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Big Ears Festival announces expanded film programming

December 6, 2016




The Big Ears Festival continues to expand film programming and collaboration with the Public Cinema, a Knoxville-based group dedicated to sharing vital works of contemporary American and international film.  The weekend will feature a variety of screenings of ground breaking work, a few classics, and several cinema-related live musical performances as well.   All film events will be open to all Big Ears passholders – with a film program only pass on sale Friday, December 9 at 10:00am Eastern at

 Big Ears Festival film programming is made possible by support from Regal Entertainment Group, Visit Knoxville Film Office, Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, and the University of Tennessee School of Art. Films will be screened at the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the downtown Regal Riviera Stadium 8 Theater, and UT’s Downtown Gallery.

 Big Ears is proud to welcome Jonathan Demme for a carefully-curated ten-film retrospective, JONATHAN DEMME: LIFE IS PERFORMANCE/PERFORMANCE IS LIFE, including a double-feature of the legendary Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense and a rare theatrical presentation of 2016’s widely acclaimed Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids at the official state theater of Tennessee: Knoxville’s historic Tennessee Theatre.  A humble giant of American cinema, Demme has crafted a humanistic, multicultural vision of America throughout his long career — a place where lives are shaped by the roles we perform, and where diverse expressions of music are an ever-present reminder of our differences and commonalities. LIFE IS PERFORMANCE/PERFORMANCE IS LIFE juxtaposes some of Demme’s most acclaimed narratives and documentaries (including the Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs) alongside hard-to-see gems (2015’s Another Telepathic Thing) to present a filmmaker whose vision is as generous, unified and protean as any American filmmaker of the last forty years.

The 2017 festival will feature independent filmmaker Jem Cohen and his Big Ears-specific project, Gravity Hill Sound+Image. Cohen will join forces with a special selection of versatile and adventurous musicians to collaboratively explore image and sound in a wide range of combinations: scored and improvised, indoor and outdoor, quiet and loud. Collaborators will include Jace Clayton, Guy Picciotto, festival alumni Xylouris White, Jessica Moss, Matana Roberts, Todd Griffin, Katherine McRae, Mira Billotte, and multimedia tech team, Dawn of Man, who will be projection mapping site-specific images on Knoxville architecture throughout the weekend. Cohen says, “The combination of moving images with music is too often taken for granted or left unexamined. Gravity Hill Sound+Image will explore how the union of music and film can avoid elevating one at the expense of the other.” Cohen’s indoor show will be an intimate experience that encourages close, contemplative looking and deep listening. The outdoor project will be an adventure in dissolving usual conceptions of cinema and concert with musicians responding both to unusually displayed images and to the overall Knoxville environment. In addition to the multimedia performances, Big Ears will also include several of Cohen’s films in its feature program at the Regal Riviera Stadium 8 Theater including World Without End (No Reported Incidents), which premiers at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, and Instrument, which chronicles 11 years of Fugazi from its early days to the peak of its success in the mid 1990s.

One of America’s most critically acclaimed and prolific experimental filmmakers, Kevin Jerome Everson will return to Knoxville to present a program of short films and install a new, multi-screen work in UT’s Downtown Gallery. Everson’s films challenge traditional notions of documentary form and are concerned, primarily, with the everyday experiences of African American life. The Surface Below: Short Films by Kevin Jerome Everson is a sample of his work curated specifically for Big Ears that includes eight films, beginning with Ring (2008) and ending with the award winning Ears, Nose and Throat (2016). Everson is a Professor of Art at the University of Virginia and a recipient of the Alpert Award in Film/Video as well as numerous grants, commissions and fellowships.  His work has screened at major American and international film festivals and been exhibited at museums, galleries and art biennials, including, most recently, selection in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. A retrospective at the Tate Modern, London is planned for fall 2017.

Named one of the top avant-garde filmmakers on Film Comment’s “Best of the Decade” list, Janie Geiser will join Big Ears for a program of recent short films, Double Vision. Geiser’s work includes multiple disciplines, such as film, installation, visual art, sound, and performance, often working and reworking bits of discarded materials. Janie is on the faculty at CalArts, and her work has been recognized with a Doris Duke Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an OBIE Award. Her films have screened at the Whitney, the Guggenheim, MOMA, the Centre Pompidou, Pacific Film Archives, and at major film festivals in New York, Rotterdam, London, Oberhausen, and Hong Kong.

Roger Beebe will perform Films for One to Eight Projectors, an immersive audio/visual experience that Creative Loafing called “both erudite and punk, lo-fi yet high-brow shorts that wrestle with a disfigured, contemporary American landscape.” Roger has screened his films around the globe at such unlikely venues as the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square and McMurdo Station in Antarctica as well as more likely ones including Sundance and the Museum of Modern Art with solo shows at Anthology Film Archives, The Laboratorio Arte Alameda in Mexico City, and Los Angeles Filmforum among many other venues. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the Ohio State University.

The Big Ears Festival continues to blur the lines between film and music with multiple live score performances set to take place over the festival weekend. Gavin Bryars’ Ensemble will perform the classic experimental piece Sinking of the Titanic with turntablist Philip Jeck and projection design by Big Ears alumnus Bill Morrison.  In addition, Xiu Xiu will perform the music of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, which Pitchfork described as “one of their most beautiful and listenable albums.” Rounding out the live score performances during Big Ears will be Dave Harrington Group performing a live, improvised score to the Coen Brothers’ on-screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men.

The Big Ears film program will also present important cinema from the past. Events will include a celebration of the recently-published Complete Film Criticism of James Agee with critic and Agee scholar Charles Maland introducing the North American premiere of the new restoration of Georges Rouquier’s groundbreaking Farrebique (1946). Agee raved about Farrebique, calling it “the finest and strongest record of actual people that I have seen.” The Tennessee Theatre will host a rare 35mm screening of Meredith Monk’s 1988 experimental feature film Book of Days, which Monk describes as “a film for the ears.”

Finally, the Public Cinema will present three Flicker & Wow programs of experimental short films, including Flicker & Wow: Kids!, a free program curated for the youngest cinephiles.

All this and more information, including full lineup, ticketing, and other details can be found at, by “liking” Big Ears Festival on Facebook, by following @BigEarsFestival on Twitter, and by joining the newsletter.


Additional Information:

Big Ears Festival

In only a few short years, the Big Ears Festival has established itself as one of the most exciting and imaginative cultural gatherings in the world, bringing together a virtual who’s who of established and acclaimed iconoclasts, innovators and influencers with younger artists who are synthesizing their own experiences into fresh, new creative work. Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville – and taking place in its world-class historic theaters, excellent clubs, and unique alternative performance spaces – all within easy walking distance of one another and intermingled with superb restaurants, bars, and shops – Big Ears offers a unparalleled experience for adventurous artists and audiences alike. While primarily focused on music, Big Ears is also developing a strong independent / experimental film component while also presenting installations, exhibitions, interactive experiences, talks, discussions, food, beer, wine and more. More festival details will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Big Ears is created and produced by AC Entertainment, recognized as one of the foremost promoters in the United States. Founded in 1991 by Ashley Capps, the company books, markets and presents over 1,000 events per year. In addition to Big Ears, AC Entertainment is the force behind internationally renowned events including Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival® and Forecastle Festival. For more information on AC Entertainment, visit

The Public Cinema

Co-founded by Darren Hughes and Paul Harrill, The Public Cinema exists to share vital works of contemporary international and American cinema, works that might otherwise be unseen or overlooked by Knoxville audiences. Often playing host to Tennessee, regional, and even North American premieres, The Public Cinema aims to create a space for cinema as an art form and to promote discussion among discerning moviegoers. Found on the web at, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 Regal Entertainment Group

Headquartered in Knoxville, TN, Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) operates one of the leading and most geographically diverse theatre circuits in the United States, consisting of 7,310 screens in 565 theaters in 42 states along with Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and the District of Columbia as of September 30, 2016. The Company operates theaters in 46 of the top 50 U.S. designated market areas. The size, reach and quality of the Company’s theater circuit not only provide its patrons with a convenient and enjoyable movie-going experience, but is also an exceptional platform to realize economies of scale in theater operations.

 Visit Knoxville Film Office

The mission of the Visit Knoxville Film Office is to strengthen Knoxville’s economy through the promotion of the city as a premiere filming location. By attracting motion media companies to Knoxville through the marketing of our locations, accommodations, services, crew, and talent, we can foster the creation of jobs in the area, stimulate business opportunities and generate exposure. The VK Film Office mediates the permitting process between federal, state, and local agencies and the film industry.

Tennessee Entertainment Commission

One look at the dramatic natural beauty that is Tennessee and you’ll get a sense of what’s behind our passion for storytelling and song within our state. We’re experienced industry leaders, with the utmost appreciation for the creative talent and business environment found in Tennessee. As fellow artists, producers, thought leaders and innovators, our Commission team and its members strive to make sure your business thrives in Tennessee, ensuring our state continues to own all things film, music and entertainment.

 Tennessee Department of Tourism Development

Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll– delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”  Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $18.4 billion in economic impact, more than $1.6 billion in state and local sales tax revenue and more than 157,400 tourism-related jobs. Learn more at

 University of Tennessee School of Art

The University of Tennessee is classified as a Doctoral/Research Extensive institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Our students are taught by internationally known faculty who conduct a high level of research and creative activity. Faculty in the School includes artists, designers and art historians of national stature. The Artist-in-Residence Program and the Visiting Artists, Designers and Scholars Program further enhance the teaching environment by featuring prominent individuals who work with students in a variety of venues. The School of Art has an active exhibition program supported by the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture and the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, which host major exhibitions of work by national and international artists. The School also maintains Gallery 1010, Tennessee’s only student run, non-profit, off-campus exhibition space.