The city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, animation and video art.

Wednesdays in January – Avant-Garde Silent Films (at the Silent Movie Theatre)


Wednesdays in January (January 7, 14, 21, and 28)

At the Silent Movie Theatre
611 N. Fairfax Ave. just south of Melrose
Park across the street (free) at Fairfax High School

January 7, 2009, 8:00 pm

Tom Verlaine & Jimmy Rip: Music For Experimental Film
Verlaine and Rip performing in person!!
Tickets for this special event are $18, with a $4 discount for Filmforum members.

Innovative, influential musician Tom Verlaine and celebrated producer/guitarist Jimmy Rip reawaken the spirit of the avant-garde as they perform on the Cinefamily stage a series of original musical scores for experimental silent film. Verlaine was the guiding force behind the proto-punk NYC band Television and a host of award-winning solo albums, and as composer, producer and sideman, Rip has collaborated with music legends Jerry Lee Lewis, Mick Jagger and Deborah Harry. The groundbreaking works of filmmakers (Man Ray, Watson & Weber, Fernand Leger and Hans Richter) pushing the limits of what was then still a new medium take on a new life wrapped in these new scores that are by turns playful, haunting, serene and intense. Not only do these surreal and timeless shorts rarely screen theatrically, but Verlaine and Rip’s stirring twin guitar attack provide a consummate accompaniment. To buy tickets online, visit the show’s page at the Cinefamily site.

January 14, 2009, 8:00 pm

Berlin: Symphony Of A City by Walter Ruttman (1927, digital presentation, 65 min)
(w/ live score TBA)
French poet Charles Baudelaire famously theorized the flaneur, or urban vagabond “who walks the city in order to experience it”. L.A.’s decentralized sprawl makes life difficult for the flaneur, which is perhaps why we are thankful for films like Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. A vast, restless celebration of urban life in Weimar Germany, Walter Ruttman’s masterwork is perhaps the most poetic of the great “City Symphony” films–it feels like it was edited with a glass of wine and a notebook, not a flatbed and a pair of scissors. Unfolding in five acts, Berlin’s documentary depictions of work, transportation, relaxation, and night life teem with life and photographic creativity. Ruttman’s fluid editing pairs the dynamic pace of modern life with the bottomless curiosity of the wide-eyed observer. It’s as much as a love song as a symphony.
Admission for this event is $14, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive a $4 discount.

January 21, 2009, 8:00 pm

The Man With The Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov (1929, 16mm, 80 min)
(w/ live score TBA)
The Man with a Movie Camera
is the kind of movie that turns cinephiles into cinemaniacs. A kaleidoscope of visual possibilities, a feast of energy and ideas, Dziga Vertov’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink picture-poem teems with life, craft and innovation. It’s an ode to the city, to the machinery of modern life, to the rhythms of everyday people and to the visual splendor of movement, but most of all it’s a love letter to the camera itself. Vertov may have pioneered the use of the “hidden camera”, capturing moments of uncommon naturalism, but this restless film also puts the material reality of filmmaking front and center, even letting the camera do a charming stop-motion dance number. Toying with the artificial omnipotence of filmmaking, Vertov takes the documentary places few have been able to follow. This film wasn’t made for DVD–like a wild horse, The Man with a Movie Camera needs to run through the projector gate!
Admission for this event is $14, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive a $4 discount.

January 28, 2009, 8:00 pm

A Page of Madness by Teinosuke Kinugasa (1926, 35mm, 60 min)
With a live score by The Gaslamp Killer
Restored 35mm print courtesy of The George Eastman House

The most modern and challenging Japanese silent film to survive the firebombings of WWII, A Page of Madness throws the viewer into a maelstrom of hallucinations and obsession, and easily stands way out amongst its kabuki and jidai-geki silent contemporaries. A haunted man takes a job as a janitor in an insane asylum where his wife is committed; his fantasies of liberating her blend into the mad, confounding visions of the inmates. Told without intertitles, the narrative takes a back seat to pure visual expression. Director Teinosuke Kinugasa, already a connoisseur of world cinema when this film was made in 1927, synthesizes every available experimental technique known at the time: his use of superimpositions, flashbacks, rapid montage and complex subjective camerawork rival the innovations of Murnau and Gance for sheer audacity. Lost for half a century after its completion and rediscovered in the early ’70s by Kinugasa himself in his own garden shed, A Page of Madness is a stunning, singular work. The evening’s live musical accompaniment comes from psychedelic soundsmith The Gaslamp Killer.
Admission for this event is $14, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive a $4 discount.