The great John Smith, filmmaker and artist. The Girl Chewing Gum (1976), one of the finest avant garde films of the 20th century, Om (1986), The Black Tower (1985-87) (discussion)(MLYT/Vimeo) [more inside]
Jamestown Baloos (1957) [SLYT] by Robert Breer [PDF] (previously) "is a frenetic, three-part stop-motion animation that features an army of everyday forms and figures — geometric shapes, a piece of string, newspaper clips, a pin-up girl, even Napoleon Bonaparte — flashing across the screen. Placed in increasingly compromised situations and choreographed to a jingoistic tune, the figures essentially become puppets of their former selves. Such unrelenting visuals recall not only Fernand Léger’s early experimental film, Ballet Mécanique (1924), as Breer himself has mentioned, but also early twentieth-century Dadaist collage. Dada artists like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch created witty, unapologetic works that reflected the chaos and violence of modern existence. Jamestown Baloos serves, as their works did, as a pointed indictment on the absurdity of war."
You know what our attitude was toward people who didn’t like avant-garde films? ‘Oh, you don’t like it? We’ll show it again.’
Amos Vogel, the founder of the Cinema 16 film society in New York City and later co-founder of the New York Film Festival, has died at the age of 91. [more inside]
Handmade Cinema. A guide to experimental film and filmmakers.
한(汗) or Han [Click larger picture on the left to play the film], by 'The Chaser' and 'The Yellow Sea' film director, Na Hong-jin, is a Korean avant-garde short film in the vein of Maya Deren. If you liked that one and would like something a little more silly, check out: 완벽한 도미요리 (Cooking the perfect bream)
Berlin, circa 1921: The painter Hans Richter turns his talents to film and produces one of the earliest abstract films, Rhythmus 21. Clocking in at just over three minutes, it's a significant departure from the newsreels, romances, cliff-hangers, and penny-dreadfuls that made up the bulk of film production in the early ’20s—the first decade in which the film industry began to play a major economic and cultural role around the world. [more inside]
Daughter of Horror (original title: Dementia) was a 1955 avant garde film featuring a noir style, a surrealist sensibility, and virtually no dialogue. A later version of the film even included an over-the-top voice over by none other than Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon, but like Blade Runner the flick is better off without the narration. Daughter of Horror is probably most famous for being the film playing in the theater overrun by The Blob. And with a few more surrealistic elements and peculiar dialogue added, this could have been done by David Lynch in a later decade. The film, recently featured on Turner Classic Movies, is available for free on archive.org.
Cinemnesis, filmmaker Martin Arnold's 41 minute compilation of the films of his "compulsive repetition" trilogy, is available to you online. The quality is lacking, small details are missed, but I thought you'd enjoy these nonetheless. Time codes for the three pieces and more inside. [more inside]
The 9 soap commercials Ingmar Bergman made are a little known part of his oeuvre. Slate's Dana Stevens explains how they came about.
UbuWeb has converted all of its rare and out-of-print film & video holdings to on-demand streaming formats. via WFMU.
Starting January 1st, the so-called 'Godfather' of avant-garde cinema, Jonas Mekas will podcast one short film per day, for a full year. If you can't wait till January here are 2 of Mekas's films to tide you over: Zefiro Torna and Hare Krishna. Or see the 40 short films being shown at a gallery in New York. [Via this NPR report, which, if you're already familiar with Mekas and his work, is likely the most interesting link here.]
Tulse Luper Update: Twice before we’ve discussed Peter Greenaway’s “upcoming” multimedia project The Tulse Luper Suitcases: three movies, two books, a VJ tour (.wmv interview about a similar project, Nightwatching, to give you some idea of what a VJ tour is), and more. With the recent launch of the online multiplayer game, The Tulse Luper Journey , perhaps the project is no longer upcoming at all. The story centers on 92 suitcases related to the life of Greenaway’s alter ego Tulse Luper. Discovered in various locations around the globe, the suitcases illustrate the history of Uranium (and by extension the history of the 20th century). Read Greenaway’s lecture on the project here, hear an interview focused on the VJ performance here, or read stories attributed to Tulse Luper here. [More Inside]
“It was only natural that one day I should decide to toss my film into a dank corner of my garden. After a hot, humid summer, I came to gather up the film(Embedded Quicktime), which over the course of the summer I'd entirely forgotten. The colors remained very pure and intense, but had departed from their previous form. Indeed, they were laying themselves down upon the old action film to form veritable mosaics of color, remarkably like the stained glass of church windows. This was a really pleasurable experience.” – Jurgen Reble, on his art
The Tribeca Film Festival announced its 2006 lineup last week. Among the films in competition is the documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Filmmaker Jack Smith (a major influence on later filmmakers, from Warhol to Waters(NSFW)) is perhaps best known for his 1963 film Flaming Creatures, was shot on expired army surplus film, and banned soon after its release (with some help from Strom Thurmond). New controversies surround his work. See also Smith’s Scotch Tape (YouTube), from the same year.
DIVA 2006The Digital & Video Art Fair just opened in New York (nytimes) some highlights if you don’t live in the New York area, or have a better way to spend $10: Martin Sastre’s BOLIVIA 3: Confederation Next (Barney represents Matthew Barney, see here he is slaying Sastre with a lightsaber) part of his Iberoamerican Trilogy; Vincent Goudreau’s Sub-Paradise – about sugarcane farming in Hawaii (excerpted .mov here); My Favorite – ‘Panoscopic’ images by Luc Courchesne. more inside.
"When George saw 21-87, a lightbulb went off". "21-87" is an experimental film made in 1964 by Canadian avant-garde director Arthur Lipsett ,who committed suicide in 1986. "George" is George Lucas, who was obsessed by underground movies until "a little movie called Star Wars lured him to the dark side". (more inside)