"Brakhage describes the impulse to make the 'Murder Psalm' as coming from a nightmare he had of murdering his mother. The film is made largely from found footage... The most striking imagery comes from an educational film on epilepsy, and Brakhage's film is structured around that preexisting narrative. There is a girl seen in various settings: in a yard gazing into a birdbath into which a bright red ball is thrown; as a rider in a car; as the subject of a medical examination; and as a figure contemplating herself before a mirror and, through a cinematic dissolve, growing into a mature version of herself. Also included in this film is a doctor who seems to explain the cerebral dysfunction that causes her epilepsy... The film material about epilepsy is transformed into a meditation on the social and cultural circumstances of childhood trauma via a visual string of semicircular imagery. By substituting one image for another - for example, the model of the brain for the covered wagon - Brakhage links their meanings and implications. The girl's seizure is made part of the social organization through visual rhyme. Within Brakhage's system, all of the semicircular imagery can be said to 'cause' her traumatic response... A cartoon of a mouse-as-policeman careening forward is integrated into the rest of the film material in a number of ways. The mouse's club is shaped like a penis and at one point, placed like the penis of the cadaver in the autopsy footage. Again, Brakhage is pointing out the phallic nature of violence in general..." From The Untutored Eye: Childhood in the Films of Cocteau, Cornell, and Brakhage, by Marjorie Keller (Rutherford, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press).
FREELAND by MINDA MARTIN
2009, video, color, sound, 63min.
As a child, filmmaker Minda Martin's life was one of poverty, constant relocation and even homelessness. Mixing found footage, historical documents, and personal interviews, she traces her family's history to the forced Cherokee relocation in the 1800s. What emerges is a challenging, heartbreaking and visually-arresting documentary that draws unsettling parallels between land, history, Cherokee culture and American identity. Martin creates a unique cinematic landscape that conveys the trauma of displacement and the reality of poverty.
MINDA MARTIN BIO
Minda Martin writes and directs personal experimental documentary and narrative films that explore the underpinnings and disparities of social class in America. Her films and videos have won many festival awards and screened internationally at venues that include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, RedCat, Viennale, Punto de Vista, BAFICI, New York Video Festival, Frameline, Northwest Film Forum, Creteil Films de Femmes, and Mostra/OMNI Video Art Tour. Along with her collection of short films and videos, her features include FREE LAND (2009) and AKA KATHE (2000). Her most recent work, THE LONG DISTANCE OPERATOR, an experimental video made for the omnibus feature film FAR FROM AFGHANISTAN, set to premiere this year.
She received an M.F.A. in film and video from California Institute of the Arts, and a B.A. from University of Arizona. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Visual and Performing Arts department at California State University, San Marcos.
James Stanley Brakhage ( January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003), better known as Stan Brakhage, was an American non-narrative filmmaker. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.
Over the course of five decades, Brakhage created a large and diverse body of work, exploring a variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld camerawork, painting directly onto celluloid, fast cutting, in-camera editing, scratching on film, collage film and the use of multiple exposures. Interested in mythology and inspired by music, poetry, and visual phenomena, Brakhage sought to reveal the universal in the particular, exploring themes of birth, mortality, sexuality, and innocence. Brakhage's films are often noted for their expressiveness and lyricism.