Re: Interesting Screening at the University of Chicago (Ron Rice, Edward Owens, others)

From: Pierce, Greg (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jan 31 2006 - 12:55:36 PST

Correct me if I'm wrong - those who know - aren't the copies of Dirt and Avocada that are now available examples of recent preservation/restoration work? I know I couldn't get the Bill Vehr film years ago when we at The Warhol wanted to show it as part of our film program that ran in conjunction with the Jack Smith: Flaming Creature exhibiton.

-----Original Message-----
From: Experimental Film Discussion List
[mailto:email suppressed]On Behalf Of Fred Camper
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:24 PM
To: email suppressed
Subject: Interesting Screening at the University of Chicago (Ron Rice,
Edward Owens, others)


"Beyond Warhol, Smith and Anger" Film Series
The Gender Question / Questioning Gender
Friday, February 3, 2006, 7 pm

"Behind Every Good Man" (Nikolai Ursin, 1965, 8 minutes)
"Chumlum" (Ron Rice, 1964, 26 minutes)
"Dirt" (Piero Heliczer, 1965, 12 minutes)
"Avocada" (Bill Vehr, 1966, 37 minutes)
"Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts" (Edward Owens, 9 minutes)
"Tomorrow's Promise" (Edward Owens, 1967, 45 minutes)

Free and open to the public at:

Film Studies Center
5811 South Ellis Ave. Cobb Hall 307
Chicago, IL 60637

My suggestion: come early; seating may be limited.

Also see after this Thursday as
well as the upcoming print edition of the "Chicago Reader" for my
capsule review.

"Chumlum" is an all too rarely screened masterpiece, an extravagantly
costumed orgy in lush colors and multiple superimpositions. It's one of
the very first avant-garde films I saw, as a teenager. I still remember
seeing two middle aged men outside the screening. One said to the other
something like, "Chumlum was very beautiful, but I didn't understand the
meaning. Orgy? Paradise?" The other responded with knowing certainty,
"Paradise." I was amused by this at the time. Today I would say that
obviously it's both, and a few other things as well.

"Dirt" is a pretty interesting example of Heliczer's found footage,
"looks a bit like random" aesthetic.

But the real reason for this post is the presence of two filmmakers I'd
never heard of, unearthed in the research of University of Chicago
professor Ron Gregg. Ursin's film is not that great aesthetically, but
is interesting as a very early example of a documentary on a drag queen.
I don't know of any earlier ones.

Owens's films I liked pretty much. They aren't great, but they're very
good. They both show the influence of Gregory J. Markopoulos, and it
turns out that Owens was a student at the School of the Art Institute,
doing painting and then collages from the early 60s on. He later studied
with Markopoulos when he taught film briefly there in 1966-67, and the
Owens films seem in some ways very much like Markopoulos's at the time,
with their use of editing and superimpositions to create a sense that
figures and objects are interrelated and interpenetrating. They are
quite curious, very slow, lots of pauses, static figures. The longer of
the two has writing also on its dark leader, looking at times like it
wasn't completely finished. It also seems that Owens was African
American, making him a rare example of an African American working in
the American avant-garde mode. I couldn't find any references to him
other than for these films in a quick 'Net search, though I didn't
explore most of the hits; if anyone knows anything about him, or about
what happened to him, I'd be curious to learn more.

All these films are from the Filmmakers' Cooperative in New York. Who
knows what other treasures lie there unrented?

Fred Camper

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.