On Friday and Saturday (July 13-14), UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program and Los Angeles Film forum present Canyon Cinema at 50. The program celebrates the Bay Area-based nonprofit film and media arts organization’s five decades of nurturing and archiving experimental, avant-garde, alternative and under-represented filmmaking voices.
Curated by CalArts School of Film/Video faculty David Dinnell, the diverse screening programs include films from CalArts faculty Betzy Bromberg (Film/Video), Janie Geiser (School of Theater) and Cauleen Smith (School of Art). The CalArts faculty filmmakers will be in attendance during their respective screenings, along with Antonella Bonfanti, director of Canyon Cinema.
Two 16mm programs from Canyon Cinema’s collection will be screened each night:
From the program notes:
Program One: Studies in Natural Magic (Friday)
Program One features recent films by Saul Levine, Charlotte Pryce and Christopher Harris; rarely screened films by Standish Lawder and Jean Sousa; sublimely filmed and acutely perceived portraits of cities, seas, skies and landscapes by Peter Hutton, Julie Murray, Gary Beydler, Robert Fulton and Emily Richardson; Betzy Bromberg’s audacious and energetic feminist punk city symphony; Degrees of Limitation, one of Scott Stark’s earliest films, a humorous three-minute structuralist gem; and Portland, a mid-‘90s travelogue and playful Rashomon-like inquiry into the nature of truth by Greta Snider.
Program Two: Associations (Friday)
Program Two is titled after John Smith’s 1975 film, a joyfully dense rebus-like image-word construction. Smith’s film is preceded by Sara Kathryn Arledge’s rarely seen 1958 work What is A Man, a film years ahead of its time, and Mark Toscano’s 2012 piece Releasing Human Energies, which utilizes film laboratory test footage of a “China Girl” set to a found text read by Morgan Fisher. The program also features Abigail Child’s classic 1989 film Mercy, from her celebrated “Is This What You Were Born For?” series; canonical works by Phil Solomon, Barbara Hammer, Robert Breer, and Robert Nelson; and two recent restorations: the humorously poignant Confessions by Curt McDowell and Akbar, Richard Myers’ extraordinary 1970 portrait of young black filmmaker and student, Akbar Ahmed.
Program Three: Decodings (Saturday)
Program Three is named after Michael Wallin’s found-footage masterpiece, “a profoundly moving, allegorical search for identity from the documents of collective memory” (Manohla Dargis). The program begins with Duo Concertantes, a classic animation by one of Canyon’s earliest filmmakers, Lawrence Jordan, and Billabong, an underappreciated impressionistic documentary of a boys’ youth camp by another key Canyon figure, Will Hindle. Tom Palazzolo’s 1973 film, Love It/Leave It, offers a portrait of the USA that feels particularly relevant to our current political moment. Other works include Lie Back & Enjoy It, JoAnn Elam’s lucid examination of the representation of women in film; artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith’s 1992 Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron), an “exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers” (Scott MacDonald); and Naomi Uman’s classic 1999 found-footage film Removed, which deploys nail polish, bleach and 1970s pornography to fashion a film where the female figure exists only as an empty, animated space.
Program Four: Continuum (Saturday)
Program Four is named for Dominic Angerame’s silent and exquisitely filmed black and white 1987 city portrait. The program also features Bay Area filmmaker Karen Holmes’ underappreciated late 1970s landscape and performance film, Saving the Proof; Los Angeles effects artist and filmmaker Pat O’Neill’s 1973 masterpiece Down Wind; Gunvor Nelson’s My Name is Oona, one of the canonical works of the American avant-garde; and two works from the mid-2000s: Tomonari Nishikawa’s frenetic single-frame city portrait, Market Street, and animator Janie Geiser’s Terrace 49. The program is bookended with Valentin De Las Sierras and Mujer De Milfuegos, films by Canyon Cinema founders Bruce Baillie and Chick Strand that continue to resonate as vital, adventurous film art.
More info at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
– Daniel Loyola
Canyon Cinema at 50
Canyon Cinema at 50
Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14, at 7:30 pm nightly
Hammer Museum, Billy Wilder Theater
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles