Some of my projects in film, video, and sound

Solving for X: How Numbers Matter in the Fight for Human Rights

2012 / 71min / color / SD and HD video / USA
Dir: Theo Lipfert

“Solving for X” is a feature-length documentary about the quantitative approach to human rights data. The film documents the work of Dr. Patrick Ball, leader of the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Based in Silicon Valley, Ball and his team travel the world helping human rights supporters apply sophisticated computer analysis to human rights events. Three examples of this quantitative approach are explored in the film. First, the massive migration of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo during the war in Yugoslavia is examined. Dr. Ball conducted statistical analyses of this event and presented his findings at the trial of Slobodan Milosovic at The Hague. Second, we look at how the statistical report produced for Guatemala’s UN Commission for Historical Clarification changed the public’s understanding of the military’s role in that country’s thirty-six year conflict. Previously the military was seen as protecting the country from communism; later it became understood the military had targeted indigenous Mayans for genocide. Finally, Ball and his team work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia to analyze and interpret victim and perpetrator narratives. Through a painstaking examination of thousands of statements, Ball and his team are able to answer the basic question surrounding the Liberian conflict: who did what to whom?

Oct 2012 Portland Humanist Film Festival (Jury Prize Winner)

April 2012 Public Lecture, University of Mauritius

Aug 2009 University Film Video Association National Conference, New Orleans (Rough Cut)

Galileo, One Night Only!

2011 / 11min / color / live video, audio / USA
Dir: Theo Lipfert Starring: Kent Davis

Galileo, One Night Only” is a visual and aural montage constructed from the (fictional) experiences of Montana actor Kent Davis, appearing as himself, as he prepares a performance exploring the life of Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science. Davis works a “day job” as a professional medical guinea pig. He enrolls as a human subject to test medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and therapies. During the preparation for his role as Galileo, Davis tests a wearable camera designed to help Alzheimer’s patients remember the events and interactions of their daily lives. To gauge the device’s efficacy, Davis has been administered a drug that induces a temporary memory loss. As he travels through different physical environments, Davis reflects on the sacrifices and compromises he has made to pursue his art, and unwittingly creates a contemporary analog to the experiences of the Sixteenth-century astronomer.

Sept 2011Kyma International Sound Symposium, Porto Portugal

From the Mekong to Montana

2011 / 27min / color / HD / USA

From The Mekong to Montana’ traces one effect of the Vietnam War on an American woman. Diane Steffan married her college sweetheart in 1970. More than ten years later her husband suddenly developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his service during the war. Their life together crashed into the chaos of violence and alcoholism, which eventually claimed his life. Fifteen years after her husband’s death, Diane visits Vietnam to see for herself the country that changed her life.

Nov 2011 KUSM Montana PBS

Jan 2012 KUSM Montana PBS

May 2012 KUSM Montana PBS

May 2012 Park City Film Music Festival

Beneath the Surface

2010 / 6:00 / color / Live Audio with Video / USA
Video and Sound by Theo Lipfert

Beneath the Surface is a video piece with four-channel sound that is performed live. The footage was shot with my (favorite) Flip Camera and underwater housing in Captiva, Florida. My kids and I tied some fishing line to the housing then threw it way out into the surf. The footage was recorded as my camera washed ashore. Not only the images, but also the sound of the water smacking into the plastic housing and dripping over the case were interesting to me.

I also recorded my son’s friend Michaela as she narrated what happened in some of her dreams. This audio was also cut up into sentence fragments (45 of them) that are combined randomly to (sometimes) make sense. I used the Kyma sound computer to create the structure for the piece. A script loads audio clips from a folder and plays them in random order. While the video played, I can control the volume, amount of reverb, and spatial position of the sound in the room, all in real time.

The audio of spoken words and the water sounds (plus me and my kids screaming as we got pummeled by waves!) is different every time it is played thanks to the “random” script. Here is one version (in two channels, not four) that gives an idea of what it looks and sounds like.

Oct 2010 2nd Annual Kyma International Sound Symposium, Vienna

Jan 2011 SEAMUS (Society of Electro Accoustic Music in the US) Miami

Forced into "Comfort," Fighting for Apology

2009 / 27:00 / Color / DV, Super16 / USA
Dir: Theo Lipfert

Interviews with survivors, experts, and advocates mixed with footage from wartime newsreels and propaganda films tell the story of the Korean Comfort Women who survived sexual slavery during World War II and continue to fight for an official apology from the Japanese government. Now in their 80s and 90s, the surviving “Comfort Women” recount their personal experiences and articulate their demands for compensation and acknowledgment. “Forced into ‘Comfort,’ Fighting for Apology” traces the origin of the comfort women system from the invasion of China to the end of the war. Set to a haunting score, the film portrays the anger of the surviving women and their advocates against a Japanese government waiting for the women to die.

April 2009 KUSM Montana Public Television (Broadcast Premiere)

April 2009 Crossroads Film Festival, Jackson MS

March 2009 Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose, CA

Feb 2009 Macon Film Festival, Macon, Georgia

Sept 2008 Bozeman Rotary Club Sunrise meeting

Aug 2008 University Film and Video Association Annual conference

April 2008 Ilse-Mari Lee faculty concert

March 2008 Faculty Colloquium, Department of Media & Theatre Arts, MSU

Masada Remixed

2008 / 6:30 / Color / Super16, HD

Masada Remixed combines music, movement, fact and fiction to explore the emotional state of a population under siege. Based on the foundational story of Jewish zealots who held the Roman army at bay, Masada Remixed tells a contemporary tale of isolation, resistance, and suicide. Filmed in collaboration with Palestinian students in Montana and the Middle East.

April 2010 Kansas City Filmmakers’ Jubilee

Jan 2010 Victoria Film Festival, BC

Nov 2009 Filmstock 11, Luton, UK

Certain Green

2007 / 9:00 / Color / Super16 / USA

A romantic ‘feel good’ experimental short, ‘Certain Green’ tells the story of an older woman’s lifelong quest for the perfect color green. On the advice of a psychic, our heroine searches from Florida to the Rocky Mountains, and along the way, learns that sometimes a certain green is found where you least expect it.

Notes on the film
I was reading a few anthologies of micro-fiction and non-fiction when I came across “Rhapsody in Green” by Marjorie Sandor. I loved this story because it was all about color, and how our lives are a search for something perfect that may not exist.
I started bringing my Super16 camera to Captiva, Florida during spring break. I started shooting everything I could find that looked like it should be green, but was not. Shadows of leaves on the ground, plants at sunrise and sunset that have turned inky black. One Spring we were on Captiva just after a hurricane had trashed the island. The shot of the garbage truck driving past the small restaurant (actually a little store) was shot that Spring. (The store was closed in order to repair all the hurricane damage). The shots of Johanna in front of the bulletin board are actually composites — I shot the store in Florida and Johanna in a studio at Montana State University in front of a blue screen.

April 2008 President’s Fine Arts Series, Montana State University

April 2008 Santa Cruz International Film Festival, CA

April 2008 Da Vinci Days Film Festival, Corvallis, OR

March 2008 SXSW (South by Southwest film festival) Austin, TX

Feb. 2008 Dam Short Film Festival, Boulder City, Nevada

Jan. 2008 Park City Film Music Festival, Park City, UT (Winner, Gold Medal, for Score, Short Film; Director’s Choice Award)


Moon in the Bucket

2006 / 10:00 / color / Super16 / USA

A woman, imprisoned by the present, escapes her confinement through movement and dance, only to be confronted by her past. Based on an experimental opera by Garrett Fisher, Moon in the Bucket uses music and motion to narrate a story of memory, confinement, and liberation. Shot on location in Montana, the film also uses archival Japanese footage as ‘flashbacks’ and glimpses into the history of our prisoner. Moon in the Bucket features choreography by A.C. Petersen and a solo performance by dancer Yoko Murao. The original score was written by the Seattle-based composer Garrett Fisher, and performed by the Fisher Ensemble.

Nov. 2006 Dance Flicks, North Carlton, Australia

Oct. 2006 Universidad Michoacana, Morelia, Mexico

Oct. 2006 Portland International Short Short Film Fest, OR

Sept. 2006 Boulder Asian Film Festival, CO

Sept. 2006 One Reel Film Festival, Seattle, WA

July 2006 Da Vinci Film & Video Festival, Corvallis, OR (2nd place: Best Use of Music)

June 2006 Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema, Boulder MOCACO

June 2006 Fear No Film festival, Salt Lake City, UT

June 2006 Winnipeg International Film Festival

Taubman Sucks

2004 / 6:40 / Color / DV / USA
Dir: Theo Lipfert; Music by Stefan Hakenberg

Taubman Sucks is the story of Hank Mishkoff, a web designer from Plano Texas, who created a website celebrating the construction of a new mall in his neighborhood. One day he received a letter from a lawfirm representing the mall’s owner, claiming that he was violating their client’s trademark. When they filed a lawsuit against him, Hank registered a series of internet domain names ending with “” He used these sites to document the case, and the treatment he was receiving.

Hank fought the lawsuits all the way to the Appeals Court. After several setbacks, he was ultimately victorious. His case is now the precedent establishing rights for people who use the web to protest, complain, or gripe. This richly visual documentary tells Hank’s “David vs. Goliath” story using an entertaining and humorous style. This is a story where the little guy finally does come out on top!

Nov. 2006 Cucalorus 12, Wilmington, DE

May 2006 Cinema Slam, Ann Arbor, MI

Nov. 2005 Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, Spokane, WA

Nov. 2005 Missoula Art Museum, MT

Nov. 2005 Missoula Art Museum, MT

Oct. 2005 Austin Film Festival, TX

Oct, 2005 Mill Valley Film Festival, CA

Oct. 2005 Best of the Best Film Festival, Eugene, OR

Sept. 2005 Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Sept. 2005 DC Shorts Fest, Washington, D.C.

July 2005 Bear Tooth Theater, Anchorage, AK

July 2005 Portland Art Museum, OR

June 2005 Butte Silver Bow Arts Foundation, Butte, MT

May 2005 Filmstock, Luton, UK

May 2005 Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

May 2005 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

May 2005 Portland Community College, OR

April 2005 Nashville Film Festival, TN

April 2005 PDX Film Festival, Portland, OR

April 2005 Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, OR

April 2005 Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, OR

April 2005 Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR

April 2005 Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR

April 2005 Idaho State University, ID

April 2005 Detroit Film Center, MI

March 2005 Ann Arbor Film Fest, MI

March 2005 Cinequest, San Jose, CA

March 2005 NOVAC, New Orleans, LA

Feb. 2005 Big Muddy Film Festival, Carbondale, IL

Feb. 2005 Dam Short Film Festival, Boulder City, NV

Dec. 2004 DV Film Fest (Los Angeles)

Nov. 2004 Northwest Film and Video Festival, Portland, OR (Audience choice award)

Sept. 2004 Bumbershoot One Reel Film Fest, Seattle, WA

Sept. 2006 WEDU, Tampa, FL (broadcast)

July 2005 WSIU, Carbondale, IL (broadcast)

May 2005 KCTS, Seattle, WA (broadcast)

Nov. 2004 KCTS, Seattle, WA (broadcast)

The Displacement Map

2003 / 19:00 / Color & B/W / DV, Archival Film Footage
Directed by Theo Lipfert; Music by Stefan Hakenberg

The Displacement Map is an experimental documentary in which an Ohio shopkeeper’s daily activities trigger memories of a little-known historical event: the forced relocation during World War II of Aleut-Americans from the Aleutian and Pribiloff islands to camps thousands of miles away. This event is a metaphor for how we come to understand events which happen to people far away in time or place. Using contemporary and archival materials, the film suggests that it is through relating historical events to our daily lives that we can begin to comprehend them. The Displacement Map uses music and visual clues rather than words to tell an almost universal story of war, displacement, and relocation.

May, 2004 Filmstock, Luton, UK

May, 2004 Forest Film Festival, Portland, OR

April, 2004 Pusan Asian Shorts Festival, Pusan, Republic of Korea

March, 2004 Myhelan Indie Film Festival, Chester, NJ

October 2003 Cinema Paradise, Honolulu, HI (Jury Award: Best Experimental Film, Audience Award: Best Experimental Film)

Sept. 2003 Temecula Film and Music Festival, CA

May 2003 Tribeca Film Festival, New York, NY

April 2003 Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee (Jury award: 2nd Place, Documentary Short)

Aug. 2002 CrossSound 2002 , Juneau, AK (Live Performance)

Aug. 2002 CrossSound 2002, Ketchikan, AK (Live Performance)

Aug. 2002 CrossSound 2002, Sitka, AK (Live Performance)

May 2003 Second Saturday Series, Chicago, IL (Live Performance)

Jan 2004 Berlin Academy of Art: “America in Berlin 2004” Germany (Live Performance)