Friday, May 6, 2011


"Impressions of Memory"

On Sunday attended the short experimental screening Impressions of Memory programmed by Jon Gartenberg.  The films were:

One Over Wanderlust by Brendon Kingsbury  
The D Train by Jay Rosenblatt  
After the Fire by Jacques Perconte (France)
Garden Roll Bounce Parking Lot by Melissa Friedling  
Current (Reprise) by Brian Doyle  
One Day I Forgot and Used My Hands by Charles Lim (Singapore)
Sleep by Claudius Gentinetta and Frank Braun, written by Claudius Gentinetta (Switzerland)
Strips by Félix Dufour-Laperrière (Canada)
Paper by Egill Kristbjornsson (UK)
Filmpiece for Bartlett by Scott Nyerges  
The Green Wave by Ken Jacobs  
Bye Bye Super 8 by Johan Kramer (Netherlands)

The thematic linkage of "memory" was employed in a broad way.  Films that were diverse in style, technique, mood, aesthetic philosophy, were joined together, and so a beautiful video work with no lens shared the program with sophisticated experimental animation, and with elegant found footage flashback pseudo-narrative, and with distressed 35mm footage hanging in a garden, and with avant-garde 3D, and with super 8 film essay, and with colorfully trippy video image processing, and with de Chirico-eque usage of an vacant urban environment.

Impressions of Memory?  There were no two films that took the same approach to how such impressions would materialize on the screen.  The program seemed to be a testament to the richness of possibility for the experimental film.


Marie Losier's "The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye"

After seven years in the making, the New York premiere of The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye.  Arrived to find the filmmaker, Marie Losier, being interviewed on the red carpet!  Marie has been the creator of many wonderful film-portraits prior to this.  I'm quite fond of her Tony Conrad film along with the others.  And so it was very charming to see a filmmaker who is "one of us" receiving write-ups in the newspapers and the red-carpet treatment.

The film was very beautiful and moving.  Really a film about the meaning of love, as told through the story of Genesis and Lady Jaye.

At the after-party down at Bowery Electric someone who wasn't at the screening asked how it went.  The audience was "with" the film.  That is to say, they were on the film's side.  How can you tell?  Well, it's hard to say, it's not something that anyone said, but just the energy you sense from people in the dark while the film is showing.  And I've been to screenings where you've gotten quite a different sense of the energy in the room too.


Jon Gartenberg

While waiting for Marie's film to begin someone asked me about Jon Gartenberg.  They knew who he was, but wanted to know what he was like as a programmer.  [Full disclosure: Jon has programmed my films at Tribeca in past years.]

Jon is someone who spreads his enthusiasm for experimental film through his programming.  I've been to shows at Tribeca where he will introduce the program by asking the audience: "Show of hands, who has never seen a film by one of the filmmakers in this program?  And who has never been to a program of experimental or avant-garde films before?  Well, you're in for a real treat!"  And will elaborate that what is so great about programming at Tribeca is introducing these non-mainstream films to an audience that might never have experienced this type of work before.

We get to experience "art" as something that is not some stuffy, elitist thing.  But it's not about having the work watered-down or made housebroken for the inexperienced audience.  Works of art may be strange; they may not even try to appeal to the audience in the usual ways; they may be utterly challenging and provocative.  But there is excitement in facing that challenge of being challenged by the work.  And Jon will make it clear to the audience that it is okay to be experience the work in this way, to be excited by this prospect.  And that sums up my answer to the question of what Jon is like as a programmer.


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