Re: [Frameworks] George Kuchar's WEATHER DIARIES to screen at the HFA

From: Omari Confer <>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2011 10:30:27 -0500

On Aug 10, 2011 8:54 AM, "Gravely, Brittany" <>
> Apologies: I forgot to post this in the weekly events listing!
> CAMBRIDGE, MA: The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to screen the series
> About the filmmaker:
> This whole thing started because of my interest in nature. Since I was a
city boy, living in the Bronx, nature came to me via the colorful tapestry
of sky that loomed above the tenements. The awe of summer thunderstorms,
smothering blizzards and window rattling nor'easters, left a lasting
impression on me. I sought out, via library books, the superstars of this
meteorological majesty and read up on hurricanes, tornadoes and other
terrors that occasionally whirled into urban awareness.
> Loving to draw and paint, I happened to come upon the books of Eric
Sloane. He was an artist very interested in Americana and American weather.
His beautifully illustrated volumes on the atmosphere were of great
aesthetic and scientific value to me. I learned how to read the clouds and
it made going out everyday a kind of heavenly horoscope. Eventually I was
lucky enough to get a job doing weather maps for a local, NBC news show.
Frank Fields was the weatherman on that program and he was astounded that I
knew what the clouds accompanying storm fronts looked like. Previous visual
artists had drawn amorphous looking atrocities that resembled deflated
duffle bags. Mine were anatomically correct aerial artifacts of blossoming
beauty. His weather maps were my chance to display the knowledge I had
acquired from Eric Sloane and from scanning the skies with new eyes.
> I developed a fascination with thunderstorms and the furious whirlwinds
they sometimes unleashed on the landscape. Instead of just reading accounts
of these monstrous, whirling dervishes, and the lives of those caught in the
vicinity of the vortex, I decided to take an airplane and go to where they
huffed and puffed. So I wound up in Oklahoma City during springtime. I'd
stay at the YMCA for three or four weeks and try to absorb, on all levels,
the mysterious elements that now obsessed me. I was young and time stretched
ahead of me in a seemingly endless event horizon. Perhaps I could fill my
head with images and sound that previously had only come from reading books
on this subject. This would be the real thing.
> I am not a storm chaser as I never learned how to drive a car. I wanted to
experience springtime storms on the American plains like the simple folk I
read about in those library books. Therefore the videos in the weather
diaries depict the turmoil, tedium, terror and televised terrain of tornado
country through the eyes of a transplant. At times I try to blend in, to
digest the alien ambiance, the fast food and slow motion days. Ailments
galore pepper the series along with glimpses of those who pass like gas,
vapors of vitality to sniff at with a gizmo that doesn't have a nose. But I
do hope you enjoy what its eye captures on this journey of jubilant junk
food and delightful dread. – George Kuchar
> A long-time luminary of underground cinema, George Kuchar remains on his
own inimitable track producing ingenious, low-budget melodramas at a
stunningly prolific pace since he was a teenager shooting 8mm in the Bronx.
Like that extraordinary strand, the Weather Diaries’ lack of pretension and
gloss reveals a sincerely dramatic, funny, and vulnerable perspective of the
endlessly inspired and inspiring entity that is George Kuchar. The Harvard
Film Archive is pleased to welcome Mr. Kuchar back to the theater with his
own selection of journalistic escapades chasing tempests both meteorological
and corporeal.
> All film descriptions written by George Kuchar.
> Screening Schedule:
> Live interview with the director via Skype will follow screening.
> Friday August 12 at 7pm
> Wild Night in El Reno
> This movie began the weather diary cycle and is the only one in a film
format. I shot it with my Bolex camera. I think the filmmaker (and my
ex-student) Curt McDowell visited me during this time because there are some
stills of me peppered here and there in the movie. The motel I was staying
at is the only one that had an underground cellar. This was comforting when
twisters threatened but was not well-managed as the doors were unhinged
making it more like sliding open a lid rather than opening a portal. It
eventually became filled with ankle deep mud which for one panicked mother
was more terror inducing than a full-fledged tornado. She told me to hand
back the baby I was holding as she preferred to ride out the storm above
ground and wanted no part of that muck. Luckily for her and little junior,
the violent funnel cloud lifted before hitting the town but it was a close
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 1977, 16mm, color, 15 min.
> Weather Diary 1
> This (just about) feature-length documentary attempts to capture the feel
of the Oklahoma experience as I lived it for about three or four weeks in
May at a motel/trailer park. It was entirely edited in camera and shot in a
start to finish manner with the time being manipulated and expanded upon by
in-camera inserts. You get sneak peaks of the occupants of the facility and
glimpses of their lives interspersed with threats of turbulent weather both
above our heads and squeezed into a TV tube. There are also four legged
mammals hanging around and some bugs here and there. I do my best to connect
with them all, socially.
> This first video in the series sets the gastric tone of all future visits
to Oklahoma and delves into a menu of gassy goodies and gooey deposits. This
motel (and the owners) no longer exist as death and the bulldozer have wiped
them out. But they live on in this electronic format which has always seemed
to shock and outrage viewers on many occasions and has been assigned the
dubious distinction of a "dangerous, live wire, so beware"! These sentiments
(warnings) were issued by Scott McDonald as his screening of the video to
his class created an horrendous uproar of disgust. It also shed a new and
very unflattering light on the Flaherty Film Seminar in upstate New York as
the audience, totally repelled by this white man spending time in Indian
territory and exposing his greasy secrets, skin, and imperfect teeth was too
much to bear for politically correct academia. Since the other documentaries
in that venue stressed racial confrontations and territorial hatreds, the
fact that they had to endure sitting through this exposition of a Bronx
boy's friendly, if somewhat freaky, foray into Americana was too much to
tolerate. The prestigious showcase turned into the Jerry Springer show and
the animosity this video revealed from behind the cloak of academic
respectability was truly awesome! I hope you enjoy it.
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 1986, digital video, color, 75 min.
> Saturday August 13 at 7pm
> Weather Diary 3
> Shot in 8mm video and edited entirely in the camera, this picture deals
with meteorological and sexual desire on the plains. It's the only movie in
the series where I interact with storm chasers. I'm a storm squatter as I
never learned how to drive a car. The young meteorolgy student who pays me a
visit was someone I met in Wisconsin at a screening of my films/videos a few
years before. This was his first visit to Oklahoma to chase tornadoes but
the storm season proved to be a dry one. His presence lubricated me on a
more personal level and our friendship helped to sweeten the sourness that
happens when nature doesn't "put out".
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 1998, digital video, color, 25 min.
> Heavenly Features
> I had a little more money so I switched motels to one that had a pool. A
little wooden friend accompanied me for a while but when the puppet's
strings got tangled-up I ditched him. I sometimes interact with dolls and
dummies so that the improvised dialogue can be directed at something other
than the camera lens.
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 2005, digital video, color, 10 min.
> Centennial
> There's not much chatter in this video as I munch and chew my way through
a series of scenes that eventually culminate in a celebration of the state's
existence. I stumbled onto this historical knowledge by accident as it was
concentrated on a street corner.
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 2007, digital video, color, 13 min.
> Chigger Country
> A chance to spend two weeks on a cattle ranch in southern Oklahoma makes
this video an ode to the land more than the sky. The woman who invited me to
the ranch was nicknamed, Chigger, and had been a student of mine many years
ago. This place was a world very alien to me as instead of having
cockroaches in the kitchen there were scorpions. It was like a giant park
with no paths, streetlights or benches but it did have rattlesnakes, ticks,
armadillos and cantankerous bulls. The ranch was all for the growth and well
being of the cattle and they had the run of the place which took up two
counties. I got a chance to aim and shoot a rifle for the first time and
(surprisingly) bonded with the firearm very quickly. I hope you will enjoy
this vision of man and beast on the southern plains as this property was
sold a short time later and I don't know what it is now.
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 1999, digital video, color, 24 min.
> Hotspell
> This is my latest weather diary and it follows me to Norman, Oklahoma, as
I had a show at the giant university there and made some friends who came to
visit me later when I moved on to my usual resting place, El Reno. It proved
to be a turbulent stay both inwardly and outwardly as my libido mixed with
the clashing seasons to create a vortex of violent forces, one of which
threatened to wipe out the town!
> Directed by George Kuchar.
> USA 2011, digital video, color, 26 min.
> Harvard Film Archive
> 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
> (617) 495-4700
> General Admission Tickets $9, $7 Non-Harvard Students, Seniors, Harvard
Faculty and Staff. Harvard students free
> Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to show time. The HFA does not do
advance ticket sales.

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Received on Wed Aug 10 2011 - 08:30:35 CDT