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Going home Filmmaker Braemer turns the camera on her own life

As director of Squeaky Wheel Media Resources Center, Dorothea Braemer has helped scores of experimental filmmakers, documentarians and even musicians chart their courses through the complex world of media arts.

Now, Buffalo's artistic community is training its spotlight on Braemer, who, along with her staff of three, has spent the past five years solidifying Squeaky Wheel's position as an indispensable resource for local media artists and youth. The German-born filmmaker was chosen as one of 15 or so video artists for this year's immense "Beyond/In Western New York" exhibition and will have a screening of her work at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Much of Braemer's body of work, both in Buffalo and with the traveling Termite TV Collective, has focused on issues of social justice. One of her first orders of business when she became Squeaky Wheel's director was to establish the Buffalo Youth Media Institute, a program that allows students -- often from low-income families -- to use Squeaky Wheel equipment and expertise to create films about their own communities and issues important to their lives.

Her own videos have dealt with issues surrounding the war in Iraq, the use of torture in the war on terror and the U.S. electoral system. Her latest work, however, has taken a more personal turn. In "Ten Short Videos About My Childhood Home," Braemer deals with the sale of her home in Germany and the struggles that arose within her family as they dealt with the requisite feelings of conflict and loss that accompany such a major transition.

That's also the subject of Braemer's "Our House," a video installation tucked into a dollhouse, up through Nov. 11 at the University at Buffalo Art Gallery (Center for the Arts, UB North Campus).

After traveling home to Germany to help her mother's transition to an assisted-living facility, Braemer realized that collaborating with her two older sisters in the process wasn't going to be an easy task.

"When I noticed that we were not going to get along in that situation, I immediately wanted to make something with it, because I think it's a very common situation, that there will be some kind of crisis when a parent moves to an assisted-living situation," Braemer said, "I feel like this hasn't been addressed very much in films.

Carolyn Tennant, Hallwalls media arts director, became familiar with Braemer's work shortly after Braemer's arrival in Buffalo in 2003.

"I just immediately had a fondness for her style and her approach, using humor to deal with very different issues like torture, the war . . . issues of our time but also personal issues like aging and loss. She's using strategies that help to convey and communicate tough material, but the humor is used as a way to draw in a larger audience that might have difficulty with the subject matter."

In addition to "Ten Short Videos," Hallwalls will also screen two films from the Termite TV collective, "Confusing the Ballot" and "Flag Stories," which features Buffalo storyteller Karima Amin ruminating on a flag given to America's African-American community in the 1920s.

About Braemer's work, Amin said: "I think it has heart. That might sound kind of trite, but I don't feel something when I look at everybody's work. I feel something when I look at Dorothea's work."

e-mail: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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PREVIEW

WHAT: "Ten Short Videos About My Childhood Home" and other works by Dorothea Braemer

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave.

TICKETS: $5 to $8

INFO: 854-1694 or www.hallwalls.org

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