NYUAD professor of Film and New Media, Leonard Retel Helmrich, screened his trilogy — Eye of the Day (2001), Shape of the Moon (2004), and Position Among the Stars (2010) — at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) this weekend. Helmrich's work has screened at prestigious film festivals around the world where it has earned him a reputation as a filmmaker who combines technical and artistic innovation with a profound sensitivity to depicting his subjects and exploring social issues.
When equipment needed to capture a particular shot does not exist, he invents it. With his sister Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, he designed SteadyWing, a camera mount that folds, allowing for movement in tight places, and has multifunctional handles, allowing for the camera to be passed from one person to another without interrupting the shot. Helmrich further developed SteadyWing with Willem Doevendans. He develops his films with his sister, who runs their production company Scarabeefilms.
This commitment to connecting filmmaking with cinema studies exemplifies the innovative Film and New Media major and, more broadly, the Arts division at NYUAD. This semester, he expands the typically four-day workshop on a concept of "single shot cinema" into a 14-week course open to first- and second-year students. In the class, he asks his students to "unlearn" some of what they know about film in order to learn to think differently about film. Rather than thinking about the composition of individual shots that will later be edited together into a story during postproduction, he asks them to think about camera movement as a means to convey a story during the actual moment of production.