San Francisco, CA
Filmmaker and international relief worker Ellen Bruno began her relief efforts since the 1970s in Mexico, working in remote Mayan villages. Since then she has worked in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border as field coordinator for the International Rescue Committee, and for four years as director of the Cambodian Women’s Project for the American Friends Service Committee. She has been a hospice worker for the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, providing bedside assistance for people dying of AIDS and cancer. Her first film SAMSARA, her masters thesis at Stanford, documents Cambodian life in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s killing fields. SATYA: A PRAYER FOR THE ENEMY is based on the experiences of young Tibetan Buddhist nuns who have been imprisoned and tortured for their nonviolent protests of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. SACRIFICE is the final installment in her Asian trilogy. All three films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Ellen was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998, a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1997, fellowships from the Western States Media Arts and a Shenkin Fellowship from Yale University School of Art. Bruno was an artist leader for Creative Capital’s professional development workshops.
Leper and Sky Burial
Leper and Sky Burial consists of three 18-minute video works. These videos allow viewers to examine their relationship to sickness, aging, and death through the lens of our own and other cultures. The first video, Sickness, is the love story of a Nepalese couple disfigured by leprosy, juxtaposed with images of their beautiful 12-year old daughter. This video challenges common assumptions of beauty, and addresses taboos associated with linking sickness and sexuality. Following Sickness, Old Age documents a cosmetic surgery procedure to reveal America’s obsession with youth, and its efforts to defy age and mortality. Death, the final video, details a Buddhist ritual in northern Tibet called “sky burial,” in which human remains are fed to vultures. As a meditation on impermanence, the sky burial contrasts with traditional American attitudes toward death.