Re: views on Views from the Avant-Garde Part 2

From: Cari Machet (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Oct 17 2006 - 08:34:56 PDT

i agree totally


On 10/16/06, William Wees, Dr. <email suppressed> wrote:
> Hello, again, Frameworkers-
> I started making the trip from Montréal to New York to take in "Views from
> the Avant-Garde" in 1998, the second year of "Views'" existence. I hoped to
> see the latest work by the most interesting and innovative a-g filmmakers. I
> knew, of course, that the selection process (and other factors) determined
> which films made it on to the screen at the Walter Reade Theater, and after
> a couple of years I realized that the taste and enthusiasms of the
> programmers made the content of "Views" less eclectic than I would have
> liked. Particularly noticeable was the scarcity of overtly political films
> (I use "political" in the broadest sense of the term) and the preponderance
> of films that fit comfortably within the tradition of formalist, "visionary"
> and personal films that dominate the canonical American avant-garde. There
> were exceptions-Ken Jacob's up-dated "Star Spangled to Death" in the 2003
> "Views" comes to mind immediately-but they were few and far between.
> Apparent, as well, was a tendency to group films with formal and/or
> thematic similarities in the same program. This had some pedantic interest,
> but sometimes made me wonder if certain films were selected, not because
> they were among the best new a-g work, but because they "fit" the concept of
> a particular program.
> Despite these reservations, I have found much of interest over the years,
> and I am grateful for the opportunity to catch up on some of the current
> American a-g films-with some European and, more rarely, Canadian films
> turning up as well.
> But I can't help commenting on what appears to be an increasing tendency
> for older work to crowd out newer work. Between 1998 and 2004 there were
> occasional retrospectives (Arthur Lipsett, Robert Beavers, Jonas Mekas, the
> Kuchar brothers' early 8mm films) or individual older films, such as Jerome
> Hiller and Nathaniel Dorsky's "Fool's Spring" (1967), Harry Smith's "Film
> No. 15" (1966), and Peter Kubelka's "Mosaik im Vertrauen" (1955). But a
> large percentage of the screening time was devoted to recent and brand new
> work. That changed last year with older films-S.N.S. Sastry's "And I Make
> Short Films" (1968), Warhol's "Blue Movie" (1969), Alan Ross's "Grandfather
> Trilogy" (1979-81), a Larry Gottheim retrospective of films from 1969 to
> 1991-taking up, by my calculation, a little over 30 per cent of the
> screening time. This year, one-third of the films shown were more than 5
> years old-many much older-and they took up 45 percent of the screening time.
> Although most of these films were new preservation prints or restoration
> blow-ups (8mm to 16mm or 16mm to 35mm), the fact remains that the original
> films ranged in age from 14 to 59 years old: from Paolo Gioli's "Filmarilyn"
> (1992) to Kenneth Anger's "Fireworks" (1947). A female friend noted that not
> one of the older films was by a woman. But the implications of that omission
> go well beyond the programming decisions for "Views" 2006-and beyond the
> purpose of these notes.
> I would be the first to argue for the value of seeing older a-g work, but
> those possibilities already exist-at Anthology Film Archives and MoMA, for
> example-whereas the opportunity to devote a weekend to viewing a selection
> of the best of the newest a-g films is special, if not unique. I'm certainly
> not objecting to using a small portion of that opportunity to present
> "re-discovered" or (to borrow Bruce Posner's term) the a-g's "unseen
> cinema." Arguably, that could apply to Paolo Gioli's films in this year's
> "Views" (though the recent appearance of a DVD of his work weakens that
> argument) and Saul Levine's 8mm films, because of the fragility of their
> gauge and the near extinction of projectors capable of showing them (but
> they were shown in 16mm blow ups, which means they are now readily available
> for screening anywhere). I don't see any way the argument could be applied
> to the films of Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage and Ernie Gehr shown this year.
> Of course, Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith can show whatever they want,
> but perhaps I'm not alone in wishing they would go back to offering
> primarily new "Views from the Avant-garde."
> -Bill Wees
> William C. Wees, Editor
> McGill University
> 853 Sherbrooke St. West--ArtsW225
> Montreal, QC H3A 2T6
> 514-398-4935 (telephone) 514-398-7247 (fax)
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

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