FilmEx Society

Masters of Independent Cinema
3/25/1976

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curators: Eric Sherman Fred Camper David Grosz

Description:
The complete works of Peter Kubelka and early abstractions by Harry Smith also screened. Made possible by grants from The Bing Fund and The National Endowment for the Arts (Coordinated by Eric Sherman, programming assistance by David Grosz and Fred Camper): 'This four-hour survey of may of the key 'experimental' works includes 24 films by 15 filmmakers. Any survey is, of course, incomplete, but a wide variety of styles, themes and techniques here is presented. While a few 'classics' will be shown, many of the films have never before been exhibited publicly in Southern California. The intention is to stimulate- the visual and aural senses. The American 'independents' more or less forced to work on a modest level, have created an astonishing testament to the force of personal art. While in some cases the polish to their work may have been limited, their scope might equally have been liberated from the usual commercial concerns and fears. This double-edged thrust has resulted in an ever-growing body of work which is, at the same time, internally satisfying yet evocative of all the territory left to explore. These films yearn for the attention of serious filmgoers, for they are directed to the individual open and bold enough to question the assumptions of his own daily assumptions. As philosopher Paul Weiss says, one of the functions of art is paradoxical: by forcing us to draw from the world into a delimited sphere of personal expression, art nevertheless helps us to see deeper into the world from which we began. By this voluntary focus of attention into an object apart from ourselves, we are better able to penetrate further the mysteries and beauties of the universe of which we are a part yet which surrounds us. These often short, frenetic, and nonlinear experiences provided by 'experimental' films may serve as the very conduit by which we learn of the inextricable role our perceptions play in altering the 'realities' which seem to constitute our daily life.' -Eric Sherman [Source: Los Angeles International Film Exposition Program Notes, 1976]

Films Screened:

Stan Brakhage: A Retrospective
3/25/1976

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curators: Eric Sherman Fred Camper David Grosz

Description:
Coordinated by Eric Sherman, programming assistance by David Grosz and Fred Camper. Stan Brakhage is one of the most prolific and certainly of the greatest of all 'experimental' filmmakers. As the title of his early magnum opus tells us, his main concern is with 'the art of vision.' To experience his films fully, one's visual sense is reeducated. The objects, colors, shapes, patterns, and textures of the everyday world are examined, reexamined, altered, rejected, and finally, assimilated- thus expanding our sense of what the world of seeing is all about. Brakhage takes as his subject no less than the universe as it is, as he sees it. He grapples with it, attacks it, retreats from it, succumbs to it, seduces it back into his own personal fold. He never quite conquers it- but comes to some sort of terms with it. His images are among the most erotic in world cinema- true Eros: love, desire. He desires to know- a color, a shape. His red is Red. His Red is God's, his wife's, his child's, his dog's, his own. To see the sea of color and texture overwhelm the horseman (in The Horseman, The Woman and the Moth) is to learn what the horseman is constituted. What constitutes him is what destroys him, creates him- defines him. A Brakhage film, if attended to with the love and energy that went into its creation, may serve as an entrance into areas of perception at once incredibly complex, yet also evocative of the childlike, almost na•ve, purity which we, as adults, lose as our survival codifications, increase geometrically with age and 'normal' experience. To experience a Brakhage film is to be opened up to the areas of world-knowledge and self knowledge that are primal in thrust. His films reek of birth and death- of the eye, the mind...vision. The Filmex retrospective offers us, in highly concentrated form, 26 Brakhage films, 26 results of the interplay between his nervous system and the universe encompassing it. As Hopkins' 'Golden Echo' invokes, Brakhage certainly has 'give(n) beauty back, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty's self and beauty's giver' - Eric Sherman [Source: Los Angeles International Film Exposition Program Notes, 1976]

Films Screened:

Stan Brakhage: A Retrospective
3/25/1976

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curators: Eric Sherman Fred Camper David Grosz

Description:
WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING, PRELUDE: DOG STAR MAN, FIRE OF WATERS, THE HORSEMAN, THE WOMEN AND THE MOTH, THE WORLD-SHADOW, SKEIN, STAR GARDEN and SEXUAL MEDITATION: OPEN FIELD also screened. Coordinated by Eric Sherman, programming assistance by David Grosz and Fred Camper. Stan Brakhage is one of the most prolific and certainly of the greatest of all 'experimental' filmmakers. As the title of his early magnum opus tells us, his main concern is with 'the art of vision.' To experience his films fully, one's visual sense is reeducated. The objects, colors, shapes, patterns, and textures of the everyday world are examined, reexamined, altered, rejected, and finally, assimilated- thus expanding our sense of what the world of seeing is all about. Brakhage takes as his subject no less than the universe as it is, as he sees it. He grapples with it, attacks it, retreats from it, succumbs to it, seduces it back into his own personal fold. He never quite conquers it- but comes to some sort of terms with it. His images are among the most erotic in world cinema- true Eros: love, desire. He desires to know- a color, a shape. His red is Red. His Red is God's, his wife's, his child's, his dog's, his own. To see the sea of color and texture overwhelm the horseman (in The Horseman, The Woman and the Moth) is to learn what the horseman is constituted. What constitutes him is what destroys him, creates him- defines him. A Brakhage film, if attended to with the love and energy that went into its creation, may serve as an entrance into areas of perception at once incredibly complex, yet also evocative of the childlike, almost na•ve, purity which we, as adults, lose as our survival codifications, increase geometrically with age and 'normal' experience. To experience a Brakhage film is to be opened up to the areas of world-knowledge and self knowledge that are primal in thrust. His films reek of birth and death- of the eye, the mind...vision. The Filmex retrospective offers us, in highly concentrated form, 26 Brakhage films, 26 results of the interplay between his nervous system and the universe encompassing it. As Hopkins' 'Golden Echo' invokes, Brakhage certainly has 'give(n) beauty back, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty's self and beauty's giver' - Eric Sherman [Source: Los Angeles International Film Exposition Program Notes, 1976]

Films Screened:

Artist's Film and Video Tapes: Film Program
3/11/1977-3/13/1977

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curator: David Ross

Description:
Artist's Films & Video Tapes: A six part program produced in association with the Long Beach Museum of Art, made possible by a grant from the William and Mary Greve Foundation (Coordinated by David Ross) 'If there is one significant tendency that can be observed in the work of contemporary artists it is that they seem to have synthesized the intelligence and emotions of a highly complex culture into a set of attitudes that have allowed them to break free from the media-defined careers and critically defined concerns that have characterized artists of previous generations. The growth of these attitudes is perhaps best reflected in the apparent ease with which artists have adopted the tools of filmmaking and television production and (in the face of a veritably nonexistent support system) have produced a body of work that reflects in mood and purpose the full range of concerns evident in art today. This program of artists' films and videotapes is an attempt to bring a selection of this new work to a wider audience. This program would not have been possible without the generosity of Leo Castelli and Illena Sonnabend, the participating artists and especially the director of Castelli-Sonnabend Videotapes and Films, Joyce Neraux.' - David A. Ross [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1977]

Films Screened:

Artist's Film and Video Tapes: Video Program
3/11/1977-3/13/1977

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curator: David Ross

Description:
Artist's Films & Video Tapes: A six part program produced in association with the Long Beach Museum of Art, made possible by a grant from the William and Mary Greve Foundation (Coordinated by David Ross) 'If there is one significant tendency that can be observed in the work of contemporary artists it is that they seem to have synthesized the intelligence and emotions of a highly complex culture into a set of attitudes that have allowed them to break free from the media-defined careers and critically defined concerns that have characterized artists of previous generations. The growth of these attitudes is perhaps best reflected in the apparent ease with which artists have adopted the tools of filmmaking and television production and (in the face of a veritably nonexistent support system) have produced a body of work that reflects in mood and purpose the full range of concerns evident in art today. This program of artists' films and videotapes is an attempt to bring a selection of this new work to a wider audience. This program would not have been possible without the generosity of Leo Castelli and Illena Sonnabend, the participating artists and especially the director of Castelli-Sonnabend Videotapes and Films, Joyce Neraux.' - David A. Ross [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1977]

Films Screened:

  • The Red Tapes
  • TV Delivers People
  • East Ended Tape
  • Disturbances
  • Divided Alto
  • Rituals for a Still Life
  • Prisoner's Dilemma
  • Battle Mountain
  • Four-Sided Tape
  • How's Tricks
  • Island Song
  • Good Night, Good Morning
  • One-Eyed Bum
  • Animation II
  • Ed Henderson Suggests Sounds for Photographs
  • THIRD TAPE by Peter Campus
  • Reels # 1, 3, 4 and 6 by William Wegman
  • ISLAND MONOLOGUE by Charlemagne Palestine
  • Three Grizzlies (1974) Simone Forti(Video, Color , Sound , 00:17:00)
  • Inca Split (1976) Juan Downey
  • A Bit of Matter And A Little Bit More (1976) Lawrence Weiner (Color , Sound , 00:23:00 )

American Independent Animation: Perspective
4/29/1978-5/3/1978

Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

Curators: Douglas Edwards Eric Sherman

Description:
Animation is a technique of synthesis which can 'breathe life into' static forms. Animation is, furthermore, a term used to identify many of the most radical visions of cinema. The first three programs of this series are intended as tributes to five influential American artists- Oskar Fischinger, Jules Engel, Robert Breer, Larry Jordan and Harry Smith --- who have chosen to realize important aspects of their creative vision through film animation. All five men have worked with live-action photography, and each has achieved recognition for his work in painting, drawing, lithography and/ or sculpture. Here, however, we pay homage to them for their brilliant experimentation with the varieties of cinematic rhythm, and for their invaluable contribution to the understanding of that which is uniquely 'filmic' in the art of film. The fourth program is a survey intended to provide an overview of other important American independent animation artists currently at work here or in Canada. The majority of the filmmakers represented in this program are young; others have long-established, well-respected careers to their credit. All have done impressive work -- and all have been influenced in important ways by the embarrassment of riches bestowed by Fischinger, Engel, Breer, Jordan and Smith. The films included in these four programs do not outline a history, or define the ranges of a genre. Neither does the selection purport to be the 'very best' work of the artists represented. Rather, the films have been chosen in an attempt to fully illustrate a number of unique artistic sensibilities, and to give some sense of an incredibly broad, important, and too little known field of cinematic endeavor which constitutes a major portion of American film heritage. [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1978]

Films Screened:

    Oskar Fischinger
    4/29/1978

    Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

    Curators: Douglas Edwards Eric Sherman

    Description:
    'Oskar Fischinger was the great transitional figure between the European avant-garde cinema of the 1920s and 30s and its American version, which first appeared in the 1940s, and remains with us in much altered form today. Working first in Munich, Berlin, and then Hollywood, Fischinger influenced and continues to influence (more than ten years after his death) filmmakers throughout the world. The Fischinger filmography contains more than fifty items, of which at least thirty are finished films produced independently for personal expression and communication. According to his biographer, William Moritz: 'Fischinger chose to concentrate his creative efforts on attempting to develop a new, wholly cinematic language or communication system, and the best vehicle for this seemed to him (to be) non-objective animation.' In order to do this, Fischinger had to function both as an artist and as an inventor who could create the tools and techniques to realize the artist's vision. His astonishing successes in both roles brought him international acclaim early in his European career, resulting in an invitation to work at Paramount Studios. Moving on to MGM and Disney, where he figured prominently in the early planning of FANTASIA, Fischinger became increasingly disenchanted with the creative restrictions inherent in the factory- like studio system. Continuing to work on his own through the 1950s, Fischinger completed some of his most powerful and enduring works. This program will include an extensive sampling from both his European and American periods.' [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1978]

    Films Screened:

    Robert Breer, Larry Jordan and Harry Smith
    5/2/1978

    Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

    Curators: Douglas Edwards Eric Sherman

    Description:
    'If the concept of 'independent' animation carries with it the idea of non-conformity to 'traditional' animation, then the works of Robert Breer, Larry Jordan and Harry Smith would be prime examples of an artist's willingness to create non-objective images, which at the same time as they harken back to no particular reality, also provide an extremely rich feast of texture, color, shape and sound. Independent animation is to the Hollywood cartoon as 'experimental film' is to the Hollywood narrative feature film. Each of the three artists in this program has brought into question one or more of the principles cherished by cartoonists. Breer sacrifices versimilitude but captures essential surfaces; he challenges the viewer by causing shapes to evolve from their seeming source into an altogether unexpected material reality. Larry Jordan with his collage technique incorporates images of familiar objects with those of a mystical impulse to yield an entirely new sense of the way things might be. Jordan's work indeed animates, or 'brings to life' frozen realities by placing them into contexts where they might not have heretofore resided. Moreover, it is his films sense of spontaneity which causes the viewer never to consider 'I'm looking at stills of common things put together in some new order.' Rather, the viewer encounters an altogether evolutionary kind of storytelling. Harry Smith combines a number of techniques-- painting on film, collage, superimposition - to create an unending sense of movement and an explosion of shape and form. His work gives the space, time and dynamics of the everyday world a fresh meaning.' [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1978]

    Films Screened:

    Jules Engel
    5/6/1978

    Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

    Curators: Douglas Edwards Eric Sherman

    Description:
    Jules Engel is an award-winning painter, printmaker, sculptor and filmmaker whose work has been exhibited internationally. One of the most gifted teachers of filmmaking currently at work in this country, he has headed the department of Experimental Animation/ Film Graphics at the California Institute of the Arts (CAL Arts) since its creation in 1969. In the early 1960s Engel lived in Paris , where he made experimental live-action and abstract films, and worked in French theater as a director and set designer. Upon returning to the United States, he produced film on artists, continued his own artistic career, and explored the deep, private easel of abstract cinema. Engel has stated 'My aim is to discover and not to solve problems. It is to find things you didn't know existed! My concern is not so much with texture as with shapes of all kinds in their multiplicity. Their relationships and their capacity for metamorphosis - the way forms are related and made dynamic through motion. The emphasis then, is on the development of a visual dynamic language, independent of literature and theatrical traditions.' Mr. Engel will be present, and will engage in a dialogue with the audience during the screening. [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1978]

    Films Screened:

    American Independent Animation: A Contemporary Survey
    5/7/1978

    Location: Plitt's Century Plaza Theaters ABC Entertainment Center, Century City

    Curator: Eric Sherman

    Description:
    ''Together with the continuing activity of Engel, Breer, Jordan, and Smith, the work of the artists included in this program represents the present and future of animation artistry in America. This is not to say that these are the only artists of developing or ongoing talent and importance. Rather, these artists - in their diversity of styles, techniques and motivations, as well as in the consistent quality of their work- indicate just how broad the horizons of American animation are. Some of the works included are uncompromisingly personal statements; some are universally accessible; more are undeniably American in look and tone. In some instances we have chosen well known works by well-known artists; in other instances we have selected either newly completed or slightly older, perhaps less widely seen examples of a recognized filmmaker's work; in at least one or two cases we have stumbled upon a major talent working in relative obscurity. (Due to the subject matter and treatment of certain films, parents are advised that portions of this program may not be suitable for children and teenagers.)' [Source: FilmEx Program Notes, 1978]

    Films Screened: