The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts February 29, 2008

Kashmere Aims to Pique Student Interest and Broaden Horizons

Here for just one semester, Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies Brett Kashmere is one of Oberlin’s newest — and at age 30, youngest — faculty members. Cinema studies, still a fledgling department, has been said to need all the help it can get, and it seems that Kashmere is  attempting to answer that call.

Coming from the Canadian prairie, Kashmere is one of those professors that one might mistake for a student if you haven’t met him. His wide eyes retain a youthful excitement that perhaps some of his tenured counterparts lack. But when he begins to speak, it’s clear that he has something to offer the student body, especially when it comes to producing experimental films.

Kashmere’s true passion for film grew out of the discovery of several experimentalists like himself, namely Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland.

“Film can be an art form that’s akin to poetry or painting or music…. Film can be like punk rock. It doesn’t all have to be films that you would go to the Cineplex to see. You can see films in bars, in gallery spaces and in people’s basements,” said Kashmere.

He came to Oberlin after finding a job listing on Frameworks, an online experimental film discussion group. “[Oberlin has] a much more open definition of cinema,” said Kashmere, citing one of the reasons for his interest in the position.

Kashmere not only teaches film scholarship and analysis, but the technical aspects of film as well. “The students are working with film as a material and they’re shooting Super 8 for the first time,” said Kashmere.

Super 8 film was most often used in old home movies. Kashmere’s students are completing shooting a project they cannot edit or view until its showing at their “One Take Super 8” event in April.

He also hopes to broaden students’ idea of the film world, to expand their horizons beyond Hollywood blockbusters and well-known film festivals. He hopes to nurture the idea of film as a form of personal expression.

Since his graduation from the Canada University of Regina in 2000, he has completed a few films on his own. He earned his master’s in film studies and an MFA in studio arts at Concordia University. It was during this time that Kashmere discovered his love for experimental film.

Kashmere’s films focus on geographies of identity: the idea that the place in which a person is raised directly affects who they become as an adult. They also tie in Foucault’s concept of “counter memory,” giving a voice to people who may have, in Kashmere’s words, “fallen through the cracks.” Kashmere calls his work “essay films, not documentaries in the straightforward sense, but nonfiction.”

“There’s more to filmmaking than making films,” said Kashmere. “It’s also a community that [the students] are a part of, that they have a responsibility to and that once they make a piece of work, the world isn’t going to come and find it.

They need to take some responsibility in the getting it out into the world.”


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