You always hear about the big players at the Oscars, but we hardly ever pay attention to the little guys. One of Utah’s own shared the screen credits on an important feature-length documentary winner at the 2015 Academy Awards, Citizenfour. (Directed by Laura Poitras, it stars Edward Snowden and deals with the NSA spying scandal.)
That little guy, Conor Provenzano, 29, has a screening of his own film Monday, Feb. 27, at the Clubhouse – formerly the Ladies Literary Club – at 850 E. South Temple. The 90-minute film, Focused Life, begins at 7:30 p.m. Information and a trailer are available here: http://focusedlifefilm.com/ Entry is an optional donation — but there will be snacks. A photo exhibition by Provenzano and Willy Nevins is located upstairs.
Provenzano chose the venue in part because of his long acquaintance with its co-owner, Jessie Jude Gilmore. (We will have a story on Clubhouse in our March edition.) Gilmore first met Provenzano around 2009 when they worked on the same team for a film festival competition. “Over the years I’ve watched Conor dedicate his attention to inspiring projects and am continually amazed by his insight and creative style,” she says. “Conor’s film screening is a perfect example of the types of conversations we want to facilitate with groups who might not have stepped foot into this building otherwise,” Gilmore observes.
Other recent projects of Provenzano’s include video content for The Leonardo’s permanent exhibit “FLIGHT” and “The Crossroads Project: Emergence” – a multimedia performance with Robert Davies and The Fry Street Quartet.
Focused Life is part documentary, part film essay about the nature of attention in an age of pervasive distraction, says Provenzano. “It includes a wide array of interesting people – artists; educators; mindfulness practitioners — as well as street interviews with people, asking them about attention and distraction; different kinds of people talking about why attention is important in their life, about technology and its effect on our attention spans. Each offers a small piece about why attention gives value to our life’s meaning,” he explains.
The Clubhouse screening is the second for this still-in-progress film. It was shown last year in the Main Library auditorium, but Provenzano has made a number of changes since then. “I shortened most scenes significantly, and in one or two places cut out a scene altogether, which improved the overall pace,” he says. He re-cut a few scenes he tells us, and added new ones he feels strengthened the message. “For example, in an interview with Dave Vago, M.D., a contemplative neuroscientist and, at the time of the interview, senior research coordinator for the Mapping the Meditative Mind Initiative at Harvard Medical.” He also uses, in places, a “playful and colorful” editing style that employs composite imagery with 35 mm photography. The filmmaker says he added narration of real journal entries “to give more personal context to the exploration.”
“The film shows that valuing attention is more important than we realize or it will have an impact on our well-being,” says Provenzano about the outcome of his documentary.
Focused Life, a film by Conor Provenzano, Clubhouse, Salt Lake City, Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m., optional donation.