A TRIBUTE TO CANYON CINEMA - May 15th, 7pm at Third Man Records
Founded by Bruce Baillie in 1961, Canyon Cinema has been the guiding light of America's avant garde cinema culture for more than 50 years. Not just a leading distributor and archive of fringe filmic expression, Canyon has striven to foster scholarship and an ongoing conversation surrounding cinema's most forward-thinking visionaries. Join us as we celebrate their achievements with a specially curated program of "greatest hits" and overlooked gems from their catalog, featuring work by Paul Sharits, Peter Kubelka, Will Hindle, and much more.
My Name is Oona (Gunvor Nelson, 1969, 10min)
Gunvor Nelson, (the) true poetess of the visual cinema. MY NAME IS OONA captures in haunting, intensely lyrical images fragments of the coming to consciousness of a child girl. A series of extremely brief flashes of her moving through night-lit space or woods in sensuous negative, separated by rapid fades into blackness, burst upon us like a fairy-tale princess, with a late sun only partially outlining her and the animal in silvery filigree against the encroaching darkness; one of the most perfect recent examples of poetic cinema. Throughout the entire film, the girl, compulsively and as if in awe, repeats her name, until it becomes a magic incantation of self-realization. - Amos Vogel
Trekkerriff (Will Hindle, 1985-87, 9min)
In the early 1980s, thanks to the encouragement and support of Shellie Fleming, Hindle began work on a new film. It was a difficult and troubling process, and the creation of the film was drawn out over a long period of time as Hindle struggled to find its form. The edit was finally completed around 1985, but Hindle then threw out the entire soundtrack (a piece of composed music), deeming it inappropriate. Between 1985 and 1987, he created an entirely new soundtrack, finally completing the film in early 1987. It was a difficult labor, and although Hindle was still not utterly satisfied with the film, he decided to release it. He communicated his plan to Canyon Cinema to send the new film there for distribution in Spring of 1987, but the print never made it, as Will Hindle very suddenly and tragically passed away on April 7 of that year. The film, Trekkerriff, remained in limbo for 24 years. The only people to have ever seen it were a few handfuls of Hindle's and, later, Shellie Fleming's students. Working from the only surviving print and Will's original magnetic sound masters, the Academy Film Archive has restored the film. Additional Will Hindle films are also in the process of being restored. - Mark Toscano
Down Wind (Pat O'Neill,1973, 15min)
A thoughtful treatment of some of the problems we (mankind) have been having in dealing with our fellow species, animal and vegetable. Actually an undercover "structural" film, this one seems at first to be some sort of berserk travelogue. I spent years going to travelogues as a child, and still have a great fondness for visiting natural history museums in strange cities. - Pat O'Neill
T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G. (Paul Sharits, 1968, 12min)
...an overwhelming stream of flashing colors which obliterate each other in succession as the viewer’s eye hangs, as if suspended in the field of vision, within a brilliant approximation of the reality of the succession of frames past a light-beam. Within the field, votive-like, hangs the image of a young man (David Franks)’s bust. He gazes down at the pair of scissors he holds open around his out-stretched tongue. He seems forever about to slice the fucker off in a moment of ecstatic self-mutilation. Unlike the silent “Piece Mandala,” however, “T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G” has a soundtrack. Composed by David Franks, the sound component to “T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G” outdoes Steve Riech’s early tape-phase pieces in its raw, direct message: a singe word, spoken at the height of counterculture, at the height of the Love Generation, over and over on top of itself seemingly a million times so densely that the ear hears entire sentences spun from its single sound: DESTROY DESTROY DESTROY DESTROY…
Schwechater (Peter Kubelka, 1958, 1 min, color, sound)
In 1957, Peter Kubelka was hired to make a short commercial for Scwechater beer. The beer company undoubtedly thought they were commissioning a film that would help them sell their beers; Kubelka had other ideas. He shot his film with a camera that did not even have a viewer, simply pointing it in the general direction of the action. He then took many months to edit his footage, while the company fumed and demanded a finished product. Finally he submitted a film, 90 seconds long, that featured extremely rapid cutting (cutting at the limits of most viewers’ perception) between images washed out almost to the point of abstraction — in black-and-white positive and negative and with red tint — of dimly visible people drinking beer and of the froth of beer seen in a fully abstract pattern. This ´commercialª may not have sold any beer in the twenty years since it was made, but I (as someone who hates beer) have woved that if I’m ever in Austria i’ll drink some Swechater, in tribute to what i consider one of the most intense, most pure, and most perfect minutes of cinema anyone has ever achieved. - Fred Camper
Mayhem (Abigail Child, 1987, 20min)
Perversely and equally inspired by de Sade's Justine and Vertov's sentences about the satiric detective advertisement, MAYHEM is my attempt to create a film in which Sound is the Character and to do so focusing on sexuality and the erotic. Not so much to undo the entrapment (we fear what we desire; we desire what we fear), but to frame fate, show up the rotation, upset the common, and incline our contradictions toward satisfaction, albeit conscious. - Abigail Child
I'll walk with God (Scott Stark, 1994, 8min)
Using emergency information cards surreptitiously lifted from the backs of airline seats, I'LL WALK WITH GOD pictorially charts an airline flight attendant's stoic transcendence through and beyond worldly adversity. Through an elaborate system of posturing and nuance that evokes an almost ritualistic synergy, the female protagonist(s) are shuttled toward a higher spiritual plane, carried aloft on the shimmering wings of Mario Lanza's soaring tremolo.
The Divine Miracle (Daina Krumins, 1973, 6min)
"An intriguing composite of what looks like animation and pageant-like live action is THE DIVINE MIRACLE, which treads a delicate line between reverence and spoof as it briefly portrays the agony, death and ascension of Christ in the vividly colored and heavily outlined style of Catholic devotional postcards, while tiny angels (consisting only of heads and wings) circle like slow mosquitoes about the central figure. Ms. Krumins tells me that no animation is involved, that the entire action was filmed in a studio, and that Christ, the angels and the background were combined in the printing. She also says it took her two years to produce it."
- Edgar Daniels, Filmmakers' Newsletter
Champs Provincial (Rose Lowder, 1979, 9min)
Champ Provençal presents a frame by frame construction of a peach orchard at three different periods from a single viewpoint : with pink blossom (April 1), with green leaves (April 16) and with red-yellow peaches (June 24). Although the filming procedure is similar to that of Rue des Teinturiers, the recording processes controlling the organization the material in Champ Provençal are adapted to specific characteristics of the location with the aim of setting up another visual experience.