May 29 – Restoring the Los Angeles Avant-Garde: Things Are Always Going Wrong

Friday May 29, 2009, 7:30 pm

At the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, Wilshire at Westwood

Los Angeles Filmforum, UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Hammer Museum present
Restoring the Los Angeles Avant-Garde: Things Are Always Going Wrong
New Restorations of Los Angeles Experimental Films
Pat O’Neill, Grahame Weinbren, Fred Worden, David Wilson, Roberta Friedman and Academy preservationist Mark Toscano in person!
FREE Admission!


Venusville (1973)

Venusville (1973)

Since its formal inception in 1992, the Academy Film Archive has been working diligently to preserve and restore independent and experimental films. However, over the last five years, the Academy Archive has trained an additional focus on the work of Los Angeles-based artists.

As more films have come to the Academy, and more have been preserved or restored, a fascinating portrait of the Los Angeles avant-garde scene has begun to emerge. While films produced by artists in New York and San Francisco have historically been given an inordinate precedence in accounts of such work, an astonishingly diverse and extensive world of vital avant-garde filmmaking was–and still is–going on right here.  Accordingly, the title of this special two-night screening series has a double meaning.

All of the films presented in this program are by Los Angeles artists featuring prints restored by the Academy and making their Los Angeles restoration premieres. But in addition to highlighting the important work of the Academy–and by this selection of film artists, in particular–this series aims to contribute to the growing recognition of Los Angeles, then and now, as a significant center of avant-garde production.

By the Sea (1963, 10 min., 16mm, B/W, sound)
Directed by Pat O’Neill and Robert Abel
Organic and inorganic forms observed and captured at Muscle Beach are flattened onto slides beneath carefully applied cover slips and prepared for closer examination.

Throbs (1972, 7 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Fred Worden
Demonstrating a remarkable subtlety and restraint, Fred Worden explores the small epiphanies and nuanced areas of visual delight resulting from the energies created by a vibrant chemical reaction of intermingling footage.

Pasadena Freeway Stills (1974)

Pasadena Freeway Stills (1974)

Pasadena Freeway Stills (1974, 6 min., 16mm, color, silent)
Directed by Gary Beydler
Possibly the most lucid, vivid and awesome demonstration of the building up of still images to create moving ones, Pasadena Freeway Stills simply, gracefully and powerfully shows us the process by which we are fooled by the movies.

unc. 91966, 3 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Bruce Lane
A haunting, affecting, three-minute epic constructed of memorable images and densely imagined narrative fragments distilled to an essence that registers dread, dissolution, fear and despair, but also a bittersweet melancholy, both for an idealized past and a diseased present.

Murray and Max Talk about Money (1979, 15 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren
“We are always interested in constructing ways of evoking the pleasures of cinema without implicitly accepting an ideology–of passivity, manipulation, and repressed violence–that we would explicitly reject. Can there be films that remain cinematic without indulging in one form of pornography or another? Murray and Max… is, in part, a proposal, a blueprint, for such a form of cinema.” –Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren

Venusville (1973, 10 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Fred Worden and Chris Langdon
No montage, no human subjects, minimal visual content, and the artists basically pissing on the fourth wall by calling attention in every way possible to the artifice of what they’re doing. An anti-film school film made at film school.

Rose for Red (1980, 3 min., 16mm, color, sound)
(1980) Directed by Diana Wilson
An unusual, jewel-like homage to unity and discordance in filmic composition.

Stasis (1976, 7 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by David Wilson
The intentional misnomer of the title plays upon the misapprehension that the negation of one dynamic process with its inverse complement would result in something static. A landscape film wherein the invisible landscape between the capturer and the captured is brought mysteriously into view.

Venice Pier (1976, 16 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Gary Beydler
Shot spatially out of order on the Venice pier over the course of an entire year, Gary Beydler recomposed the footage in editing to make it proceed consistently forward in space, resulting in an intricate mixing up of chronology. Some cuts could represent a jump of months either forward or backward in time. The result is one of gauzy impressionism brought into vivid and breathtaking clarity.

Picasso (1973, 3 min., 16mm, (4/8/1973), B/W, sound)
Directed by Chris Langdon
“When Picasso died I wanted to make the first post-mortem documentary, as I knew would happen anyway, and cheaply. The film took four hours to finish from camera to print and cost a little under $5.” –Chris Langdon

Sears Sox (1968, 5 min., 16mm, color, sound)
Directed by Pat O’Neill, Neon Park, and Chick Strand
A bonus presentation of a short piece of commercial work done by three legendary L.A. artists.

IN PERSON: filmmakers Pat O’Neill, David Wilson, Grahame Weinbren, Fred Worden, Roberta Friedman and Academy Film Archive preservationist Mark Toscano.
FREE Admission!
Total running time of films: approx. 85 min

Funding for this series was provided by the UCLA Arts Initiative.

Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone: 310.443.7000

ALL HAMMER PUBLIC PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Tickets are required, and are available at the Billy Wilder Theater Box Office one hour prior to start time. Limit one ticket per person on a first come, first served basis. Hammer members receive priority seating, subject to availability. Reservations not accepted, RSVPs not required.  Parking is available under the museum for $3 after 6:00.


One response to “May 29 – Restoring the Los Angeles Avant-Garde: Things Are Always Going Wrong

  1. Pingback: Three upcoming shows in late May! « The city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, animation and video art.

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