West Coast Artist: Jay Rosenblatt

Jay RosenblattUniversity of Oregon alum Jay Rosenblatt is an internationally recognized artist who has been working as an independent filmmaker since 1980 and has completed over twenty-five films. His work explores our emotional and psychological cores. They are personal in their content yet universal in their appeal.

Rosenblatt is arguably the most highly esteemed composer of short films working in the United States today, and one known primarily for his painstakingly crafted and tightly controlled assemblages. His ‘hybrid compositions’ evoke a sense of mystery and challenge audiences through their meditations on controversial topics such as childhood abuse, filial relations, menstruation, the connections between filmmaking and fatherhood, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, battles over gay rights, and suicide. His twenty-eight films displace simplistic views of human motivations and interactions by acting as interlocutor rather than inquisitor (Brian Bergen-Aurand, Senses of Cinema).

Originally from New York, Jay has lived in San Francisco for many years. Before embarking on his filmmaking career, Rosenblatt was a practicing therapist, having received his Masters in Counseling Psychology at the University of Oregon in 1981. It can be argued that, through his films, Rosenblatt has continued to practice therapy at the cultural level. His films extract powerful insights into gender, religious, political and other social identities from the cultural artifacts he mines. He often addresses disturbing topics such as the allure of suicide and the humanity of Hitler, making viewers confront their shared fears and anxieties.

Jay’s films have received over 100 awards and have screened throughout the world. A selection of his films had theatrical runs at the Film Forum in New York and at theaters around the country. Eight of his films have been at the Sundance Film Festival and several of his films have shown on HBO/Cinemax, the Independent Film Channel and the Sundance Channel. Articles about Jay’s work have appeared in the Sunday NY Times Arts & Leisure section, the LA Times, the NY Times, Filmmaker magazine and the Village Voice. He has received a Guggenheim, a USA Artists and a Rockefeller Fellowship.

Recently, Jay was named Program Director for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. At Cinema Pacific, in addition to presenting two programs of his own works, he will introduce one of the highlights of last year’s SFJFF, Mary and Max, and participate in a discussion on film festival programming.