“Filmmaking is not a bubble. It’s a type of art form that incorporates fine art painting, photography, music, dance — everything.” Len Borruso’s appreciation for the different aspects of filmmaking is reflected in his work as a cinematographer and director. Borruso’s films are colorful and monochromatic, focused on solitary figures and communities, and centered around cultural ideas and experimentation. Innovation doesn’t always stem from huge gestures; sometimes it’s found in the space between two extremes.
Originally from Queens, New York and raised in Jersey City, Borruso was fascinated by imagery from an early age. “I was always going on long walks and taking pictures,” he says. “I always liked telling stories with my pictures.” The area’s communal atmosphere has allowed Borruso to bring out the humanity of film in his work. “I have a humanistic take on things,” he says. “I concentrate on people and their obstacles, how they keep fighting and try to overcome them.”
As a teacher at Renaissance School for the Arts in Appleton, Borruso has had the opportunity to influence the next generation of artists and the local art community. Although the Fox Cities have multiple locations to view blockbuster movies, there aren’t many opportunities to see smaller, local films. “Lawrence [University] has their theater, and you could do a screening at the library, but we don’t have a place to show films on a consistent basis. Films have been shown at the Fox Cities P.A.C., but it’s a special thing. It’s hard to get,” said Borruso. In the future, Borruso hopes to create the Appleton Film Center, a venue in downtown Appleton which would show foreign, local and indie films along with functioning as a classroom space for aspiring filmmakers. The center is not yet confirmed as an upcoming project for Appleton, but it continues to gain steam as Appleton’s film scene grows.
Borruso is the Appleton Public Library artist-in-residence for August, where he’ll display his work and give public lectures and workshops. Keep your eyes open for developments in the Appleton Film Center’s progress. In the meantime, check out Borruso’s film coterie, Ekphrasis, on Vimeo.
For more from Len about local collaborations and the increasing diversity in film, check out out part two on our blog.