First Person Cinema (formerly The Avant-Garde Cinema Program), was started in 1953 by Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage, seminal figures in the independent/personal/experimental film movement. Their intention was to bring an awareness of the personal cinema to Boulder. This program, curated by Don Yannacito since the 1960s, has become a highly respected, international showcase, for the makers of personal film. It is the longest existing program in the world that has been continually screening avant-garde film and video work.
The Stan Brakhage Film Series will continue to show films by Brakhage on the first Sunday of every month at 7:30pm in Fine Arts N141. All shows are free and open to the public.
STUDENT AWARD SHOWCASE
Monday, February 27
JANIE GEISER is a filmmaker and experimental puppet theater artist who has been working in the field for over 18 years. Geiser’s work has been performed and screened internationally in venues such as the International Festival of Puppet Theater, the Walker Art Center, the Phenomena Festival (Jerusalem), Dance Theater Workshop, The New York Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival and on PBS.
A disembodied woman wanders, trance-like, inverted, through an impossible landscape of paper-thin buildings. Her cyclical approach and retreat is echoed in the film’s circadian rhythms, as her figure doubles and redoubles in an atmospheric world of zero gravity. Shot in grainy black and white, and conjuring elements of 1920’s film vocabulary, Vapor Drama explores presence and negation through its emphasis on the emphemerality of film itself. At times, through many generations of rephotography, the image of the performer (New York performance artist Salley May) becomes difficult to decipher; she appears to disappear, willingly, into the fabric of cinematic space.
Music: Gavin Bryars (excerpt from “Farewell to Philosophy”)
A found psychological test kit yields puzzle figures with cutout ears, cutoff heads, and pullaway body parts. The ear opens into an interior world of shifting science book images which, when isolated, evoke mysteries more than they reveal facts.
2000, 16mm, 7 minutes
Lost Motion uses small cast metal figures, toy trains, decayed skyscrapers, and other found objects to follow a man’s search for a mysterious woman. From an illegible note found on a dollhouse bed, through impossible landscapes, the man waits for her train which never arrives. His wanderings lead him to the other side of the tracks, a forgotten landscape of derelict erector- set buildings populated by lost souls. Dream merges with nightmare in this post-industrial land of vivid night.
Music: Tom Recchion
Janie Geiser’s films are known for their deep sense of mystery and their atmosphere of temporal suspension. In Terrace 49, Geiser combines filmed measuring devices and patterns with rephotographed interstitial images from early 70’s superhero cartoons (without the superheroes). Images of impending disaster—slamming doors, a truck careening down a hill, and a frayed, almost snapping, elevator rope—collide with the repeated image of a woman’s headless body. The disorientation and ecstasy of tragedy are reflected in the woman’s subtle transformations,as well as in the space of the film, as fractured as memory and as fragile as glass.
Sound: Leon Rothenberg
In her recent films, Geiser has been exploring the possibilities found in merging video texture with film, creating a kind of deep, ambiguous space, a suggestion of “the floating world”. In Ultima Thule, gravity fails, land and sky lose their historical meaning. A small silver plane navigates an ultramarine storm, flying over barely-glimpsed hills, an unlikely ferry to ” ultima Thule”: the farthest point north, the limit of any journey. The seduction of immersion in blue is too strong to avoid, the land fills with water, and time loses its line.
Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg
The Fourth Watch
The ancient Greeks divided the night into four sections; the last section before morning was called the fourth watch. In these hours before dawn, an endless succession of rooms is inhabited by silent film figures occupying flickering space in a midcentury house made of printed tin. Their presence is at once inevitable and uncanny. A boy turns his head in dread, a woman’s eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet which dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind disappearing windows. The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light. It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls.
Mark McElhatten, co- curator of the 2000 New York Film Festival’s Views From the Avant-Garde, where The Fourth Watch premiered, writes:
“A small masterpiece of the uncanny brought about through beautifully controlled use of superimposition and scale and a cross breeding of ‘incompatible’ species of texture and (cathode - solar) light. Glacial blue poltergeist - somnabulists, melodramatic stars and damaged children from silent films - emerge at night into a tin dollhouse opening up invisible envelopes of space, commingling with hypnotic chiaroscuro cast by trembling sunlight.”
Kristin M. Jones, in her review “NYFF: Views from the Avant-Garde” in the November-December 2000 issue of Film Comment, writes:
“Of the three Janie Geiser works screened, perhaps most haunting was The Fourth Watch, in which images of people in black-and-white movies rephotographed from a video monitor are superimposed on shots of a dollhouse interior. Bluish, spectral figures float by as sunlight mingles with flickering shadows on brightly colored tin. A beautiful somnambulist vanishing into TV bar rolls suggests a poetic metaphor for the current state of avant-garde cinema, when the medium’s past, future, and even its own death are being transformed into material for provocative new films.”
Music: Tom Recchion
Monday, March 6
SPECIAL NOTE: Eleanor Antin’s show will be projected in Muenzinger Auditorium, and not in Fine Arts N-141.
Eleanor Antin is an influential performance artist, filmmaker, and installation artist, who focuses on history - whether of ancient Rome, the Crimean War, the salons of nineteenth-century Europe, or her own Jewish heritage and Yiddish culture - as a way to explore the present. She received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997 and a Media Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture in 1998. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including an award-winning retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1999. Antin is a highly respected artist and teacher, and has been a professor at the University of California, San Diego since 1975.
The Man without a World
The Man Without a World is an amazing recreation of a black and white silent melodrama that appears to be directed by an imaginary genius named Yevgeny Antinov in Poland in 1928. Drawing elaborately on the traditions of Yiddish cinema - dybbuks, weddings, exorcisms - and imposing a witty, feminist slant on them, the movie follows the fortunes of a merchant’s daughter whose bohemian lover is seduced away from her by a sultry gypsy ballerina, played by Antin herself.
1991, 95 minutes
BLACK MARIA FESTIVAL
Monday, March 13
Since 1980, the Black Maria Festival has presented meaningful programs reflecting its avant-garde as well as its eclectic inclinations. An Oscar nomination qualifying festival for shorts, the Festival remains loyal to its original mission as it crisscrosses the nation visiting museums, colleges and libraries, presenting more than 70 exhibitions throughout the country. Every presentation is curated from the Jury�s Award group of 50 or more works. Festival Director John Columbus will present tonight�s program of the 2006 winning shorts.
GRADUATE STUDENT SHOW
Monday, March 20
In recognition of recent efforts to establish closer ties, and bridge conceptual and pedagogic gaps, between the University of Colorado film studies and art and art history departments, First Person Cinema has programmed a selection of new and recent films and videos by current studio art MFA students from a variety of disciplines, from avant-garde film and digital media to ceramics and sculpture. Tonight’s show will feature innovative experimental work by emerging artists - including Andrew Busti, J. Gluckstern, Christine Graziano, Talice Lee, Casey Mcguire and Rick Silva - in a variety of formats, from 16mm film to digital media.
Land Without Continuity
There is Something Here that You’ll Never
Rick Silva uses the software Google Earth like a DJ or VJ would use turntables or a video mixer. He captures satellite video of pixilated landscapes and glitchy fly-overs and uses them as source material for live audio/visual performances and installations.
paris acid, 5 min., live video with sound
Monday, April 10
James Benning’s experimental work has screened around the world, at festivals and other institutions, including the Vienna International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, Sundance, Rotterdam, the International Forum des Jungen Films, Berlin; Image Forum, Japan; the Los Angeles Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center; the Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. In addition to filmmaking, Benning is currently a professor at both the California Institute of the Arts and Bard College. Program for Media Artists, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
James Benning’s early films fused the “structuralist” investigations into sound-image relationships of filmmakers like Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton with an interest in narrative and a deep sensitivity to color, light, and landscape. He first grabbed the attention of the avant-garde film world with 8 1/2 x 11 and 11 x 14. Filmed in vivid color in the rural and urban landscapes of his native Midwest, these two films would provide the kernel for his further investigations into film form. — Tom Vick, All Movie Guide
Monday, April 24
Jim Trainor is an animated filmmaker who has been creating animations since the age of thirteen. His subjects are usually plants, animals, or the animal nature of humans. He has developed both a uniquely expressive drawing style, using sharpies on plain paper. His works convey an unquiet blend of disturbing physicality and gentle charm. Trainor now teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
THE BAT AND THE VIRGIN
(1996) - 3 minutes, silent
A bat of no extant species recounts his carnal pleasures
Primitive plants growing luxuriantly
Prehistoric mammal-like reptile bleeds to death in mud puddle
THE MAGIC KINGDOM
Set in a blue-green jungle with humankind’s closest kin
(2004) - 3 minutes, silent
A nature documentary from Mars!
LEAFY, LEAFY JUNGLE
Inspired by leafcutter ants
Animals express guilt for their behavior.