2/25/21: Virtual Talks with Video Activists: Julia Lesage

Feb 25: Virtual screening/discussion with filmmaker and scholar Julia Lesage, moderated by Salomé Skivirsky.

Thursday, February 25th

4:00pm PT / 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET

Free, hour-long screening and discussion

Media Burn and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago presented our next entry in the free series Virtual Talks with Video Activists. This screening/discussion featured filmmaker and film scholar Julia Lesage, and was moderated by film scholar Salomé Skivirsky.

The Sandinista Revolution in 1979 and the years following were filmed by many solidarity workers traveling to and living in Nicaragua. However, after that period ended in 1990, much of the US interest in video about Nicaragua declined. Invited to teach video production to young artists in a workshop in the Sandinista labor union, Julia Lesage made three visits in 1981, 1984, and 1987, living there for months at a time. For her, it was an utopian moment, sharing young videomakers’ aspirations and dreams for a better life. At this event, she screened and discussed her short experimental video, Lamento.

Watch the event replay!


(1986, 12 min, black and white, Spanish with English subtitles. Camera, Chuck Kleinhans. Image processing, editing, direction, Julia Lesage)

In September 1984, Julia Lesage and Chuck Kleinhans visited Estelí, Nicaragua, where they shot extensive VHS footage of life in Sandinista Nicaragua. Here a group of Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs offer their collective memory of the last years of the Somoza regime and the role played by very young fighters in overthrowing the dictator.

The footage was processed using the Sandin Image Processor and edited in 3/4″ video.


Julia Lesage learned videomaking in Chicago through the Center for New Television. Later she moved to the University of Oregon, where she taught video production, screenwriting, and film theory and criticism. She is also co-editor and co-founder of Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, now an online publication. Many of her videos are available through Media Burn.


Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She works on transnational political cinema, with a special focus on Latin America. Her first book, The Process Genre: Cinema and the Aesthetic of Labor, was published by Duke University Press in March 2020. Her essays have appeared in Cinema Journal, the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Social Identities, Hispanófila, and in The Routledge Companion to Latin American Cinema. She is currently working on two projects: one, tentatively titled, “Filming the Police”; and a second one about the talking head in nonfiction filmmaking.



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