#78: Jacob Barreras and Libi Rose Striegl
Jacob Barreras is the ultimate projectionist who exercises his eye for new and historical avant-garde film while plying his trade for the University of Colorado Film Studies Program. Libi Striegl, a doctoral candidate in intermedia art, writing and performance at CU, bounces around among disciplines; she has special interests in robotics, software design, textiles and filmmaking. Together they curate the OFF Cinema experimental film series, bringing little-seen moving pictures to Front Range audiences. As their latest project, the two-week Unseen Festival, which begins September 21 at Counterpath in Denver, began to unfurl, Barreras and Striegl decided they'd answer the 100CC questionnaire in conversation with one another, and you’re invited to listen in.
Jacob Barreras: My creative energy is fueled off of the passion and pure enjoyment that I get when I have the chance to show someone something they’ve never seen before. The look of amazement, bewilderment and curiosity in their eyes is so ethereal and very special for me.
Libi Striegl: Yeah, my first inclination is to say that feeling when you know someone else is just as excited as you are.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Striegl: I don’t want to think about inviting luminaries or famous people. We are trying to make shows that appeal to everyone. So having said that, I’d invite my grandmother and that lady whom I had a really interesting conversation with on the subway in New York City, whose name I never got.
Barreras: I’m gonna say my dad.
Barreras: The best thing for me is the clear and definite interest in avant-garde and experimental cinema. We can tell that our announcements do not fall on deaf ears. The worst thing, however, is that there aren’t enough people tuned in to this kind of cinema, so sometimes attendance woes come up.
Striegl: Yeah, or it’s difficult to figure out the best way to communicate what is going on.
Barreras: Yeah, there’s no social-media hub for creatives to share with each other.
Striegl: Everything is really fragmented into cliques. The poetry people don’t talk to the film people, who don’t talk to the whatever people.
Barreras: That’s what we’re trying to achieve with the Unseen Festival (September 21 through October 1 at Counterpath, 7935 East 14th Avenue) — to get people talking to one another and collaborating with each other.
Striegl: Thinking even globally, the same is true. People are in factions, and it’s difficult to get people to accept that it’s okay to go to something without knowing anything about it.
Striegl: Definitely not worth it. We like everything and hate everything in equal measure. I think we can find something of value in everything we watch — well, almost everything. But there also needs to be a recognition of the difference between entertainment and art.
Barreras: Yeah, a good example is within contemporary documentary. Everything seems to be blurring the line between an info piece, e-journalism and vlogging. Like, with environmental films that present an idea along the lines of “This is wrong, we need to fix it.” Basically those are just glorified PowerPoint presentations. A real documentary, a poignant and prescient documentary, doesn’t tell you that you need to do anything at all. It just says "Look…look." We’re showing a film at the Unseen Festival on the Fukushima disaster called Furusato that does this (program five, Furusato, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, September 25). It shows you grim reality and cuts it with high-art violin music. Eerie, unsettling, dramatic.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
Striegl: I would like to see my work in Japan and Europe.
Barreras: I’d like to see Japan and Europe.
Striegl: I like that we both say Japan and Europe. I also want to see the Northern Lights with no cameras around.
Striegl: I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. My favorite is usually whatever I’m working on right now. Having said that, though, it’s usually also my least favorite thing...
Barreras: HAHAHA! I’m gonna go with programming the Unseen Festival.
Colorado, love it or leave it? What keeps you here – or makes you want to leave?
Striegl: I grew up here. I came back after three years away to find a totally different place, but there are always pockets of weird Colorado that keep me happy, even if I have to live someplace I can’t afford.
Barreras: I also grew up here, and for a variety of reasons, I’ve never felt like I wanted to leave. It’s my home.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Barreras: Probably Andrew Busti would have to be my favorite Colorado creative currently (a featured filmmaker in the Unseen Festival, Program Ten, "Tunings: The Films of Andrew Busti," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 30). The otherworldliness of his films and his dedication to celluloid are amazing.
Striegl: I’ll echo that and say the Process Reversal organization. What they’re doing for artists, filmmakers and creatives in Denver with their workshops is great.
Barreras: We are very lucky to have an artist-run film lab in town.
Barreras: The most important item on my agenda is the Unseen Festival. But after that, I’ll be going into research mode, as I’ve been invited to the Ann Arbor Film Festival coming up in March to present a Robert Fulton film that made its way into my personal film collection. The film is Reality’s Invisible, and he made it in his brief time at the Carpenter Center at Harvard, in the only Le Corbusier building in the country. Anyhow, the film is marvelous. A sublime montage of snippets, teases, improv, etc., largely about the institution failing the artist. We see these lost artist souls wandering, hoping for something — life after graduation, if you will.
Striegl: And on my agenda is getting through comps…
Striegl: And a bunch of other art projects.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local film community in the coming year?
Barreras: Truthfully, we hope it’s us, with this festival.
The Unseen Festival runs September 21 through October 1 at Counterpath, 7935 East 14th Avenue, with screenings and discussions paired with literary readings at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Admission is $7 per program or $70 for an all-access pass. Learn more and see the complete schedule online. Learn more about OFF Cinema on Facebook.