Magic in the pines
Years in the making, Philly filmmaker David Kessler’s documentary on New Jersey’s wilderness is a tone poem for a place unlike anywhere else.
By Jason Nark
Video used with permission by David Kessler
WHYY Friday Arts
David Scott Kessler: The Pine Barrens
Producer: Michael O’Reilly
Filmmaker David Scott Kessler has been working on his evolving documentary, “The Pine Barrens”, for half of a decade. Before he began the work, he had never visited the Pine Barrens proper. Guiding the viewer through the Pinelands’ winding, rust-colored rivers, its dark forests and slowly developing towns, the documentary creates a contemplative and complex portrait of a place. Through a haze of tall-tales around campfires, encounters with “Pineys” punctuate a landscape removed from contemporary experiences of reality. With the Pinelands as its primary character, the film explores the symbiotic yet sometimes destructive relationship between man and nature. Aiming beyond journalism, The Pine Barrens is a meditation on Nature and Place and their roles in the formation of identity through impressions and artistically interpreted moments; instances best experienced through a veil of wonder and left largely unexplained.
South Jersey Magazine
Person to Watch: David Scott Kessler
Examining the Pine Barrens through a unique lens
When David Scott Kessler decided to make a film about the Pine Barrens, he knew it couldn’t be a run-of-the-mill documentary. The story of the Pine Barrens goes far beyond who, what, when, where and why, the filmmaker says.
So the intuitive artist set out to record a story that – much like the Pine Barrens – would constantly evolve, even after filming. Although the movie is still in production, Kessler, 41, has already organized live performances, art installations and illustrations that all relate to his documented exploration of the relationship between man and nature – specifically, man and the Pine Barrens.