Interview with Filmmaker Karl Nussbaum (GHOST DANCE FOR AMERICA)

GHOST DANCE FOR AMERICA was the winner of BEST EXPERIMENTAL Film at the October 2021 Experimental Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was motivated to make this film by the 2016 US Election and the rage I felt after that orange piece of shit won.
I was also motivated by the racism in our country and America’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the destruction of the Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans during the birth of our country in 1800s. And how these twin tragedies continue to impact America politically to this very day.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

About a year and a half.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Poetic rage

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

A fear of being accused of cultural appropriation.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Wow, people really had some good insights and understood my techniques, strategies and the emotions. I felt recognized and appreciated as a filmmaker, which is a very powerful and emotional feeling. There were some suggestions regarding the subtitles that really I wish I had done (ie: larger and longer subtitles or voice overs). But I’m not sure the audience saw my over arching connection of the violent birth of America and the current political landscape. It is only apparent in one visual / subtitled moment showing the confederate statue that the Neo-Nazis rallied around in 2017.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

When I was around 13 or 14.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Not sure – maybe ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Printed articles / interview.

9. What is next for you? A new film?

‘Ghost Dance for America, 1890’ is the first film of a trilogy about America. The second (completed) film is, ‘Phantasmagoria, 1945’. The next film/installation in the trilogy is entitled, ‘The Weather Inside Us’

I look forward to getting that project started right after I finish a longer film for a installation in China this year, entitled ‘Ghosts in the Cloud Forest.’

I’ve also been commissioned in China to make a short film about Celadon, a Chinese tradition on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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