Everson's rolling: Filmmaker is in demand


While most UVA faculty members took a breather between fall and spring semesters, filmmaker and art professor Kevin Everson was jet-setting in the name of his craft.

After celebrating Christmas with family in Ohio (he's perhaps the world's most smokin' grandfather at age 40), Everson left for Berlin to confer with a co-writer about a project. He then flew back to the U.S. to screen his latest film, Cinnamon, at the Sundance Film Festival. From Park City, he returned to Europe to take part in the Rotterdam Film Festival.

As a five-time Sundance participant, Everson is nonchalant about the Utah limelight. "I'm relegated to the 'Frontier' section," he says, explaining Cinnamon's categorization as an experimental film, and jokes, "I wanted "Competition' because you get a better swag bag."

Growing up in a working-class family in Mansfield, Ohio, Everson had no idea filmmaking, let alone swag bags, would be in his future.

"I just wanted to go to college," he recalls. "I didn't think anything past Tuesday."

His interest in art exploded as an undergraduate at the University of Akron, where he began shooting Super 8 film. "I used to do portraits of my friends before their art shows," he says.

As Everson's artistic vision developed, he became intrigued by people's relationships to objects, the types of art found in middle-American black homes, and the way craft and labor figure into everyday life.

Exploring these themes, Everson, who joined UVA in 2000, has collected some of the art world's most coveted prizes– a National Endowment for the Arts award, a Guggenheim, and the Rome Prize. In 2005, his film Spicebush won the New York Underground Film Festival and played to a sold-out audience at the Rotterdam Film Festival.

According to Everson, the buzz has been even bigger around Cinnamon, which focuses on a bank teller who spends her weekends drag racing (FYI: racers add cinnamon to their tanks to cut the eye-burning fumes of the alcoholic fuel).

"I'm just freaked that people like it," he says. "I just think that things I make are not very open."

He explains he's never concerned with audience reaction when he's working on a film and instead reflects on artistic influences like Caravaggio and Gary Winogrand.

"Kevin thinks about film in a very idiosyncratic way," observes Virginia Film Festival director Richard Herskovitz, "almost sculpturally, as a visual art object."

Ready to jettison his jet-setting (for the moment), Everson was eager to return to teaching ("I love that, man") and impatient to dive into his next project, a film about a black member of the Medici family.

"I mean film festival things are cool," he laughs, "but they're getting in the way of new work."

Kevin Everson