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Professor Delivers Talk on Trauma and (Post)memory

By BENJY RENTON

A creator, filmmaker, sound designer and professor of film and media culture, David Miranda Hardy discussed the presence of trauma and memory throughout his work and own personal experiences in a lecture last Wednesday, Oct. 4. Miranda Hardy’s talk, entitled “Representing trauma: from Testimony to (Post)memory in my own artistic practice,” was the second lecture in the Carol Rifelj Faculty Lecture Series

A longtime Middlebury tradition, this year’s Carol Rifelj Faculty Lecture Series features 13 lectures by Middlebury faculty spread across various departments, and aims to put a spotlight on their research and interests.

“It’s a chance for us to build an intellectual community and learn from one another,” said Jim Ralph, dean for faculty development and research, who coordinates the series.

The series was named in Rifelj’s memory in 2010. Faculty members submit proposals prior to the commencement of the year with their lecture topic. One of the unique features about this lecture series is that faculty can present to a general audience of not just their own peers, but students, staff and local community members.

As a filmmaker, Miranda Hardy saw his lecture as a chance to reflect on his craft.

“I wanted to try to understand the impulses behind my work,” he said.

Miranda Hardy opened his lecture by using his biography and his works as a case study to talk about social and personal trauma. He most recently produced a television miniseries called “Bala Loca,” a historical thriller based on the Chilean military coup d’état and the bombing of La Moneda (the seat of the country’s president) on September 11, 1973. The miniseries, available on Netflix, attempts to use fiction as a way to display the duality between hero and victim, while also evoking emotions of fear and happiness from the audience.

“Dealing with memory can be enriching and productive, but it can also be a drag,” Miranda Hardy said in his lecture.

Away from Chile for part of his childhood, Miranda Hardy recounts that the country was thick in fear. “Fear was something in every interaction,” he said.

“Bala Loca” aims to connect the dots and repair broken ties after turbulent times in Chile. The miniseries was also nominated for a Platino Award this year, the Latin American equivalent of an Academy Award. Miranda Hardy’s lecture featured a multimedia presentation, during which he showed clips of his work in order to demonstrate trauma and postmemory. In addition to its critical reception in the U.S., the film sparked social many social conversations about the distrust in corporations and the spurious relationship between money and politics, key themes of the miniseries.

“It was a good conversation starter,” Miranda Hardy said.

According to Miranda Hardy, there is a direct connection between his creations and his teaching at Middlebury.

“I frame what I teach as a search for your own voice…, incorporating reflection and encouraging a sense of identity and community,” he said.

This semester, Miranda Hardy is teaching two courses: Writing for the Screen I and Sound Aesthetics and Production. Being at a liberal arts institution, he believes that his classes strive to include periods of reflection and assignments requiring students to use their own experiences, similar to his own work.

In addition to working as a producer for “Bala Loca,” Miranda Hardy has worked as a band member and sound engineer. His beginning works helped set him up for the miniseries, which aims to connect crimes and Chilean complementary social ailments.

After the lecture, the audience was invited to ask questions in an extended Q&A period. Ralph sees this time as a way to foster community.

“The questions are good for both the presenter and the audience,” he said. Ralph particularly enjoyed Miranda Hardy’s intertwining of his own personal story and his evolving realizations present in the miniseries. “David is a creator,” he said. Ralph believes that he is seen as someone who has made a substantial impact, and  hopes that community members will discover Miranda Hardy’s artistic brilliance through watching his miniseries on Netflix.

Both Ralph and Miranda Hardy hope that that this lecture will foster connections between their peers, students  and community members.

“It’s a great way to build community and understand what [faculty] do when we’re not teaching classes,” Miranda Hardy said. Similarly, Ralph believes that the line up is appealing, and some future lectures will also feature students as a presentation component.

“On so many levels what defines us is that we’re a face-to-face community and so I think that David [Miranda Hardy]’s lecture and others continue to generate intimate connections between people,” Ralph said.

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