Saturday, March 2, 2013

3/6/13 Programmed by Saul himself

These are rarely screened films, a Film Society not to be missed.

Anticipation of the Night, 16mm, 40 min,1958

A daylight shadow of a man in its movement evokes lights in the night. A rose held in hand reflects both sun and moon like illumination. The opening of a doorway onto trees anticipates the twilight into the night. A child is born on the lawn, born of water with its promisory rainbow, and the wild rose. It becomes the moon and the source of all light. Lights of the night become young children playing a circular game. The moon moves over a pillared temple to which all lights return. There is seen the sleep of innocents in their animal dreams, becoming the amusement, their circular game, becoming the morning. The trees change color and lose their leaves for the morn, they become the complexity of branches in which the shadow man hangs himself. (Stan Brakhage)

"... a film in the first person. The protagonist, like the members of the audience, is a voyeur, and his eventual suicide is a result of his inability to participate in the 'untutored' seeing experience of a child. Anticipation consists of a flow of colors and shapes which constantly intrigues us by placing the unknown object next to the known in a significant relationship, by metamorphosing one visual statement into another." (P. Adams Sitney)

Notebook 16mm, 7min, 1940-1962

Regarding Notebook, filmmaker Marie Menken once stated that "these are too tiny or too obvious for comment, but one or two are my dearest children." Menken was being far too humble, as Notebook is considered by many aficionados of experimental cinema as being her greatest work. Notebook was assembled in 1962 and 1963 from bits and pieces of films Menken had shot over the years; some of these short takes date as far back as the late '40s. Individual segments are organized into brief chapters, which include such experiments as single-frame footage of neon signs at night, single-frame footage of the moon, a shot of a leaf collecting water in a light rainstorm, and others. Stan Brakhage stayed with Menken and her husband, Willard Maas, when he first settled in New York in the 1950s. Brakhage was shown many of the individual pieces that ultimately made up Notebook, and later gladly acknowledged his own stylistic debt to them, which is most readily apparent in Brakhage's Anticipation of the Night (1958). ~ David Lewis, Rovi

Undesirables (Work-In-Progress), 1999
16mm original, transferred to vhs video, tansferred to DVD, b/w, sound, 12 mins
OWEN LAND (formerly known as George Landow)

A rough-cut of selected scenes, edited as a sampler to be used in fundraising towards completion of the film "Undesirables". “The idea started with a casual comment made by Stan Brakhage, must have been way back in the early 1970s. It stuck in my mind. Now that I think about it, Brakhage may have meant this as a joke. He said, “Someday Hollywood will probably make a film about us,” ­ ‘us’ meaning the experimental filmmakers ­ “and I wonder which actors will play us?” Think about that first of all: the idea that Hollywood would make a film about experimental filmmakers is totally ridiculous. The fact that one would think about which actor was going to play me at some time in the future, I think that’s very funny. Eventually it germinated in my mind and I thought it was an interesting idea… A film about experimental filmmakers, especially in the very formative period, approximately 1968 to 1972. The movement went from a high point where there was a lot of publicity generated in the media, and seemed to peter out shortly after that. At a certain time, I guess it was in the 1980s, there was some discussion in film circles about the decline of the experimental film and people were theorising about why it happened and some people suggested maybe because of video, and I guess there were other theories too. So I thought, “Why not come up with a fantastic theory about why that happened?” ­ a fictional theory ­ and put that into a film?” (Owen Land, interviewed by Mark Webber, 2004)

UNTITLED 81 Ernie Gehr 16mm
Ernie Gehr (born 1941) is an American experimental filmmaker closely associated with the Structural film movement of the 1970s. A self-taught artist, Gehr was inspired to begin making films in the 1960s after chancing upon a screening of a Stan Brakhage film. Gehr's film Serene Velocity (1970) has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Gehr served as faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute. His films are distributed by Canyon Cinema in San Francisco.

Remedial Reading Comprehension US 1970, 16mm, color, 5 min.
OWEN LAND (formerly known as George Landow)

Landow rejects the dream imagery of the historical trance film for the self-referential present, using macrobiotics, the language of advertising, and a speed-reading test on the definition of hokum. The alienated filmmaker appears, running uphill to distance himself from the lyrical cinema, but remember, “This is a film about you, not about its maker.”

Owen Land was born in Connecticut, USA in 1944. His films in the 1960s and 1970s are some of the first examples of the so-called "structural film" movement. Retrospective screenings of Land’s films have been held at the Edinburgh Film Festival, The Tate Gallery in London, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.