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Warren Sonbert while filming. Credit: Courtesy of Sonbert Estate
Warren Sonbert while filming. Credit: Courtesy of Sonbert Estate

Innovative filmmaker Warren Sonbert’s retrospective to end this week

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Students can get a taste of New York on campus while expanding their film repertoire through Warren Sonbert’s films.

The Wexner Center will be finishing a retrospective on Sonbert where viewers can enjoy “Silent Rhythms” and “Sound Symphonies,” plus take a look into 1960s New York on Wednesday night.

Chris Stults, the associate curator of film and video at the Wexner Center, said Sonbert began his career when he found himself in the midst of the Andy Warhol scene as a teenager at New York University. Before moving to San Francisco and eventually traveling the world, Sonbert’s innovative style started with narratives and documentaries.

“His editing style refined certain approaches,” Stults said. “He was working against one of the most famous editing theories from Russia. He was trying to go beyond the limits.”

Stults said Sonbert’s work resurfaced for reexamination about five years ago. The Wexner Center started the first part of the retrospective Jan. 20 with the first showing featuring a collection of short films — two with sound and one silent — and the second showing was silent and his longest film.

The last installment of the Sonbert retrospective will start with a film called “‘60s New York.” Stults explained that this is a collection of three early short films Sonbert made as a student at NYU where he captured the feel of New York as a partial documentary. The second collection and the last two film showings, “Silent Rhythms” and “Sound Symphonies,” feature more of his mature works.

Before Sonbert died in 1995 after a battle with AIDS, he was involved with what is now known as LGBT rights activism. Stults described the theme of gay rights as an underlying theme, but not pronounced in some of Sonbert’s films such as “Queer Identity,” which was shown at the first installment.

Nathan Carey, a fourth-year in business, said he feels the underlying themes of some of Sonbert’s films is a form of self-expression.

“I admire his bravery for standing up for what he believes in,” Carey said. “It could’ve had an adverse effect on his filmmaking career, but he was able to use it as a unique driving force for some of his films.”

The first showing of “‘60s New York” begins at 7 p.m.,  while “Silent Rhythms” and “Sound Symphonies” begin at 8 p.m.

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