Author Archives: lafilmforum

February 8 & 11 – South Main, by Kelly Parker

Los Angeles Filmforum presents South Main – A Documentary Film by Kelly Parker   ** Los Angeles premiere!**

Kelly Parker, Latisha Fikes, Tajuana Green in person as schedules permit

Multiple screenings!

Sunday February 8, 2009, 7:00 pm

At the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. at Las Palmas

Wednesday February 11, 2009, 6:30 and 8:30 pm

At KAOS Network 4343 Leimert Blvd. at 43rd Place (2 blocks east of Crenshaw Blvd.)

SOUTH MAIN (2008, 77 minutes, video) is an intimate portrait of three single African American mothers as they struggle to raise their families and regain their lives after a government imposed relocation and closure of their apartment complex in South Los Angeles.

Produced, directed, and edited by Kelly Parker With: Latisha Fikes, Tajuana Green, Tena McConico.

Parker delves into a largely unseen section of our city focusing a clear eye upon the travails of three women, cast with their families out of an apartment complex deemed unsafe in 2004 by the government due to the local gang activity. The tactic chosen by our city to diffuse this gang activity: demolish the complex and force all the families to find new residences. As we begin a new presidency and hear calls for reborn political and community activity, this is the sort of film that must be seen so we can gain an understanding of the problems being confronted. But the film is no mere propaganda or liberal plea. In her locked off shots and long takes, Parker imparts the dignity of the women and the range of their difficulties, as they stave off homelessness and confront the mindless violence that wracks their neighborhood. Superb filmmaking, the kind that raises the viewer’s consciousness and should be viewed by all Angeleños.

South Main

South Main

South Main premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2008 and has screened at The London Film Festival, The Shadow Documentary Film Festival, Detroit Docs IFF and Creteil International Women’s Film Festival. More at http://www.southmainfilm.com/

“Parker observes their struggles to recreate their lives with rigor, compassion and complicity. Her static camera self-consciously creates ‘a space of time filled with moving,’ as Gertrude Stein once defined cinema. There are not great revelations, just moments of great intensity and great beauty as in a Pedro Costa film.” – Thom Andersen

“An unblinking, deeply resonant look at three women and their families navigating a government-imposed relocation in an underprivileged section of Los Angeles, confident docu “South Main” marbles furious rigor with streaks of clear-eyed compassion…”- Eddie Cockrell, Variety

“No lurid wallowing in myths of the ghetto, no conjuring up of the “social powder-keg,” no social kitsch, but instead a participatory, exact view, concentrating on the women themselves. Precise, strictly framed images result from this, which neither accuse us nor appeal to us, but that simply show. Images from the underclass, telling of poverty and the precarious living conditions on the social periphery. Images from America at the beginning of the 21st century.” -Birgit Kohler, Berlin Film Festival

South Main - demolition

South Main - demolition

Director’s Statement:

Three years ago I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the City of Los Angeles’ plans to close down an apartment complex due to gang violence. The article noted numerous injuries and gang-related deaths at the complex and explained that, despite the dangerous living conditions, the residents didn’t want to move their families out. I moved a lot as a child while being raised by a single mother in government subsidized housing. With few resources, we lived in a state of constant displacement. I could understand why not wanting to move could keep someone in a potentially dangerous place. At this time my mother, who was living in Florida, was in a desperate financial situation and had just been evicted, leaving her homeless. My personal relationship with the struggles of single motherhood mixed with financial instability propelled me into this project. I knew when I started shooting that I didn’t want to fall back on typical or sensationalized images. My goal was to respect and show the reality of the women’s situations, not to romanticize them or push viewers emotionally. I came to realize that the way to make a film about the actuality of their day-to-day lives was to be patient with time, to mediate the footage as little as possible, and to not be judgmental. SOUTH MAIN is about spending time with the families. — Kelly Parker

Kelly Parker lives and works in Los Angeles. After studying Economics and Management Theory at the Hogeschool voor Economics Studies in Rotterdam, she moved back to Detroit, her hometown, to pursue video and new media at the College for Creative Studies. Upon receiving her BFA in 2003, she was commissioned by the German Federal Cultural Foundation to make a film about mobility in Detroit for the Shrinking Cities exhibition, an ongoing academic and artistic investigation into postindustrial, decaying urban regions. The resulting short documentary, Coda Motor City, 2004, has been shown at museums and galleries such as, the Kunst-Werke in Berlin, the Pratt-Manhattan Gallery in NYC, and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. SOUTH MAIN, Parker’s first feature was completed during her studies at California Institute of the Arts, where she received an MFA in 2008.

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Call for Entries for the Festival of (In)appropriation

CALL FOR ENTRIES: Los Angeles Filmforum invites film and videomakers to take part in the 2009 FESTIVAL OF (IN)APPROPRIATION.

WHO: All film and videomakers

WHAT: Call for entries for the Festival of (In)appropriation

WHEN: Entries must be received by April 1, 2009.

WHERE: Send submissions to Jaimie Baron, 10480 National Blvd. #308, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Whether you call it collage, compilation, found footage, detournement, or recycled cinema, the incorporation of previously shot materials into new artworks is a practice that has generated novel juxtapositions of elements which have produced new meanings and ideas that may not have been intended by the original makers, that are, in other words “inappropriate.” This act of appropriation may produce revelation that leads viewers to reconsider the relationship between past and present, here and there, intention and subversion. Fortunately for our purposes, the past decade has seen the emergence of a wealth of new sources for audiovisual materials that can be appropriated into new works. In addition to official state and commercial archives, vernacular archives, home movie collections, and digital archives have provided fascinating source material that may be repurposed in such a way as to give it new meanings and resonances.

Thus, Los Angeles Filmforum invites submissions for a Festival of (In)appropriation, open to all works that appropriate film or video footage and repurpose it in “inappropriate” ways. We will consider both films and videos, including works that are made up entirely of found footage and those that only use small segments of appropriated material. Particular consideration will be given to films that repurpose materials in an inventive way and to films that are under twenty minutes long. We will only accept work finished in 2006 or later. The Festival of (In)appropriation will take place in June 2009. Curated by Jaimie Baron and Andrew Hall

Guidelines:

• Submission deadline: April 1, 2009

• Please send all submissions in DVD format to: Jaimie Baron, 10480 National Blvd. #308, Los Angeles, CA 90034

• Submissions must be 20 minutes or less and must contain some form of “(in)appropriation.”

• Acceptable submission formats: DVD and VHS • Acceptable exhibition formats: mini-DV, DV-Cam, 16mm film, 35mm film, DVD (but discouraged, since DVD is not a reliable projection medium).

• Please include: title, filmmaker, running time, a 30-word or less synopsis, and contact information (phone and email).

• No submission fee, but please send only good films ☺

January 31 – An Evening With The Prelinger Archives

This Saturday is the last of the January collaborations with Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre!  For this very special event we’ll have Rick Prelinger in person with a presentation about and selections from the films of Jamison “Jam” Handy.  For more information, see the original Filmforum post:

Saturdays in Januarys at the Silent Movie Theatre – The Artist and the Archives

This event has already received coverage from Flavorpill and BoingBoing – buy your tickets early on the Cinefamily website!

January 18 – LA Premiere of Crawford, a new documentary by David Modigliani

Sunday January 18, 2009, 7:00 pm

At the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood

Los Angeles Filmforum presents
Crawford, A Documentary Film by David Modigliani – The Farewell Tour
Los Angeles Premiere!
Filmmaker David Modigliani in person!

1-18-09-crawford_populationsignCrawford (2008, color, sound, 74 minutes) January 2009 will be a time of reflection for the entire country. As America looks to a future of change, the pundits will provide their own spin on what the last 8 years have meant.

Crawford, an extraordinary documentary by first-time filmmaker David Modigliani, provides a unique perspective on the Bush presidency: through the eyes of the 705 residents of Crawford, Texas.

“Poignant …colorful!” – Variety
“Richly compelling” – Premiere Magazine
“Revelatory: a deeply committed piece of high-def storytelling!” –New York Sun

“Small Town Values” … big time politics’ winning slogan. But does the political machine, so desirous of this wholesome image, actually value the small town itself?

1-18-09-crawford_mistidiner1In 1999, then Governor George W. Bush bought a ranch in the one-stoplight town of Crawford, Texas, calling it “home” just in time to set his sights on the White House. Having invented Bush’s “folksy image,” the campaign’s victory thrusts Crawford onto the world stage and an insular community of barely 700 explodes overnight.

While the high school band plays the inauguration and the Baptist pastor declares a miracle, Crawfordites sell souvenirs hand over fist, finding themselves nearly trampled under the heels of the international press corps, patriotic tourists and boomtown opportunists. Then, four and a half years into Bush’s tenure, Cindy Sheehan and her peace movement arrive at the doorstep of the “Western White House.” Crawford takes center stage.

As 20,000 impassioned protesters and counter-protesters battle on Crawford’s tiny streets, the symbol of the “small town” begins to change. Exacerbated tensions place pressure on the community as well as on the liberties Americans take for granted. And after seven years of this political stagecraft, a President’s and a community’s choices have an even graver human impact. Left to deal with the aftermath, the real people of Crawford are changed forever.

1-18-09-crawford_neighborNow comes Crawford, an often funny, deeply human story told by unforgettable characters. As witness to one man’s (and his spin doctor’s) decision to intertwine his life with the real small town America, the film ultimately becomes a microcosm of a nation in flux — a unique and poignant reflection on the Bush era.

http://crawfordmovie.com/

Some of the Characters: Continue reading

Events in January!

January is an exciting month for Filmforum, with our Brakhage show on the 11th and co-presentations with Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre throughout the month.

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

January 11: Brakhage with Brakhage – Marilyn Brakhage introducing Films by Stan Brakhage (at the Egyptian Theatre)

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

Also don’t miss David Modigliani’s Crawford (January 18 at the Egyptian). More information on this film to come! ­

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.

**NOTE THE CHANGES IN TIME, LOCATION, AND PRICE – FILMFORUM MEMBERS GET IN FREE FOR ALL THESE SCREENINGS!!**

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

1-10-09-filmistFilm 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

1-17-09-phantomoftheoperator_200Phantom 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

1-24-09-billmorrison_200Bill 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

1-31-09-rickprelinger_200An 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.

January 11: Brakhage with Brakhage – Marilyn Brakhage introducing Films by Stan Brakhage

Sunday January 11, 2009, 7:00 pm

At the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood

Los Angeles Filmforum presents
Brakhage with Brakhage: Marilyn Brakhage introducing Films by Stan Brakhage
Marilyn Brakhage in person!

[left: Portrait of Stan Brakhage by Timoleon Wilkins] Filmforum is delighted to open its 2009 season with a marvelous program of films by the master avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, hosted by Marilyn Brakhage in her first appearance in Los Angeles. Every show of films by Brakhage contains wonders of vision, color, and light. Some of tonight’s films haven’t been screened in Los Angeles in years, if ever. Not to be missed.

Tonight we’ll be screening:

Stan Brakhage, 1999. Photo by Timoleon Wilkins

Stan Brakhage, 1999. Photo by Timoleon Wilkins

The Machine of Eden (1970, 16 mm, silent, 11 min)
The Machine (of Eden) operates via “spots” – from sun’s disks (of the camera lens) thru emulsion grains (within which, each, a universe might be found) and snow’s flakes (echoing technical aberrations on film’s surface) blots (upon the lens itself) and the circles of sun and moon, etcetera; these “mis-takes” give birth of “shape” (which, in this work, is “matter” subject and otherwise) amidst a weave of thought: (I add these technicalities, here, to help viewers defeat the habits of classical symbolism so that this work may be immediately seen, in its own light): the “dream” of Eden will speak for itself.

“He was born, he suffered, he died”
(1974, 16 mm, silent, 7 min)
The quote is Joseph Conrad answering a critic who found his books too long. Conrad replied that he could write a novel on the inside of a match-book cover, thus (as above), but that he “preferred to elaborate.” The “Life” of the film is scratched on black leader. The “elaboration” of color tonalities is as the mind’s eye responds to hieroglyph.

Burial Path (1978, 16mm, color/silent, 15min (18fps))
The film begins with the image of a dead bird. The mind moves to forget, as well as to remember: this film, in the tradition of Thot-Fal’n, graphs the process of forgetfulness against all oddities of remembered bird-shape. The film might best be seen along with Sirius Remembered and The Dead as the third part of a trilogy.

Visions in Meditation #4 (1990, 16 mm, silent, 19 min)
I’ve made three pilgrimages in my life: the 40-some-year home of Sigmund Freud in Vienna, Emily Dickinson’s in Amherst, and the mountain ranch and crypt, would you call it?, of D.H. Lawrence, outside Taos. I keep returning to the Lawrence environs again and again; and this last time attempted photography in that narrow little building where his ashes were (or were not) deposited (contradictory stories about that). There is a child-like sculpture of The Phoenix at the far end of the room, a perfectly lovely emblem to deflate any pomposity people have added to Lawrence’s “I rise in flames ….” The building is open, contains only a straw chair (remindful of the one Van Gogh painted) and a broom, which I always use with delight to sweep the dust and leaves from this simple abode. I have tried to make a film as true to the spirit of Lawrence as is this gentle chapel in homage of him. I have attempted to leave each image within the film free to be itself and only obliquely in the service of Lawrence’s memory. I have wanted to make it a film within which that child-Phoenix can reasonably nest. – S.B.

(Bruce Elder sends me this quote from D.H. Lawrence, which may help to explain why Visions in Meditation #4 is subtitled in his name: “… there must be mutation swifter than iridescence, haste, not rest, come-and-go, not fixity, inconclusiveness, immediacy, the quality of life itself, without denouncement or close.” – “Poetry of the Present,” intro to the American edition of New Poems, 1918 )

Boulder Blues and Pearls and… (1992, 16 mm, Sound by Rick Corrigan, 23 min)
Music by Rick Corrigan.
Peripheral envisionment of daily life as the mind has it – i.e., a terrifying ecstasy of (hand-painted) synapting nerve ends back-firing from thought’s grip of life.

Persians 1-3 (1999, 16 mm, silent, 8 min)
Persian Series #1: This hand-painted and elaborately step-printed work begins with a flourish of reds and yellows and purples in palpable fruit-like shapes intersperced by darkness, then becomes lit lightning-like by sharp multiply-colored twigs-of shape, all resolving into shapes of decay.

Persian Series #2: Multiple thrusts and then retractions of oranges, reds, blues, and the flickering, almost black, textural dissolves suggesting an amalgam approaching script.

Persian Series #3: Dark, fast-paced symmetry in mixed weave of tones moving from oranges & yellows to blue-greens, then retreating (dissolves of zooming away) to both rounded and soft-edged shapes shot with black.

1-11-09-chinese1s1-11-09-chinese8sChinese Series (2003, 35mm, silent, 2 min) [left: Chinese Series stills, courtesy of the Estate of Stan Brakhage and Fred Camper]
“This film was made on 35mm whereby Stan scratched off the emulsion of the film using his fingernail. The original was stepped printed by Mary Beth Reed. This film is available is both 16mm and 35mm and is in black and white.”-Dominic Angerame

“Stan Brakhage had been planning a film inspired by Chinese ideograms for years; he made his unfinished Chinese Series in his dying months, scratching its marks on black 35-mm film. In its two haunting minutes, exploding lines flirt with the depiction of recognizable objects.” – Fred Camper, from the Chicago Reader, September 12, 2003.

Scratching on spit-softened emulsion with bare fingernails,” Stan completed this work — all that he could manage of his long dreamed-of Chinese Series — in his bed, a couple of months before his death. Printed by Courtney Hoskins, who has written that: “On the negative, it seemed to have the essence of Chinese characters — “strokes” and blocks, etc. In motion, it seems almost like running through a humid bamboo forest . . . green and yellow stalks create these glowing shadows as they cut across the sunlight.

Marilyn Brakhage is a graduate of the Motion Picture Studies and Art History departments of Ryerson and York Universities (Toronto). She has worked as a film distributor, programmer, freelance writer and home educator, and is currently managing the estate of her late husband, filmmaker and theoretician, Stan Brakhage (1933-2003). Continue reading