The Annotated Field Guide of Ulysses S. Grant (61:07, 2020) link to more
Few works about the American Civil War reach the level of historical detail and formal playfulness as this musical fantasia about Ulysses S. Grant’s liberatory march through the southern United States. Jim Finn merges stop motion animation, 16mm film, and a 70s-inspired synth score into an unlikely anti-racist combination. — Sheffield Doc/Fest
The Annotated Field Guide of Ulysses S. Grant screened at Dok Leipzig, Doclisboa, BAFICI, Ann Arbor and Documenta Madrid among other festivals.
An epistolary, musical reimagining of Wuthering Heights by Branwell—the tubercular, alcoholic and opium-addicted brother of Emily Brontë.
The Drunkard's Lament screened at FIDMarseille, BAFICI, Leeds International Film Festival and Union Docs.
Chums from Across the Void (17:30, 2015)
Little Radek, the step-dancing Bolshevik; Machera, the Andean Robin Hood, and Maria Spiridonova, the Russian socialist assassin are your guides for Past Leftist Life Regression therapy. In this third Inner Trotsky Child video, narrator Lois Severin—a former Trotskyite turned suburban housewife—attempts to radicalize the personal fulfillment and self-help scene. Like the Christian fundamentalist activists in the 1970’s who prepared the way for the Reagan Revolution, the Inner Trotsky Child movement was a way to cope with life in the Prime Material Plane of Corporate Capitalism and to create a 21st-Century revolution of the mind.
Chums from Across the Void premiered at the 53rd New York Film Festival.
Encounters with Your Inner Trotsky Child (21:10, 2013)
"Encounters with Your Inner Trotsky Child also riffs on the self-help genre by reading the persecution of the Russian Marxist of the title as an allegory for finding inner peace. Mimicking the wobbly appearance of Eighties video graphics, the film employs New Age-y visualization techniques (one section is entitled “Arrogant Breath of the Puffed-Up Bourgeoisie: A Guided Meditation”) and quasi-spiritual affirmation exercises conducted by a German-speaking aerobics instructor. The better life promised by such instructions, of course, was not something that Trotsky, murdered in Mexico by Stalin’s agents, was able to achieve. Instead, the video’s narrator (Lois Severin) offers a counter history in which Trotsky evades Stalin’s reach by building an underground bunker and triumphs over his enemies. Though Encounters elicited laughter with its hyperbolic Communist rhetoric and lo-fi video effects, it also prompts a serious engagement with its central premise: that to imagine a better life for ourselves means, in part, imagining a different history."
—Genevieve Yue, FILM COMMENT
Zinoviev's Tube: Tape 2 of the Inner Trotsky Child series (22:15, 2014)
In this tape—the second in the Inner Trotsky Child video series—narrator Lois Severin is back with advice for post-Berlin Wall leftists dealing with life in the Prime Material Plane of Corporate Capitalism. Instead of a silver cord, you will use Zinoviev's Tube to astrally project your mind to a zombie cesspool with Ronald Reagan and hear Muammar Qaddafi’s advice on returning from space travel. There is also the familiar soothing music and affirmation exercises of the first tape, Encounters with Your Inner Trotsky Child.
The movement’s founder Lois Severin, a former Trotskyite turned suburban housewife, was responding to the move from mass sociopolitical engagement of the 60’s and 70’s to the personal fulfillment fantasies of the 80’s—the Jane Fonda-ization of the Left. While right-wing activists prepared the ground for the Reagan Revolution, the Inner Trotsky Child movement was an attempt to radicalize the personal fulfillment and self-help scene and prepare the ground for a 21st Century revolution of the mind.
Christmas with Chávez (2:00, 2013)
Weeks before the 2006 midterm elections, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez came to the United Nations and delivered his "smells of sulfur" speech about Bush. After that speech, Bush was officially a lame duck—the Republicans lost the House and Senate and just had to sit around and wait for the air to go out of the economy. It was an 'Emperor's New Clothes' moment with perfect comic timing. No matter what nutty things Chávez ever did, our nation's children will always be grateful.
Sunday School with Franz Hinkelammert (50:20, 2012)
A film about liberation theologian and economist Franz Hinkelammert. "Finn’s witness eye travels to the origin of a theory that stands on the “theology of liberation” in order to reinterpret the last years of universal history of political and social-economical iniquity, focusing on Allende’s Chile, Reagan, the connection between the US and Latin America, false utopias, and several other ideological wanderings of contemporary culture.” —BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival de Cine Independiente)
Kim Jong Il, the Stalinist David O. Selznick, runs the state film studio as a way of promoting his own and his father's cult of personality. The film's title "Great Man and Cinema" comes from a propaganda booklet filled with stories of how the Dear Leader has written, edited, produced and given acting advice in films for the last 40 years. This film succinctly synthesizes the Dear Leader's directing philosophy with his feelings toward the imperialist beast at his heels.
Dick Cheney in a Cold, Dark Cell (2:30, 2009)
River ice sets the scene for Judy Garland's international cri de coeur. It's hard to understate the amount of anxiety created by a vice president who usurped authority for eight years to start wars and wreck the economy and then sidled off to Wyoming to be a a retired Hero of the Right. Impunity is not just the stuff of autocratic dictatorships in the third world. The American form of impunity is going to get us all killed.
Best Experimental Film, Rio de Janeiro Short Film Festival
New York Underground Film Festival Trailer (1:00, 2008)
A commissioned trailer for the final NYUFF. This one is my re-edit of the space hippies episode of Star Trek with the actor that goes on to play angry rednecks for the rest of his career. Let's say goodbye or let's say brother.
la lotería (video series, 2004-5)
"Twelve are the winning numbers in this audiovisual lottery in the key of agit-pop, created from remains of media trash and starring Jim Finn. Write it down: 5, 11, 21, 23, 25, 28, 36, 38, 39, 16, 48, 52. All of them last less than four minutes but, according to its utopian assignment of preference, together they're much more, because in the eventful and episodic universe of Finn's cinema, everything's possible. Thus, TV appearances from Fidel Castro, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein, are contrasted with home movies (which range from a choreography in front of the bathroom mirror to a relationship with the nicest squirrel in the world), and silenced by the soft melodies ñnow involuntarily subversive- of Ana and Juan Gabriel, RocÌo Durcal, Los Guaraguao, The Weavers, Leonard Nimoy and even the beloved Argentine duo Pimpinela. Like the rest of his work, La loterÌa shows that Jim Finn has one of the most original and quick cinematic minds in present day." - Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente
super-max (13:00, 2003)
"Finn's chilling super-max is a tour of maximum security prisons shot from a moving car, their hulking forms framed by telephone poles and power lines that divide landscape and sky. The concluding voice-over, making reference to Lewis and Clark, implicitly equates the European occupation of this continent with imprisonment." — Fred Camper, Chicago Reader
Made in Chicago Award, Chicago Underground Film Festival
Decision 80 (10:00, 2003)
"A decisive moment in American history remixed into the prelude to your worst fucking nightmare." — New York Underground Film Festival
"'Beam me up, Scottie, I think we really blew it.' A timely look back at the mechanics of a painful historic moment" — Cinematexas
Black Maria Director's and Program Staff's Citation
wüstenspringmaus (3:00, 2002)
"'The gerbil has long been associated with New World capitalism because of its incessant energy...' The Golden Age of Hollywood takes on the history and evolution of this delightful household pet." — International Film Festival Rotterdam
"Jim Finn's wüstenspringmaus, a well-sprung, rear-screened account of a gerbil's life in the Seventies." — Guy Maddin, Film Comment
Blue Award, Thaw Film & Video Festival, Iowa City
el güero (3:00, 2001)
"A refreshing look at karaoke, psychedelic dance moves, and donuts all mashed together into a small and swinging film about a man who considers his private thoughts and private jokes worth sharing with a large audience. And it’s unlikely that many would disagree." — Impakt Festival
comunista! (3:30, 2001)
"You are invited to Jim’s party! Snake optional." — Cinematexas Festival
Sharambaba (3:00, 1999)
A young communist girl named Sharambaba resists her suitor in a carriage. "Marriage is like a mad dog on wood. It runs back and forth, frantic. Thinking how to get off. And yet it is happy."
granada (6:40, 1998)
A flamenco version of the ethnic cleansing history of Spain 511 years later on a rooftop near downtown Chicago. Starring Jeff Mueller, Diana Mendoza, Carla Rivera, Dean De Matteis and Carlos Alverio.