Media artist and experimental filmmaker Cathy Lee Crane presents a program of Experimental Biographies at tonight’s Structuring Strategies film class and screening series at CalArts.
Crane, the 2009 recipient of the NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) Artist Fellowship for Film, first began creating work in the late 1980s under the guidance and mentorship of experimental filmmaker Marjorie Keller. Her first media project—a video profile of AIDS activist Brent Nicholson Earle (1990)—was presented nationally on BRAVO cable network for World AIDS Day.
In addition to earning awards and accolades at numerous festivals, Crane’s experimental narratives are now in the permanent collection at Forum des Images/Paris.
Filmforum Los Angeles recently described Crane’s ouvre for an earlier screening of her work:
More than mere adaptations, these films combine both staged and archival material which simultaneously provoke and elide the friction between present and past. A self-avowed formalist, Crane’s conceptual concerns, rooted in the non-linear nature of history, are explored through the dynamic system of the frame and the cut. Through shooting on locations rife with historical, literary, or biographical valence, narrative density collides with the film’s own simple goals of telling one woman’s story. In fact, Crane insists on the near impossibility of doing anything simple when history is involved. These films constitute an experimental film practice as interrogation wherein the logic of linearity itself is subjected to doubt through a masterly use of both horizontal and vertical montage.
Screening tonight at CalArts:
Unoccupied Zone: The Impossible Life of Simone Weil (2006)
This portrait of French writer Simone Weil is not simply an account of her life, but rather the skein of her ideas. It stages the “spectral theatre” of her mind through a mise-en-scene whose rear screen projections of live-feed video and archival newsreels antagonize the spectacle of biographical re-enactment being played out before it. It seeks therefore to represent Weil’s own definition of a human life as “a composition on several planes.” Winner Best Narrative Film – UFVA Juried Screening (2006). The trailer has been posted above.
The Death Pasolini Foretold (work-in-progress)
This film is not about Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s murder in 1975. Rather, this full-length experimental biography explores Pasolini’s concerns during the last year of his life through three intersecting elements: essays he published on the front page of the daily paper during the year of his death, an investigation of the images from his first film Accattone (which was broadcast on television for the first time that year), and staged material inspired by his last unfinished novel Petrolio.
Structuring Strategies presents
Cathy Lee Crane: Experimental Biographies
CalArts’ Bijou Theater
Tuesday, March 22