Ghosts of Empire, a feature-length documentary essay, unpacks the romanticized past of American football to explore its current moment of crisis. The film juxtaposes an analysis of the game’s heroic treatment in the narrative documentaries of NFL Films with a reflection on football’s concussion epidemic and its fallout. It interweaves testimonies of former pros suffering from degenerative brain disease with images and accounts of adolescents playing football today.

After years of denial by the NFL, football’s connection with long-term brain damage has finally come to light, throwing the future of the game into question. We have reached an inflection point: Fewer kids are playing the sport – primarily because their parents won’t allow them to – but will Americans ever stop consuming football? If not, why not? Who will be left to fulfill America’s insatiable desire for football, and what does this reveal about the economic and racial structures of the NFL?


THE FILMMAKERS:

Brett Kashmere is a filmmaker, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. Using sports as a tool for engaging audiences in a conversation about collective memory, popular culture, the archive, and obscured histories, Kashmere’s documentary essays combine archival research with materialist aesthetics, hybrid forms, and explorations of voice. His work has been addressed in publications such as Grantland, The Globe and Mail, The Cinema of Hockey (McFarland, 2017), Global Powers of Horror: Security, Politics, and the Body in Pieces (Routledge, 2016), Hardwood Paroxysm, ARTINFO, the Chinese magazine Art World, and Italy’s NBA Rivista Ufficiale; has been supported by The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Carol R. Brown Awards, the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Film Board of Canada, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board; and has screened internationally at the BFI London Film Festival, Milano Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives and UnionDocs (New York), Kassel Dokfest, Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival (Scotland), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, British Film Institute, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Conversations at the Edge (Chicago), Images Festival (Toronto), Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus), Cinematheque Quebecoise (Montreal), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco). Kashmere holds an BA in Film & Video Studies from the University of Regina, as well as an MA in Film Studies and an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University in Montreal. He has taught media production at Concordia University, Oberlin College, and University of California, Santa Cruz. www.brettkashmere.com

Solomon Turner grew up in Boston and currently lives in Los Angeles. He is a filmmaker, cinematographer, producer, and co-founder of the production company Hello Benjamin Films. Hello Benjamin’s recent project, blu blak (directed by King Ali Emeka, 2018) explores the pitfalls of contemporary black masculinity against the backdrop of L.A.'s fast and youthful skating scene. It was recently awarded Best Youth Film Ages 19-23 at the BlackStar Film Festival. Turner received his BA in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College and an MFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts. He served as cinematographer for Edgar Arceneaux's multimedia play Until, Until, Until..., which was awarded the McLaren Award at NYC Performa 15. Turner’s work has been featured on IndieWire and has screened at the REDCAT Theatre and Poetic Research Bureau (Los Angeles), Art Basel Miami, and Vienna International Film Festival.


Maggie Corona-Goldstein is an actor, producer, and co-founder of Hello Benjamin Films. She was the 2016 recipient of the NEA funded LA Stage Advance grant by the Department of Cultural Affairs for the City of Los Angeles. As an actor, her films have been screened at the XIV Cine Pobre Film Festival, the REDCAT Theatre, and the SXSW Film Festival. As a producer, her work explores arts and activism, with a focus on social issues and community development. She has also served as a Program Coordinator in non-profit arts education, facilitating standards-based, multidisciplinary arts education workshops for youth throughout Los Angeles County. She holds an MFA in Theatre from the California Institute of the Arts, and a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. She lives in Los Angeles.