SPECULATION NATION: Film and Panel Discussion

Mural of man holding a lighter to a part of Spain's constitution

Co-sponsored by the Urban Democracy Lab and UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art

In Speculation Nation (USA, 74 min, 2014), an impressionistic documentary film, filmmakers Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown travel across Spain to explore the consequences of the housing crisis. What they find are Spanish citizens, inspired by the politics of The 15M Movement and Occupy Wall Street, who are mobilizing, collectivizing, and fighting for the right for a decent place to live. Along the way, the filmmakers visit young mothers and their families squatting in failed condo developments; intentional communities of mountain cave dwellers; protest campsites that have sprung up in front of bank branches; and empty apartment buildings transformed into experiments in utopian living. The film examines the ideologies that separate housing from home, and real estate speculation from speculations about a better way to live.

In celebration of the film’s New York debut, the screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

Paige Sarlin is an artist, filmmaker, scholar, and political activist. She holds a Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Film/Video/New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Her feature-length documentary film, The Last Slide Projector, premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2007 and screened at Anthology Film Archives in 2008.  From 1999 to 2010, she was an active participant in the 16Beaver Group in New York City, a platform for the discussion of the intersection of art and politics. Her writings have been published in October, Re-Thinking Marxism, Reviews in Cultural Theory, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Scapegoat, and Framework: A Journal of Film and Culture.  She is at work on a book-length manuscript entitled Interview-Work: The Genealogy of a Media Form.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at University at Buffalo, SUNY.

Elia Gran is a Spanish, New York-based photojournalist. She has written or collaborated with various radio programs and journals such as The Nation, WBAI radio, DemocracyNow!, The New York Times, Periódico Diagonal, La Directa and In Barcelona, Spain she was involved in organizing local media, especially through radio programs and local publications, to try to talk about those issues less present in mainstream media. Her interests focus mainly on human rights issues and social movements. She considers herself an activist and is part of the Marea Granate organization in NYC which, together with other worldwide grassroots communities, is creating a global network of collaboration.

Luis Moreno-Caballud is a researcher, writer, and activist. He works at the University of Pennsylvania and participates in different political groups (including Marea Granate NY), focusing mostly on building dialogues between anti-neoliberal social movements in Spain and the US. His book Cultures of Anyone. Studies on Cultural Democratization in the Spanish Neoliberal Crisis has been published by Liverpool UP in 2015 (it’s available online for free here). It explores the crisis of authoritarian and competitive cultures in the wake of the Spanish economic crisis, and the emergence of collaborative and equalitarian alternatives in social movements such as 15M and the PAH.

Sabine Gruffat is a digital media artist and filmmaker living and working in North Carolina. Currently she is Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  Sabine’s films and videos have screened at festivals worldwide including the Image Forum Festival in Japan, The Ann Arbor Film Festival and Migrating Forms in New York. Her feature film I Have Always Been A Dreamer has screened internationally including at the Viennale, MoMA Documentary Fortnight, Cinéma du Réel at the Centre Pompidou, and The Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.  She has also produced digital media works for public spaces as well as interactive installations that have been shown at the Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, Art In General, Devotion Gallery, PS1 Contemporary Art Museum, and Hudson Franklin in New York.

Bill Brown is a writer and filmmaker living in North Carolina where he is a lecturing fellow in the Arts of the Moving Image Program at Duke University. He received a BA from Harvard University and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. In his work, Bill is interested in landscapes as markers of our memories, dreams, and desires.  Bill’s films have screened at venues around the world, including the Viennale, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and Lincoln Center. A retrospective of his films was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Grant and a Rockefeller Fellowship.