Jonah Greenstein is a visual artist, writer and a filmmaker. As a gender-nonconforming creator (pronouns he/they), Jonah’s work in film began when, in high school, he discovered that still cameras also take video and the use of the two options, still photos and video in creating art and the opening of communication with the viewer, or observer. In time Jonah says that he grew accustomed to crafting intricate digital objects out of transient moments.
Jonah Greenstein’s two features, Dedalus (2020) and 6655 Mount Vernon Road (2022) are available in the United States and other territories, respectively. Their editing style has been called “balletic” by The New Yorker.
Jonah’s debut feature film, DEDALUS (DADDY) was covered by Brave New Hollywood.
We caught up with the filmmaker for a quick Q&A about his latest film, a short, titled SHOW IDENTITY.
BNH: What is your film, SHOW IDENTITY about? Where did the inspiration come from?
JG: In the entertainment industry, a Show Identity typically refers to branding for episodic content, including variations of visual motifs that repeat in viewers’ lives. This Show Identity suggests “chosen family” as pathways for resilience in the margins. Several years ago, I was hired to consult on a movie about PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), an activist group founded by Nan Goldin. Eventually, it was titled All the Beauty and the Bloodshed and nominated for an Academy Award. In this film, I show my partner, Professor Martin H. Krieger, at the Oscar party, and a little of how my life led to that moment.
SHOW IDENTITY to screen at the 2023 Polish Film Festival Los Angeles
BNH: What went into the way you constructed and edited the film, and why?
JG: The work is abstract and uses imagery to connect ideas in a collage. I wanted to visualize the present moment in a way that simultaneously references history. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed interweaves autobiographical slideshows with cinema vérité, and I borrowed that style for this short. But the party was at a ranch, so I’m also drawing from the Western. Featuring the Academy Awards adds another dimension of the film industry’s history to this short piece. It’s a little longer than a TV show’s intro might be, but shorter than a lot of biographies. So, I’m working with duration in a specific way.
BNH: What do you want the viewer to take away when they view the film?
JG: I hope the film asks questions about intergenerational connection and partnership.
BNH: After your feature film, DEDALUS (DADDY) your next feature length film was a documentary, 6655 MOUNT VERNON ROAD. How did you decide on making that film vs directing another narrative, or fictional feature film?
JG: That really came from a desire to show the personality of the part of Iowa where I grew up. There are people who I become drawn to cinematically, and I think, I would never be able to cast someone to play this person, it would miss the point entirely. So instead I started directly filming.
BNH: How do you see cinema and where the evolution of it goes?
JG: I see cinema as entwined with technology in a way that can be harmful artistically, in particular in how we consume it. When I think about my own trajectory, I think about finding new ways to connect with the local community in person.
BNH: Is cinema and filmmaking important today? How about independent cinema?
JG: I’ve always felt cinema is a vital medium, and independent cinema is where cultural diversity can really thrive.
BNH: What did you enjoy about making this film?
JG: It was an unexpected thrill to turn my editorial eye to my own personal photos and discover that I had the material to articulate my ideas. I encountered some forgotten memories along the way, too.
SHOW IDENTITY will screen at the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles on November 19, 6:00 pm at Hellada Gallery in Long Beach, CA.