David Lebrun

1944 Artist

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Filmmaker David Lebrun was born in Los Angeles in 1944. He attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon and the UCLA Film School. He came to film from a background in philosophy and anthropology, and many of his films have been attempts to get inside the way of seeing and thinking of specific cultures. He has served as producer, director, writer, cinematographer, animator and / or editor of more than sixty films, among them films on the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexican folk artists, a 1960s traveling commune, Tibetan mythology and a year in the life of a Maya village in Yucatan. He edited the Academy award winning feature documentary BROKEN RAINBOW, on the Hopi and Navajo of the American Southwest. Lebrun combines the structures and techniques of the documentary, experimental and animated genres to create a style appropriate to the culture and era of each film.

Lebrun's experimental and animated works include the radical editing styles of SANCTUS (1966) and THE HOG FARM MOVIE (1970), his late 1960s work with the multimedia group Single Wing Turquoise Bird, the animated film TANKA (1966), works for multiple and variable-speed projectors such as SIDEREAL TIME (1981) and WIND OVER WATER (1983), and a 2007 multi-screen performance piece, MAYA VARIATIONS.

Lebrun's animated feature documentary PROTEUS premiered in January 2004 at the Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous international awards. Animated from period paintings and graphics, PROTEUS tells the story of 19th century biologist Ernst Haeckel, who found in the depths of the sea an ecstatic and visionary fusion of science and art. PROTEUS explores the sea through poetry, oceanography, technology and myth.

Lebrun's most recent documentary, BREAKING THE MAYA CODE, a film on the history of the decipherment of the ancient Maya hieroglyphic writing system, was produced under major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. The feature length version premiered in March 2008 at the International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal; shorter adaptations were produced for the PBS program NOVA and Europe's ARTE France.

In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Lebrun has taught film production and editing at the California Institute of the Arts. He has been the curator of numerous art exhibitions, and is the co-editor of IN THE MERIDIAN OF THE HEART, a 2001 book on his father, painter Rico Lebrun. He was for ten years (1987-1996) president of First Light Video Publishing, a production company and distributor of over 250 video titles in the field of media arts education, distributed to over half of US colleges and to educational institutions worldwide. Since 1996 he has been president of Night Fire Films, a documentary film production company. He was a founding Board Member and Treasurer of the non-profit Center for Visual Music (CVM) and is on the Advisory Board of the Chabot Space & Science Center's MAYA SKIES project.

[Source: Night Fire Films]