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Film by alumni continues to resonate with festival audiences

December 2, 2011

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By Laurie Swain ‘12

The Reach of Resonance, a documentary directed, produced and created by Steve Elkins ’02 and co-produced by David G. Marks ’04 has scored another major festival win, this time at Portugal’s Festival Temps d’images.

The documentary won the festival’s “Film For Art Award,” which honors the entry that best “reflects the importance in art in human society in the most original way” and was accompanied by a prize of 1,500  euros. The documentary is now on its way to the 20th annual Environmental Film Festival, to be held in March at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The Reach of Resonance explores how music can be discovered in nature and other unique environments.  The film focuses on four musicians and the paths they take to interpret and compose music in experimental ways with non-traditional “instruments,” from cockroaches to barbed-wire fences.

“You don’t understand what music can be until you can create it yourself, the idea of stripping away the layers for it to be deep and meaningful” Elkins says.

The film began as Elkins’s senior thesis for film production. “I remember the year I graduated, the film production department didn’t want people to do documentaries,” Elkins recalled. But he convinced a professor of the value of the project and won his OK to proceed.

Elkins continued with the film for seven years after graduation, even traveling as far as the central desert of Australia, where he filmed a musician who plays barbed-wire fences with a violin bow. Marks joined Elkins for the last two years of the project. The travel continued, and together the two worked in sub-freezing Alaskan temperatures to document a musician who composes music using high-tech recordings of the sounds emitted when the aurora borealis enters earth’s atmosphere.

It took some time before film festivals warmed to the filmmakers’ documentary, but their luck turned when it was accepted into Montreal’s International Festival of Films on Art, where it competed with hundreds of films and won “Award for Best Essay.”

The Portugal Festival Temps d’Images followed, and they consider that honor particularly prestigious since only 33 films are accepted and only three awards given.

Now Marks and Elkins, both from Fullerton, are looking forward to the Washington, D.C., festival, and working on plans for further distribution of the film.

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