Filmmaker Kevin Pontuti to be featured at the 2018 Chippewa Valley Film Festival with a special film screening and artist talk on April 21st at the Micon Cinema Eau Claire.

The organizers of the Chippewa Valley Film Festival decided for this year’s festival to provide a program that is both educational and has quality short films. The organizers extended an invitation to Kevin Pontuti, Director of University of the Pacific's Media X program, to present three of his award-winning films and explain aspects of his creative process. We are excited that Kevin has accepted the invitation and will share his excellent work with the audience.

Kevin Pontuti is an artist and educator based in Stockton, California. He received his MFA from Syracuse University in 1993 then moved to California where he founded the Los Angeles-based production company Studio P Inc. His image-making expertise and collaborative spirit attracted many top artists and designers to his studio. In 2009, Pontuti accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In 2017, he returned to California to lead University of the Pacific's MEDIA X program. His teaching and creative practice include photography, cinematic arts and transmedia studies.

Pontuti will present a trilogy of short films from his POETRY OF PENANCE series. Each of the three films, ONERE, PESCARE and VANITÀ, present actress Alexandra Loreth in the role of a young medieval woman, lost in time and place, and use magical realism to explore themes related to resilience and self-acceptance. Structured as vignettes (Cantos) these poetic shorts explore religious themes and notions of spirituality in relation to the psychological landscape of the European middle ages.

Pontuti will introduce each film and walk the audience through his creative process. His presentation will include a slideshow showcasing concept art, storyboards and behind-the-scenes photos from the film production. Members of the cast and crew will join in the discussion and share their insights through a Q&A.

ONERE 2016

ONERE, is the first film in the Poetry of Penance project. Filmed in Menomonie, Wisconsin in 2016, the film follows a young woman's struggle to carry a mysterious weight—a burden— through a purgatory-like canyon: a metaphor for life and one's quest to find strength and inner peace.

PESCARE, the second film in the Poetry of Penance project, was filmed at Villa Pieve in Corciano, Italy. The opening image comes from Rocca Maggiore, one of two primary castles in the historic city of Assisi where Saint Francis is buried.


"In Kevin Pontuti’s PESCARE, a rich visual poem that maintains a patient focus on the starkly repetitive motion of a woman gutting fish, the long tradition of still life painting is captivatingly brought to animation. The contradiction inherent in that thought is mediated by the length of the film maker’s gaze which lingers on a simple action, and allows the viewer to regard at length the details of texture, color, light, and mood. The last frames of the film finally resolve the scene into true still life, when the woman, in whose work we have become absorbed, leaves the scene and the viewer is left alone to contemplate- in Baroque lighting- the fish, their viscera, the knife, the stone slab, the silence, and the sudden absence of human presence. The film, in essence, fulfills an absent action that precedes and follows the scenes we see in paintings and by doing so deepens the possibilities for both meaning and ambiguity." - Sarah Diebel, PhD


VANITÀ is the third installment in the project. The film was partly inspired by the historical tradition of Vanitas painting and explores topics related to obsessive compulsive behavior, notions of self-image, and destructive behaviors relating to vanity.


"The dark and dreamlike episode that confronts the viewer in Kevin Pontuti’s VANITÀ is rich in the suggestion of imagery recounting the long human struggle with balancing the lures of the world with the needs of the soul. His solemn woman before a mirror, whose red hair glints in the darkness around her, is redolent of portrayals of the penitent Mary Magdalene, a woman whose physical past is shed to find her spiritual core. Pontuti’s wordless image especially reminds of quiet scenes of contemplation, like Georges de la Tour’s painting of the Penitent Magdalene, where the sinner looks toward a mirror, a traditional symbol of vanity, and is reminded by the insubstantial flame of the transience of earthly life. In Pontuti’s film, the woman’s disturbing moments of disgorging a part of herself- a physical part of herself- is the equivalent in the painting of the quiet skull, hollow with gaping dark orbits, that implies mortality and the willing abandonment of the physical, sensual past. But while the Magdalene lets her earthly beauty go, the woman in Pontuti’s film resorbs that aspect of physical sensuality that links her to world. Her quest for redemption and transformation has not yet found resolution." - Sarah Diebel, PhD


The Chippewa Valley Film Festival celebrates the art of the short film. The festival, now in it's third year, is held in the thriving arts community of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. All screenings will be held at the beautiful Micon Cinemas Downtown.

Penitent Production credits: Alexandra Loreth (actor, producer), Peter Galante (cinematographer, producer), Ed Jakober (cinematographer, sound design), Kief Oss (post production), Holly Michel (studio manager, special effects), Chiwei Hui (music), Charis Collins (styling), Susan Jakober (costume design), Andrew McIntosh (fabrication) and Jennifer Sansfacon (props and special effects).

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