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

Saturdays in January: The Artist and the Archives (at the Silent Movie Theatre)


Saturdays in January (January 10, 17, 24 and 31)

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

Los Angeles Filmforum, in conjunction with Cinefamily, present
The Artist and the Archives
Four special events revolving around archival film projects, with special guests on selected evenings.


There’s a certain romance those with artistic inclinations often have for archives. Before we feel the urge to create, we fall in love with books, records, movies, and not just what’s in them. A certain tenderness can emerge for the physical objects themselves, pages we can touch, film we can run through our fingers. And, en masse, we love the boundless possibilities, the stored potential of our collective human output buried like treasure in our vaults and libraries. The artists in this series have each gone through acres of archival film and shaped it into something new. For them, the archive is a muse, a mother of invention, and the clay from which they have sculpted their work.

January 10, 2009, 7:00 pm

Film Ist by Gustav Deutsch (parts 1-6, 1998, 16mm, 60 min) (parts 7-12, 1998, 35mm, 90 min)
Gustav Deutsch’s Film Ist may be the perfect “essay film”, a nearly wordless exposition of cinema’s birth, life and potential. Deutsch uses a set of industrial, scientific, educational and silent narrative films to explore the basic properties and abilities of cinema, providing twelve pithy and profound answers to the question, “What is Film?” From the birth of cinema in the laboratory and the fairground sideshow, Film Ist demonstrates cinema’s power to deceive, to document, to illuminate and transform reality, masterfully juxtaposing images of great mystery and comic banality. X-rays, Méliès, slow-motion car crashes, smoke, mirrors and surgeries: the astounding images in this major work of the Austrian avant-garde show both the versatility of the cinema, and Deutsch’s uncanny ability to combine the conceptual and the poetic. With equally brilliant music by Fennesz and other stars of the Vienna experimental electronic scene.
Admission for this event is $10, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive free admission.

January 17, 2009, 7:30 pm

Phantom of the Operator by Caroline Martel (2004, 35mm, 66 min)
The Phantom of the Operator invites us into a world where science meets fiction—breathing poetic new meaning into archival films and revealing a little-known chapter in industrial history. The 20th Century had its invisible workforce: telephone operators. Not merely “voices with a smile”, they were shooting stars in a universe of infinite progress–they were test pilots for the management systems of their time. Director Caroline Martel takes overlooked artefacts of cinema history—one hundred industrial, advertising and scientific management films produced in North America between 1903 and 1989—and turns them into a dreamlike montage documentary. She also resurrects from the past an arcane electronic musical instrument: the ondes Martenot, adding to the mood set by the voice of award-winning actor Pascale Montpetit. Phantom sheds light on the corporate, scientific and popular imaginations of the past century to provide a wry yet ethereal portrait of human society in the technocratic age.
Admission for this event is $10, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive free admission.

January 24, 2009, 7:30 pm

Bill Morrison Shorts (1996-2006, 35mm, 120 min)
The forgotten becomes unforgettable in the exquisite 35mm shorts of justly celebrated filmmaker Bill Morrison, known for his groundbreaking feature Decasia. Resisting the lures of kitsch, nostalgia and winking sarcasm, Morrison’s found footage films could be described as seances or invocations, playing on the idea of the motion picture as a kind of spiritual lost-and-found. Works like Light is Calling and The Mesmerist, which draw from damaged nitrate prints, let time perform its own commentary on the image. The Highwater Trilogy, a response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, looks at the representation of disaster through beautifully scarred archival clips. In these hauntological shadowplays, figures vanish into the flood of history, only to reemerge as ghostly apparitions and unreal visions. Also on the program are The Film Of Her and Outerborough.
Admission for this event is $10, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive free admission.

January 31, 2009, 7:30 pm

An Evening With The Prelinger Archives
Rick Prelinger in person!
Beginning in the 1980s traveling around the U.S. in a van and visiting local schools, public libraries and private collectors, archivist Rick Prelinger accumulated perhaps the country’s largest collection of “ephemeral” works – industrial and sponsored films, home movies, educational films and commercials, and more. Over the years his Prelinger Archives has amassed a cult following, part of which is due to the magnetic personality of Prelinger himself, who finds ways to contextualize the films in his collection that are evocative and inspiring. Tonight we offer one such evocative presentation from Prelinger, who will discuss the life and work of Jamison “Jam” Handy, who produced almost 7,000 sponsored industrial and commercial films during his lifetime, including the “Roads to Romance” series promoting tourism by car, the “American Look” series on 1950s design and architecture, and many more. Select Jam Handy films from the archive will be screened after the presentation.
Admission for this event is $10, visit the series page on the Cinefamily site to buy tickets.  Filmforum members receive free admission.