Views from the Avant-Garde at NY Film Fest This Weekend

This weekend the 47th New York Film Festival (NYFF) turns its focus toward experimental film with its program 13th Annual Views from the Avant-Garde.  Curated by Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith (of Film Comment), the showcase features 60 films in 11 different programs at the Walter Reade Theater. The slate includes 14 world premieres, two rediscoveries and 20 by artists being shown by Views for the first time.

Bookending the weekend are La Rabbia di Pasolini, a reconstruction of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1963 found-footage essay film Rage and a three-projector performance by Bruce McClure, who just completed a visiting artist stint at CalArts and an accompanying program Locative Enigma—Frameshape of Hard Mettles—A Personal Problem at REDCAT on Tuesday.

But McClure isn’t the only experimental film connection to CalArts at the NYFF. The work of a number of visiting artists, alumni, faculty and student works will also be featured this weekend. Highlights include:

  • Jason Byrne’s (Film/Video MFA 06) Scrap Vessel—his CalArts thesis film—chronicles the last trip of the cargo ship Hari Funafuti. Scrap Vessel uses the massive ship as a landscape, and explores its communist past, an unseen attack by pirates, a distant beach and a glowing ironworks factory while on its way to becoming a phantom ship.
  • Alexandra Cuesta’s (Film/Video MFA 08) Piensa En Mí is a contemplative journey of public transport in the city of Los Angeles, focusing primarily on the Hispanic population.
  • Laura Kraning’s Vineland (MFA candidate, Program in Film and Video) is a short experimental documentary about the last drive-in movie theater in L.A., located in the City of Industry.
  • Laida Lertxundi’s (Film/Video MFA 07) My Tears Are Dry is described by the filmmaker as a “film in three parts of a dialectic. Hoagy Land’s song is played and interrupted as guitar makes sound, two women, a bed, an armchair, and the beautiful outside. The lyrics of the song reference the eternal sunshine of California and its promises.”
  • Deborah Stratman’s (Film/Video MFA) O’er the Land is a meditation on America’s national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence.
  • Film/Video faculty Lewis Klahr’s Wednesday Morning 2 A.M. is the first completed film of his new Couplets series. These films will generally organize themselves around the pairing of various pop songs, and just as in these songs’ lyrics, the theme of love.

There will also be a retrospective of the work of the late Chick Strand (1931-2009), a co-founder of the San Francisco experimental film venue Canyon Cinema, and a frequent visiting artist at CalArts.

The Views from the Avant-Garde program runs Oct. 2-4, and the New York Film Festival continues through Oct. 11.

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