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Exprmntl 3: 1963 Recap

1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.” He explains:

[Stan] Brakhage had finished and was exhibiting the first two sections of Dog Star Man by then; Jack Smith was still exhibiting the year-old Flaming Creatures; [Kenneth Anger‘s] Scorpio Rising appeared almost simultaneously with [Gregory Markopoulos‘s] Twice a Man. The shift from an interest in dreams and the erotic quest for the self to mythopoeia, and a wider interest in the collective unconscious occurred in the films of a number of major and independent artists.

(An inclusive list of American avant-garde films made/released in 1963 can be found here.)

On Christmas Day of 1963 began the weeklong third edition of Exprmntl, a competition of worldwide avant-garde films held in Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium. The two previous Exprmntl competitions took place in 1949 and 1958. Exprmntl
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Reappearing Fireflies: Bruce Baillie in Vienna

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Bruce Baillie. Courtesy of Lux. The first time he saw Bruce Baillie, a fiery Peter Kubelka recounted in front of an amused audience at the Austrian Film Museum, the American filmmaker was pulling off a headstand in a classroom before taking his students out on the campus to collect garbage. In the filmmaking of Baillie and his organization Canyon Cinema, which was showcased from January 30 to February 3 in five programs curated by Garbiñe Ortega, ideas of life and community are transformed into sounds, colors and film. Sometimes those ideas exceed the films. As Mr. Baillie has put it himself in an interview with Richard Corliss in 1971, “I always felt that I brought as much truth out of the environment as I could, but I’m tired of coming out of. . . . I want everybody really lost, and I want us all to be at home there. Something like that. Actually I am not interested in that,
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Journal (6.6.16 - 1.10.17)

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The latest installment in the filmmaker's series of journal-films combining iPhone footage and sounds and images from movies. A diary penned with cinema.Journal (6.6.16 - 1.10.17)feat. additional footage from Masha Tupitsyn and Isiah MedinaMy journal-film series (of which this is the third installment) came to be as a means of resolving the points of convergence and departure amongst the environments I occupy and those which I encounter in cinema. I like to view these films as a method of managing the images that take up my thoughts and memories into a new continuity, one in which the distinction between images seen on-screen and those personally experienced is no longer absolute. In dissolving this partition, these films provide a vector for the animation conceptual concerns through cinema - montage fulfilling that which language can only formally describe and vice versa. The following essay outlines some of the concerns this film attempts
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Tiff 2016. Correspondences #8

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Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I WaitDear Fern,I'm so glad we could share the sheer exuberant pleasure of Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids on an IMAX screen that gave J.T. the 30 foot high stature of a god: eat your heart out, Leni Riefenstahl! As you note, this infectious concert documentary by Jonathan Demme resoundingly describes Timberlake's appeal in thundering audio-visual terms: boyish charisma, guileless performing pleasure, and a remarkable sharing of his musical credit (so much of it studio-finessed, optimized of appropriation of other music and styles) with a veritable community of producers, musicians, backing vocalists, dancers and more. There's one incredible shot (among many) in this beautiful film of the entire collection of performers playing a song that's frankly mediocre—but the camera tracks along the whole band on stage, Timberlake one of many, all of whose smiles are genuine, all who sing along
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What Is The Best Short Film Ever Made? — Critics Survey

What Is The Best Short Film Ever Made? — Critics Survey
Every week, the CriticWire Survey asks a select handful of film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?” can be found at the end of this post.)

This week’s question: This past weekend saw the release of “Lights Out,” which is based on a horrifying short film. Shorts can have tremendous value, though even the best of them tend to fly under the radar. What is your favorite short film, and why?

Miriam Bale (@mimbale), freelance

I count this Resnais film about plastics, “La chant de la styrene,” and an industrial film by Les Blank about factory farm chickens, “Chicken Real,” among the best films, and certainly best docs, I’ve seen. And the Safdies’ short “John’s Gone” is probably my favorite of their movies, if not their best.
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Weekly Rushes. 6 April 2016

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Rushes collects news, articles, images, videos and more for a weekly roundup of essential items from the world of film.NEWSThe great French essayist Chris Marker remains on our minds nearly four years after his death—the mystery of his life and his work remains haunting. Which is why we're very intrigued by the news that his adopted daughter has penned a new book about their relationship, Chris Marker (le livre impossible).Okay, Sofia Coppola's A Very Murray Christmas was pretty wretched (though we can't help but love that it was shot in New York's Bemelmans Bar), but we adore Don Siegel's Southern Gothic, Civil War-set, Clint Eastwood-starring kinky horror film (!), The Beguiled—and so are tremendously curious about the news that Coppola will remake that 1971 film with Nicole Kidman.Speaking of films in the works, Terry Gilliam may...finally...start...shooting Don Quixote, produced by Paulo Branco,
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Viennale 2015. Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

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Chis Marker's Chat écoutant la musiqueThere are dog people and there are cat people, this we know, and there are even people who claim to be of both—though latent sympathies remain unspoken, like with a parent and which child is their favorite. With the Vienna Film Festival welcoming me with a tumbling collection of dog and cat short films spanning cinema's history—the Austrian Film Museum, an essential destination each year collaborating with the Viennale, is hosting a “a brief zoology of cinema” throughout the festivities—it is clear that filmmakers, too, have their preference. Silent cinema decidedly prefers the more easily trained and exhibited canine, with 1907’s surreal favorite Les chiens savants as a certain kind of cruel pinnacle. For the cats, Chris Marker, already the presiding figure over so much in 20th century art, I think we can easily claim is the cine-laureate. One need not know
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Tiff 2015. Wavelengths, Part One: The Short Films

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Youth On The MARCHThere are 48 individual films screening in the Wavelengths section of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The relative importance of this section, amidst the vast array of offerings in this relatively huge festival, depends on your taste in movies, of course, to say nothing of your specific objectives. If you’re coming to Toronto to try to score a hot tip in this year’s Oscar race, well . . . I feel sorry for you on a number of levels. But Wavelengths is unlikely to be your jam. Originally conceived exclusively as a showcase for experimental and non-narrative films (hence the section’s title, a direct tribute to avant-garde master and Toronto native son Michael Snow), Wavelengths now encompasses the edgier, less commercial side of art cinema. This is the first of two preview essays, and my aim is to cover everything in the section. These are the
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Feeding Back

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Peter Kubelka. Photo: (S8) Mostra de Cine Periférico. María Meseguer.At the end of Martina Kudláček's biographical documentary Fragments of Kubelka (2012), the avant-garde filmmaker Peter Kubelka is shown in his kitchen in Austria, expressing in words and action his passion for cooking, as he prepares Wiener Schnitzel. Kubelka has for many years taught cooking alongside film and by talking about food he is able simultaneously to elaborate on his long-held views on cinema, and the uniqueness of each physical medium as a conduit of meaningful expression.Metaphor is essential to Kubelka’s vision. He compares the process of making and eating Wiener Schnitzel, or any dish, to creating and ‘reading’ a metaphor—an “edible metaphor”. Elsewhere in the documentary he is seen lecturing on the qualities of the film strip. Kubelka likens editing to cooking, whereby a selection of images—like recipe ingredients—are mixed, creating a satisfying totality. The ‘dance’ of the cook,
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Extending the Window: A Conversation with Ken Jacobs

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Ken Jacobs. Photo by María Meseguer.This past June in A Coruña, Spain (S8) 6th Mostra de Cinema Periferico hosted a retrospective of Ken Jacobs. A legend of experimental filmmaking, this New Yorker gave a master-class about the influence of abstract paintings on his work, presented a broad selection of films in his filmography to the audience, and premiered New Paintings by Ken Jacobs (2015), a new film performance using his famous Nervous Magic Lantern, consisting of a series of abstract slides that he projects with a special device of his own creation. The program focused on Jacobs’ first films, close to a kind of Brakhage-like documentary style, the long series he made along with Jack Smith as an actor/performer, and his experiments with 3D, both in film and digital formats. After all these screenings, we had a coffee or two with him and talked about the films in the program.
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Review: Fragments Of Kubelka, A Great Filmmaker Cooks A Schnitzel, Never Gets Boring

Next year, the great Peter Kubelka, godfather of avant-garde cinema and co-founder of Anthology Film Archives in New York and Filmmuseum in Vienna, turns 80. Fragments of Kubelka can be understood as an early birthday present for the passionate cinema lover and cook. The best thing about watching the movie in Vienna was that Peter Kubelka himself was present. Not in your regular "director talks about the film" way, but just as a private viewer. Though Fragments of Kubelka is not his own work, he just cannot let it alone. As he explains in the movie, for him, going to the cinema is an ecstasy, it is all about the present, the here and now. The movie features some rare footage of past events like...

[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
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‘Oxhide II’ a study of hands and bodies in movement, of intimate space

Oxhide II

Written and directed by Liu Jiayin

China, 2009

Liu Jiayin, only in her early thirties and with two features films, has already become a darling of the art house cinema crowd — her work traveling the festival circuits, winning awards, and establishing her name among the ranks of Tarr and Benning as well as drawing comparisons to Bresson and Ozu. However, the awards and name-dropping come with the territory of making a niche film, partially tailored to a mentality of extreme minimalism including long takes, little action, and much experimentation. If not already alienating, her second film, Oxhide II, is a mere nine shots, each in 45 degree increments around a work table in a cramped living space featuring only the director and her parents (!) as actors and the preparation and eating of dumplings as the only action. While maintaining her rigorous attention to detail, composition, and blocking to make any
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Fragments of Kubelka Is Longer Than Peter Kubelka's Actual Fragments

At nearly four hours, this crash course in the life and work of experimental-cinema pioneer Peter Kubelka is roughly four times longer than Kubelka's lifelong output. That is, if you measure him by finished films—Kubelka remains something more like a chatterbox Solomon endlessly ruminating and philosophizing about cinema, reality, and perception, and he may well be more famous for his expansive lectures (often including cooking and the manhandling of 35mm celluloid) than his filmography. Martina Kudlacek's portrait pretty much lets Kubelka, now a merry, avuncular septuagenarian, run away with the show, but history eventually squeezes in, often in the form of Jonas Mekas's 16mm diaries. Kubelka's pioneering role in crafting the Anthology Film Archives' "invisible cinema" screening...
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The Hollow Ones: Scott Stark’s "The Realist"

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When watching Scott Stark’s wonderful new film The Realist, my mind unexpectedly shot back to a 1977 work by Peter Kubelka. Although it’s strange to think of a minor Kubelka film, especially in a career characterized by such parsimony of expression, not that much has been written about Pause!, partly because it is so notably different from the heavily edited, “high articulation” films on which Kubelka built his reputation. Pause!, by contrast, consists of uninterrupted camera rolls of Kubelka’s fellow Austrian avant-gardist Arnulf Rainer, as he contorts his face and body, struggling to maintain his balance. As one watches Pause!, it becomes apparent that the limitations of Rainer’s body are setting the parameters of Kubelka’s shots. In fact, although we cannot be exactly certain of this, it appears that Rainer is taking a breath at the start of each shot, and that Kubelka’s shot lasts
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2013 Bradford International Film Festival: Official Film List

The Bradford International Film Festival is typically an underground-friendly fest. This year appears to be no exception with two very special experimental film retrospectives, as well as a few modern underground-type flicks.

The 19th annual Biff will roll on April 11-21 at several locations around Bradford and Leeds in England, including the National Media Museum, Hebden Bridge Picture House, Hyde Park Picture House and other venues.

Biff is hosting a tribute to Stan Brakhage this year by screening the prolific filmmaker’s magnum opus, Dog Star Man, as well as a selection of his short films, from 1963′s legendary Mothlight to 1994′s Black Ice. There’s also going to be an epic-sized tribute/retrospective of experimental films from Austria, a country with a proud avant-garde filmmaking tradition that’s typically overlooked.

From Austria, Biff is, of course, screening two works from one of the experimental film world’s biggest masters,
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Notebook's 5th Writers Poll: Fantasy Double Features of 2012

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Looking back at 2012 on what films moved and impressed us, it is clear that watching old films is a crucial part of making new films meaningful. Thus, the annual tradition of our end of year poll, which calls upon our writers to pick both a new and an old film: they were challenged to choose a new film they saw in 2012—in theaters or at a festival—and creatively pair it with an old film they also saw in 2012 to create a unique double feature.

All the contributors were asked to write a paragraph explaining their 2012 fantasy double feature. What's more, each writer was given the option to list more pairings, with or without explanation, as further imaginative film programming we'd be lucky to catch in that perfect world we know doesn't exist but can keep dreaming of every time we go to the movies.

How would you program some
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Mubi Presents: "The Great Scott" in New York

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This December, Mubi will be presenting a small Tony Scott retrospective in New York at 92YTribeca. See below for the films, dates and notes. All movies will be shown on film.

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American cinema lost one of its great, unsung, emigre directors when Tony Scott mysteriously took his life earlier this August. A pioneer in the commercial advertisement aesthetic of the 80s, Scott would take that aesthetic and build upon it, transferring it to a post-9/11 world with hyperfast cutting and camerawork that would eventually come to define the decade and the director. Gina Telaroli and I, working with 92YTribeca's Cristina Cacioppo, have assembled a program featuring one key film from each of Scott's three American periods. To draw out some of the best and overlooked qualities of his small but aesthetically and thematically coherent oeuvre, we're also accompanying each film with a short from the avant-garde, and completed the package
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New York Film Festival - Denzel Washington, Robert Zemeckis, Don Cheadle on Flight, Michael Haneke on Amour

Robert Zemeckis with the cast of Flight on flying, Michael Haneke without a manual for Amour, Peter Kubelka's Monument Film installation, and Richard Peña, aka Richard Parker gives Ang Lee an ultimatum for Life Of Pi.

Flight

Denzel Washington (Captain Whip Whitaker) arrived a little late for the New York Film Festival press conference, sat down next to the other cast members on stage, and was asked about the toughest scene for him in the movie. "Right now," he said, to the great amusement of the audience, and threw the question to his director. "What do you think, Bob?" "They were all tough. Making movies is tough," Zemeckis answered. In my question, I thanked them for not having any bird strikes in the movie and inquired how the real-life miracle landing into the Hudson played into the shaping of Flight.

Writer...
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Virtual Refractions 1: "Holy Motors" (The Living Screen)

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At first, Holy Motors can seem almost like a copy-paste job of disguises, devices, and thematics from Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler and Sherlock Jr.: flâneur films in which a man, lost to the world of fictions he created, becomes whatever masks he wears, both cloaking and colorcasting his presence in this conception of the city as a vast, conspiratorial mechanism, a factory of fictions. But for Holy Motors’ sci-fi, that world seems to have enervated into cliché: Denis Lavant is performer but not ever author of this universe and role, and his beggars, tramps, acrobats, and other objects of spectacle dutifully execute their acts without any sense of plot or purpose, like vaudeville functionaries, punch lines without a joke. Whatever the modernist principle here of making the mechanism visible, drawing all of a plastic society’s suppressed elements of industry, the underclass, and bodily functions back to the surface
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Images of the Day. Peter Kubelka's Monument Film sculpture

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Please excuse the reprehensible qualities of digital, composition, lighting and coverage in the below photos, but I thought I'd share a glimpse at Peter Kubelka's celluloid sculpture at the New York Film Festival, "Monument Film". It is being exhibited at the Walter Reade theatre in tandem with two screenings (accompanied by a lecture by the filmmaker) that occurred on Monday at the Views from the Avant-Garde of a new film work by Kubelka, Monument Film. This work isn't a film so much as a material-projector-theatrical experience/performance: it began with a projection of his 1960 film Arnulf Rainer—a short of overwhelming, assaultive visual-aural intensity made up of black frames, empty (clear) frames, white noise and silence—and was followed by a projection of his new film, Antiphon, a work that is made up of the material inversion of Arnulf Rainer. Where the old film has a clear frame the
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