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High school is where life starts to get serious. You are becoming the person you were meant to be, and you dream about what you will do. Forty years later – almost a lifetime – what happened? Did things work out the way you imagined? Are you where you want to be? And after all that time – who are you? How are you doing in the performance of your life?


Filmmaker John Sanborn made discoveries by attending his 40th high school reunion with a film crew to interview former classmates, find answers to those questions, and gain a measure of closure. The result is a highly personal video memoir that blends interviews with contemplations and meditations on the unpredictable challenges and life-altering transformations fifteen graduates from Walt Whitman High School faced in the years before they all met again.


And to show us, ultimately, that life is a long list of things.

THE PLANETS (2011) 75 minutes


The Planets is an epic, 77-minute video feature commissioned by the new music ensemble Relâche. The score took composer Kyle Gann 12 years to complete and became a multi-media immersion into the myths and mystery of the planets when Relâche commissioned video artist and director John Sanborn to take viewers on a journey out into space, and inside the play between reality and fantasia.


​The movie is richly orchestrated abstract storytelling that blends particle animation, poetry, dance (Margaret Cromwell and Joseph Copley, master improvisers) and video artistry to address our fascination with the planets; the mysteries we ascribe to them and the magisterial influence of the ancient gods the represent.

The film premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October 2011, before being shown at over a dozen film festivals, world wide. The work is also the media element in a live performance of “The Planets” by Relache. The first live performance was in September 2012, at the Barnes Foundation.



MMI (2002) 61 minutes


"MMI", a short feature film about the adventures we had in New York in 2001, and about death and the redemptive power of family. The work in in 7 parts totaling 61 minutes.

The work premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October of 2002 and was reviewed by VARIETY:  "Avant-garde in form yet poignant, funny and accessible, normally acerbic experimental filmmaker John Sanborn's short feature "MMI" unites the political, the personal and the philosophical in one deft package. Reflection on his tumultuous first post-millennial year -- one that encompassed a cross-continental move, stressful new job, deaths and 9/11 -- is an inventive audio/visual collage that carries real emotional heft."

The visual storytelling style is unique and very personal, a mix of text, random images, and footage of very personal journies and events. Music is by Berkeley composer Paul Dresher. "MMI" has been selected to screen at over 20 festivals worldwide, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the London Film Festival and the Madrid Film Festival.




PICO (reMIX) (2013) 77 minutes


If you took the musical transformation of John Cage, the radical thinking of Marcel Duchamp, and the media anarchy of Nam June Paik, and put them in a blender… the result would be PICO (Performance Indeterminate Cage Opera).


PICO is a video memoir celebrating the lineage of Cultural Revolution launched by the innovative avant-garde triumvirate Duchamp, Cage and especially Paik and their profound influence on artist John Sanborn. The work started as a 90 minute live performance at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2012, and was expanded into a free-form memoir in 2013, and premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival, before being shown at the Victoria, Dallas, Houston WorldFest and Madrid Film Festivals.


Performing collaborators for PICO are dancers Joseph Copley, Margaret Cromwell, Carlos Venturo, Alyah Baker, Kelly Del Resario and Katherine Wells; composer Wobbly; sound artist Negativland; cellist/composer Theresa Wong; composer Luciano Chessa; architect/designer Megan Kelly-Sweeney; pianist Sarah Cahill; designer Leah Hefner; and Skip Sweeney and Roger Jones from Video Free America.

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