EXPERIMENTAL REMAKES - Making the Lost and Unmade: The Films of Bruce Checefsky

From: Bruce Checefsky (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Aug 01 2008 - 05:46:35 PDT

Making the Lost and Unmade: The Films of Bruce Checefsky

My films are based on unrealized scripts and previously made experimental films lost or destroyed in Poland between 1930-58.  I'm also working on several new projects, films by Joseph Cornell, Leopold Survage, Arnoldo Ginna and Bruno Corra, and Jeremi M. F. Wasiutyski.

For more information please contact me at:

email suppressed
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MOMENT MUSICAL/2006/16 mm black and white/photogram film/sound/5:43

Stefan and Franciszka Themerson’s first sound film, "Moment Musical' (1933), was a three-minute commercial in which photograms of light-pierced jewelry, porcelain and glass were animated to music by Ravel.

The Themersons' experimental techniques involved moving lights and shadows on objects. They evolved out of the Themersons' improvisations with the photogram. 1928-35. Most of the images were made on a "trick-table" improvised by Stefan Themerson. He placed various objects on a piece of translucent paper over a sheet of glass. The lights were above, and he photographed the images from below frame by frame.

In 1934, T.Toeplitz from Kurier Polski wrote:

"And finally I shall mention the Themersons, who shot a truly beautiful commercial – Moment Musical. This film moment is the only film that one cannot raise any objections to at all. The only positive point in the balance of Polish film production in 1933-34."

"Moment Musical" was destroyed during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw.
In 2006, Bruce Checefsky directed a successful remake of "Moment Musical" based on published reviews from the 1930s Polish press, original film stills, and notes from Stefan and Franciszka Themerson.

IN NI (Others) 2005/Betacam/color, black & white/English subtitles/20:43

In 1958, experimental filmmaker Andrzej Pawlowski wrote a script based on a 1941 diary written by a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Kobierzyn near Krakow.  The original diary, found stashed in a wall, was later given to Pawlowski by the director of the asylum.  In the diary a psychiatric patient/writer chronicles the daily atrocities committed by the Nazi under the operation “Ausmerzung Lebensunwerten Leben” during the WWII occupation of Poland.

The diary survived the war but its author did not survive the gas chambers.  Pawlowski's script was submitted to the national film board in Warsaw but they failed to produce it before Pawlowski died in 1986.  IN NI (Others) is based on Pawlowski's original1958 script.  Filmed in Warsaw.

A WOMAN AND CIRCLES/2003-2004/35mm/black & white and color/found film/sound/9:38

In 1930 while living in Paris, Polish avant-garde poet Jan Brzekowski wrote a short non-narrative film script titled "A Woman and Circles" in the French magazine "Cercle et Carree" (The script was later translated into Polish and published in "Linia."). Checefsky's experimental film of the same title - A WOMAND AND CIRCLES - is based on Brzekowski's original 1930 text.

This non-narrative film reveals a random succession of negative and positive images preceded by a glowing circle that overtakes the film frame then reduces to two smaller bouncing balls that later become minuet dancers.  While some of Checefsky’s film uses found footage from 1960's instructional films like "What is Rain?" the film is not considered a remake or reconstruction - Brzekowski never produced his film.  Checefsky's version is an interpretation of Brzekowski's theory on film.
A WOMAN AND CIRCLES was filmed using a 1940's hand wound 35mm camera with black and white film stock from the period in which the script was originally published.

PHARMACY/2001/35mm/black and white abstract film/silent/4:36

PHARMACY is based on Stefan and Francizsk Themersons influential 1930 abstract photogram film APTEKA.  The Themersons are considered the most influential filmmakers of the Polish avant-garde of pre-WWII Europe.  Their work eventually led to the formation of the Lodz School of Film in the 1950’s with later luminary alumnus such as Roman Polanski.
A stunning black and white abstract film, Pharmacy is a chaotic, anarchic assemblage of chemistry lab measuring cups and spoons, various size test tubes, tweezers, eyeglasses, and a cornucopia of transparent pharmaceutical equipment seen as shadows only.  Filmed in Budapest using a 1930s single frame camera, black and white film, and a reconstruction of the Themersons original shooting stage based on a drawing from the 1960s.


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