February 17: This Must Be The Place – Four films on migration, belonging, & temporary homes

Sunday February 17, 2008, 7:00 pm

At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian

Los Angeles Filmforum presents
This Must Be The Place – Four films on migration, belonging, & temporary homes

Meditations on itinerant lifestyles, immigration, travel and memory,
filmed in places as disparate as Bangalore, India; Queens NY; and Valencia, CA.

Films include:

The Garden City by Vera Brunner-Sung (2007, 16mm, 13:30 min, shot in Bangalore, India, and Valencia, CA)
Recordando el Ayer by Alexandra Cuesta (2007, 16mm, 10 min, shot in Queens NY)
Footnotes to A House of Love by Laida Lertxundi (2007, 16mm, 13 min., shot in the California desert)
Lay Down Tracks by Brigid McCaffrey and Danielle Lombardi (2006, 16mm, 61 min, shot in America, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, and Morocco)

All the films are on 16mm. TRT about 95min.

More details:

2-17-08-tgc_1.jpgThe Garden City
By Vera Brunner-Sung (2007, 16mm, 10 min.)

To what extent can we control the lived environment, and how does this impact our lives? A letter recounts a journey from American suburbia to a foreign city, becoming a meditation on growth and development that suggests all landscapes are human. – Vera Brunner-Sung

2-17-08-guitarra_2.jpgRecordando El Ayer
By Alexandra Cuesta (2007, 16mm, 10 min.)

Memory and identity are observed through textures of everyday life in a portrait of Jackson Heights, home to a large Latin American immigrant population. Images of street, people, and daily rituals render passing of time in a neighborhood that becomes a mirror not just of another place, but also of the past. The landscape visually reflects the space as a creation of a new home while revealing displacement within the new condition. The meaning of home is explored and built upon collective recollection.

Alexandra Cuesta is an experimental filmmaker and photographer born in Quito, Ecuador. She taught photography at Universidad San Francisco de Quito and was involved with the community as an independent curator and artist for art exhibitions in appropriated spaces. She participated in various film projects (From Beirut With Love, Paradise, Crossings) that have taken her to Cuba, France, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Mexico. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she is pursuing an MFA in Film/ Video at the California Institute of the Arts. Recordando el Ayer has shown at the New York Film Festival, Viennale Film Festival, Onion City Film Festival, among others.

2-17-08-12.jpgFootnotes to a House of Love
By Laida Lertxundi (2007, 13 min, 16mm, color/sound)

A series of shots in a California desert landscape and an abandoned house in which there is a play between on frame and off frame sound. There is an effort to create the space of a story, without a story, by the use of real time/diegetic sound. The film is laboriously honouring play. Love is felt as a force that remains almost off the frame and determines the arrangement of the figures in the landscape. Recently screened at the New York Film Festival Views from the Avant-Garde

“The desert, so often a stand-in for other places imagined by Hollywood, here is barren and bright, set to the tune of Leslie Gore and the Kinks playing through an intrepid little tape deck…The music plays in most of the film like a radio signal, a relic of another time, now gone. The film is pervaded with the sense of something having happened, though we’re given only brief glimpses of what came after.” — Genevieve Yue, Senses of Cinema

2-17-08-21.jpg“Laida Lertxundi’s Footnotes to a House of Love is the type of thing you hope for at a festival: something remarkable by someone you’ve never heard of. Not much happens in the film – much to its credit. A young couple inhabits a dilapidated house in the California desert. They read, play the cello, piss, but mostly just walk about. Their actions, however, are entirely peripheral to the film. Footnotes is most centrally about the presence of place, the house and the desert beyond, and the possibilities they seem to invite. Narratives and relationships are only just hinted at and seemingly swallowed up by the surroundings. There is a subtle mysteriousness to the place that could easily have made it a site for terror, or at least danger, but this is constantly leavened by a gentle, disarming playfulness and teasing.” — Patrick Friel, Senses of Cinema

2-17-08-warning.jpgLay Down Tracks
By Brigid McCaffrey and Danielle Lombardi (2006, 61 min, 16mm, color/sound)

This 16mm film closely follows five American workers who have based their lives around traveling. It journeys through the shifting surroundings of a retired carnival worker, young woman trucker, railroad executive, chimney sweep/surfer, and a nun/riverboat pilot. While they reflect on their work and the worlds they traverse, the camera takes in both what is fleeting and familiar. Interweaving these personal narratives from diverging factions of transient work culture, the tenuous relationship between aspirations and necessities is considered.
Continue reading

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February 14: The Love Tapes and Casablanca

Thursday February 14, 2008, 8:00 pm

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

Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
The Love Tapes by Wendy Clarke, along with Casablanca

**NOTE THE CHANGE IN DAY, LOCATION AND TIME**

A Cinefamily Valentine’s: Wendy Clarke’s The Love Tapes & Casablanca

2-14-08-lovetapes.jpgThe Love Tapes by Wendy Clarke (1979-present, video)
What better way to appreciate Valentine’s Day than with The Love Tapes, conceived and collected by acclaimed video artist Wendy Clarke (daughter of filmmaker Shirley Clarke). For almost 30 years, Clarke has accumulated over eight hundred short videotapes, in which people share their personal experiences with, beliefs about, and definitions of, love. Each Love Tape is roughly three minutes long, and recorded by the participant in a small kiosk, with background music of their own choosing, saying whatever they want on the subject. On Valentine’s Day, we’ll share some of the cherished, revealing results, viewing not only a selection of Wendy’s own favorites tapes from years past, but new ones we’re making here at the Silent Movie Theatre. That’s right, this night is participatory. We will be hosting a kiosk in the weeks leading up to the screening to record new tapes, so members of our very own Cinefamily can be included. Filled with humor, tears, and humanity, the tapes create a moving, and, dare-we-say, lovely program.

And then…if that’s not romantic enough…we’ll show the most romantic movie of all time…

2-14-08-casablanca.jpgCasablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942, 35mm, 102 min)
After some rigorous research, our in-house think-tank has determined that there really is nothing original left to say about Casablanca. Still, we wouldn’t mind seeing it a few thousand more times, and we feel lucky as hell to be screening, on Valentine’s Day, the greatest romance ever committed to film. Whether you’re viewing it for the first time or you have its infinitely-quotable dialogue burned into your grey matter, the experience of Casablanca is potently satisfying on so many levels (comedic, philosophical, romantic, visual, verbal, political, musical, etc etc) that its presence is guaranteed on every film-related top-10 list conceived since its 1942 release. So, like all great love songs, we play it again.

Tickets – $10

February 5, 7, 9 and 10: Four nights of films!

This week in February, Filmforum is proud to present four different films, three of them in conjunction with our newest programming partner, CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.  Please note that the February 5, 7, and 9 shows will be screened at the Silent Movie Theater, on Fairfax just south of Melrose.  We will return to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood next Sunday, February 10 at our normal time:

February 5: The Floating World of Pat O’Neill, Part II
February 7: Shirley Clarke’s Ornette: Made in America 
February 9: Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason 
February 10: Ron Mann’s Imagine the Sound  

February 10: Ron Mann’s Imagine the Sound

Sunday February 10, 2008, 7:00 pm

At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian

Los Angeles Filmforum presents
Imagine the Sound by Ron Mann
Featuring Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Paul Bley, and Bill Dixon

2-10-08-imaginethesound_sm02.jpgImagine the Sound (1981, color, 16mm/35mm screening from DVCam, 71 min)
Filmforum commences an intermittent series of documentaries focusing on avant-garde and free jazz, in part connected with the series of jazz films being presented at the Silent Movie Theatre.  Filmforum is co-presenting Ornette: Made in America by Shirley Clarke on Thursday February 7.  But tonight we are delighted to present the Los Angeles appearance of the new revival of Ron Mann’s vital film about free jazz from 1981.  A marvelous film for jazz fans and documentary fans, it digs deep into the side of improvised music not yet touched by Ken Burns and Wynton Marsalis.

The first feature documentary by Ron Mann (Grass, Comic Book Confidential) is an eloquent tribute to a group of highly celebrated artists that helped forge the avant-garde jazz of the 1960s.

2-10-08-smbox1.jpgCritic and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum has said Imagine the Sound “may be the best documentary on free jazz that we have.”

The film features articulate interviews and dramatic performances by pianists Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley, tenor saxophone Archie Shepp, and trumpet player Bill Dixon.

Not since Scorsese’s The Last Waltz has a music documentary been so thorough and compatible with its subject. Alongside the dynamic performances, the film captures the diverse history and politicized roots of this unique musical genre.

2-10-08-imaginethesound_sm01.jpgRon Mann’s fine, elegant documentary, his first feature-length work, showcases four specific players – pianist Paul Bley, trumpeter Bill Dixon, saxophonist Archie Shepp and pianist Cecil Taylor. But its true subject is the innovative, free jazz work done in the Sixties, and by extension the determination of these artists to break down the musical barriers that characterized that decade. One could point to any number of reasons why the film works so well, from Robert Fresco’s exquisite cinematography (prior to Imagine the Sound, music documentaries were shot entirely on the fly, and looked like it), to the charm of its subject. The film’s real genius, though, probably resides above all in its structure and editing. Mann and his collaborators have given us a near perfect précis on how and why free jazz developed, and the context from which it emerged, but they’ve also been wise enough to foreground the music without either relying on it too heavily or, worse, cutting it short. (A trap even its most illustrious predecessors usually fell into.) Imagine the Sound was also a seminal work in this city’s film history, serving as inspiration for the Toronto New Wave, which emerged in the late Eighties. The film’s hip sensibility broke ground as well, proving that it was possible to make films here that were neither shoddy American knock-offs (this was the tax shelter period after all) nor pedantic. “May be the best documentary on free jazz that we have” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).- Steve Gravestock Continue reading

February 9: Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason

Saturday February 9, 2008, 7:30 pm

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

Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
Portrait of Jason by Shirley Clarke
As part of CineFamily’s series The Black Impostor

**NOTE THE CHANGE IN DAY, LOCATION AND TIME**

This month, we present five fascinating character studies which illuminate an unusual and rarely seen figure in American cinema — that of the Black Impostor.  Whether a hustler, a con man, an amnesiac or a woman who chooses to pass for white, the subjects of these films are people who, through chance, will, or sheer force of personality, find a leg up over the walls of white privilege. They are charismatic, charming and demonstrate exceptional social intelligence, but must also compromise some piece of their identity in their shape-shifting quest for fulfillment in a racist society. These are thrilling performances which offer a window into the performative nature of racial identity. The Black Impostor is a subversion of that tired Hollywood cliché—the “Magical Negro,” (a black character with no life or dreams of his own, but with the mystical power to sacrifice himself for the good of the white protagonists).  There’s no such “black magic” in these films, because if race is a social construction or a mass hallucination, then the Black Impostor is an illusionist who manipulates perceptions in pursuit of his own American Dream.

2-9-08-jasonhead.jpgPortrait of Jason (1967, 35mm, 105 min)
A whimsical missive from a weathered soul, Portrait is simply that: a continuous unfolding monologue from dapper, effete ‘60s hustler Jason Holiday (real name: Aaron Payne,) who, with a kind face and supple voice, regales us with the compelling saga of his broken life, from houseboy to heretic, from militant youth to sassy gigolo. Whereas Warhol would’ve been content framing the more exploitative elements of Jason’s tales in urban decay and poncy despair, here director Shirley Clarke has the good sense to sit him down in a sparse apartment and give this self-described “stone whore” the greatest backdrop possible: his own fevered imagination.  Rarely does his narrative veer into dryness: Jason first draws us in with his radiant smile, then later ratchets the intensity as he consumes enough booze to kill a small horse.  A landmark in both queer and confessional cinema.

This week Filmforum inaugurates its new venue partnership with CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.  CineFamily has revitalized the Silent Movie Theatre with wide-ranging,  and smart programming.  From a continued interest in silent movies to experimental films, cult works to bizarre pop hits, foreign and domestic, CineFamily displays the cinephilic sensibility that we are delighted to share.  Continue reading

February 7: Shirley Clarke’s Ornette: Made in America

Thursday February 7, 2008, 8:00 pm

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

Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
Ornette: Made in America by Shirley Clarke
As part of CineFamily’s Jazz on Film: Capturing Creation series.

**NOTE THE CHANGE IN DAY, LOCATION AND TIME**

 “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air, you can never capture it again.”—Eric Dolphy

2-7-08-ornette9.jpgJazz and motion pictures are two of our youngest art forms. Both developed at the beginning of the 20th century, and have seen rapid innovation and evolution in their technological, stylistic and expressive potential. While jazz remains America’s most celebrated cultural product, film is our most popular medium. As long as people have been making music, filmmakers have sought to record the live experience—to prevent the music from vanishing into the ether, as Dolphy describes. The best jazz films, while not quite containing the music’s ephemeral power, can sharpen our senses, engaging our eyes and our ears. In a sense, all of these movies are documentaries, capturing sound at the moment of its birth. Our series takes a broad cross-section of the genre, from the 40s big band swing of Stormy Weather to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. Come see and hear some of the best American artists of our recent past, bigger than life, and high on the act of creation.

2-7-08-ornette15.jpgOrnette: Made in America (1985, 80 min., color, 35mm), Directed by Shirley Clarke, produced by Kathelin Hoffman, Camera: Ed Lachman, music: Ornette Coleman.  Shirley Clarke was one of the key figures of the American independent film movement, whose films The Connection (1961) and The Cool World (1963) cemented her reputation.  Both had strong jazz elements, and for her final film, Clarke returned to the jazz scene, making this brilliant music documentary featuring the legendary Ornette Coleman, a toweringly innovative yet humble figure.  The film serves almost as much as a portrait of Ft. Worth, Texas, Coleman’s birthplace, to which he returns to perform his Skies of America symphony to the most well-healed society members, and with his electric Prime Time group at the Caravan of Dreams, replete with early zany video game effects added by Clarke.  Throw in Coleman philosophizing on his art and life, and a boy (a figurative Coleman) wandering the streets of Ft. Worth.

This week Filmforum inaugurates its new venue partnership with CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.  CineFamily has revitalized the Silent Movie Theatre with wide-ranging,  and smart programming.  From a continued interest in silent movies to experimental films, cult works to bizarre pop hits, foreign and domestic, CineFamily displays the cinephilic sensibility that we are delighted to share.  Continue reading

February 5: The Floating World of Pat O’Neill, Part II

Tuesday February 5, 2008, 8:00 pm

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

Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
The Floating World of Pat O’Neill
The second of two nights of films

** PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE IN DAY, LOCATION AND TIME**

Pat O’Neill is Los Angeles’s true avant-garde master, creating beautiful, moody films with floating mattes, variable film speeds, ghostly layering, wry wit, and masterful soundtracks, all working together to form a fractured almost-narrative, a reflection on the lost spaces and times of our city.

Tonight Filmforum inaugurates its new venue partnership with CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.  CineFamily has revitalized the Silent Movie Theatre with wide-ranging,  and smart programming.  From a continued interest in silent movies to experimental films, cult works to bizarre pop hits, foreign and domestic, CineFamily displays the cinephilic sensibility that we are delighted to share.

Tonight we’ll be screening Decay of Fiction (2002, 35mm, 74 min), preceded by Squirt Gun Step Print”(1998, 35mm, 6 min)

2-5-08-decay-of-fiction-2.jpgDecay of Fiction:
Rarely seen in Los Angeles since its premiere several years ago is Pat O’Neill’s brilliant, haunting film noir set in the decaying remains of the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel.

“While depicting the relentless passage of time with a power that few other films have captured, The Decay of Fiction sustains a mood of almost gothic sadness….The Decay of Fiction is so infatuated with vintage film lore that it leaves you with a disturbing sense of the power that the Dream Factory exerts on the historical imagination.” – Stephen Holden, NY Times

2-5-08-decay-of-fiction-3.jpgThe Decay of Fiction is an intersection of fact and hallucination in an abandoned luxury hotel. The hotel is in Hollywood. The walls of the Ambassador are cracked and peeling, the lawns are brown, and mushrooms grow in the damp carpets of the Cocoanut Grove. The pool is empty, and the ballroom where Bobby Kennedy died is shuttered and locked. A tall, elegant blonde stands transparently on the terrace of her bungalow, smoking and watching the sunrise. Voices and tinkles waft across the lawn. A contingent of vaguely sinister men arrive and ask for Jack. Jack is expecting trouble, but not this kind of trouble. Louise, a guest, replays a nightmare in which she drowns Pauline so that she can marry Dean. The sun sets and rises again. Two detectives seem to turn up everywhere, searching for Communist literature and telling one another pointless stories of underworld intrigue. In the kitchens and behind the scenes the daily routine continues, individuality melts, and workers fuse with their jobs. Winter passes, and then another summer, and finally it is Halloween, and there is a costume ball which claims the life of Rhonda the evasive soprano. And then the building comes down in a clatter of Spanish tiles and concrete, and fact has finally become fiction, once again. I scribbled the words The Decay of Fiction on the back of a notebook almost forty years ago, tore it off and framed it fifteen years later, and have wanted ever since to make a film to fit its ready-made description. To me it refers to the common condition of stories partly remembered, films partly seen, texts at the margins of memory, disappearing like a book left outside on the ground to decompose back into the earth. The film takes place in a building about to be destroyed, those walls contain (by dint of association) a huge burden of memory: cultural and personal, conscious and unconscious. To make the film was to trap a few of its characters and some of their dialog, casting them together within the confines of the site. The structure and its stories are decaying together, and each seems to be a metaphor for the other.

For an interesting perspective, here’s an excerpt of an interview before the completion of the film and before the demolition of the Ambassador Hotel.  From an interview between David E. James and Pat O’Neill, printed in Millennium Film Journal, No. 30/31 (Fall 1997) Continue reading