Paolo Davanzo


Paolo Davanzo, photo: William Short

PAOLO DAVANZO: We Are Still Here

Paolo Davanzo is a filmmaker, an educator, an activist, a community organizer, and a friend. He was born in Italy and has been based in Los Angeles since 1998. I first met Davanzo at the Echo Park Film Center (EPFC), a nonprofit media arts organization that puts cameras into the hands of the people who need them most. The center screens experimental and documentary films in its microcinema faithfully every Thursday, teaches free and accessible film and video classes, offers an equipment rental and co-op, runs the Filmmobile (a traveling film school and cinema), and hosts both local and international artists though its residency programs.

EPFC is the place where Davanzo realized his dreams of creating a space for his love of community, teaching, and filmmaking. It is also a place where the denizens of Los Angeles can fulfill their own dreams of creating—myself included. I was a teenager newly obsessed with Super 8. He didn't just give me a camera; he taught me how to be an artist. For Davanzo artists are global citizens. We don't separate politics from aesthetics or pleasure from theory. We share our work, our ideas, and our lives with everyone we can.

Though Davanzo is best known for his work with EPFC, he is also a prolific maker. In 1995 he created a seminal film, titled Passive Anarchy, while riding his bicycle around Beijing during the Fourth World Conference on Women. (This practice of moving through the city and shooting resurfaces in his work for the C.O.L.A. exhibition, Avanti Popolo.) In 2003, while falling in love, he and Lisa Marr created an impassioned collaborative piece called Monday Morning Echo Park. Shot primarily in the home mode, the piece nicely illustrates the ease with which he uses film to interact and build relationships with others. Davanzo's work is intimate and proudly material, often projected in the open air.

Avanti Popolo (2016) is a poem written in black-and-white small-gauge film. Each vignette captures the remnants of abandoned and forgotten buildings. The title of the film is borrowed from a famous Italian protest song. It translates to a command: "People, move forward." The fighting song was a call to arms used to unite the working class. Davanzo takes the ballad literally. He travels through the city of Los Angeles on a bike, stopping in areas of "transition" and showing them at a human scale. From Little Armenia to Leimert Park, from Culver City to downtown, the vacant spaces are animated by memories of the people who once filled them with life. The film is an example of cinema's ability to record and reclaim loss. Avanti Popolo is a silent symphony dedicated to our city, and like the rest of Davanzo's work, it is made by hand with love.

—Martine Syms

Paolo Davanzo
Born 1970, Turin, Italy
Lives and works in Los Angeles

MA, filmmaking, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, 1996
BA, visual arts and political science, University of California, San Diego, 1993

Selected Exhibitions and Performances
2016 On the Road with the Here & Now, Cineworks, Vancouver
2015 Echo Luna, Legedzine, Ukraine
2015 Earth Wind & Fire, Matrushka, Los Angeles
2014 Here & Now, Desire Machine Collective, Guwahati, India
2013 Here & Now, Hanoi Bicycle Collective, Vietnam
2013 Out the Window, LA Freewaves, Los Angeles

Selected Bibliography
Albert, John. "LA People 2009: Cinema Enabler—Paolo Davanzo." LA Weekly, April 22, 2009.
Davanzo, Paolo. "Sell Your TV and Come to the Cinema: How to Start a Film Center." OtherZine, September 2013.
Lelyveld, Nita. "Only the Length Is Predictable." Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2015.

Artist's Website