There are 18 short films on Kira Bursky’s YouTube channel, and after each title are short descriptions such as: “psychologically creepy short film,” “artistic teen depression short film” and “surreal and dreamy cult fantasy short film.”
“A common thread that’s in a lot of my work is diving into the mind—mental health, depression, perspective, fantasies,” Bursky said. “I have an obsession and a passion for diving deeper and deeper into the psyche and how we define and interact with reality.”
Bursky is just 23 years old, but the Asheville filmmaker is already on a trajectory to becoming one of America’s most incisive and distinctive auteurs.
“Tree Hugger,” a 13-minute film about teenage vulnerability and sexual assault, got into the short film marketplace at Cannes. Seventeen Magazine selected her three years ago as one of its monthly Power Girls. Bursky has also interned for the documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. More than 33,000 people subscribe to her YouTube channel.
But for the next six months or so, Bursky wants you to buy a ticket to stop by her downtown apartment, which she has turned into a multi-room, multimedia, quasi-autobiographical installation called “Considerations of Infinity.”
Ticketed screenings of “Considerations of Infinity” happen the second Wednesday of every month through June, with the next evening Dec. 11. Start times are every half-hour from 7-9 p.m.
“Making an installation was very different than making a film and it was accessing different parts of myself,” she said. “I really went from this place of being in the dark and, at first, being upset with myself for being in the dark, and then realizing ‘Wait a second, you have to start in the dark because this is the beginning, this is where you manifest the creative inspiration and it’s an integral part of the creative process.”
Bursky’s family is from Nyack, N.Y.—her father is an actor, her mother a vocalist—and they moved to Asheville when Bursky was still in elementary school. By then, she’d already taught herself HTML programming and stop-motion animation.
“I have these strong curiosities and I go through these passionate bursts, where I’m like, ‘Wow, I want to know so much about this,’” she said. “I want to read everything, I want to listen to podcasts, I want all of that.”
At 13, she began making videos and and learning how to special effects software.
“I had a strong sense that film was going to be one of my main pursuits in life,” she said. “Filmmaking is this really amazing artform where I can pursue all artforms but also pursue any topic, any story, any person, any perspective. So to me, filmmaking is this whole universe.”
Earlier this year, Bursky moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Carolina Lane that the owner recently dedicated to artist residencies. After moving in, Bursky set out to break new ground for herself by using the entire space.
There are several projectors throwing video and animated shapes and patterns across walls, ceilings and layers of sheer scrims. A mix of minimalist music and fragmented text comes from all angles. But the abstracted narrative stays in Bursky’s familiar lane—a dissection of, and deliverance from, depression.
“That narrative arc is the journey from being in a place of depression to finding your creative channel and, through that, this shift takes place and you open yourself up more to this joyful, infinite, curious place,” she said. “It’s scary and it’s strange to make art where I’m dealing with depression, but it’s my duty to be as vulnerable and authentic as I can be, because I want other people to feel comfortable and at ease in sharing their truths.”
When she isn’t producing commercial work and music videos on commission, Bursky is making plans for her first feature-length film. And though her path as a shooting star will likely take her far afield, Bursky said her heart and home will remain in Asheville.
“Film by film, I feel the direction I’m heading in is allowing my intuition to really guide my choices, and that’s a very hard thing because I have to get past my intellectual self,” she said. “But whenever I finally let my mind step aside, that’s when imagery I could never have imagined just starts to emerge from some ethereal place.”