Saturday, March 26, 2011

St. Tula

excerpts from
the Patron Saint of Cinema

“Film loves light.”


“Love the under-exposed and the over-exposed. They let you see beyond the expected.”


“Say not that ‘The film did not come out.’ Film always comes out. Sometimes not the way you had expected.”


“The Film has a dual nature. It possesses the physical existence of the Mortal Ribbon upon a reel. The Film is also the ethereal Image of the Light which exists beyond the physical.”


“Film without Fear.”


“Let thine Camera Lens discover lost Sights and unveil forgotten Mysteries and awaken the Imaginations of the audience whom others have enchanted into passivity. St. Tula’s Blessings shall make it so.”


“If thy shot offend thee, cut it out.”


“Those who have received St. Tula’s blessings may create their films as Michelangelo did his sculpture: By merely revealing the Image that already doth lay there within the Emulsion.”


“Forget thee not to wind the spring.”


“St. Tula loves your Film. Even if no one else does.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

iimura at Microscope Gallery

A visit to Microscope Gallery to the opening of:
Takahiko IImura: Between the Frames
March 19 - April 11, 2011
Opening Reception Saturday March 19 6-9PM
w/ live 16mm projection performance of the ever-changing "Circle and a Square"


The performance consisted of a hole-punch, 16mm black leader spliced as a loop suspended from daylight spools on the ceiling, and 16mm film projector.  The projector was started and the screen remained empty.  As the black leader ran through the projector Taka would add punches to it, slowly building from the intermittent flash of light projected on the screen produced by the occasional punch-hole in the black leader, and then, with Taka adding more and more punch-holes to the film, the performance concluded with a constant, stroboscopic flashing of circles of light.  Filled with punch-holes, the film reached the point where it could no longer hold itself together as it ran through the projector.  The film broke and the performance ended.  As everyone snapped pictures, Taka held up the punched-out film in triumph!

Some photos of Taka performing "Circle and a Square."


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Secret Life of... Anthology Film Archives

Scenes from "The Secret Life of... Anthology Film Archives" on Thursday night.  Some quite exquisite work was presented.

The Secret Life is in the calendar, like any other public screening, but the event had something of a quasi-private feeling.  It's much more like an artistic "salon" than anything else.  An open screening for the staff and friends of Anthology.  Rather than give the full rundown, better to just suggest you come to the next one:  After all, we can disseminate, tantalize, ruminate, but none of this is the actual experience of the screening itself.  And if you can, please bring something to show!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Psychogeographies" at Flaherty NYC

Took part in a screening at Flaherty NYC at Anthology Film Archives, March 14, 2011.  Penny Lane curated the films.

The program:
For the March installment of the Flaherty NYC monthly screening series, The Flaherty will present Psychogeographies: work by Kathryn Ramey, Jason Livingston, & Joel Schlemowitz. The program consists of four 16mm films about places both real and imagined. There will be a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers, moderated by Colin Beckett, Critical Writing Fellow at UnionDocs.

The Films:
Yanqui WALKER and the OPTICAL REVOLUTION (Kathryn Ramey, 2009, 33 min)
Weimar (Joel Schlemowitz, 1996, 8 min)
Tombeau for Arnold Eagle (Joel Schlemowitz, 1994, 4 min)
Under Foot & Overstory (Jason Livingston, 2005, 35 min)

In addition to programming the show, Penny wrote a lovely short essay about the works to accompany the screening:
"Psychogeographies: Four films about place and time"

I had given Penny a hard time about her wanting to show "Weimar," this rather silly film that was made on a bit of a lark, and also so old (made 15 years ago).  But she was pretty insistent on including it.  Perhaps it was appropriately "psychogeographic," in keeping with the program's theme.


An interesting question during the Q&A:  Did we, the filmmakers, all know each other and know each other's work before it had been programmed together in this show?  Were we all friends, did we make work in reaction to each other?  Or did Penny just find three filmmakers who had no association with each other and put our films together, discovering a connection between the work that was unknown to any of us?

It's a curious relationship between the individual works that we create and the larger artistic community in which they are a part.  Discovery of this larger artistic community is often an important step in the beginnings of artistic maturity.  Something I'm often encouraging my students to seek out.  Perhaps the community of other artists could be thought of as the environment through which our wanderings, intersections, and connections form a psychogeographic experience?  Not an experience of a geographic place, but a geography of artists.  Is our relationship to the artistic community, through which our works wander, like that of relationship between the flâneur and the city?


A good-sized crowd from the screening made it over for drinks post-screening drinks at The Scratcher.  More than I'd seen at other Flaherty NYC screenings.  A testament to that sense of community!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Cine Soiree - Movie Mike presents. . . "Turn on, Be-in, Freakout"

The first of a series of guest-curated parlor-screenings took place, with film archivist and programmer Movie Mike. 

The invite announced:
Movie Mike presents a special screening of a newly struck print (with material previously unseen) of his 16mm film footage of the Human Be-In in Central Park, shot by Mike himself in 1967, paired together with his "Stoner's Night Out" antidrug PSA reel.

About Movie Mike
Mike Olshan (Movie Mike) is an archivist of 16mm film whose collection explores the underside of cultural history, from politically incorrect racist and sexist musical numbers, to Red Scare hysteria, pulp fiction genres, and early animation. He finds gems among the scrap-heap of commercial film production that range from the merely puzzling head-scratchers to the mind-blowingly wack. As a film collector and archivist Mike is a true polymath of para-cinema!!

Mike has produced film screenings from his collection for Lunacon, Anthology Film Archives, Millennium Film Workshop and the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, and has hosted shows at various colleges, museums, art fairs and pub back rooms.

The fifteen-minute reel of black and white footage had been shot by Mike with a Bell & Howell with the hope of selling it to the local television news.  (They weren't interested in it.  But, as he explained to us after the screening, he did eventually sell some footage to the local news of a Yayoi Kusama happening.)

Up until this point Mike's screening copy of the Human Be-In footage was a not-so-great one-light workprint.  I persuaded him to get a timed print, which meant footage that had been very washed-out without much detail (overexposed material that just needed to be printed down) could now be clearly seen (44 years later!)

The 16mm footage included the early morning gathering at Central Park's Belvedere Castle by the reservoir; the larger gathering later that day at Sheep Meadow; the police taking someone away with the crowd throwing flowers on the hood of the police car (and everyone chanting "We love cops! We love cops!"); a person who took all his clothes off, shouting "Love! Love! Love!" carried aloft by the crowd; a young man wearing an army helmet with "LOVE" written across it, who later changed his name to Wavy Gravy; and everyone in the meadow forming a huge circle and rushing together, all at the same time, into the middle.

The highlight of "Stoner's Night Out," was of course, the antidrug PSA narrated by (a rather stoned sounding) Sony Bono, who appears on camera at the end in satin nehru jacket and matching pants.


At the last minute we decided to have the soiree be a fundraiser for the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

Movie Mike introduces the show
Mike's footage from the 1967 Human Be-In
Q and A with the audience after the 1967 Be-In footage

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cinema 16 at the Kitchen

Cinema 16 is going strong!  Molly Surno's reinvention of Amos Vogel's venerable film series has taken a different approach from its precursor in the presentation of experiential works; consistently featuring the combination of live music and film.

On March 8, 2011 the following sold-out show took place at The Kitchen:
Psychic Ills performing live music to:
"Chumlum" by Ron Rice
"Necromancia" by Beryl Sokoloff & Crita Grauer
"The Voices" by John E Schmitz
"Light Sleep" Lichter Peter
"Gradiva Sketch I" by Raymonde Carasco


A screening with music performed "live" is a tangibly different experience from the experience of a film with a pre-recorded soundtrack.  And Molly's film series has made good on this concept, with a sense of anticipation of seeing familiar works a different light and being introduced to unfamiliar works in a completely unique way.  One aspect in particular -- less so about the experience itself -- is the way she has managed to introduce an audience to these films who would not necessarily have sought out an experimental film screening.  These are people who are ostensibly are there to hear the band.  And yet each film is given its due; it's not "wallpaper" behind the band.  And so, as a method for expanding the audience for experimental films, Cinema 16 has been admirably successful.

On a few occasions my short films have shown in Cinema 16 programs, and I've been asked if I had heard the score ahead of time, before the screening.  Did I go to the screening not knowing how the film I'd made had been scored and finding out the same time as everyone else?  But it seemed to me this question was missing the point somehow.  One of the wonderful things is not knowing what the score will be -- having a chance to be surprised by how someone else would reinterpret your work.  Some sort of prior approval of the score would dampen the whole nature of this collaborative venture -- it would spoil the surprise to know ahead of time.


The next Cinema 16 screening will be on April 16th at PS1. See you there!