Australian aspiring filmmaker Sarah Elizabeth Runcie came to Washington on a world tour of various film industries. But she met the subject of her new documentary, Washington artist Greg Hannan, while she was working on 17th Street NW in a noncinematic capacity.
“I was waitressing in Trio’s,” says the 27-year-old director. “Greg is something of a fixture in Trio’s. I saw his catalog and was very impressed with his work.”
The result is Intersections: The Art of Greg Hannan, a half-hour documentary that follows the artist along the Potomac, to a summer home in Nova Scotia, and through Shaw, where he has his studio. There’s no narration, because Hannan’s commentary on his work and its inspirations is more than sufficient.
“We did a five-hour interview with him,” Runcie says. “He’s very open and articulate about his own process.”
Hannan works with found objects, which, he says, have “a surface I couldn’t hope to duplicate.” But he wants his work to be “emblematic” rather than “tactile.” Many of the pieces highlighted in the film were inspired by violent death, whether in the North Atlantic or in Northeast Washington.
Ironically, by the time Intersections premieres on Thursday, Dec. 16—at Studio 650, the monthly local-film screening series at Atlantic Video, which donated post-production services to Runcie—the filmmaker will be gone. “Isn’t that just ridiculous?” she laughs.
Having worked “in three countries, in various schlepping capacities,” Runcie is headed home to prepare to attend film school at the Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne. She spent three years in Washington and before that lived in Britain.
Runcie hopes that Intersections will be shown on PBS, “although I must admit, very few people are paying for half-hour documentaries these days. I’d also like to see a Canadian company pick it up, because there’s a lot there about the situation in Atlantic Canada.”
Although her next project is to earn some money for film school, Runcie’s long-term ideas include a documentary series about the songlines, the mythic aboriginal guides to Australia’s geography. “What I’m hoping to do is follow the songlines into the center of Australia,” she says. “Really the series would be about Australian cultural identity. I would very much love to do a series that is about—no pun intended—the intersection of white Australia with its ancient black culture.”
She laughs at the scope of such a project: “It’s so ambitious I just think I’m insane.”—Mark Jenkins
Intersections screens at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at Studio 650 at Atlantic Video, 650 Massachusetts Ave. NW.