Although Black women filmmakers could never be reduced to a monolith, a thread that runs through much of their cinematic experiments is an autonomous claim on the means of representation. Ranging from the 1980s to the mid-2000s, the independent short films presented in this program provide insight into how Black women have seen, shown, and reflected themselves and each other. DREAMING RIVERS mediates how a black mother is perceived by herself and her children, while negotiating their positions as Caribbean immigrants in 1980s Britain, while AURORA operates through a similarly prismatic perspective by looking at three Afro-Cuban women of different ages in the intimacy of putting on makeup, smoking a quiet cigar, singing a song. A tribute to the gorgeous mundane, FANNIE’S FILM honors invisible labor and uncontainable dreams as the 65-year-old protagonist expresses nothing but satisfaction with her life. Meanwhile, NOTRE MÉMOIRE and THE ANCESTORS CAME are both tributes to the performative and creative flair of now-elders Mbissine Thérèse Diop – the star of Ousmane Sembène’s LA NOIRE DE… (1966) – and multi-disciplinary artist Faith Ringgold. Finally, the genesis for the program, BACK INSIDE HERSELF, crafts a poetic tribute to Black women’s interiority and liberated self-perception. In a 1998 essay titled “Naked Without Shame: A Counter-Hegemonic Body Politic”, bell hooks wrote beautifully and painfully about the damaging effects of living under white supremacist patriarchy for Black women’s self-perceptions. An answer to her wish – “I longed to cherish mirrored reflections” – might be found in these films by Black women who look through a lens that is loving, mournful, celebratory, understanding, urgent, and cherishing. Guest-programmed by Yasmina Price, who wrote the introduction above. Martina Attille DREAMING RIVERS 1988, 31 min, 16mm-to-digital Fronza Woods FANNIE’S FILM 1981, 16 min, 16mm. Restored print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Johanna Makabi NOTRE MÉMOIRE 2022, 11 min, digital S. Pearl Sharp BACK INSIDE HERSELF 1984/2009, 4.5 min, 16mm-to-digital Cecile Emeke THE ANCESTORS CAME 2017, 6 min, digital Everlane Morães AURORA 2019, 15 min, digital Total running time: ca. 90 min.
A feature-length documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada, ACTS OF DEFIANCE chronicles the events surrounding 1990’s so-called Oka Crisis, when the Mohawk Warrior Society led a 78-day armed standoff and blockade against the Canadian government over plans to expand a golf course over an ancestral cemetery. This was the largest domestic military operation ever initiated by the Canadian government, and was a key turning point in shaping contemporary indigenous struggles. Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny recently co-edited “The Mohawk Warrior Society: A Handbook on Sovereignty and Survival” (2023), a book that documents the revival of this group, which came to international attention around these events.
Arthur H. Virtue (1914-86) enjoyed documenting his familial and professional experiences as a resident of Northfield, New Jersey, while operating a chair and umbrella rental stand along the beaches of Atlantic City. Playing with the possibilities of photography, Arthur often composed trick shots, animated objects, incorporated titles, and integrated double exposures and overlays within his films and still images. He built a frame to hold his Super-8 camera and would shoot miles of the highway as he drove and experimented with splicing in commercial and promotional films within his own work. Inadvertently, Virtue also became a historical filmmaker by documenting his time working in Atlantic City during the 1930s-70s, and the many trips the family would take to other areas along the eastern seaboard and across America. Super-8 and 8mm film, color, b&w, silent, digitized to standard definition and 2K resolution with narration by Atlantic City Historian Vicki Gold Levi and Virginia Errichetti, Arthur’s daughter. Newly composed score by Matt Pond and Chris Hansen. Total running time: ca. 60 min.
CAIRO, AS TOLD BY CHAHINE / AL KAHERA MENAWARA BE AHLAHA Egypt, 1991, 23 min, 16mm-to-digital. In Arabic with English subtitles. Commissioned by French television to make a documentary about Cairo, iconic Egyptian director Youssef Chahine chose to mix observational footage with scripted vignettes to produce a mischievously meta film, marked by his characteristic humor, eroticism, and incisiveness. Despite its brevity, CAIRO sensitively captures the dusty, chaotic beauty of city life, setting its numerous injustices – poverty, overcrowded living quarters, greedy real estate developers, and the violence of globalization – against the backdrop of the first Gulf War. Refusing the mock-objectivity of reportage, Chahine presents a portrait of the city through his love for its inhabitants. Jocelyne Saab EGYPT, CITY OF THE DEAD / MADINAT AL-MAWTA Lebanon, 1977, 38 min, 16mm-to-digital. In Arabic and French with English subtitles. In recent years, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has begun to raze large swaths of Cairo’s historic necropolis, a sprawling series of cemeteries where hundreds of thousands of the city’s poorest have taken up residence, squatting inside and around the centuries-old mausoleums, in an emphatic confluence of poverty and death. The destruction of the area, known as the City of the Dead, is both a mass eviction and the latest in Sisi’s assault on Egyptian life in the service of rapid development. Jocelyne Saab’s 1977 film documents the community living inside the necropolis alongside other members of Cairo’s toiling classes. Featuring music from Sheikh Imam and commentary from other leftists, including Lutfi el-Kholi, the screenwriter of Chahine’s THE SPARROW (1972). Total running time: ca. 65 min.
CASTRO STREET 1966, 10 min, 16mm ALL MY LIFE 1966, 3 min, 16mm VALENTIN DE LAS SIERRAS 1968, 10 min, 16mm. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. “In [Baillie’s late 1960s films], the eye of the film-maker quiets his mind with images of reconciliation; the dialectics of cinematic thought become calm in the filming of the privileged moment of reconciliation.” –P. Adams Sitney, VISIONARY FILM QUICK BILLY 1971, 56 min, 16mm “The essential experience of transformation, between Life and Death, death and birth, or rebirth. In four reels, the first three adapted from the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The fourth reel is in the form of a black and white one-reeler Western, summarizing the material of the first three reels, which are color and abstract.” –Bruce Baillie Followed by: QUICK BILLY: SIX ROLLS; 14/41/43/46/47/52 1968-69, 16 min, 16mm Six uncut camera rolls to be shown with QUICK BILLY. The ‘rolls’ took the form of a correspondence, or theater, between their author and Stan Brakhage, in the winter of 1968-69. Total running time: ca. 100 min.
“In this bonkers yet weirdly beautiful science fiction-horror hybrid (directed, with retro panache, by the great Richard Stanley), the light is a throbbing lilac and blood is Schiaparelli pink. And if I tell you that Nicolas Cage’s eyeballs will turn into ultraviolet high-beams, then you’ll know immediately if you’re in or out. Lovers of aberrant, gooey B-movies will be all in. […] Based on a 1929 short story by Lovecraft, COLOR OUT OF SPACE has more going on than just the squishy satisfactions of its old-school creature effects. Using shape-shifting as a messy metaphor for sickness and childhood trauma, Stanley and Cage leap so far over the psychological top that they never come back to earth.” –Jeannette Catsoulis, NEW YORK TIMES “COLOR OUT OF SPACE comes to the screen as a febrile, energetic phantasmagoria, shot through with Lovecraftian weirdness.” –Michael Sragow, FILM COMMENT
“It has been compared to the works of Bergman, Bava and Argento – and it remains one of the most spectacular and original horror films of the fin-de-millénaire. Mariano Baino’s groundbreaking debut feature stars Louise Salter as a young Englishwoman drawn to an island in the Black Sea in an attempt to discover her mysterious connection to a remote convent – a crumbling edifice that has been constructed over a labyrinth of Lovecraftian horrors. There, she will unlock dark family secrets and uncover remnants of a suppressed pagan past that is quite literally leaking into the present, threatening to burst through with apocalyptic force at any moment.” –SLASH FILM FESTIVAL
Iran, 2003, 86 min, 35mm-to-digital. In Persian with English subtitles. A dark yet sharply funny coming-of-age film for the post-revolutionary generation, DEEP BREATH follows two disaffected young men from different social classes as they while away the hours, driving around Tehran and partaking in petty crimes, showing little interest in the demands of the world around them. The film’s nihilistic attitude and startlingly naturalistic dialogue sets it apart from almost all Iranian films that came before it – or after it, for that matter. Writer/director Shahbazi’s third film provides a ground-level portrait of turn-of-the-millennium Iran, and serves as a harbinger of the disposition of the country’s youth today.
by Stan Brakhage 1966, 95 min, 8mm-to-16mm “The furthest that Brakhage came in extending the language of 8mm cinema was his editing of 23RD PSALM BRANCH. […] The phenomenal and painstaking craftsmanship of this film reflects the intensity of the obsession with which its theme grasped his mind. In 1966, out of confusion about the Vietnam War and the American reaction to it, Brakhage began to meditate on the nature of war. […] The fruit of his studies and thoughts was the longest and most important of the songs…an apocalypse of imagination.” –P. Adams Sitney, VISIONARY FILM
(UN CONDAMNÉ À MORT S’EST ÉCHAPPÉ, OU LE VENT SOUFFLE OÙ IL VEUT) With the simplest of concepts and sparest of techniques, Bresson made one of the most suspenseful jailbreak films of all time. Based on the account of an imprisoned French Resistance leader, this unbelievably taut and methodical marvel follows the fictional Fontaine’s single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and execution of his escape with gripping precision. But Bresson’s film is not merely about process – it’s also a work of intense spirituality and humanity.
“Bresson interweaves two histories: the story of Balthazar, the donkey, from birth to death, and the human beings to whom the animal belongs. The film joins the two stories organically, in a series of cinematic brush-strokes and short elliptical scenes. Balthazar is the witness/judge: man’s life is seen through his eyes – he sees all and alone carries the burden of universal guilt. His various owners each represent a vice (greed, lust, drunkenness) from which he suffers and finally dies.” –NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
MASS FOR THE DAKOTA SIOUX 1963-64, 20 min, 16mm QUIXOTE 1964-65, 45 min, 16mm “In MASS and QUIXOTE [Baillie] subtly blends glimpses of the heroic personae with despairing reflections on violence and ecological disaster. […] Despite his sophistication, Baillie remains an innocent; the whole of his cinema exhibits an alternation between two irreconcilable themes: the sheer beauty of the phenomenal world (few films are as graceful to the eye as his, few are as sure of their colors) and the utter despair of forgotten men. It is in QUIXOTE alone that these two themes emerge into a dialectical form, an antithesis of grace and disgrace.” –P. Adams Sitney, VISIONARY FILM Total running time: ca. 70 min.
by Robert Bresson In French with English subtitles, 1950, 118 min, 35mm, b&w (LE JOURNAL D’UN CURÉ DE CAMPAGNE) “Consistent with Bresson’s tendency to confront a spiritual perspective with an indifferent world, DIARY is based on the 1937 novel by Georges Bernanos and is among the few film adaptations of a work of literature to equal its source. Structured in the form of a diary kept by an earnest young priest whose labors to stir the souls of his first parish in a provincial village are met with coldness and hostility, the narrative is both a microcosm of the human condition and a via dolorosa that leads, inevitably, to the protagonist’s death. […] Neither comforting fable nor lofty celebration of pastoral devotion, DIARY is the darkest, most psychologically penetrating movie ever made about a priest and his vocation.” –Tony Pipolo, ARTFORUM
by Stan Brakhage 1961-64, 74 min, 16mm, silent “DOG STAR MAN elaborates in mythic, almost systematic terms, the worldview of [Brakhage’s] lyrical films. More than any other work of the American avant-garde film, it stations itself within the rhetoric of Romanticism, describing the birth of consciousness, the cycle of the seasons, man’s struggle with nature, and sexual balance in the visual evocation of a fallen titan bearing the cosmic name of the Dog Star Man.” –P. Adams Sitney, VISIONARY FILM “The film breathes and is an organic and surging thing…it is a colossal lyrical adventure-dance of image in every variation of color.” –Michael McClure
MOTHER’S DAY (1948, 22 min, 16mm) FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON (1951, 15 min, 16mm) LOONY TOM, THE HAPPY LOVER (1951, 10 min, 16mm) “For Broughton, making films did not make him less of a poet; it made him more of a poet. Like Jean Cocteau, Broughton insisted that poetry was not limited to ‘verse,’ and that it was the most precise word to describe his activities. […] His ‘filmic passion’ led him not to commercial cinema…but to a ‘life of vision’ in which he might experience ‘a poetry that would reveal on a large screen what my feelings looked like.’” –Jack Foley, FULL, FRONTAL MYSTERY: THE FILMS OF JAMES BROUGHTON Total running time: ca. 50 min.
THE PLEASURE GARDEN (1953, 38 min, 35mm, b&w) THE BED (1968, 19 min, 16mm) NUPTIAE (1969, 14 min, 16mm) “Broughton was and is a poet, sometimes a dramatist. Yet whatever the mode, his style is remarkably consistent: urbane and witty with the persona of the naïve, or the simpleton, or the child. Like the poems, the films record the basic rites of passage, the search for love, the primal relationships, with ironic insight: there are parents who are children, a rube who’s really the artist, a loony wise man.” –P. Adams Sitney Total running time: ca. 75 min.
THE GOLDEN POSITIONS (1970, 32 min, 16mm) “A lovely, poetic, humorous, and crystal investigation of mankind standing, sitting, and lying down.” –John Wasserman, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE THIS IS IT (1971, 10 min, 16mm) “Broughton’s creation myth, THIS IS IT, places a 2-year-old Adam and a bright apple-red balloon in a backyard garden of Eden, and works a small miracle of the ordinary. And since that miracle is what the film is about, he achieves a kind of casual perfection in matching means and ends.” –Roger Greenspun, NEW YORK TIMES TESTAMENT (1974, 20 min, 16mm) “TESTAMENT is James Broughton’s exquisite self-portrait. […] A plethora of rich personal symbols is woven throughout the film, tied together by verbal games, Zen poems, anecdotes, songs, a child’s prayer, dreams and visions.” –Karen Cooper Total running time: ca. 65 min.
DREAMWOOD (1972, 45 min, 16mm) “A modern day spiritual odyssey in which a man is mysteriously compelled to leave his home and embark on a voyage to a strange, magical island. On the island he faces the most improbable and intense experiences of his life, ranging from total humiliation to a deep sense of oneness with the force of life. Heroic in concept, subtle in execution, DREAMWOOD is a beautiful film by a true master of the medium.” –David Bienstock HIGH KUKUS (1974, 3 min, 16mm) “A High Kuku is, of course, a cuckoo haiku. In inventing this form Broughton has concocted zany verses which are ‘high’ in the sense that they are often metaphysical and are keenly aware of the metacomedy of things.” –Alan Watts Total running time: ca. 55 min.
JORDAN BELSON ALLURES 1961, 9 min, 16mm RE-ENTRY 1964, 6 min, 16mm PHENOMENA 1965, 6 min, 16mm. Brand new print! SAMADHI 1967, 6 min, 16mm MOMENTUM 1968, 6 min, 16mm. Brand new print! COSMOS 1969, 5 min, 16mm. Brand new print! WORLD 1970, 6 min, 16mm MEDITATION 1971, 7 min, 16mm. Brand new print! CHAKRA 1972, 6 min, 16mm. Brand new print! “Our greatest abstract film poet: he has found how to combine the vision of the outer and the inner eye.” –Gene Youngblood Total running time: ca. 85 min.
FIREWORKS 1947, 15 min, 16mm-to-35mm, b&w. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding from the Film Foundation. PUCE MOMENT 1949-70, 6 min, 16mm RABBIT’S MOON 1950-70, 15 min, 35mm. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding from the Film Foundation. EAUX D’ARTIFICE 1953, 13 min, 16mm Total running time: ca. 55 min.
SCORPIO RISING 1963, 30 min, 16mm KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS 1965, 3 min, 16mm INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME 1954-66, 38 min, 16mm INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER 1969, 12 min, 16mm “Anger’s myths address mass-erotic-consciousness through a barrage of notorious symbols. These often war with one another in Reichian power-trips of rape, will-power, fascism, and revolution. ‘I find ridiculous the idea of anyone being the leader,’ Anger has said. Pentagrams war with swastikas in INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER. Brando tortures Christ in SCORPIO, Shiva asserts absolute power over his guests in PLEASURE DOME. Historical heroes are reduced to pop-idols and history is demythified by comic book codes. ‘When earths collide, gods die.’” –Carel Rowe, FILM QUARTERLY Total running time: ca. 85 min.
Bresson’s second adaptation from Georges Bernanos, MOUCHETTE provides a magnificently unsentimental, heartbreaking portrayal of childhood. Mouchette, for all her charm, never slips into the pathos of Dickens’s children. The joys and terrors of youth are conveyed without condescension.
by Robert Bresson In French with English subtitles. A magnificent drama about a thief, his techniques, motives, and secret existence. The plot is modeled loosely on Dostoevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, but the rigorous intensity of the treatment is pure Bresson, as he tells the compelling story of an insignificant man who drifts into crime and finally finds grace in a prison cell. The famous scene of the pickpocket’s magical raid on a train station ranks as one of the great tours-de-force of French cinema.
With the exception of MOTION PICTURES NO. 1, PAT’S BIRTHDAY, BREATHING, and GULLS AND BUOYS, all of the films in this program were preserved by Anthology with generous support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. FORM PHASES I (1952, 2 min, 16mm) FORM PHASES II (1953, 2 min, 16mm) RECREATION (1956, 1.5 min, 16mm-to-35mm) MOTION PICTURES NO. 1 (1956, 4.5 min, 16mm, silent) JAMESTOWN BALOOS (1957, 6 min, 16mm-to-35mm) EYEWASH (1959, 3 min, 16mm-to-35mm) BLAZES (1961, 3 min, 16mm-to-35mm) PAT’S BIRTHDAY (1962, 13 min, 16mm, b&w) BREATHING (1963, 5 min, 35mm, b&w) FIST FIGHT (1964, 9 min, 16mm-to-35mm) 66 (1966, 5.5 min, 16mm-to-35mm) 69 (1969, 4.5 min, 16mm-to-35mm) 70 (1970, 5 min, 16mm-to-35mm) GULLS AND BUOYS (1972, 8 min, 16mm) FUJI (1974, 9 min, 16mm-to-35mm) “Roughly speaking [Breer’s] works belong to that category of films generally called ‘abstract’ (though his are also highly ‘concrete’), but differ from everything else that has been done along these lines in one basic respect: Breer is undoubtedly the first filmmaker to have brought to his medium the full heritage of modern painting and the sum of sophisticated experimentation that it represents.” – Noël Burch, FILM QUARTERLY Total running time: ca. 85 min.
by Stan Brakhage 1964-65, ca. 53 min, 8mm-to-16mm, silent “SONG 1: Portrait of a lady. SONGS 2 & 3: Fire and a mind’s movement in remembering. SONG 4: Three girls playing with a ball. Hand painted. SONG 5: A childbirth song. SONG 6: The painted veil via moth-death. SONG 7: San Francisco. SONG 8: Sea creatures. SONG 9: Wedding source and substance. SONG 10: Sitting around. SONG 11: Fires, windows, an insect, a lyre of rain scratches. SONG 12: Verticals and shadows caught in glass traps. SONG 13: A travel song of scenes and horizontals. SONG 14: Molds, paints and crystals.” –Stan Brakhage
by Stan Brakhage 1965-66, ca. 75 min, 8mm-to-16mm, silent “SONG 15: FIFTEEN SONG TRAITS: A series of individual portraits of friends and family – Robert Creeley, Michael McClure, Ed Dorn, Jonas Mekas, others. SONG 16: A flowering of sex as in the mind’s eye, a joy. SONGS 17 & 18: The movie house cathedral and a singular room. SONGS 19 & 20: Women dancing and a light. SONGS 21 & 22: Two views of closed-eye vision.” –Stan Brakhage
SONGS 24-26 (1967/85, 15 min, 8mm-to-16mm) MY MOUNTAIN: SONG 27 (1968, 25 min, 8mm-to-16mm) MY MOUNTAIN: SONG 27: PART 2: RIVERS (1969, 33 min, 8mm-to-16mm) SONGS 28-29 (1966/86, 21 min, 8mm-to-16mm) “SONGS 24 & 25: A naked boy and flute song; a being about nature. SONG 26: a ‘conversation piece’ – a vis-à-visual, inspired by the (e)motional properties of talk: drone, bird-like twitterings, statement terror & bombast. SONG 28: Scenes as texture. SONG 29: A portrait of the artist’s mother.” –Stan Brakhage Total running time: ca. 100 min.
THE ANIMALS OF EDEN AND AFTER 1970, 35 min, 16mm THE WEIR-FALCON SAGA 1970, 29 min, 16mm SEXUAL MEDITATION #1: MOTEL1970, 7 min, 16mm. Preserved by Anthology FilmArchives. SEXUAL MEDITATION: ROOM WITH A VIEW 1971, 4 min, 16mm, b&w. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. THE SHORES OF PHOS: A FABLE 1972, 10 min, 16mm Total running time: ca. 90 min.
Unless otherwise noted, all films are silent. DESISTFILM 1954, 7 min, 16mm, b&w, sound REFLECTIONS ON BLACK 1955, 12 min, 16mm, b&w, sound. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. THE WONDER RING 1955, 4 min, 16mm FLESH OF MORNING 1956, 25 min, 16mm, b&w LOVING 1956, 4 min, 16mm DAYBREAK AND WHITEYE 1957, 8 min, 16mm WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING 1959, 12 min, 16mm. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. Films made during Brakhage’s early, “psychodramatic” period, including two of his early experiments with sound. Total running time: ca. 75 min.
Unless otherwise noted, all films are silent. THE DEAD (1960, 11 min, 16mm) PASHT (1965, 5 min, 16mm) THREE FILMS: BLUEWHITE, BLOOD’S TONE, VEIN (1965, 10 min, 16mm) FIRE OF WATERS (1965, 10 min, 16mm, b&w, sound) THE HORSEMAN, THE WOMAN AND THE MOTH (1968, 19 min, 16mm) Total running time: ca. 60 min.
Unless otherwise noted, all films are silent. ANTICIPATION OF THE NIGHT (1958, 40 min, 16mm) CAT’S CRADLE (1959, 6 min, 16mm) SIRIUS REMEMBERED (1959, 12 min, 16mm) THIGH LINE LYRE TRIANGULAR (1961, 9 min, 16mm) MOTHLIGHT (1963, 4 min, 16mm. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives.) BLUE MOSES (1963, 11 min, 16mm, b&w, sound) With ANTICIPATION OF THE NIGHT, Brakhage leaves psychodrama and enters the “closed-eye vision” period. This program also contains a unique example of a film made without a camera, MOTHLIGHT, and one of Brakhage’s few sound (and ‘acted’) films, BLUE MOSES. Total running time: ca. 85 min.
All films are silent. THE WEIR-FALCON SAGA (1970, 29 min, 16mm) THE MACHINE OF EDEN (1970, 11 min, 16mm) SEXUAL MEDITATION #1: MOTEL (1970, 7 min, 16mm. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives.) ANGELS’ (1971, 2 min, 16mm) DOOR (1971, 4 min, 16mm) WESTERN HISTORY (1971, 8 min, 16mm) THE PEACEABLE KINGDOM (1971, 8 min, 16mm) Total running time: ca. 75 min.
by Stan Brakhage 1961-65, 261 min, 16mm, silent “Includes the complete DOG STAR MAN and a full extension of the singularly visible themes of it. Inspired by that period of music in which the word ‘symphonia’ was created and by the thought that the term, as then, was created to name the overlap and enmeshing of suites, this film presents the visual symphony that DOG STAR MAN can be seen as and also all the suites of which it is composed. But as it is a film, and a work of music, the above suggests only one of the possible approaches to it. For instance, as ‘cinematographer,’ at source, means ‘writer of movement,’ certain poetic analogies might serve as well. The form is conditioned by the works of art which have inspired DOG STAR MAN, its growth of form by the physiology and experiences (including experiences of art) of the man who made it. Finally, it must be seen for what it is.” –Stan Brakhage
Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. EYES (1970, 36 min, 16mm, silent) “After wishing for years to be given the opportunity of filming some of the more ‘mystical’ occupations of our Times – some of the more obscure Public Figures which the average imagination turns into ‘bogeymen’... viz.: Policemen, Doctors, Soldiers, Politicians, etc.: – I was at last permitted to ride in a Pittsburgh police car, camera in hand, the final several days of September 1970.” –Stan Brakhage DEUS EX (1971, 34 min, 16mm, silent) “I have been many times very ill in hospitals; and I drew on all that experience while making DEUS EX in West Penn. Hospital of Pittsburgh; but I was especially inspired by the memory of one incident in an emergency room of San Francisco’s Mission District: while waiting for medical help, I had held myself together by reading an April-May 1965 issue of ‘Poetry Magazine’: and the following lines from Charles Olson’s ‘Cole’s Island’ had especially centered the experience, ‘touchstone’ of DEUS EX, for me: Charles begins the poem with the statement ‘I met Death –’ And then: ‘He didn’t bother me, or say anything. Which is / not surprising, a person might not, in the circumstances; / or at most a nod or something. Or they would. But they wouldn’t, / or you wouldn’t think to either, / it was Death. And / He certainly was, the moment I saw him.’” –Stan Brakhage THE ACT OF SEEING WITH ONE’S OWN EYES (1971, 32 min, 16mm, silent) “Brakhage, entering, with his camera, one of the forbidden, terrific locations of our culture, the autopsy room. It is a place wherein, inversely, life is cherished, for it exists to affirm that no one of us may die without our knowing exactly why. All of us, in the person of the coroner, must see that, for ourselves, with our own eyes.” –Hollis Frampton Total running time: ca. 105 min.
by Stan Brakhage 1974, 67 min, 16mm, silent. Preserved by Anthology Film Archives. “All that is, is light.” –Johannes Scotus Erigena “[Brakhage shot] THE TEXT OF LIGHT in (through) a large crystal ashtray. This magnificent film – a slow montage of iridescent splays of light and shifting landscapes of sheer color, which acknowledges debts to Turner and American Romantic landscape painters as well as to James Davis, the pioneer film-maker of light projections – is the culmination of Brakhage’s exploration of anamorphosis.” –P. Adams Sitney, VISIONARY FILM
Anthology Film Archives and the Estate of Ernie Kovacs join forces to celebrate the publication of “Ernie in Kovacsland: Writings, Drawings, and Photographs from Television’s Original Genius” (Fantagraphics), with an evening featuring a program of highlights from Kovacs’s TV career. The influence of Kovacs’s highly visual and often patently surreal and Dada-esque comedic aesthetic can be seen not only in his offbeat sensibility but also in his radical editing and special effects techniques. Kovacs’s mark is apparent in everything from MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS, MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER, PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE, KIDS IN THE HALL, and TIM AND ERIC AWESOME SHOW, GREAT JOB!, to the work of experimental film- and video-makers such as Owen Land, William Wegman, Michael Smith, Trisha Baga, and many, many others. Ernie Kovacs utilized the “vision” in “television” more than any other comedian on TV in the 1950s and early 1960s. Surprisingly, having no nightclub background and having come from radio, his leap to television in 1950 unleashed a uniquely cinematic approach to comedy at a time when all TV was broadcast live. Kovacs was never popular enough to have a hit show but had a loyal following that allowed him to stay on the air, bouncing from network to network throughout his career from 1950-62. His body of work was cut short when he died in a car crash at age 42, but his impact remains immeasurable across the realms of television, comedy, and experimental media. For the Anthology evening, we’ll be focusing on some of the sketches and “sound-into-sight” music pieces that showcase Kovacs’s cinematic uses of the television medium as a canvas for his uniquely absurdist humor. The program will be hosted by the co-authors/editors/collaborators of “Ernie in Kovacsland”: Josh Mills, executor of the Kovacs estate and son of Edie Adams; and Ben Model, the archivist of the Ernie Kovacs/Edie Adams collection; with other special guests to be announced. (For more details, check anthologyfilmarchives.org in September.)
SINGING IN OBLIVION 2021, 13 min, 35mm ASTOR PLACE 1997, 10 min, 16mm, silent SELF-EXAMINATION REMOTE CONTROL 1981/2009, 5 min, Super-8mm-to-35mm RUBY SKIN 2005, 4.5 min, 16mm LAST LOST 1996, 14 min, 16mm CREME 21 2013, 10 min, DCP HER GLACIAL SPEED 2001, 4 min, 16mm, silent BEHIND THIS SOFT ECLIPSE 2004, 10 min, 16mm, silent SINGING IN OBLIVION 2021, 13 min, 35mm
Scientists contact entities “from beyond.” Big mistake: the body horror mounts and mounts; astral forces expand the pineal gland (the legendary center of the “third eye”) till it’s uncorked, unleashing monstrous happenings. Gordon’s follow-up to RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND is a visceral rendering of the Lovecraft story of the same name.
The films featured here are distinguished by the inspired moments and “mistakes” unconsciously (or presumably accidentally) recorded by their makers, which result in poetic, dreamscape illusions that are both artful and insightful. The program features the films of the Englert family, Charles H. Grimm, Judith Hammer, the Kaiser & Schumacher family, Leonard Wood Sizemore, the Vázquez family, and Garmon Winckler. Umatic videotape, reel-to-reel audiotape, 8mm and 16mm film, color, b&w, silent, sound. Digitized to standard definition, high definition, and 2K resolution with a newly composed score by Matt Pond and Chris Hansen. Total running time: ca. 60 min.
A rigorous take on one of Lovecraft’s favorite themes: the cosmos drowned in the illogic of evil incarnate – or is it just one long hallucination? Watch in fear as insurance agent John Trent (Sam Neill) goes looking for missing horror novelist Sutter Cane – whose book, in a Borgesian turn, slowly subsumes Trent’s world. 1990s meta-cinema at its very best, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS features Charlton Heston as Cane’s publisher!
“Combine the literary elements of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’ and Arthur Machen’s ‘The White People’ with the films THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and COUNT YORGA, and you might get this low, low-budget film by first-time director Richard Blackburn (better known for his writing credit on EATING RAOUL).” –Andrew Migliore & John Strysik, THE LURKER IN THE LOBBY: A GUIDE TO THE CINEMA OF H.P. LOVECRAFT
2018, 81 min, DCP. In English, German, and French with English subtitles. Matthew is a handsome Canadian who’s recently moved to Berlin for a fresh start. When he gets a Grindr message from a stunningly hot guy named Matthias, Matthew becomes obsessed. Matthias is everything he wants to be. So Matthew follows him around town, spying on him, and dreaming about their eventual hook-up. But when tragedy befalls Matthias, Matthew takes advantage of the opportunity to get close to his crush – and soon the line between reality, fantasy, and dream begins to blur. How will the twisted-power struggle between the two twinks turn out? First-time feature director Drew Lint’s M/M is a slow-burn psychological thriller in the vein of POSSESSION, DER FAN, THE DRIVER’S SEAT, and BAD TIMING, using Berlin’s decadent nightlife scene as the backdrop for a nightmarish narrative of conformity, identity, masculinity, and alienation. If you’ve ever felt creeped out when a stranger likes all of your Instagram posts at once and then sends you a friend request, M/M is gonna fully unnerve you. We’re lucky to be joined by Drew Lint in person for an introduction and post-screening Q&A!
Stuart Gordon MASTERS OF HORROR: DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE 2005, 55 min, digital No filmmaker has been as committed to adapting Lovecraft as Stuart Gordon, who tried his hand at transferring the writer’s work to the big screen throughout his career, from 1985’s RE-ANIMATOR to 2001’s DAGON. Thanks to the television anthology series “Masters of Horror”, Gordon had one last chance to engage with Lovecraft’s work, and the result was DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE, one of the highlights of the series’ first season. John Carpenter MASTERS OF HORROR: CIGARETTE BURNS 2005, 59 min, digital Carpenter’s singular film – made for the “Masters of Horror” anthology series – tells the twisting tale of financially desperate repertory theater owner(!) Kirby’s hunt for the last remaining print of a film infamous for its insanity-inducing first and only screening. Udo Kier plays the eerie film collector bent on getting his hands on the most coveted reels in movie history. CIGARETTE BURNS is part Lovecraft homage, part elegy for the disappearing materiality of film. Total running time: ca. 110 min.
Corita Kent, formerly Sister Mary Corita, is widely known for her exuberant serigraphs, inspired teaching methods, and lively art classes at Los Angeles’s Immaculate Heart College art department in the 1950s and 1960s. Corita was an enthusiastic photographer who shot thousands of 35mm slides documenting the art department’s activities, the urban landscape of Los Angeles, advertising, supermarkets, cookies, coke bottles, experiments, flowers, folk art, visits with Charles and Ray Eames, street signs, kites, and much more. The new book, “Ordinary Things Will Be Signs for Us” – edited by Julie Ault, Jason Fulford, and Jordan Weitzman, and published by J&L Books and Magic Hour Press – combines over 300 of Corita’s photos, annotated with excerpts from her writings and interviews. To celebrate the release of “Ordinary Things Will Be Signs for Us”, two rarely-seen short films about Corita will be screened. The event will be hosted by the book’s editors, Ault, Fulford, and Weitzman, as well as contributor Olivian Cha, of the Corita Art Center, and will be followed by a reception. Books will be available to purchase. Baylis Glascock WE HAVE NO ART 1967, 26 min, 16mm-to-digital Glascock, a former student of Corita, presents an extraordinary view of her life as a teacher at Immaculate Heart College, where she taught from 1947 to 1968. Featuring rare footage of Corita with her students – engaged in everything from composing the iconic Ten Rules to taking “viewfinder” field trips to the tire store – this short film provides insight into her unique approach to teaching and art. Thomas Conrad ALLELUIA 1967, 23 min, 16mm-to-digital Conrad, another former student of Corita, subtitled ALLELUIA, “Being a true account of the life and times of Sister Mary Corita, IHM.” Accompanied by the artist’s narration, the film offers a rare glimpse into Corita’s serigraphy studio and artmaking process.
1989, 84 min, 35mm-to-DCP. In English and German with English subtitles. 4K restoration by the DEFA Foundation in Berlin, Germany, with new English subtitles by the DEFA Film Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Co-presented with the DEFA Film Library and the German Film Office, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut and German Films. This 1989 documentary – made by East German film director Kurt Tetzlaff, and newly restored by the DEFA Foundation – is a cinematic homage to the African-American singer, actor, and civil rights activist Paul Robeson (1898-1976). The film tells his story in non-chronological order, using a compilation of materials: rarely shown historic footage, photographs of the U.S. civil rights movement, speeches, performances, and visits to East Germany and the Soviet Union. Interviews with Paul Robeson Jr., Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger, and Harry Belafonte give insight into the courageous life of a true Renaissance man. Co-produced by the GDR’s DEFA Studio for Documentary Film and the West Berlin production company Chronos, with scenes shot in the U.S., the film reflects the efforts by East German officials to present Robeson – often referred to as a “voice of the other America” – as a poster child for GDR solidarity with the U.S. civil rights movement. From any perspective, the film stands as an elegant, revealing, and powerful portrait of a towering figure in American culture, society, and politics. Revisiting episodes in Robeson’s life, drawing attention to his performances and writings, and confronting the virulent racism and anti-communism he faced in the U.S., PAUL ROBESON: “I’M A NEGRO. I’M AN AMERICAN.” documents the life of a groundbreaking artist whose courage, tenacity, and passion remain profoundly inspiring.
Still one of the great achievements of scripted television, Nigel Kneale’s “Quatermass” serials of the 1950s brought a then-unprecedented degree of spookiness, sci-fi inventiveness, and intellectual provocation to the small screen. Each of the serials was adapted in short order into a feature film by the legendary Hammer Film Productions, culminating in this third and final big-screen production. Though not literally adapted from Lovecraft, the various “Quatermass” series and films are steeped in the kind of cosmic horror – the dreadful sense that there exist (usually malevolent) entities, powers, and deep histories unknown to humanity – that Lovecraft pioneered.
Gordon is responsible for some of the best known, and best loved, Lovecraft adaptations. RE-ANIMATOR is first among them, “a frankly gory horror movie that finds a rhythm and a style that make it work in a cockeyed, offbeat sort of way. It’s charged up by the tension between the director’s desire to make a good movie, and his realization that few movies about mad scientists and dead body parts are ever likely to be very good. The temptation is to take a camp approach to the material, to mock it, as Paul Morrissey did in FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN. Gordon resists that temptation, and creates a livid, bloody, deadpan exercise in the theater of the undead.” –Roger Ebert
SPACES OF EXCEPTION investigates and juxtaposes the struggles, communities, and spaces of the American Indian reservation and the Palestinian refugee camp. The film was shot over the course of four years in Arizona, New Mexico, New York, and South Dakota, as well as in Lebanon and the West Bank. Directed by Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny, SPACES OF EXCEPTION attempts to understand the significance of the land – its memory and divisions – and the conditions for life, community, and sovereignty. SPACES OF EXCEPTION emerged out of the long-term multimedia project “The Native and the Refugee”, which has been presented in more than a dozen countries, including within the refugee camps and reservations themselves, and comprises the feature film, numerous short moving-image works, and the book “The Mohawk Warrior Society: A Handbook on Sovereignty and Survival” (2023, PM Press). “The impact upon an oppressed people of being fractured systematically from a sense of place tied to its collective identity and spiritual cohesion is a devastating refrain throughout the film. ‘In Navajo there is no word for relocation; to relocate means to disappear and never be seen again,’ says one Native American. […] SPACES OF EXCEPTION powerfully makes its point that the modes by which dehumanisation is enacted are all too typical among oppressors, and as such solidarity can be found for global resistance among all oppressed. Visibility and life itself become forms of resistance, under a politics of erasure that sees one’s very existence as a provocation – ‘the mere fact of my breathing in the heart of the camp,’ as one Palestinian woman puts it.” –Carmen Gray, SENSES OF CINEMA
Marketed as part of Roger Corman’s extraordinary “Edgar Allan Poe” cycle, THE HAUNTED PALACE shares those films’ mastery of low-budget horror, impressively resourceful cinematic flair, and inimitable combination of tongue-in-cheek humor and genuinely uncanny power – but despite taking its title from Poe’s 1839 poem, the film is in fact based on Lovecraft’s novella, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (written in 1927, but only published posthumously, in 1941). As such, it qualifies as the very first big-screen adaptation of Lovecraft’s work. Provenance aside, it’s a peerlessly entertaining film, with a deliciously double-trouble performance by Vincent Price as both the protagonist Ward and his ancestor Joseph Curwen, a necromancer burned alive over a century earlier.
Richard Chamberlain stars as Australian lawyer David Burton, who takes on the defense of a group of aborigines accused of killing one of their own. He suspects the victim has been killed for violating a tribal taboo, but the defendants deny any tribal association. Burton, plagued by apocalyptic visions of water, slowly realizes his own involvement with the aborigines…and their prophecies. No less an authority than Lovecraft biographer S. T. Joshi has repeatedly identified THE LAST WAVE as one of his favorite Lovecraft-ian films. “[F]ilms that do not purport to adapt a specific Lovecraft story have been far more successful than the actual Lovecraft adaptations. Consider Peter Weir’s masterful THE LAST WAVE, a film that brilliantly utilizes such Mythos icons as ancient gods dwelling under the earth, their influence on human beings through dreams, and the like. Set in Australia, the film comprises a magnificent, if loose, adaptation of ‘The Shadow out of Time’, although Weir has never explicitly identified Lovecraft as a source.” –S. T. Joshi, “The Cthulhu Mythos”
Dwight L. Core (1921-95) was a native of Carlisle, West Virginia. After serving in the Air Force in World War II, he worked as a photographer with the Naval Supply Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Starting in the 1940s, he made numerous 16mm amateur films, including murder mysteries, sometimes splicing in shots from other amateur or stag makers. Dwight’s grandson, George Ingmire, an audio engineer and artist, compliments these narratives with a newly composed soundscape created especially for these works. MURDER AT THE WARE HOUSE ca. 1940s, 7 min, 16mm-to-digital THE DEATH CARD ca. 1940s, 5 min, 16mm-to-digital THE EVIL EYE ca. 1940s, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital THE PEEPER’S SECRET ca. 1940s, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital Total running time: ca. 40 min.
“The Native and the Refugee”, directed by Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny, is a multi-media project profiling the spaces of the American Indian reservation and Palestinian refugee camp: spaces of exception whose position in the struggle for native and Palestinian autonomy are essential. Since 2014 they have produced more than a dozen films, as well as a book, radio program, writings, and lectures, at over 100 events across 15 countries. This shorts program includes both their earliest and most recent films, made in collaboration with artists Adam Khalil (Ojibway) and Vanessa Teran. The films showcase Pine Ridge, Akwesasne, and Standing Rock, as well as Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Adam Khalil, Matt Peterson, and Malek Rasamny WE LOVE BEING LAKOTA 2015, 12 min, digital Matt Peterson & Malek Rasamny THE HISTORY OF THE CAMP 2015, 10 min, digital Adam Khalil, Matt Peterson, and Malek Rasamny THE WAY OF THE LONGHOUSE 2015, 12 min, digital Matt Peterson & Malek Rasamny AIDA 2018, 9 min, digital Matt Peterson, Malek Rasamny, and Vanessa Teran BEDOUINS OF JERICHO 2021, 8 min, digital Matt Peterson, Malek Rasamny, and Vanessa Teran INDIAN WINTER 2017, 26 min, digital Total running time: ca. 80 min.
Celebrated as the screenwriter of John Carpenter’s DARK STAR, Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, Tobe Hooper’s LIFEFORCE, and Paul Verhoeven’s TOTAL RECALL, the great Dan O’Bannon directed only two feature films: THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) and THE RESURRECTED (1991), an adaptation of Lovecraft’s novella “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Despite undergoing a substantial edit at the hands of its producers, against O’Bannon’s wishes, THE RESURRECTED is a truly underrated film, with a genuine feel for Lovecraft’s sensibility and a memorable performance from Chris Sarandon (DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE PRINCESS BRIDE). “The best serious Lovecraftian screen adaptation to date, with a solid cast, decent script, inventive direction, and excellent special effects that do justice to one of [Lovecraft’s] darker tales.” –Andrew Migliore & John Strysik, LURKER IN THE LOBBY: A GUIDE TO THE CINEMA OF H.P. LOVECRAFT
“Written by Nigel Kneale of QUATERMASS fame, THE STONE TAPE is another intense ghost story. First broadcast in 1972, and marrying science-fiction and the supernatural, it tells the story of a pioneering electronics company moving into its new research facility, a renovated Victorian mansion, only to discover that builders have refused to work in one particular room. Empty apart from a child’s letter to Santa (‘What I want for Christmas is please go away’), it transpires that this room is haunted by the ghost of a servant girl. Rather than running for their lives, the boffins regard her as a scientific breakthrough: a mass of data ripe for analysis with their cutting-edge recording equipment. Naturally, their interference proves rather unwise. Aided by…an extraordinary soundtrack from the BBC’s legendary Radiophonic Workshop (a gurgling soup of growls, scratches and harrowing screams).” –Paul Whitelaw, THE GUARDIAN
“[A] great barf-bag movie, all right, but is it any good?” asked Roger Ebert. Well, if you like chilly terror by the gutbucket full, then yes, of course. A remake of Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby’s THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, about an alien crash landing and the ensuing havoc, Carpenter’s version is more paranoid, with an alien that imitates its victims. THE THING is a movie doused in Lovecraftian cosmic blood and dread.
Anthology is overjoyed to revive one of our very favorite films, the utterly singular, peerlessly eccentric Unidentified Film Object, THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER. One of the strangest films ever to emerge from the margins of Hollywood, it’s a movie that could only have sprung from the warped mind of the great Timothy Carey. A wild, unstable specter haunting Hollywood throughout the 1950s-70s, Carey cobbled together a career as a character actor with bit parts as heavies and hucksters for Kubrick, Cassavetes, Brando, and others, his indelible, unstable screen presence suggesting there was always a madness to his Method. He brought that same volatile energy to his first film as director (and writer, producer, and eventual self-distributor), a berserk parable about a bored insurance salesman who quits his job, forms a rockabilly band/religious movement, rechristens himself “God,” and winds up frontrunner for President, using his newfound power to sleep with women aged 14 to 92. A vanity project-cum-labor of love with little regard for good taste or common filmmaking rules, THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER would later find fans in Martin Scorsese and Will Oldham but didn’t break through to the grindhouse circuit upon release. Beloved by a growing legion of dedicated fans over the years, and newly restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER is back, in all its head-scratching glory!
Things have been weird since Charlie’s boyfriend Chris left. They’re about to get weirder. Unable to sleep or successfully masturbate to his straight neighbors’ sex noises, Charlie (Dan Futterman) heads out into the Village where he has a series of eerie run-ins with people who seem like they’ve stepped out of popular urban legends. In between encounters with these oddballs, Charlie leaves messages for his ex (Matt Keeslar), visits a sick friend (Alan Cumming), and kills time with a bartender (Josh Hamilton), until he finally connects with a very unlikely romantic interest: a homophobic straight guy who doesn’t seem to realize Charlie’s gay. As the night goes on Charlie’s past begins to catch up with him as the bromance gives way to something much more dangerous. When it was released in 2000, actor-director Jon Shear’s URBANIA was hailed by critics and gay audiences as a smart, forward-thinking gay thriller, racking up prizes at festivals and winding up on over 35 publications’ best-films-of-the-year lists. But it sadly hasn’t made it back to the big screen in New York since then. Our screening represents a long-overdue chance for audiences to revisit Shear’s great film, or experience its off-kilter thrills for the first time. We’ll be joined by the director himself for a post-screening Q&A!