Sunday March 29, 2009, 7:00 pm
At the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
The Los Angeles Premiere of Ken Jacobs’s Razzle Dazzle the Lost World
Ken Jacob’s is one of the leading practitioners of film and video art in the world. We’re delighted to host the Los Angeles premiere of his newest video work.
Capitalism: Slavery (2006, 3 min., DVD NTSC, b&w, silent)
An antique stereograph image of cotton-pickers, computer-animated to present the scene in an active depth even to single-eyed viewers. Silent, mournful, brief. – Ken Jacobs
Razzle Dazzle the Lost World (2008, 90 min., DVD NTSC, color and b&w)
Los Angeles Premiere!
Razzle Dazzle The Lost World is an early Edison shot cut off at its head and tail and along its four sides from the continuity of events like any camera-shot from a bygone day; no, like any camera-shot, immediately producing an abstraction. This abstraction pictures a great spinning maypole-like device lined with young passengers dipping and lifting as it circles through space. They look out – from their place at the start of the 20th century – with a remarkable variety of expressions, giddy to pensive. We observe them but of course they see nothing of this, our America, hopelessly gone to rot, its mountaintops leveled for extraction of coal, rivers and air polluted, crisscrossed everywhere with property-lines; they don’t see its prisons or the corporations leaning in from their off-shore tax-bases to see what more they can take. Early stereopticon images also appear, digitally manipulated to reveal their depths. A digital shadow falls upon the scene and yet, grim as things get, as our crimes and failures then and now commingle, the movie proceeds with a cubist/abstract-expressionist zest. -K.J.
“An eye-popper and brain-boggler, Razzle Dazzle is also, remarkably, a thing to stir the soul, delivering in its final stretch an astonishing, unexpected political jolt that elevates what appeared to be a mere (if marvelous) formal triumph into a shattering confrontation.” – Nathan Lee, New York Times, June 27, 2008. See the full review here.
J. Hoberman on the film.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER:
Ken Jacobs was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1933. He studied painting with one of the prime creators of Abstract Expressionism, Hans Hofmann, in the mid-fifties. It was then that he also began filmmaking (Star Spangled To Death). His personal star rose, to just about knee high, with the sixties advent of Underground Film. In 1967, with the involvement of his wife Florence and many others aspiring to a democratic -rather than demagogic- cinema, he created The Millennium Film Workshop in New York City. A nonprofit filmmaker’s co-operative open to all, it made available film equipment, workspace, screenings and classes at little or no cost. Later he found himself teaching large classes of painfully docile students at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.
In 1969, after a week’s guest seminar at Harpur College (now, Binghamton University), students petitioned the Administration to hire Ken Jacobs. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, the Administration -during that special period of anguish and possibility- decided that, as a teacher, he was “a natural.” Together with Larry Gottheim he organized the SUNY system’s first Department of Cinema, teaching thoughtful consideration of every kind of film but specializing in avant garde cinema appreciation and production. (Department graduates are world-recognized as having an exceptional presence in this field.) His own early studies under Hofmann would increasingly figure in his filmwork, making for an Abstract Expressionist cinema, clearly evident in his avant garde classic Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son (1969) and increasingly so in his subsequent devising of the unique Nervous System series of live film-projection performances. The American Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, hosted a full retrospective of his work in 1989, The New York Museum Of Modern Art held a partial retrospective in 1996, as did The American House in Paris in 1994 and the Arsenal Theater in Berlin in 1986 (during his 6 month stay as guest-recipient of Berlin’s DAAD award). He has also performed in Japan, at the Louvre in Paris, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, etc. Honors include the Maya Deren Award of The American Film Institute, the Guggenheim Award and a special Rockefeller Foundation grant. A 1999 interview with Ken Jacobs can be seen on the Net as part of The University Of California at Berkeley’s series of Conversations With History.