Inside "The Film Lounge" with P. Sam Kessie

    P. Sam Kessie
    Caption Zoom

    Well, come on in and have a seat. Welcome to the lounge.

    "The Film Lounge" is a new TV series that features a sampling of short films by Iowa filmmakers. It's produced by Iowa Public Television in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, the state's media-production office, and its first episode airs at 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. (For you "Masterpiece" fans, that's right after "Victoria.")

    Three preview parties are set for the week leading up to the premiere in Des Moines, Iowa City and Sioux City.

    Meantime, let's meet the filmmakers right here in the Inside the Film Lounge blog, starting with P. Sam Kessie of Iowa City. Her film "Body & Form" kicks off the first episode and experiments with choreo-cinema, a mix of dance and film, to study the movement of a disjointed form.

    Sam was born in London and raised in Ghana. She's been in the film industry for more than a decade and says her international background has influenced both the content and style of her work – screenplays, short videos, photography – as well as the path that work has taken her.

    She's participated in workshops such as the Durban Talent Campus in South Africa, the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and Berlinale Talent in Germany and has exhibited work everywhere from the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania to the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. These days she's working on a master's degree in film and video production at the University of Iowa.

    Still from Body & Form, P. Sam Kessie.
    Caption Zoom

    What kinds of film do you make?
    Narratives, experimental videos, music videos and documentaries.

    What themes does your work explore?
    I often explore themes of identity and human duality within family and social dynamics, including psychosis, fear, movement, dreams and spirituality. I'm curious about human behavior and how fear unites us, despite our differences, and how we seek identities within cultures.

    What are you working on right now?
    I'm in the pre-production stage for a script for my master's thesis. Besides that, I'm making some short experimental films and testing out future shots and ideas.

    What do you like about being a filmmaker in Iowa?
    I love the calm space, which is so accessible, unlike places like Atlanta or New York, and that's especially important for international writers. Also, the art scene here is more underground, and I like that. Being here helps me focus on my own writing, without so many distractions.

    What would you change about the art or film scene in Iowa?
    I'd like to see tax breaks for filmmakers come back, along with the growth of more infrastructure – production equipment rental houses, incentives for big-budget productions, more funding for the film office, etc. The film office does the best it can, but it needs more manpower to compete with other states and markets.


    Coming up next: An interview with filmmaker Paul Berge of Indianola, whose film "The Waiting Room" takes a funny look at the hopelessness of dealing with authority.