Jay Rosenblatt Films - Locomotion Films
The Kodachrome Elegies When You Awake The Darkness of Day The Claustrum The D Train Phantom Limb Human Remains The Smell of Burning Ants King of the Jews Period Piece I Just Wanted to Be Somebody Beginning Filmmaking I Used to Be a Filmmaker The Films of Jay Rosenblatt - Vol 1 The Films of Jay Rosenblatt - Vol 2




November, 2016

Filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt on His Role as Provocateur, Entertainer, Healer

By Will Tizard

San Francisco-based filmmaker and artist Jay Rosenblatt works with archival footage, original images, voiceovers, and ominous classical pieces by the likes of Arvo Part to create new stories that explore dark, ironic themes ranging from the personal habits of dictators, as in 1998’s “Human Remains,” to the heartrendingly confessional meditation on grief, 2005’s “Phantom Limb.” Honored this year with the Camerimage award for achievement in documentary, the former psychologist returns to Bydgoszcz, Poland to screen a new film, “When You Awake,” and to speak about his work.

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June 24, 2012

DVD review: The Films of Jay Rosenblatt, volume 2

By Mick LaSalle

Make no mistake, Jay Rosenblatt is a great artist. He makes short films unlike anything you've ever seen, some as short as a minute, some as long as a half hour. Most of his films - not all - involve the use of found footage. Rosenblatt, who is program director for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, will take snippets from instructional, industrial and education films from the middle of the 20th century and put them together with music and narration to achieve profound emotional effects. Those effects are also hard to describe. To see a Jay Rosenblatt movie is to come into contact with something deep and true in the human experience, a kind of sadness that's beyond tears.

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October 13, 2010

'How to Make the Grim Appear Artfully Beautiful'

By Mike Hale

Jay Rosenblatt makes friendly art films. Their subject matter may be grim - suicide, grief, violence, murderous dictators -  but his constructions of found footage and appropriated narration are inviting and accessible. Hence they turn up in mainstream environments like the Sundance Film Festival, Film Forum and Cinemax (where they're called shorts or documentaries, "art" and "experimental" being words a programmer would rather not hear).

This appeal stems partly from their formal beauty. Mr. Rosenblatt splices together bits of all kinds of footage - industrial and educational films, news, home movies - as seamlessly as any crack Hollywood editor. The resulting films feel stately and deliberate despite their hundreds of cuts.

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Fall Issue 2010

Poetry in Motion

By Peter Bowen

Since his 1990 breakthrough Short of Breath, San Francisco-based filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt has honed a particular film aesthetic, a form more related to poetry and essays than traditional film narrative. Combining found footage, poignant spoken narratives and targeted scores, Rosenblatt explores large social, even philosophical, issues with poetic precision. Images and spoken word do not so much illustrate as resonate against each other, suggesting a range of meanings and further associations, but never definitely naming one. The meticulousness by which he creates these short films lead Atom Egoyan to call him "an exquisite artist who makes beautifully crafted miniatures."

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Issue 54  December 28, 2009

Great Directors: Jay Rosenblatt

By Brian K. Bergen-Aurand

To reduce Jay Rosenblatt's cinema to a theme is to invoke a violence that is foundational to their composition, a violence they absolutely resist - the violence of reducing the other to the same. Perhaps all of Rosenblatt's films can be summarised by these four words from Dr. Frankenstein's Monster, "Alone bad. Friend good." Perhaps these four words express the ethics and politics of this cinema. To be concise, Rosenblatt's cinema opens to the other. His films open a relationship to the other person through difference and because of difference, rather than in spite of difference or by overcoming difference. 

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Winter 2010

The Tyranny of Memory: 'The Films of Jay Rosenblatt, Volume I'

By Cathleen Rountree

A few months ago, while flipping channels, I came across an intriguing documentary short that grabbed and held my attention. In a voiceover narrative, a man--the director, I assumed--recounted the very personal story of the death of his seven-year-old brother. The haunting memory of this experience was loosely organized around the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief that accompanies loss: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, but expanded beyond those into an additional seven sections (i.e., Collapse, Sorrow, Communication).

Afterwards, I discovered that the film was Phantom Limb (2005), directed by Jay Rosenblatt. This disturbing short crossed the border of the personal into the frontier of the collective--a lesson in life's impermanence through the pain of loss.

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October 18, 2009

DVD: 'Films of Jay Rosenblatt'

By Mick LaSalle

If short films had a commercial outlet in the United States, Jay Rosenblatt would be a household name. One of the premier makers of shorts, Rosenblatt makes films marked by a great fullness of feeling joined with a rare intellectual precision. This 85-minute collection brings together five films that he made from 1990 through 2000. He is a master at combining found footage, at juxtaposing images from newsreels and public- service films that, together, create a whole other meaning. There is often a mournfulness in his work, an awareness of the passage of time, of the fleeting nature of passions, of the impossibility of achieving what film pretends to achieve, which is to stop time and preserve life. 

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January 19, 2006

'Decades Later, Haunted by the Loss of a Little Brother'

"Phantom Limb" can only be called - deep breath - an art film. A dirgelike documentary about the death of a child, the program appears on Cinemax tonight, part of that channel's "Reel Life" series. The film is an impressionistic, anti-verite project, which suits the melancholy material; much of this meditation on grief is rendered soundlessly, using archival images, intertitles and the lonesome music of Arvo Part. Art on television - in small doses, it's surprising how easy it goes down.
-Virginia Hefferman

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November 9, 2005

'Matters of Life and Death: Recent Films by Jay Rosenblatt'

Mixing the universally impersonal (newsreels, old educational movies) with the immediately personal (his own home movies), Jay Rosenblatt leaves you to close the gap, and you appreciate the delegation and trust.
-Ihsan Amanatullah

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November 11, 2005

'Matters of Life and Death'

Jay Rosenblatt makes short, pointed, poetic films, and to see a collection of his work is to know he's a major artist. His specialness has no single source. He's a master at matching music and image, and the nature of his work, which usually involves discovering and using found footage, requires profound patience. Yet mostly, I suspect, what makes almost every Jay Rosenblatt film a full emotional experience is his empathy, his deep, unfeigned and unmistakable respect for life in its many forms.
- Mick LaSalle

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(Sunday Arts and Leisure)
August 6, 2000

'Times When Less Is More Profound'

A one-week retrospective of Mr. Rosenblatt's classic works as well as his new ones, starting on Wednesday at Film Forum, will include ''Human Remains,'' ''The Smell of Burning Ants'' and ''King of the Jews.'' While hardly a household name, he has long been admired on the film-festival circuit and by other filmmakers. The Canadian director Atom Egoyan said, ''He's an exquisite artist who makes beautifully crafted miniatures.'' Mr. Egoyan, himself well known for such features as ''The Sweet Hereafter,'' particularly values the form Mr. Rosenblatt has chosen: ''Jay Rosenblatt isn't making 'calling card movies.' In the current climate of everyone wanting to make an indie feature, he's devoted himself to the very endangered form of the short film. He has stayed pure.''

What is most striking about his masterpiece, ''Human Remains,'' is his audacity in choosing to address atrocity entirely by omission. The audience journeys through archival film of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Franco and Mussolini, guided only by a soundtrack of quotations and biographical data about their personal habits, all synthesized into an amusing but unlikely confessional.
-B. Ruby Rich

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