2018 || 48 min
"Shooting for more than five years in 13 locations around the U.S., Tamer Hassan and Armand Yervant Tufenkian trace a collection of letters to the homes where each was sent or received in this uniquely process-based documentary. The letters, written to accompany seed packets sent between friends and families and dated as far back as 1806, are read aloud by individual narrators, unfolding as personal-poetic reflections on life and labor in rural America. Via a variety of 16mm film stocks, Accession maps a visual and aural correspondence between anonymous people and places with an exploratory flair."
- Art of the Real at Lincoln Center
"The work is bathed in an incredibly warm and organic aura, making the cracked images appear almost touchable, like old time worn paintings gleaming with varnish: beautifully aged shots of prairie lands and clapboard houses under drained colorless skies, close-ups of hands webbed in elegant interplays of light and dark lovingly handling seed pods, a woman sitting at a sewing machine in a shadowed room as still and quiet as a Vermeer, or a wintry dirt country road bounded by bare trees somewhere in middle America. Filmmakers Hassan and Tufenkian have done more than just bemoan the slow fading away of a ritual—the careful and deliberate cultivation and digging of the earth—that is as old as we are, but have also contributed, by celebrating the unassuming diligence of those carrying on, their own elegiac visual love letter to the inventory."
- David Perrin, MUBI Notebook
“Accession is the result of a centuries-long resistance: the one carried out by seed savers. The resistance comes in the shape of letters between people, letters that travel together with the seeds they share. The letters bring instructions, descriptions, intimate elements from subtle friendships and a desire for these seeds to survive the saver. We are able to see the beauty of this work -- separating the seeds, preparing the soil, moving through it -- and also the darker parts -- having to rely on a climate that is increasingly merciless, train wagons carrying oil across the country. Accession is a film that affirms without words that poetry is a weapon loaded with the future.”
- Lucía Salas, Mar del Plata Film Festival
"... The effect is a kind of secular prayer and a paean to decency and communal duty, as the diversity of the seeds and weathered film stocks feed a soulful sense of continuity that stretches from the 1800s up to now..."
- Nicolas Rapold, Viennale
First Inquiries on Community (A Scent of Heliotrope and Citron)
2017 || 9 min
“You wouldn’t have known her, you’d have seen her everywhere at once, in a hotel, in a street, in a train, in a bar, in a book, in a film, in yourself, your inmost self…” (Marguerite Duras, The Malady of Death)
in lightning Agnes
2014 || 2 min
Expanding what it means to make a place-based film by incorporating the physical environment into the very material of the image; "in a real, material sense, what is made from where." (Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts)
In 2014, Armand Tufenkian and collaborators Robert Schaller and Curt Heiner made a film in the Zirkel Wilderness area of Colorado. It briefly chronicles a climb of Mount Agnes, using a handmade photographic emulsion that was prepared on site at 10,000 feet, using water from a nearby glacier and a large fire. The emulsion was prepared and coated onto celluloid at night during an early August new moon (because, while the moon would have exposed the film, the stars do not). The film was then rolled up before dawn during a lightning storm, shot during the day under the threat of more lightning, and processed on location that night.
Rhythms of Rutledge
2013 || 14 min
In 1974, two young couples moved from Chicago to found Sandhill Farm, an experimental income-sharing farm in Rutledge, Missouri. Rhythms of Rutledge allows minimal dialogue to echo through long sections of observation, presenting an array of portraits of labor on the farm to understand relationships within the community.