art, seeking deep musical experiences amid the alternately mundane, tedious, joyful, fleeting, and transcendent aspects of a life on the road.

(Check out an excerpt here.)

Surrender to the Situation

“It’s like a roller coaster where at first you try to hold on, and then you’re like, Okay, I’m just going to scream and let it go, let it take me.”

“Surrender to the Situation” interweaves an East Coast train journey with footage from Tyondai Braxton’s HIVE installation and a pair of shows by Australian musician Oren Ambarchi in June 2015.

This three-part series was originally included in “Big, Bent Ears: a serial in documentary uncertainty,” published in 2016 in The Paris Review Daily.

Check out Part 1: Oren Ambarchi & Tyondai Braxton, Part 2: Ensemble Virtuosity, and Part 3: In Motion.

Ivan Weiss is a documentary filmmaker and a professor in Wake Forest University’s Journalism Program. His films and multimedia projects have explored a variety of subjects, including segregation, gentrification, the experience of musical performances and athletic events, and more. Running through all his projects is an engagement with place and landscape, analyzing how we create, change, and make discoveries, and how we connect – or fail to connect – with one another.

As an educator, Weiss seeks to teach students to use the tools of filmmaking and journalism to strip away falsehoods, reveal truth, and see the world with new eyes.

Contact: ivan [at] ivanweiss [dot] com or weissij [at] wfu [dot] edu


The Education of Ida Owens

"Now there's one last link to what I would like to achieve... and you're taking me back to where I started."

Follow Ida from rural North Carolina to her years at Duke University, where she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D.

A personal exploration of Southern history, higher education, and the civil rights movement, The Education of Idea Owens brings to the forefront the past and its lingering effects.

Festival: A Month in Durham

"We're out here vibing to this music, just enjoying life."

“Festival” tells the story of three music events that took place in Durham, N.C., in May 2016.

In this fast-“gentrifying” city, this short documentary reflects on the churn of past, present, and conflicting visions of the future. (The piece first appeared in Public Books.)

Nazoranai: A Documentary

“I just want to hear things I've never heard before.”

Improvisational sound trio Nazoranai came together for their first North American performance in 2014 at the Big Ears festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nazoranai: a documentary goes behind the scenes, spending time with members Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi, and Keiji Haino.

New Work for Goldberg Variations

"Ultimately, the piece is about the piano."

Acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein and choreographer Pam Tanowitz join forces on a new rendition of Bach’s Goldberg Variations – an (almost) all-female production of a song cycle long associated with male artists.

Leaving Traces

"It's like a great American novel – it can change your life."

Leaving Traces is an audio-visual immersion into the singular world of a baseball stadium, where the laws of time, motion and perspective function at a distinct remove from our day-to-day lives.

Chronicle of a Distant Summer

"If this were a zombie movie, who would the zombies be?"

A voice asks a series of questions. A pair of eyes seeks answers in the landscape.

This stark essay film from the early days of covid-19 resides in a world both familiar and strange, at the intersection of contemplation, horror, and farce.