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Still from Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra’s Following the Thread (2021) courtesy Kathy Brew


Following the Thread

Film Knots and Threads

  • Sunday, March 17, 2024
  • 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • East Building Auditorium
  • Films
  • In-person
  • Registration Required
  • Drop-In Registration

Join us for a post-screening discussion with filmmaker Kathy Brew, in person.

Four short films approach the primarily matriarchal traditions and legacies of fabric creation, handweaving and embroidery in Scotland, Palestine, Chile, and Peru. This program centers the direct voices and experiences of Indigenous artisans who connect their individual commitment and skill in visual communication to their respective ancestral cultures.


The Wool Aliens is a layered cinematic study of the region along the Teviot and Tweed Rivers in Scotland where, in the early 20th century, botanist Ida Hayward discovered more than 300 plant species native to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Africa growing on the riverbanks. The plants along the Tweed had grown from seeds that had been washed from the local woolen mills as part of the region’s world-famous textile industry. (Julia Parks, UK, 2023, 16mm to digital, 28 minutes)

The Embroiderers was commissioned for the 2016 exhibition Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery held at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. The documentary compiles several personal interviews with Palestinian women whose skillful hand-embroidery is rooted in the rich traditions and regional symbols of their homeland. (Maeve Brennan, UK, 2016, digital, 23 minutes)

Un Nudo Vivo (The Living Knot) documents one of several participatory "performance-knots" of artist Cecilia Vicuña’s ongoing project Quipu Mapocho which connect participants with swaths of unspun red wool in reference to the traditional Andean method of record-keeping with knots of colored string. This performance took place at the Puente de Cal y Canto bridge in Santiago de Chile, constructed during colonial times at the site where an Inka rope bridge had once connected the south and north of Chile. Vicuña invited friends and passersby to join in creating "a living knot" to recover the memory of the sacred Mapocho Valley and its river, now deeply contaminated. (Cecilia Vicuña, 2017, digital, 7 minutes)

Following the Thread provides a critical view of the delicate balance Indigenous communities of fabric-makers face as they struggle to maintain age-old artisanal practices in a globalized market economy.  In the Peruvian Andes, textiles are omnipresent in the lives of Indigenous people; they are both eminently practical and stunningly beautiful as generations of weavers have applied their creativity to invent techniques and designs found nowhere else in the world. (Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra, 2021, Spanish and Quechua with English and Spanish subtitles, 22 minutes)

Programmed in conjunction with the exhibition Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction.

Part of the film series Film Knots and Threads.

The end time for this event is estimated. End times may vary with post-screening discussion, audience Q&A, or other factors. All film events finish by 5:00 p.m.

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