“1999 is one of the most haunting documentaries I’ve ever seen… a philosophical meditation on memory, sorrow, uncertainty, adolescence, and rebellion” – Astra Taylor
“A profoundly personal but strikingly universal diaristic look back at a particular place and time. Surprising, tender, and charming.” – Pamela Cohn, Filmmaker Magazine
“A powerful meditation on trauma and resilience. Unlike anything I’ve seen this year.” – NOW Magazine
When death haunts a high school in a small town in the late 1990s, everyone is forever transformed. In this gentle, prismatic film, Samara returns to the town she fled as a teen to re-immerse herself in the memories still lurking there, in its spaces and within the dusty boxes of diaries, photos and VHS tapes. 1999 is not a ghost story, but the ghosts are palpable at every turn. The snow-covered streets, the school’s hallways and lockers are preserved as in a dream.
The absences left by the relentless teenage suicides still shimmer with questions, trauma and regret. Samara encounters people who are as breathtaking as they are heartbroken, and, finally, 16 years later, the community strengthens itself by sharing the long-silenced memories. Ultimately the film weaves together multiple voices in a collective essay on how grief is internalized—and how, as children, we so painfully learn to articulate our desire to stay alive.
Samara Chadwick is a scholar, filmmaker and curator. She has a PhD in Cultural Studies from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro and Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle. Samara’s first feature documentary, 1999, produced by Parabola Films (Canada), Beauvoir Films (Switzerland), and the National Film Board of Canada, premiered in 2018 at Visions du réel, and has since played festivals worldwide including HotDocs, DokuFest Kosovo, BAFICI Buenos Aires, as well as the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City.
Samara is also the Senior Programmer for the Points North Institute and the Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), a much-loved documentary festival, bringing the best of creative non-fiction (features, shorts & immersive) from around the world to the rugged coast of Maine. She has programmed films and conferences for HotDocs, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) and the Berlin Biennale (2012). In 2018, Samara curated VR:RV, a year-long German:Canadian Exchange in Virtual Reality by the Goethe-Institut. She has served on juries at The New Horizons Film Festival (Poland), Sunny Side of the Doc (France) and Sheffield Doc/Fest (UK).
Please join us for this screening and Q&A, hosted and moderated by Amir Husak, Director of Documentary Studies and Assistant Professor in the School of Media Studies.