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.

Gene Youngblood


Monday, September 26

Gene Youngblood is an internationally known author, critic and theorist of electronic media arts, and a respected scholar in the history and theory of experimental film and video art, which he has taught for 35 years. He is the author of Expanded Cinema (1970), the first book about video as an art medium, which was influential in establishing the field of Media Arts. Mr. Youngblood is Professor of Critical Studies in the Department of Moving Image Arts at the College of Santa Fe.

The Reinvention of the Moving Image

This lecture is an overview of social, cultural, political and artistic implications of the convergence of digital media and the Internet. The lecture is in two parts. The first part looks at changes in the production, distribution and phenomenology of moving image works, with emphasis on noncommercial or undependent practices. The second part is about the role of the moving image in the creation of global counterculture, an alternative social world.

Dana Plays


Monday, October 10

Dana Plays' films have screened at the Whitney Museum, SF Cinematheque, Pacific Film Archive, and more than 50 international film festivals including Edinburgh, Seattle, Montreal Nouveau, Leipzig DocFest, Viper and more, winning twenty three film awards. She has taught film and video production and theory for fourteen years, at Syracuse University and Occidental College.

Subverting state-sponsored informational films, Plays transforms agit-prop rhetorics into a celluloid mirror of transgression as a larger cultural pathology. —William Tester

Nuclear Family

A haunting, emotional exploration of human isolation drawn from observational films - scientific films, documentation of animal-behavior experiments, and early preschool footage. - Kathy Geritz, Curator Pacific Film Archive (First Prize, Jurors' Choice Award, Black Maria Festival, First Prize Experimental, Empire State Festival)

(2001) 22 minutes, 16mm

Across the Border

Completed in 1982, during a period in which many American artists were trying to convey their anger with their own country's politics, Dana Plays' personal involvement with the people of El Salvador follows in the tradition of a cross cultural awareness expressed by other women filmmakers such as Maya Deren (Haiti), Margaret Mead (Bali, New Guinea) and Chick Strand (Mexico).- Lynne Sachs (Screening, Whitney Museum; Bronze Award, Huston International Film Festival; First Prize Experimental Santa Fe Winter Film Expo)

(1982) 8 minutes, 16mm

Salvage Paradigm 1

Series of found footage composites, made from films pulled out of the dumpster at Syracuse University.

(2005) 10 minutes, 16mm film / digital video

Love Stories My Grandmother Tells

The diaries and memories of her 90-year-old grandmother Peggy Regler create a complex portrait of one woman's intimate experiences, and of a life spanning the twentieth century. Her autobiography emerges through formal references to early cinema, a historical moment which changed our conception of subjectivity.- Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive (Director's Choice, Black Maria Film Festival; 16 Best Documentary, New Orleans Film Festival; Third Place Documentary, Big Muddy Film Festival)

(1994) 30 minutes, 16mm

Mark Lapore


Monday, October 24

CU Film Studies Professor Phil Solomon will host a memorial screening for his friend, the late Mark Lapore, who was scheduled to visit us and show his work before his unexpected death on September 11, 2005.

Mark LaPore was a professor of filmmaking, with a BA from the State University of New York and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. His work has shown at:

  • Rotterdam Film Festival, The Netherlands
  • New York Film Festival
  • Vienna Museum of Art, Austria
  • Whitney Museum, New York
  • Georges Pompido Museum of Modern Art
  • Tate Gallery, London
  • Bangkok International Film Festival
  • Hong Kong Experimental Film Festival
  • San Francisco Cinematheque, Whitney Biennial

Awards and prizes included the LEF Award 2003; the Guggenheim Fellowship 1997; Parabola Film Arts, 1990; and the Black Maria Film Festival, 1989.

LaPore won the Fulbright Scholar Grant, 2001 + 1993; and the Jerome Foundation Grant, 1991;


THE FIVE BAD ELEMENTS (1997, 35 minutes)
KOLKATA (2005, 35 minutes)

The Five Bad Elements

"A filmic Pandora's Box full of my version of 'trouble' (death, loss, cultural imperialism) as well as the trouble with representation as incomplete understanding." —Mark LaPore

A dark and astringent film that allows the filmmaker's personal subconscious drives and the equivocal bad conscience of ethnography to bleed through into overt content. In several of his previous films (Depression in the Bay of Bengal and The Sudan Rolls) LaPore applied inspiration received from the early cinema of the Lumiere brothers allowing the integrity of the shot and the long take to convey a sense of continuing development. We witness discrete unfoldings of small narratives and performative processes of labor or unconscious movement that carry the tell tale symptoms of cultural transitions. There is also a heightened and uncanny sense of ordinariness (perhaps most strongly felt in LaPore's work in progress 100 Views of New York) seen with a tweaked awareness of instability and evanescence, the knowledge that the present has no permanent residence, the contemporary is in continuous eviction.

The serendipitous orchestration of the world composing itself in time within the domain of the fixed frame is set in a delicate equipoise with the sensibility and organizing vision of the filmmaker. With his exquisite observational acuity (visual, anthropological, sociological) and formal severity LaPore's approach aspires to a kind of rich transparency. Poetically decisive compositions open up the impedance in the flow and transference of the fabric of the real as it passes away into photochemical illusion. LaPore is expanding a tradition of experimental documentary filmmaking practiced by Calvacanti, Wright, Rouch, Gardener, the Macdougals, Hutton and Gehr, conducting profoundly cinematic, highly distilled personal investigations into the nature of cultural flux and reverie.

The hand held camerawork and the particular leverage of The Five Bad Elements both pushes and works against LaPore's previous tendencies in order to create compound fractures of potent abbreviations - seemingly dislocated images uncategorically taken and placed into "improper" contexts, severed from a mappable space or geography - and overextended, unexpurgated scenes in which sight is caught actively probing or transfixed in seeming paralysis. By interrupting already truncated and mysteriously unmoored images with sections prolonging the durations and decay time of images normally torn from our sight, LaPore offers not provocation or obsession as much as permission to travel deeper into the image. The image as it pertains to actual experience - not only a filmic event or an approximate residue that stands in for something else as all images do. Refusing to satisfy curiosity with information, LaPore frustrates the usual complicities between image and documentary fact by dealing with representation as an execution of likeness, while still reckoning with the standard exchange rate of the image in its metaphoric fidelity to the real, the elusive and the tangible aspects of the image. LaPore's audacities are almost camouflaged by his refined sense of restraint, his austerity and lyrical contemplativeness.

The title of the film is mischievously cribbed from a gang of troublemakers that appears in Chinese filmmaker Xie Jin's film Hibiscus Town but also hints at the biblical concept of The Seven Deadly Sins, of universal ingredients - the four elements - earth, water, air and fire. Bad elements can refer euphemistically to a criminal milieu, "the wrong crowd", as well as suggesting the antiquated medical notion of the circulating "humors" that govern disposition and health. Going to the source of trouble was part of the filmmakers intent. LaPore: "I was more interested in who put those things into Pandora's box than I was in who let them out." In short the film is concerned with notions of basic and invasive influences, economy and eros, the rudiments of human composition, human error and the transgressive. Elements quietly attempts a suspect and perilous curative measure akin to bloodletting. "Key" evidence is spilled along with what would normally be suppressed or discounted as tangential. By exhibiting its own undercurrents and letting them hold sway, Elements thwarts commitment to documentary obligations which would prohibit its strangely moving and tainted disclosures. If we are used to works of transgression announcing themselves as such and then flamboyantly misbehaving as spectacular and bracing "entertainments," LaPore's move to a higher level of accomplishment could catch us off guard or seem oblique. Sound and image are subtly and rigorously counterpointed so as to fall into unnatural relations, blistering as they graze against each other and leaving a stinging afterglow of synethesisia and emotional voltage. By building the film on normally inadmissible evidence, telegraphed inferences, metaphoric leaps and omissions, damaged testimonies and scattered remains the film fabricates an impeccable and elegant architecture from a materially incomplete and unsound body. In the fragmented corpus of human beings and continents which is The Five Bad Elements, LaPore has created a film which itself acts as an absorbent object, a kind of metastatic sin eater that aims at expiation through its own contamination, redistributing poisons into a netherworld that still clearly resides at the core of its own physical and visible existence. —Mark McElhatten

(1997, U.S., Mark LaPore, 27 mins)

Robert Breer


Monday, November 14

Robert Breer's career as artist and animator spans 50 years and his creative explorations have made him an international figure. He began his artistic pursuits as a painter while living in Paris from 1949-59. Using an old Bolex 16mm camera, his first films, such as Form Phases, were simple stop motion studies based on his abstract paintings.

Breer has always been fascinated by the mechanics of film. Perhaps his father's fascination with 3-D inspired Breer to tinker with early mechanical cinematic devices. His father was an engineer and designer of the legendary Chrysler Airflow automobile in 1934 and built a 3-D camera to film all the family vacations. After studying engineering at Stanford, Breer changed his focus toward hand crafted arts and began experimenting with flip books. These animations, done on ordinary 4" by 6" file cards have become the standard for all of Breer's work, even to this day. —Jackie Leger

Breer brings the following films to First Person Cinema:

  • RECREATION, 1956 color, 2'
  • A MAN AND HIS DOG OUT FOR AIR, 1957, color, 3'
  • JAMESTOWN BALOOS, 1957, b/w & color, 6'
  • BLAZES, 1961, color, 3'
  • 69, 1968, color, 5'
  • FUJI, 1974, color, 10'
  • LMNO, 1978, color, 10'
  • BANG!, 1986, color, 8'
  • TIME FLIES 1997, color, 5'
  • WHAT GOES UP, 2003, color, 4.5'
First Person Cinema

See previous schedules in the FPC Archive