Alumnus Directed Film Screened at La Plata International Independent Film Festival

Cody Beltis
November 11, 2020

An alumnus directed film had its Latin American premiere at the La Plata International Independent Film Festival FestiFreak, October 17-19. The film, The Sky is Clear and Blue Today, written and directed by Ricky D'Ambrose '12, had its World premiere last Fall at the New York Film Festival. 

The film is about a German-American experimental filmmaker who is commissioned to re-stage a controversial photograph taken along the Brooklyn waterfront during the attacks. “Ricky D'Ambrose works with wit and formal precision... in a work that mixes comedy on a film set with the elusive ways in which the media ingest and adapt scenarios of historical trauma. [He] brings together elements as disparate but interconnected as the children's book that George W. Bush read aloud while the attack took place, and a publicity photo of young people joyfully gathered on the riverbank during the attacks,” according to the La Plata International Film Festival.

In his Director’s Statement, D’Ambrose said, “This is a late movie, coming eighteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, and ten years after the end of the George W. Bush administration. It was carried out with a combative spirit, and at a time that seemed especially familiar to me: the climate of sinister nationalism and perpetual fear that I knew when I was fourteen years old, the ‘standing together,’ the blocking of dissenting opinions, the colossal manipulation of sentiment public under the name of patriotism. None of this has decreased since 2001.”

D'Ambrose is an American writer, graphic designer, and director who earned his MA in Film and Media Studies from Columbia University. His first feature film, Notes on an Appearance, the story of a young man, drifting in political circles, was made in 2017. In addition, he directed several short films such as Six Cents in the Pocket (2015), which premiered at Berlinale, and Spiral Jetty (2016), both of which embrace a fragmentary form of bricolage narrative. The Sky Is Clear and Blue Today is his sixth work. He currently lives in New York, and recently premiered his film, Object Lessons, or: What Happened Whitsunday, at the 2020 New York Film Festival. In 2017, he was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. 

La Plata International Independent Film Festival FestiFreak was established 16 years ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The festival aims to discover emerging directors, premiere films recognized in the international festival circuit and revisit great directors of world cinema. FestiFreak has become a reference festival within the Argentine film circuit as a true meeting place between authors, works and audiences. This year, the health situation forced the festival to expand towards home screens and other coordinates. Part of #16FestiFreak was developed in partnership with Filmhuis Cavia of Amsterdam. 

This year, FestiFreak offered a selection of unusual films, which inhabited the margins of current film production: visually provocative, thematically unusual and mostly never seen in Argentina. These films perpetuate the curiosity of the festival and its audience, despite the distance that separates us.

Four panels: (top left) five youths with a river and city in background, (top right) hand pointing with city skyline in background, (bot. left) woman combing young man's hair, (bot. right) man with sunglasses