FW: [lafilmforum] D.W. Griffith and Tom Gunning on Sunday Nov 15!

From: Adam Hyman (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Nov 12 2009 - 09:50:28 PST

Sunday November 15, 2009, 7:30 pm

Los Angeles Filmforum presents
D.W. Griffith in California, with talk by Tom Gunning

At the Echo Park Film Center
1200 N. Alvarado Street (@ Sunset Blvd)
Los Angeles, CA 90026
For reservations, email email suppressed
Note change in location!

For fans of early film, and of Southern California history! We're delighted
to host the internationally-renowned film scholar Tom Gunning, who will talk
about Griffith's time in California, and these selected, rarely screened
films made in So Cal in the years before World War I. All in 16mm with live
musical accompaniment by Cliff Retallick.

In 1910, retreating from the harsh East Coast winter which confined them
inside the narrow limits of their NYC studio in a 14th st. brownstone, D.W.
Griffith transported the Biograph film company to southern California. For
the next four winters the company made over a hundred one reel (15 minutes)
films in the area around Los Angeles, covering every genre in a range of
locations: westerns in the deserts and hills; a caveman film in Griffith
Park; tales of lost lovers by the seaside; Mexican dramas among the cacti.
These brief films laid the foundation for cinema as a narrative art, but,
even more, the displayed a beauty of landscape and detail that year later
Griffith claimed Hollywood had completely forgotten. Tom Gunning

Special Thanks to Tom Barnes for the silent speed projector and to all our
print sources: David Shepard, USC Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive, Academy
Film Archives, and Budget Films.

Man's Genesis (1912, 17 min)
Griffith took on the somewhat daring task of illustrating Darwin's theory of
man's evolution with Bobby Harron as a cavemen who proves intelligence
triumphs over brawn. With Mae Marsh

The New Dress (1911, 17 min.)
A psychological story of Mexican life showing Griffith's genius for building
a story around an object. With Dorothy West.

The Massacre (1914, 20 min)
A true epic in small form, showing Griffith's ambitions to create a
panoramic landscape of action. As he often did, Griffith showed how the
American westward expansion destroyed the peaceful lives of Native
Americans. With the magnificent Blanche Sweet and Wilfred Lucas.

The Unchanging Sea (1910, 14 min.)
Griffith used the seaside as a poetic motif to express longing and loss,
combined with a deft use of parallel editing to express the cycles of life.
With Mary Pickford and Charles West

The Sands of Dee (1912, 17 min)
One of Griffith most poetic films, based on a poem by Charles Kingsley, as
Mae Marsh plays an abandoned lover who haunts the shore.

The Female of the Species (1912, 17 min)
A grim melodrama of survival in the desert in which women play out the
central drama of jealousy and revenge (including a rather murderous Mary

Tom Gunning is the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service
Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media at the University of
Chicago. He is the author of the books, D. W. Griffith and the Origins of
American Narrative Film: The Early Years at Biograph and The Films of Fritz
Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity and of over a hundred essays ,
especially on early cinema and the avant-garde. He is currently a Visiting
Scholar at the Getty Research Institute researching the theory and history
of the moving image.

D.W. (David Wark) Griffith (1875-1948)
Griffith was born in rural Kentucky to Jacob "Roaring Jake" Griffith, a
Confederate Army colonel and Civil War hero. He grew up with his father's
romantic war stories and melodramatic nineteenth century literature that
were to eventually mold his black-and-white view of human existence and
history. In 1897, Griffith set out to pursue a career both acting and
writing for the theater but for the most part was unsuccessful. Reluctantly,
he agreed to act in the new motion picture medium for Edwin S. Porter at the
Edison Company. Griffith was eventually offered a job at the financially
struggling American Mutoscope & Biograph, where he directed over 450 short
films, experimenting with the story-telling techniques he would later
perfect in his epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Griffith and his personal
cinematographer G.W. Bitzer collaborated to create and perfect such
cinematic devices as the flashback, the iris shot, the mask, and
crosscutting. In the years following Birth, Griffith never again saw the
same monumental success, and, in 1931, his increasing failures forced his
retirement. Though hailed for his vision in narrative film-making, he was
similarly criticized for his blatant racism. Griffith died in Los Angeles in
1948, one of the most dichotomous figures in film history. from imDb,

This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board
of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the
Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.
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We will take reservations until noon on the day of each screening, and hold
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Coming soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:

Nov 22 - Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour Program 2

Dec 6 - Yvonne Rainer in person with "The Man Who Envied Women" and in
conversation with Berenice Reynaud

Dec 13 - The Festival of (In)Appropriation: Contemporary Found Footage
Filmmaking, part 2

Jan 17, 2010 - Yvonne Rainer in person with "Journeys from Berlin/1971" and
in conversation with Simon Leung

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This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board
of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the
Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Additional support is
generously provided by the American Cinematheque.

To see what else is playing at the American Cinematheque, please see

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