Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings

This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. You can read Part One here.

Formed in 1983, the Experimental Film Coalition started holding regular monthly screenings starting in 1984. The screenings brought to Chicago the work of independent, experimental filmmakers across the country, as well as screening local work.

Screenings were held at the Randolph Street Gallery, an alternative performance and exhibition space located at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave. The Gallery eventually closed down in 1998 and donated their archives to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; which exhibits some of the Coalition’s flyers on their website.

Below is a sample of screening information culled from those archives, listed in chronological order:


March 23

2 Razor Blades, dir. Paul Sharits

Make Me Psychic, dir. Sally Cruikshank

Unsere Afrikareise, dir. Peter Kubelka

Roslyn Romance, dir. Bruce Baillie

Musical Poster #1, dir. Len Lye

April 27

Rainbow Dance,
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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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Movie Poster of the Week: The Posters of the 4th New York Film Festival

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Above: Italian 2-foglio for Loves of a Blonde (Miloš Forman, Czechoslovakia, 1965).As the 54th New York Film Festival winds to a close this weekend I thought it would be instructive to look back at its counterpart of 50 years ago. Sadly, for the sake of symmetry, there are no filmmakers straddling both the 1966 and the 2016 editions, though Agnès Varda (88 years old), Jean-Luc Godard (85), Carlos Saura (84) and Jirí Menzel (78)—all of whom had films in the 1966 Nyff—are all still making films, and Milos Forman (84), Ivan Passer (83) and Peter Watkins (80) are all still with us. There are only two filmmakers in the current Nyff who could potentially have been in the 1966 edition and they are Ken Loach (80) and Paul Verhoeven (78). The current Nyff is remarkably youthful—half the filmmakers weren’t even born in 1966 and, with the exception of Loach and Verhoeven, the old guard is now represented by Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar,
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NYC Weekend Watch: Frederick Wiseman, Jack Fisk, ‘Weekend’ & More

Since any New York cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.


Frederick Wiseman‘s High School begins a week-long run.

“Welcome to Metrograph: A to Z” offers multiple titles this weekend, including Assayas‘ Boarding Gate, The Beguiled, and Nicolas Roeg‘s Bad Timing.

A 35mm print of Carol screens on Saturday night.

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne star in My Favorite Wife, playing this Sunday.

See full article at The Film Stage »

3D in the 21st Century. Baby, I'm Your Firework

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As an educator, I’m constantly cycling through the history of animation on a zoetrope hamster wheel, noting how each technical development re-investigates the same fundamental principles set forth by painting, literature, theatre, photography, or any method of communication and presentation. The constantly evolving modes of production in cinema foreshadowed our economy of planned obsolescence via a quest for re-perfection. As revealed by animation historians like Donald Crafton and Maureen Furniss, principles of Taylorism—standardized animation production methods spawning uniform products—governed industry practices. This model re-packages pre-existing modes/products with advances in technology. In this case: 3D is sound; 3D is color; 3D is analog/Sd/HD/2K/4K/6K/Xk video; 3D is IMAX; 3D is new media. I ask my students: have you ever noticed that life is actually in 3D? For me, an obscure and underground experimental animator, cinema is about learning or remembering how to see,
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2014 Migrating Forms: Official Lineup

The 6th annual Migrating Forms will be returning to the BAMcinématek in Brooklyn, New York on December 10-18 for a full week of new and classic experimental media.

The fun kicks off with the lyrical portrait of North Korea, Songs From the North, for which filmmaker Soon-Mi Yoo compiled footage from popular films, state-organized demonstrations and home video from her own visits to the country.

Highlights of the fest include a three-film retrospective of documentarian William Greaves, Still a Brother, The Fight and Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One; a new consumerist exploration by Cory Arcangel, Freshbuzz (; the oblique narrative Don’t Go Back to Sleep by Stanya Kahn; and the Hong Kong experimental post-apocalyptic The Midnight After by Fruit Chan.

The full lineup for the 2014 Migrating Forms is below:

December 10

8:00 p.m.: Songs From the North, dir. Soon-Mi Yoo. This portrait of North Korea has been crafted
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Jodie Mack: Cut Out for This

Jodie Mack is a relatively young filmmaker. She has emerged as a significant force on the experimental scene only in the last few years. She is a professor at Dartmouth, where she teaches filmmaking. Part of what is truly remarkable about Mack’s work is the sheer volume of high-quality films and web-based imagery she has produced in a relatively short time (around thirty films in eight years), including the recent karaoke-based featurette, Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project. In the midst of this flurry of activity, Mack has developed and refined a highly idiosyncratic approach to animated imagery. Her work builds on the legacy of such masters as Robert Breer, Lawrence Jordan, Janie Geiser and Lewis Klahr, while at the same time locating a highly personal and humorous style of handmade formalism.>> - Michael Sicinski
See full article at Keyframe »

Jodie Mack: Cut Out for This

Jodie Mack is a relatively young filmmaker. She has emerged as a significant force on the experimental scene only in the last few years. She is a professor at Dartmouth, where she teaches filmmaking. Part of what is truly remarkable about Mack’s work is the sheer volume of high-quality films and web-based imagery she has produced in a relatively short time (around thirty films in eight years), including the recent karaoke-based featurette, Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project. In the midst of this flurry of activity, Mack has developed and refined a highly idiosyncratic approach to animated imagery. Her work builds on the legacy of such masters as Robert Breer, Lawrence Jordan, Janie Geiser and Lewis Klahr, while at the same time locating a highly personal and humorous style of handmade formalism.>> - Michael Sicinski
See full article at Fandor: Keyframe »

Anti-Animator: A Conversation with Jodie Mack

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Above: New Fancy Foils

My new favorite filmmaker is the American animator Jodie Mack. In 2012 I was in the audience at the Views from the Avant-Garde sidebar of the New York Film Festival and had the unexpected experience of dropping my jaw and having it remain fully in that position throughout the surface loveliness and aggregating intensity—both analytic and sensual—of Mack's lace flicker film Point de Gaze. Its young filmmaker has been making films since 2003—several of which are viewable on her website—with a flurrying productivity which belays the painstaking efforts taken to bring her animated films to life. The screening was the revelation of incredible talent, a moving effort of hands and mind, and it promised a great deal for the future.

That promise had already paid off in spades at the 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam in January, which presented a program of Mack's recent short films not as a profile,
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Underground Film History 1968: Underground Film Business Booming

From The Victoria Advocate, Sunday, Jan. 21, 1968. Article text:

Wild Is the Word

Hollywood (Nea) — The underground movie — or “non-commercial cinema,” as those who make them prefer to call their product — is blooming. Most major cities have theaters showing these avant-garde films. There are dozens of festivals at which they are shown.

And now there is a catalogue listing hundreds of movies you can rent for from $4 (for a three- or four-minute epic) up to $129 for something like Andy Warhol’s eight-hour “Empire,” which he describes as “homage to the world’s tallest.”

There is something for everyone. If you like action, there is “Blazes” — “100 basic images switching position for 4,000 frames. A continuous explosion.”

Like tragedy? Try “Snow” — “Snow (that fluffy white stuff that falls in the winter) which is beautiful and winter too somewhat since snow comes then and winter is a kind of pseudo-death, so maybe the movie is
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Underground Film Links: March 3, 2013

This Week’s Must Read is actually a few weeks old, but I’ve been skipping these links posts a lot. Anyway… The Brooklyn Rail got a bunch of big names, such as P. Adams Sitney and Ken Jacobs, to discuss the legacy of their friend, Jonas Mekas. That legacy, of course, can never be summed up in just one article, but this is good.Media artist Clint Enns interviewed media artist Sabrina Ratté about her working process. Clint’s probably one of the most insightful people regarding our world of experimental media I know, so this is a must read.Filmmaker Magazine interviewed one of our favorite underground comedy directors, Zach Clark, about his new Christmas movie White Reindeer, which, of course, we’re dying to see.Our pal J.J. Murphy recently posted his annual “Best of 2012″ indie films list, as he traditionally does around this time of year.
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2012 Ann Arbor Film Festival: Official Lineup

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Ann Arbor Film Festival and they’re preparing an all-out blowout on March 27 to April 1 to celebrate! The fest is crammed to the gills with the latest and greatest in experimental and avant-garde film, in addition to a celebration of classic work from Ann Arbors past.

Filmmaker Bruce Baillie was there at the first Aaff — and numerous times since. He’s back this year with a major retrospective of his entire career that spans three separate programs. Baillie, who’ll be in attendance of course, will present a brand-new restored version of his epic pseudo-Western Quick Billy, plus screenings of his classic short movies such as Castro Street, Yellow Horse, Quixote, To Parsifal and more.

There’s also a program dedicated to the films of the late Robert Nelson, including Bleu Shut and Special Warning, as well as sprinklings of underground classics throughout
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Microscope Gallery: We Are Cinema: 50 Years Of The Film-Makers’ Coop

Feb. 11

5:00 p.m.

Microscope Gallery

4 Charles Place

Brooklyn, NY 11221

Hosted by: Microscope Gallery

Throughout the month of February, Brooklyn’s Microscope Gallery will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of NYC’s Film-makers’ Cooperative, the oldest and largest artist-run coop in the world. While the opening reception for this special exhibit will be at 7:00 p.m. on Feb. 11, at 5:00 p.m. will be a special screening of rare 16mm films by the legendary Jack Smith.

Ironically, Smith would probably be furious about this special event if he were still alive, thanks to his severe falling out with the Coop’s founder Jonas Mekas. But, with several new 16mm prints of many of his “lost” films, this event promises to be one of the premiere avant-garde screenings of 2012. So, screw Jack. The films that will be screening are: Respectable Creatures, Song for Rent, Hot Air Specialists, Overstimulated, Scotch Tape,
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Experimental Short Film: Papillons

Colors flow and glide across the screen in Lillian Schwartz‘s classic experimental short film Papillons, produced in 1973. Simultaneously, the film is both of its decade and very timeless, following in the traditional experimental animation tradition, but using the then-new process of using computers to create art.

The official description of Papillons indicates that it is a visual representation of “mathematical functions,” but the bold, chunky, swirling colors also feel to be a holdover from the psychedelic era that had just died down by the time of the film’s production. Plus, there also appears to be some continuity with the type of fluid and repetitive animation in the tradition of Robert Breer, even though Schwartz was bringing that style to a new, digital medium.

Schwartz created her art films while working in residence at At&T’s Bell Laboratories where she helped create the image-generating programming language Explor, an
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Daily Briefing. Pasolini, Picard, Offscreen, Lists and Letters

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"The second-to-last interview that Pier Paolo Pasolini gave before he was murdered in 1975 (a case that still remains mysterious) and that was long believed lost has turned up," reports the New Yorker's Richard Brody. "Eric Loret and Robert Maggiori tell the story in Libération — Pasolini was introducing his work in Sweden, a round-table discussion was recorded for broadcast, then held, then lost, until his Swedish translator, Carl Henrik Svenstedt, recently found his personal recording of the talk. The Italian weekly L'Espresso has published a partial transcript of the discussion, along with the audio recording." And he's got excerpts. For example: "I consider consumerism to be a Fascism worse than the classical one, because clerical Fascism didn't really transform Italians, didn't enter into them. It was a totalitarian state but not a totalizing one."

In other news. "This month Offscreen groups together (four of the five) essays that attempt to illuminate
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Daily Briefing. 25 titles added to the National Film Registry

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Fake Fruit Factory from Guergana Tzatchkov on Vimeo.

"Every year, Librarian of Congress James H Billington personally selects which films will be added to the National Film Registry, working from a list of suggestions from the library’s National Film Preservation Board and the general public," reports Ann Hornaday for the Washington Post. This year's list of 25 films slated for preservation:

Allures (Jordan Belson, 1961) Bambi (Walt Disney, 1942) The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953) A Computer Animated Hand (Pixar, 1972) Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (Robert Drew, 1963) The Cry of the Children (George Nichols, 1912) A Cure for Pokeritis (Laurence Trimble, 1912) El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez, 1992) Faces (John Cassavetes, 1968) Fake Fruit Factory (Chick Strand, 1986) Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) Growing Up Female (Jim Klein and Julia Reichert, 1971) Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 1975) I, an Actress (George Kuchar, 1977) The Iron Horse (John Ford, 1924) The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921) The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945) The Negro Soldier (Stuart Heisler,
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Fast and Furious: The Best of 2011 in Avant-Garde Film

A terrific year for avant-garde film and video--much more so than had been forecast for 2011- -was matched by mid-year woe and commemorative celebration as a string of successive losses reminded us that many of the great, pioneering voices of the sixties and seventies (largely considered the “second wave” of cinematic avant-gardists, some limning the “New American Cinema”) were dying off, or nearing the end of their lives. 2011 brought with it the passing of Lithuanian-born anarchic filmmaker Adolfas Mekas, legendary animator Robert Breer, enigmatic prankster Owen Land (a.k.a. George Landow), visual music animator Jordan Belson, the inimitable underground camp supernova, trash enthusiast and twin extraordinaire George Kuchar, as well as Chilean-French master Raoul Ruiz and British bad boy Ken Russell, both avant-garde in their own amazing, hallucinatory (and very different!) ways. And yet, to proclaim a ceremonial changing of the guard would be...
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NYC's Anthology Film Archives Announces Nov-Dec Programming

The East Village's Anthology Film Archives, which was just acknowledged by the Village Voice for its programming, has announced its schedule for the next two months. Highlights include retrospectives of Joyce Weiland, John Samson, Owen Land and Robert Breer, as well as the theatrical premiere of Anthology founder Jonas Mekas' new feature, "Sleepness Nights Stories," which features Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Ken Jacobs and Marina Abramovic. Full schedule below: Anthology ...
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BFI London Film Festival 2011

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The BFI London Film Festival opens tonight with Fernando Meirelles's 360 and closes on October 27 with Terence Davies's The Deep Blue Sea (and you can read a roundup on both films at once right here). Sight & Sound presents a guide to "30 fine films we've already seen and (mostly) written about in the magazine or on the web" and Time Out London has set up a microsite currently featuring reviews of at least as many titles.

"When Sandra Hebron took over as artistic director of the BFI London Film Festival nine years ago, it was a more subdued affair," recalls David Gritten, "a thoughtful, well-meaning event at the National Film Theatre, primarily for the benefit of the paying public, and showcasing the best new movies from all over the world. While respected, its international profile was relatively low. Today, it's a very different creature. This year, its 55th as a festival,
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Daily Briefing. The Independent Filmmaker in 2011

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Donal Foreman's cut-to-the-bone report on the five-day Filmmaker Conference at last month's Independent Film Week pits Jon Jost against Ted Hope, weighs the effect of Michael Tully's "Take-Back Manifesto" and explains why Antonio Campos prompted another panelist to ask, "Are you saying we should all become communists?" A lively must-read for anyone interested in the current state of independent filmmaking.

Also in the October issue of the Brooklyn Rail: Tom McCormack remembers Robert Breer, who "pioneered a form of cinematic collage that used single-frame editing and omnium-gatherums of chaotic imagery to shape the quotidian into whirligig treatises on the nature of perception." Plus: Leo Goldsmith and Rachael Rakes on Harun Farocki's Images of War (at a Distance), on view at MoMA through January 2, and Emily Apter talks with Silvia Kolbowski about two of her works, A Few Howls Again? and After Hiroshima Mon Amour.

Los Angeles Filmforum
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