The Search: The Seeker: The Spirit: An Evening of Films by Kirthi Nath

You are invited! Come join me on Saturday July 9, 2011 for a solo show of my personal film works. I will be showing a range of films from the last decade! Something new, something old, something magical…all mysteries revealed at the show. It would be delightful to see you there!

ATA,  3rdi and CAAM present: The Search: The Seeker: The Spirit
Saturday July 9, 2011
@ Artists’ Television Access (992 Valencia St, SF, CA 94110)
7 pm: Magical Raffles, Fun Times and Film Program

Film Still for Metta (film)

Kirthi Nath makes films that that seem spun from dreams. She has established a body of creative work that fluidly straddles genres, occupying a fertile landscape of cultural poetics, experimentalism, documentary and hybrid narrative. Tactile and dreamlike, her work explores storytelling, memory, desire, spirituality and cultural identities. “The Search: The Seeker: The Spirit”, presents a selection of Kirthi’s works that traces the impact and influence spirituality, meditation and The Artists’ Way has had on her films, both in terms of content and artistic process. The program will also include the premiere of her new film METTA, the third in her series of experimental documentaries about spirituality, a sneak preview from her new film, MOMENTS OF BEING: MAGICAL MESSAGES, as well as a magical raffle — proceeds of which will support her upcoming documentary, STORIES FROM THE PATH: STORIES ABOUT MODERN DAY MINDFULNESS. In the same way that Kirthi’s films are like poetic voyages into the landscape of emotions, tonight’s program also promises to be a journey…towards the cinemagical!
Kirthi's Films (7/3/11)

RSVP at the Facebook Event Page, leave a comment below or just show up!

Kirthi’s Film Website
Artists’ Television Access
3rdi South Asian Films (presenters of the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival)
Center for Asian American Media (presenters of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival)


It Has Been Much Longer, Than I Wish (with new video)

As I was updating the writing section of my website, I could not help but update some of the writing as well. Not just text based edits, but multimedia style. For some, like “Are you there? I’m (For Lyn Hejinian)“,   I recreated the text as multimedia stories, for others – like this one below, I created new video companion pieces. Enjoy!

Companion text:

It Has Been Much Longer, Then I Wish

It has been way longer, then I wish.

Close your eyes and watch as the orange light shines in the surface. Next, point your chest toward the sky and open your heart. Really, open it. She is going to stop drinking so she can honor her body and not be numb. She is really going to do it this time.

Last night she got home around midnight but for strange reasons ended up staying awake till 6 am. The hour before sleep was spent preparing a meal, which unlike most, did not turn out that great. There is usually never any bread in the house and when there is, it goes bad. A lot of things go bad. There is nothing redeeming about smoking, but last night, when she stood outside on her balcony there was a parade of leaves on the street. This is the sign, it is the time for fall.

Image for Writing Piece: It Has Been Much Longer, Then I Wish

Find more writings “from the past”:

Are You There? I’m Here (for Lyn Hejinian)

Writer’s Note: This fictional non-fiction story is a collage and co-creation inspired by many people and art projects. The title is a reference to a line in Lyn Hejinian’s book The Language of Inquiry (page 388).  I first heard this at a reading May, 31 200o. She was reading from her book and saw me in the audience and stopped mid sentence to say, “It’s you, Hi!” She did not know it was my birthday, and gave me the greatest gift that day, seeing me.  She did this years before when she accepted me into my first official creative writing class at UCB.  I am eternally grateful to Lyn for witnessing and encouraging my artistry and showing me by example how to witness beauty in others.  This story is inspired by the amazing Cari Campbell, her lovely brother and the gift Chris Cobb gave us via his art installation  “There is Nothing Wrong In this Whole Wide World” (temporary art installion at Adobe Bookstore in San Francisco, CA, 2004).  At the end of the story you will find more about the art exhibit.  Many thanks to artists’ Derek Powazek,  Heather Champ and Superhero Journal who made their images available via a creative commons copyright licence  or by permission.  

Are you there? I’m here

Image by Heather Champ *

Her brother was visiting. They were both excited. Everything was exciting. From sitting on the couch chatting to walking to the corner store getting organic groceries. These were things they could only do in San Francisco.

When they were younger they lived near the city and their mom fed them wonder bread and all kinds of processed stuff. She tells him how her mom is finally starting to understand what it means that she lives in a vegetarian household. Now every recipe is one that can easily be substituted with tofu.  The news of his wife’s pregnancy is still new, but surely mom and dad will develop some lovely fixating habits around that.

The first day, she picked him up from the airport. This was both their hometown in many ways, so the pick up from the airport was easy-smeasy. They hung out all day together alone before coming to her house where her roommate was having a burrito in the living room and soon, her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s housemate would come over. She cracked out the special bottle of wine she was saving for one of those special occasions. This was surely one of them! She was going to whip them all up some delicious food for this good time.

collectables: heartcake by cc

He woke up early as was expected.  He was still on Minnesota time.  His sister had gone to sleep at her girlfriend’s house, leaving him her bed. Most of the housemates were away, but one was there, so he was trying to be quiet. He turned on the light though because his sister’s room was one of those San Francisco specials where the window faces a light well.  He had to go to the bathroom, but by the time he got to the door, he found it quite difficult to open the door. Maybe his sister was protective and locked him in? He started to read the books in his sister’s room. She was always a little kooky, but Christian Living and The History of Shorts were new peaks. He had read all of the History of Atari when he really needed to go. He tried the door again. Still no budge. Was he really locked in? Should he call her? Maybe she was on the way home and he could wait it out a little.

He started to go through the yoga book but just thinking about the poses made him have to pee, so it seemed best just to close his eyes, lie down and breathe. If he fell asleep would he only be dreaming about pee?  It would be so strange if he was locked in. Not only did that not make sense, it is out of character for his sister too! Up until a few years ago, he used to pronounce chamomile tea chamomile instead of chamomile. Breathing, he started to remember about the dream he had.

 you are amazing make art

How odd. He is on 16th street near Valencia and there is a bookstore. It feels familiar, though he has never been there. A golden cat simultaneously leaps over his feet and meows. He looks down to catch a glimpse. His right hand — which has swayed in reaction, covers his view.  All the books are arranged by the colors of the spines. Look for magic when you open your eyes. The mysterious fortune from last week’s take-out has to come to life and he wants so very much to jump up and down. There is a sofa in the middle of the bookstore so he sits down next to a young woman who is knitting a scarf. His sister had told him that knitting was the newest trend, like yoga. The scarf the woman knits takes after the blue section — patches of dark blue to midnight blue to electric blue to neon blue to light blue to teal blue to sea blue to blue blue blue everywhere.  Across from him he sees one of those books. It hangs off the shelf (attached by a string) and is asking for him and only him to come to it, at that very second. He does. It is an email list. Not sure for what, but it must be to the one who colored the room so his eyes could have magic. He is smiling and astonished.

He calls his sister on her cell phone.

Are you there? I’m here.

His hand reaches for the knob of the door. If he pretends it is not locked, it may not be. As he pulls, the door opens as his sister comes in.  I thought you locked me in and I have to go pee.  She smiles at him and without any hesitation, the doors in this house get jammed sometimes, they just need a little nudge.



                       There Is Nothing Wrong With the Whole Wide World                      * Art Installation by Chris Cobb * Photos by Derek Powazek (red-orange, green), Heather Champ (close up with sign) and Superhero Designs (blue)

Related: Both this story and the art installation was originally created in 2004. The incident did happen, but there was a creative non fiction filter applied to it. You can imagine for which parts.

Curious to learn more about Chris Cobb’s magical installation?
Interview by McSweeney’s
Video by KQED Spark
NPR Audio Interview

Rainbow of Books : A FLICKR Stream of more books by color!

To Lyn Hejinian: You are amazing. Thank you for the inspiration, then and now. May you be dance in the arms of love and delight.

Towards the Cinemagical…Ala SF State Cinema

Yeah! I have been invited back for the second year to teach Cinema 506:Cinematheque Management at San Francisco State University. I realize I write this the day before my final class, which is the day before our HUGE, BIG, GRAND event, the SF State Film Finals…

SF State Film Finals 2011

Well, time and space, it is a myth…so indulge me, come back to the future and I will tell you more about this Cinemagical class.

Towards the Cinemagical: The Class

Cinema 506:Cinematheque Management is an elective class that examines the factors which film/video exhibitors work with when bringing media works to an audience: the programming, the environment, the inclusion of adjacency events (for example, panels, speakers, live musical performance), technical and social issues, and the role of the audience. In the class we explore traditional and non-traditional forms of programming and exhibition, examine how technology has changed the role of both the viewer and audience and also get up close and personal with local bay area film events and programmers.

The class takes a hands-on approach to putting on a film event and produce the MFA Spring Show, Film Previews and Film Finals. Special attention is paid to practical aspects of marketing and publicity, press releases, event coordination, and community outreach and promotion.

I feel inclined to make this note now. I have renamed the class Towards the Cinemagical. That’s the name of the website blog, the class refers to themselves as the cinemagical crew, I even have guest speakers refer to it as such. The administration may not be privy to this note, but now you know also.

Assignments that Align

All the assignments were intended to give students an instructional and dimensional experience of cinema programming and exhibition. Bearing in mind that not everyone gets to dance in the curator role, and that there are many elements that go into cinema exhibition, I wanted to offer assignments that at one allowed students creative and embodied expression and also gave them a zoom focus straight into the field.

This year students once again got to put on their Curator boots via the tried and true Curate an Experience project. In addition to giving students a direct experience with curation, this was my subtle yet pronounced way to get students versed in how to use open source technologies like wordpress and oh, ahs, ins and outs of embedding photos, video, hyperlinks. And of course writing, presentation and my favorites, creative expression and the dance with fun and voila -> delight.

For you, a curated list of some of 2011 curated experiences:
An Ancient Buzz a.k.a. The Bee’s Kneezzz…zz..z…
Explosions, they are fun
The phrase is French for “Deadly Woman
Film Exhibition Case Study: Why is the Fall show more “finale” than the Spring Show?
98520: Aberdeen, Washington
Seeing without your Eyes

In the spirit of peer to peer learning, students got into teams and took Notes from the Field: Film Curation and Exhibition in Action. For this assignment, I did assign specific “venues” and “topics”, trying to balance out what we would learn from our guest speaker series, and also investigate multi-faceted festival type events as well non-traditional exhibition approaches.  Presentations were made on Alternative Exhibition Spaces SXSWHot Docs and Online Media Space (Youtube, Vimeo, View Change).

Guest Speaker Series

What better way to get up close and personal with leaders in the field then to invite them to the class! We were extremely honored to have a full rooster of amazing guest speakers. Some of our cinemagical guests included: Masashi Niwano and Theresa Christine (Center for Asian American Media/San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival ), Jen Cox, Linda Butler and Hilary Hart (San Francisco Film Society/San Francisco International Film Festvial), Linda Blackaby (Independent Curator and Consultant), Anita Monga (San Francisco Silent Film Festival), Maïa Cybelle Carpenter (Filmmaker, Curator, Canyon Cinema Board President), Santhosh Daniels (The Global Film Initiative) and Ido Haar (Filmmaker, SFFS 2011 Filmaker in Residence). In addition to giving first hand accounts of  their various affiliate media organizations,  our esteemed guest speakers also shared personal trajectories of how they found their way into the film curation and exhibition world, as well as lessons and gem nuggets they have learned along the way. Stay tuned for video excerpts from some of these presentations!

The Big Event

And last but not least, the 2011 Film Finals!

This year the class decided to raise the bar-  inside and out. Instead of detailing how we went all google form and green on our submissions process,  instructional on how to submit HD or high quality SD  and colored with numbers (the ap) with our stats, I’ll sway the narrative back to some of the more visible elements. In addition to the regular program schedule, we decided to invite CelloJoe– a beat boxing cellist,  to play live at the reception, ask local organizations and companies to get involved and support student filmmaking, raise money for cinema department equipment via a raffle (prizes by the aforementioned community support) and make and sell DVDS and tee shirts.  We even got Academy Award Winner Jeffrey Friedman to come talk at our event! Great student films were always a given, so the students really took to heart and action how to make the Film Finals a dimensional experience by increasing the attention given to these  “peripheral” event elements. Pulling off this event is a collaborative effort for sure- from the student producers to the cinema department staff, faculty and students who make up this vibrant and down right special college cinema community. And there is a beyond-  the guest speakers who inspired us, the sponsors who supported us, and the audience that comes to co-create this spectacular spectacle. As I email off the final revised program script a fellow teacher notes, “impressed with this organization”. I laugh. If I took a screenshot of all the fb closed group messages or chats alone, we could make a lengthy @24fps animated film.

Film Finals is an important and enriching part of the SF State cinema student experience. For the community beyond that comes to the event, they too are invited into this energized charm and heartfelt thrill of the night. With each year we aim to make this event better and better, and as we say in my class….towards the cinemagical.


Wonder why we call it Film Finals when it is our big end of the year Film Showcase? Well I’ve got to save some secrets for the big event. All will be revealed in the print program.

But for non-teaser links:
Class website Towards the Cinemagical (includes full assignments and class schedule)
Official 2011 Film Finals Event site.

And…the 2011 Film Finals Trailer Against the Grain: Beyond the Budget

The Boat. The Water. The Spirit. (Still)

After we walked away from the boat he said, you keep mentioning spirit. What do you mean by spirit?

Special Place Dance (2 Films Included)

She is placing stickers in a sticker book. My mom got the kiddos gifts as they visit this weekend. Their great aunt grandmother has just passed away. All the kiddos know is that they took a long car ride and now are visiting ajji (their grandmother, my mom) in the city they moved from, the city in which they were born.

Two weeks ago it was late at night and my nephew was upset because although it was nighttime he wanted to go to a “special place”, i.e. somewhere fun, i.e. the park. I said to him, you know, it is not good to go to bed upset, if you go to bed with happy thoughts that will be nicer for your dreams. I suggest that we recount 3  things he is grateful for, i.e. what is  something wonderful that  you are thankful for. “Nothing, because we can’t go to a special place”. I start. “Well, did you know I was coming and we would dance together? “Oh yeah, that was special, and fun”.

Ok, what else?

I had grapes today and I like grapes.  I’m still allergic to raspberry berries though ok?

We make it all the way up to 10, my favorite being how he visited ajji and his old house in long beach, in his imagination, earlier in the day. As he goes to sleep I sing him my version of “My Favorite Things”. “Melina, and Rohan and Kai Kai and swimming. Yoga and yogurt and laughing and film. M-e-d-i-t-a-t-i-o-n and green plants galore….”

“Excuse me, what is meditation?”

Excellent question, would you like to experience this? I ask him to close his eyes and imagine an ocean. And sand. White sand and blue blue water. He is on the beach and his sister is close by and they are building a sand castle. She is close by but also far enough that he can really hear the sound of the ocean (insert ocean noise here). The sun is gently showering his back and a light breeze dances on his skin (add in cuddling effects here)…the guided meditation continues as he falls asleep.

Kiddos = niece (5), nephew (almost 4), nephew (almost 7 months).

Mina-beana-kamina (niece) is telling me what everyone is doing while she is playing with the stickers. Rohanie (as we call  him with an eee ending) is sleeping and I am sure my mom got him stickers too. Applecore is hanging out with both his grandma’s in my mom’s so cal rose and tulsi plant garden. Parents are somewhere. She giggles if I ask if they went on a romantic walk.

cherry blossom with filter

Applecore is my nickname for the the littlest one. Originally this name came as an alternative to the then name his siblings (and parents!) had given him- PooPooHead.  As a result of the Applecore naming, I have now been eating more apples, in honor of Applecore, and my niece has decided to abandon PooPooHead for Applecore, or Kai Kai, as we also like to call him. I had insisted then and still now that she can call him whatever she wants and should not be swayed by me, but is free to do as she wishes, within reason. Like when she tells me, I like visiting your small house because “we can do whatever we want”. I reflect back, “whatever you want, within reason.”  Last visit I explained that in a city we can indeed go for a walk at night. Since I live in a second story unit with lots of window, indeed she saw this was true. “Look at all the people on the street and it is night time!” She revised her initial understanding and after dinner suggested we go outside. I was trying to assess if this was about going outside or getting ice cream and the conclusion was, it was both. And walking, that is another thing we do in the city. And good thing for that because the Skeechers sign then automagically reveals itself to really be a spaceship and other things along our walk are part of the clues.  We agree next time they should visit in the daytime, so we can hunt for more clues outside, for longer, just like Little Einsteins.

Chatting on the phone with Melina, I bring the unicorns into the conversation. She asks, “Why do you think Rohan does not like unicorns so much?”  I protest and insist that he does, in fact he asked me to get him one. I gave her one for her birthday. I think he really is inclining towards dolphins. We are in the process of exploring this.  “What does inclining mean?”

I ask Melina if she thinks unicorns are magical. Yes, for sure they are. I tell her she is magical and I miss her. She says, “I miss you too you know.” 5 years old, in moments this little girl has grown. The day after she turned five she wiggled her toes to show me she can make the toes into shapes. She knows my birthday is coming up and when I ask her to guess how old I will be she puts her clever hat on and asks, how old are you now? (last year I was 5, bc that was one year older than her and one year younger than her mommy). I say 35. She tells me,  “Ok” and then tells me that I will be 36. I pause.  Am I really 35? 2011-1975. Yup it is true.

Before we get off the phone, my niece insists: When I see you next time we should do the ho ho ha ha ha dance, ok? But I know you like to call it the ha ha ho ho ho dance. That is ok, we can still be friends even if we do laughter club differently.  Right?

Here is the film I made for Magical Melina when she was a baby in the belly. Up until recently, she used to find the deer eyes – when they turn into hearts – kind of scary. Now that she is used to it, “I am no longer afraid, and I love it”.


This film is for a Special Place Dance:

Dedication: A pre-birthday celebration for Erika and Jazmin…and Angelisa because I never quite feel like you are a Libra anyway. Thank you for teaching me not only how to love, but how to receive.

Art work by Ladybug K, Magical Melina, Radiant Rohan and my mother’s feet. Dharma Talk Sampled: Buddhist Meditation teacher Howard Cohn.
Music/Edit etc : Kirthi Nath.

Kala Angel Feet

I took my mom to angel feet yesterday. Can you believe she has never had a massage before? (ok she had 1 before, but never with reflexology, and only 1!) She says, “you did not have to, but I liked it!” We both are working on receiving.  While in Oakland Chinatown we picked up green beans and for dinner mom made  saaru (rasam), green beans palya with rice/couscous. + chuklee! And yogurt, of course. I bring add more yogurt to her bowl- it’s that yummy Greek Lebni. “You’re spoiling me.” “Good.

My mom’s visit was prompted by a couple things. It was my niece’s birthday and my two nephews were doing their naming ceremonies and getting secret Indian names. Later that day I ask my mom, did I have a naming ceremony, what was my name? At first she says, um, yeah…mmm, I don’t remember your secret name. The next day my mom leaves for the airport and as customary, she calls with her reports. The flight is delayed. We are boarding. We just landed. I just got home. I got a voicemail from you around 3 pm, but didn’t we talk already? I ask her again. “Mom, did I really have a naming ceremony?” She says, “Kirthi- they did not have priests so much in the country back then“. I am curious so I ask her if it is too late, I kind of have two names in mind already. I want a secret name. She says she’ll ask and then she tells me, “I was thinking that your middle name should be Kala…That is a combination of both your grandma’s (Kamala and Lalitha)…and Kala means art, you are an artist“. “Mom, doesn’t Kala mean…what is that- naughty, playful but naughty, kulaa…are you sure it means art?” “That is KaLa you are thinking of, I am saying Kala, Kala. Listen, KaLa- Kala“. I can barely hear the L or the A she is rolling off her tongue but I know what she refers to.  I take the name.

I showed my mom the pictures I took of her. She did not like them at first. I had to convince her that they were artistic. Before she left I took a picture of her feet and she directed, oh take it with that thing on your cameraI have ugly feet- see there (pointing to picture on my bedroom wall). Mom those are my feet and the are beautiful. This camera feature will show you your beautiful feet also. Thank you hipstamatic.

Waiting for Bart

Mehendi pitcher pose- throw me a besan ladoo, I'm hungry she says

in the middle