June 11 — June 25
Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His critically acclaimed and award-winning films have played widely in festivals and have been distributed internationally in theaters and on television. Matt’s feature documentaries include Wild Combination about the cult cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell, and Teenage about early youth culture and the birth of teenagers. His recent film Recorder is about the activist Marion Stokes, who secretly recorded television 24 hours a day for 30 years. Matt’s newest film Spaceship Earth is about Biosphere 2, a controversial experiment where 8 people lived quarantined inside a replica of the planet. Matt has made numerous short films, including Bayard & Me about the civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who adopted his younger boyfriend in the early 1980s to obtain equal rights, and HBO’s It’s Me, Hilary about the Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight. Other shorts include, I Remember about the artist Joe Brainard, and The Face of AIDS for Time Magazine about a notorious 1992 Benetton advertisement. Matt directs commercials and content for brands, and he was an Executive Producer and Showrunner on the National Geographic miniseries I Am Rebel alongside Doug Liman. The series features 1930s crime scene photographer Weegee, the 1970s police brutality activist turned hijacker Louis Moore, psychedelic chemist Alexander Shulgin, and the hacker Kevin Mitnick. In addition to filmmaking, Matt organizes film screenings and public events, and he was the Co-Curator of Film for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Fire Island Tapes
As a documentary filmmaker my favorite part of the process is interviewing people and helping them to tell stories. When I went to Fire Island I wanted to do long-form and open-ended audio interviews, but without the specific goal of telling a story. Instead, the goal was to create a portrait of somebody at a specific moment in his or her life. The only rule for this project is that I won’t use or listen to these recordings for twenty years.
Part of what I loved about spending two weeks on the island was finding a rhythm—breakfast, ocean, work, ocean, dinner. An element of that experience is running into people I know, or bonding with groups of visitors who pass through the island. I wanted to capture some of these transient interactions in a place that feels otherworldly and timeless. I brought people back to the BOFFO house and interviewed them for one to two hours in a makeshift recording studio.
As a filmmaker I often search through other people’s archives where I find stories and documents that have become significant with the passage of time. I wanted to start my own archive for somebody to find in the future. I hope in 2037 some of these conversations will be unexpectedly meaningful. If I or somebody else wants to use these tapes in the future, we’ll need to find the subjects to ask for their permission. Inevitably we will learn how their lives have changed or what came of them.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Wales