From: Chuck Kleinhans (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 08 2006 - 08:32:44 PST
I'm not emotionally engaged in this discussion/debate/food fight as
some seem to be. So, in the spirit of observations, not anger:
1. I taught an experimental film history and criticism course at
Northwestern and used the BY BRAKHAGE DVD as a required text for this
class of about 40. I showed some of his films as films. THe DVD
gave the students a chance to see specific works repeatedly, to study
them closely (without damaging them if we just had them watch a
rental film on the flatbed), and to see a much wider range of B's
work. I thought it boosted the quality of the course, and the
student evaluations were all positive about this aspect of the
course. In addition, it allowed them to show the films (which really
excited some to them) to their fellow students who were not enrolled
in the class, building interest among more majors and some nonmajors.
2. I thought Tony Conrad's remarks were right on the mark.
3. I respect Scott McDonald's career long commitment to avant garde
film and I think it's great that Roger Beebe was able to have a
successful screening in Gainesville. But let's be realistic. Roger
has a tenure track position in a department that has a long standing
and strong commitment to film studies, and sympathy to experimental
film in particular: two tenured faculty, Maureen Turim and Scott
Nygren wrote their dissertations of US experimental film and continue
to write about it. The students in this very large campus are not
totally ignorant of or shut off from experimental films. Showing
films as films is great, and "Just do it" has a nice sound to it, but
lots of folks are teaching as adjuncts (about 50% of all courses
nationally, and many more in some schools) or in departments and
programs which simply don't have the resources or interest or
enlightenment to fund extensive print rental. Hats off to Scott for
working tirelessly to get rental budgets. But please recognize that
many of us have multiple priorities. Maybe we put our efforts
elsewhere in trying to improve the institutions in which we work.
4. I respect Fred Camper's dedication to experimental film which
includes purchasing prints for his own collection and putting his own
money into rentals for screening. But it's absurd to expect everyone
to follow this model. If you have dependent children who have needs
not being met, or a family member with expensive medical bills, would
you really spend part of your salary subsidizing your classroom
materials? There's more than a whiff of "holier than thou" in part
of this discussion.
5. I'm glad that Fred had an earthshaking experience seeing an
experimental film as a youngster. But not all of us do, and yet we
still write, teach, and attend experimental film events. Off to
college, I was amazed when I saw Cassavetes SHADOWS, which some
purists on Frameworks reject because it is a dramatic narrative). I
also saw THE FLOWER THIEF around the same time, which I liked a lot
more than the rest of the audience, it seemed (I stayed to the end),
but I don't think it "changed my life" though I sure did remember it
for years afterwards and always enjoyed seeing it again. Fred, the
world is relative for most of us...get used to it.
6. These matters can be phrased as absolutes, but I think most
people who have written in about this, and most people on Frameworks
actually have a relative and contingent and situational understanding
of how to live with them. I think that's what most of Tetzlaff's
"rant" was about.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.