‘Radical Light’ Book Tour and Screening Series Continues Through LA

Tribulation 99 (Craig Baldwin, 1999) | Image courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Tribulation 99 (Craig Baldwin, 1999) | Image courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz and Steve Seid, co-editors of the compendium Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000, continue to bring Bay Area avant-garde films to wider audiences through their book tour and companion film screening series.

Anker, dean of CalArts’ School of Film/Video, and Kathy Geritz and Steve Seid, film and video curators for the BAM/PFA (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive), are conducting a whirlwind tour of Southern California this month, and are screening different film programs that are loosely based on several themes. They begin their LA tour tonight in Westwood at the UCLA Film and Television Archives.

A recent Los Angeles Times article on the Radical Light screenings compared the Bay Area film movement to Hollywood studio fare:

“A lot of the alternative filmmaking was the alternative to Hollywood,” said Dominic Angerame, who has helped shape Bay Area visual culture both as a filmmaker (“Premonition”) and as executive director of Canyon Cinema, a home-grown exhibition-distribution company that has played a crucial role in exposing San Francisco artists’ work.

By contrast, Angerame said, many filmmakers who joined an exodus from Los Angeles to the Bay Area over the past century “either got tired” of laboring in Hollywood’s backyard or else found ways to cannibalize mainstream cinema and incorporate it into their own work.

The films being screened in Los Angeles suggest the vast range of Bay Area expression. They include “A Trip Down Market Street, 1905,” a 12-minute real-time vision of the city’s most iconic thoroughfare; Lawrence Jordan’s sepia-toned “Visions of a City” (1957), in which the roving poet-protagonist Michael McClure’s cubistically reflected image in car windows, mirrors and storefront displays creates a Baudelairean tone poem of the Beat era flâneur; Christopher Maclaine’s “The End,” a 35-minute stream-of-consciousness lament at the Cold War prospect of planetary suicide; and Nelson and Wiley’s “Schmeerguntz” (1966), a savagely humorous, proto-feminist deconstruction of postwar American consumerism’s squeaky-clean surfaces, and the crud that lurked beneath them.

A list of Radical Light screening programs and dates follows.

Friday, Jan. 14  at 7:30 pm
UCLA Film and Television Archives
Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Landscape As Expression: San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area offer an astonishing landscape that combines shifting and surprising natural visual qualities with a teeming urban culture. This program explores and reflects the wonder and cinematic character of this urban landscape.

  • A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (1906), 35mm, silent, B/W, 12 min., directed by Miles Brothers (print courtesy of Pacific Film Archive)
  • North Beach (1958), 16mm, color, 5 min., directed by Dion Vigne
  • Visions of a City, 16mm, 1957-78, sepia, 8 min., directed by Lawrence Jordan
  • All My Life (1966), 16mm, color, 3 min., directed by Bruce Baillie
  • Golden Gate Bridge Exposure: Poised for Parabolas (2004), DV, color, 5 min., directed by Lynn Marie Kirby
  • Street Noise (1981), 16mm, color, 9 min., directed by Michael Glawogger
  • Degrees of Limitation (1982), DV, color, 3 min., directed by Scott Stark
  • Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991), 16mm, color, 41 min., directed by Ernie Gehr

Sunday, Jan. 16  at 7:30 pm
L.A. Filmforum
Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

The 1980s and 1990s

  • Sorted Details (Charles Wright, 1980, 13 mins, Color)
  • Vespucciland: The Great and Free (Rock Ross, 1982, 3 mins, Color/B&W, from the 
  • Field Study #2 (Gunvor Nelson, 1988, 8 mins, Color)
  • Across the Street (Lynn Marie Kirby, 1982, 3 mins, Color)
  • Department of the Interior (Nina Fonoroff, 1986, 8.5 mins, B&W)
  • Short of Breath (Jay Rosenblatt, 1990, 10 mins, Color)
  • Flight (Greta Snider, 1996, 5 mins, silent, B&W)
  • Premonition (Dominic Angerame, 1995, 10 mins, B&W)
  • Shadow of the Son (silt, 1995, 7 mins, Color, Super 8mm, From the artists)
  • Lake of the Spirits (Timoleon Wilkins, 1998, 7 mins, Color)
  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1991, 5 mins, Color).

Monday, Jan. 17  at 8:30 pm
631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles

Beat Era San Francisco: This companion screening focuses on landmark 16mm films from 1949–1959.

  • Christopher Maclaine’s apocalyptic Beat comic-tragedy The End (1953)
  • Sidney Peterson’s wittily caustic tale of murder and incest The Lead Shoes (1949)
  • Jane Belson Conger Shimane’s playful image and sound arrangement Odds and Ends (1959)
  • Bruce Conner’s pioneering found footage A Movie (1958)
  • Hy Hirsh’s Eneri (1953)
  • Patricia Marx’s Things to Come (1953)

Thursday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 pm
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE)
6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

Post-Performance Video: By the mid-seventies, the concept of the artist’s body as medium had evolved from arid performance to effusive provocation.

  • Solo Flight (Tony Labat, 1977, excerpts, 20 mins, B&W, video, PFA Collection.
  • Laurie Sings Iggy (Leslie Singer, 1987, 4 mins, Color, video, PFA Collection).
  • Fuck You, Purdue (Cecilia Dougherty, 1987, 12 mins, B&W, video, PFA Collection).
  • These Are the Rules (Doug Hall, 1983, 4:39 mins, Color, video, From EAI)
  • My Life as a Godard Film by Whitney Houston (Leslie Singer, 1988, 4 mins, Color, video, PFA Collection)
  • The Body (Jordan Biren, 1990, 15 mins, B&W, video, PFA Collection).
  • The Madonna Series: 1-5 (Leslie Singer, 1987, 4 mins, Color, video, PFA Collection).
  • I Am Crazy and You’re Not Wrong (Anne McGuire, 1997, 11 mins, B&W, video, from the artist).
  • Actions in Action (HalfLifers, 1997, 10 mins, Color, video, from the artist).

Friday, Jan. 21  at 7:30 pm
UCLA Film and Television Archives
Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Avant-garde and experimental film flourished during the sixties in the Bay Area, and scores of filmmakers relished freedom of expression with often brazenly anti-establishment and always joyfully self-expressive works. This program is a journey through these revelatory and rebellious years with works by Robert Nelson, Gunvor Nelson and Dorothy Wiley, Lawrence Jordan, Alice Anne Parker Severson, Bruce Baillie and Lenny Lipton.

Oh Dem Watermelons (1965), DIR: Robert Nelson, 16mm, color, 11 mins
Duo Concertantes (1964), DIR: Lawrence Jordan, 16mm, b/w, 9 mins
Schmeerguntz (1966), DIR: Gunvor Nelson, Dorothy Wiley, 16mm, b/w, 15 mins
Valentin de las Sierras (1967), DIR: Bruce Baillie, 16mm, color, 9 mins
The Bed (1968), DIR: James Broughton, 16mm, color, 19 mins
Doggie Diner and Return of Doggie Diner (1969), DIR: Lenny Lipton, 16mm, color, 7 mins
Riverbody (1970), DIR: Alice Anne Parker Severson, 16mm, b/w, 7 mins *Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive*
Dufus! (1970), DIR: Mike Henderson, 35mm, b/w, 8 mins

Sunday, Jan. 23  at 7:30 pm
L.A. Filmforum at the Echo Park Film Center
1200 N. Alvarado St. (@ Sunset Blvd.), Los Angeles

Small Gauge: This program highlights super 8 and regular 8mm films made in the Bay Area. Even though regular 8mm and later super-8mm were designed as amateur home mediums during the middle decades of the last century, artists using these small-scale tools increasingly appreciated the intimacy of the screening situations and the low-key and fragile qualities of the image and spontaneity that 8mm filming allowed. This program showcases a wide range of ways that San Francisco based moving image artists consciously worked with the small-scale nature of 8mm, using home distributed found footage, working with daily ‘home movie’ subjects to create expressive and direct diaries and cinematic reveries, or using the nature of these tools for formal exploration. Filmmakers include: Bruce Conner, Scott Stark, Janis Crystal Lipzin, silt, Julie Murray, Ellen Gsaine Miyoshi,  Bob Branaman, Nathaniel Dorsky and others.

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