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Opening Statement:
Light’s Return, directed by Kathleen Rugh

Program 1: April 22 at 3pm

Light's Return still 2.jpg

As we sit and watch the golden rays illuminating river banks, tree trunks, leaves, and skies, we don’t mistake the soft, warm light on-screen for the actual rays of the sun. We know that we’re watching a film— multiple exposures of carefully-crafted compositions make that clear. But that’s not to say that the photographed and projected light is in anyway less valuable. In fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are taken in by how the chemical process of 16mm filmmaking renders that soft, warm light. We can almost dip our toes into the color of the river.

We start this year’s festival with
Light’s Return directed by Kathleen Rugh as a declaration that Film— Film Itself— sees the world uniquely when it is treated with wonder and grace. Light’s Return is a visual experience that simultaneously immerses us in the light of the world and leaves us on the surface of the screen, where the impossible layerings of the environment are not only possible but immanent. The human eye can’t see this without the intervention of cinema, and if we know what’s good for us, we ought to sit quietly and see what we can learn from Film.

It’s the kind of film we don’t see very often unless we seek it out. It’s like a meditation— an excuse to ignore the droning hustle-bustle our daily lives, workforce demands, and industry flicks. It’s a respite we didn’t know how to ask for.

And this is precisely the message to celebrate the start of the 2023 Wide Open Experimental Film Festival in Oklahoma City: Light’s Return
promises that these meditative moments can repeat if we make the space for them.

                                                                                  - Billy Palumbo, Festival Director

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