May 13, 2011

Film Comment Selects Presents the Gratifying and Grotesque

If Alex DeLarge, the ultra-violence and Beethoven-loving anti-hero of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (and Anthony Burgess’1962 source novel of the same name) had leapt off the celluloid and assembled a collection of vile but artistic films that he felt represented essential viewing – or “viddying” – for devoted cinephiles, he would have likely composed something quite similar to the 2011 line-up for Film Comment Selects. This annual two-week screening event, now in its eleventh year of existence, features an eclectic assemblage of domestic and international films handpicked by the editors and writers of Film Comment, the prestigious cinema journal published bi-monthly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

While the film series often features a wide variety of independent films, lost cinematic treasures and foreign imports without current U.S. distribution, each touching upon various genres and subject matters, a staggering majority of this year’s films contain plot-lines and themes that lean toward the grim and disturbing. As Gavin Smith, editor of Film Comment and one of the programmers of Film Comment Selects, has noted, “There’s no denying that this year’s selection is pretty dark: serial killers, Nazis… grave robbers, real-life hit men… What can we say? Death sells tickets” (Smith 1). But this year’s Film Comment Selects is not some cinematic “death-fest” looking to draw in horror fans and other connoisseurs of gore. In fact, as certain programs such as the thought-provoking and somewhat stomach-turning “Three by Isild Le Besco” clearly represents, the programmers of Film Comment Selects have carefully chosen films that exhibit a unique and unexpected blend of “art and abjection”; a fusion between the cinematically alluring and the morally repugnant (Smith 1).

The 2011 series runs from February 18th through March 3rd and features twenty-six films divided into four venues: “Opening Night Films,” “Closing Night Films,” the “Main Program” and “Special Programs,” all of which screen at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, located in Lincoln Center. The exhibition that I attended, “Three by Isild Le Besco,” was held on February 19th, the second day of the series, and was the first of five “Special Programs” scheduled for the two-week event. The program was originally advertised to consist of three films by twenty-nine-year-old actress-turned-fledgling-auteur, Isild Le Besco, with the director participating in Q&A sessions following each of the individual screenings (Foundas 36). Unfortunately, the director was forced to cancel her appearance at the last minute due to personal obligations, and her work – though briefly introduced by programmer Gavin Smith – was left to speak for itself. The three films shown included Le Besco’s 2003 debut work Demi-tarif, her first feature-length narrative, Charly (2007) and her latest (and inarguably most disturbing) film, Bas-fonds or The Dregs (2010). While each of the films reflect various levels of technical skill, production value, and personal/artistic growth on behalf of the director, together they represent what Le Besco (as quoted by Smith) considers to be her “outsider trilogy,” a bleak and unsettling triptych dealing with characters living abnormal lives on the fringes of society.

Le Besco’s films, all projected from a Beta tape format,[1] were presented in chronological order, beginning with the amateurish, yet relatively accessible, Demi-tarif. Originally released when the director was twenty-one, Demi-tarif follows the lives of three Parisian children, ages 7-9, left to care for themselves by an absent mother (Foundas 36). Le Besco uses a hand-held “digital video” camera to record the adventures and mishaps of these children as they pan-handle in the subway, steal food from local grocers and spend nights running naked through their filthy apartment, squealing with glee (36). The resolution of the images captured on Le Besco’s shaking hand-held camera are of poor quality when compared with more polished-looking studio productions, but there is also an uninhibited and free-flowing feel to her camerawork that aptly reflects the impulsive, devil-may-care lifestyle of her young subjects. In addition, Demi-tarif, like Charly and Bas-fonds, features a French-language soundtrack with English subtitles, but Demi-tarif is the most verbally rudimentary of the three films in terms of its sparse translation. Aside from a few instances of voiceover narration and scenes in which the children converse with adults (all of which are clearly translated), roughly two-thirds of the film depict scenes without subtitles in which the viewer must carefully study the children’s behavior and emotional reactions to develop any understanding of the scene’s trajectory.

Both Charly and Bas-fonds reflect evidence of Le Besco’s growth as a director. The content and subject matter of the films are clearly the work of someone willing to take serious artistic risks and the significant improvement in visual and audio quality – along with the enhanced set-design and appearance of professional actors – suggest that Le Besco’s shooting budget had greatly increased since the release of her first film. In addition, both films are fully subtitled for English-speaking viewers and special credit is given to the translators at the close of each work. Charly follows the story of an adolescent boy (played by Le Besco’s younger brother) who runs away from home and winds up living in a trailer with the title character, a young prostitute with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, played by French actress Julie-Marie Parmentier. With its slight resemblance to the coming-of-age film and the employment of a seasoned actress (compared to the novice or non-actors Le Besco often uses), Charly represents Le Besco’s most mainstream work and its placement as the second film in the program provided a nice transition into the final piece of the day, Bas-fonds.

In many ways, Bas-fonds, like Charly, is a work of professional studio quality in terms of its technical execution, but unlike its slightly more conventional predecessor, Bas-fonds returns to the themes of estrangement and isolation dealt with in Demi-tarif, tackling them with an unflinching brutality that exemplifies the director’s artistic maturity. The final film of Le Besco’s “outsider trilogy” studies a trio of highly-disturbed women whose days are characterized by screaming matches, bouts of heavy drinking, and a nearly constant consumption of pornography; however, on one particular evening, the women break away from their normal routine, venturing to a nearby town where they rob a local patisserie and murder the business’ young proprietor. Considering that Bas-fonds (with its highly grotesque and unsavory nature) is a startling representation of Le Besco’s work – and cinema itself – at its most unexpected and disturbing, it seems fitting that this particular film was selected by the programmers of this provocative series to screen the previous evening as part of the “Opening Night Films” presentation along with Jia Zhangke’s I Wish I Knew (2010) and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun (2011). Bas-fonds was the only film by Le Besco to screen twice within the entire two-week series (Demi-tarif and Charly were each shown exclusively as part of the special program on the 19th), and the controversial film’s second and final showing at the close of the “Three by Isild Le Besco” exhibition left viewers wondering what the director (and the Film Comment Selects series) might have planned for the future.

While it is uncertain where Le Besco’s next project will take her, the listings and descriptions of the remaining works scheduled for the 2011 Film Comment Selects series suggested that the programmers intended to continue exploring films that blended art, violence and repulsion with the same adeptness exhibited by Le Besco’s work. Films slated to screen over the remaining eleven days of the series included Kim Ji-Woon’s I Saw the Devil (2010), banned in the director’s native South Korea for what the series’ program notes euphemize as “its meticulous attention to bloody detail,” Sion Sono’s 144-minute exploitation-fest, Cold Fish (2010) and a special screening of Alex Cox’s 1987 film Straight to Hell Returns, featuring “‘digitally improved violence and cruelty.’”[2] In addition to this sampling of grisly fare, the series was also scheduled to screen less violent but equally provocative works such as Domaine (2009), “John Waters’ favorite movie of 2010”[3] and Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ Savior, Peter Geyer’s 2008 film chronicling the German actor’s performance as Jesus Christ and his subsequent breakdown at the hands of a heckling crowd.

While these titles only represent a small portion of the work being presented as part of the 2011 Film Comment Selects lineup, this group of films reflects core themes of the programmers’ mission. Both the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the editors and writers of the affiliated journal, Film Comment, are dedicated to drawing attention to influential directors and noteworthy “cinematic trends” that are changing the face of the seventh art – for better or worse ( As Gavin Smith states in reference to the philosophy behind both Film Comment and the Film Comment Selects series, the journal staff and programmers of this event “don’t buy the artificial distinctions of the cine-snobs” but choose to “celebrate genre fare…right alongside the work of certified art-house luminaries” (Smith 1). Thus films without current U.S. distribution are screened alongside exciting new works with upcoming release dates. Movies by veteran directors are juxtaposed with features by emerging auteurs and potential Oscar-contenders are exhibited in the same series as low-budget, B-grade, splatter films.

So what type of patronage is drawn in for such a challenging and unconventional festival? In general, it seemed as if the “Three by Isild Le Besco” exhibition attracted an audience that was both young and old, with little attendance by the thirty to forty-year-old crowd. Demi-tarif’s viewership was mostly over the age of fifty with only one or two twenty-somethings in attendance. Though this was probably my favorite piece of the day, the rest of the audience did not seem to be particularly riveted by this inventive, quirky film; in fact, some patrons fell asleep and began snoring around the half-hour mark, unable to sustain an active interest in the movie throughout its brief sixty-three minute runtime. Charly drew a slightly larger viewership with some women excitedly conversing and flipping through program notes before the screening and later nodding at one another in approval of the work. Bas-fonds undoubtedly attracted the largest audience of the day, which was to be expected since the film had been featured as an “Opening Night” selection the previous evening. A number of younger viewers attended this presentation, some of whom studied the film with great intensity or scribbled notes throughout the screening. Given the unsettling nature of the film, it was not surprising that certain scenes were met with gasps of horror and nervous laughter from certain viewers; Bas-fonds certainly seemed to have the most vocal crowd, but it was also Le Besco’s most visceral and provoking film, designed to elicit a certain response on behalf of the viewer.

While other series events such as the “Closing Night Films” presentation of Burke and Hare (John Landis, 2010) and Insidious (James Wan, 2010) will most likely draw in a larger and more diverse audience because the films feature more mainstream stories and popular stars such as Simon Pegg, Tim Curry, Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, “Three by Isild Le Besco,” seemed to have reached its intended audience. After all, the Le Besco program was not designed to be a sell-out show; rather it was a unique opportunity for genuinely interested viewers to see three films by a challenging young director whose work currently has no U.S. distribution, and is therefore unlikely to be screened again in the near future.

In general, the programming at the Walter Reade Theater, whether catering to the Film Comment Selects audience or otherwise, is often designed for serious and inquisitive viewers with specialized interests. Due to this, the programmers, who likely expected a modest turn-out for the “Three by Isild Le Besco” presentation, remained conscious of a need to supply their viewers with information about the films, the filmmaker and the festival itself. One way that this was accomplished was through the use of pamphlets – available in the theater lobby – containing titles, showtimes and brief summaries of the films involved in this year’s program. Prior to each screening, the projectionist also ran a series of slides advertising other films in the series with summaries and showtime information. In addition, though Le Besco was not present to discuss her work, programmer Gavin Smith suggested that interested viewers who would like to learn more about the director and her films could purchase a copy of the current issue of Film Comment – on sale in the lobby – which features a short article on Le Besco by contributing editor Scott Foundas. In this way, the article by Foundas also served as an additional set of “program notes,” providing viewers with a slightly more detailed look at Le Besco’s films, and an argument about how one might consider them to be works of “marginal cinema” (Foundas 36).

Looking at the exhibition from a critical perspective, Le Besco’s films were probably presented in a group of three, arranged chronologically, in order to gradually immerse viewers in her work. Demi-tarif is not just Le Besco’s first film, it is also her most tame – the piece that is likely to seduce the viewer and entice them to learn more about the director’s subsequent work. Charly shows what Le Besco can do with a larger budget and professional quality equipment, further whetting our appetite, and Bas-fonds provides such a relentless assault on the audience’s senses that it not only provokes interest in the artist’s future endeavors, but raises curiosity – and some apprehension – about the other movies in Film Comment Selects’ bold series.

Overall, the “Three by Isild Le Besco” presentation – in conjunction with the other films slated for the series – seems to support the programmers’ governing argument that not all films have to be aesthetically pleasing or even voyeuristically enjoyable to serve as important cinematic works. Just because a film might deal with a subject that is generally deemed artistically, historically or sociologically taboo, a serious and educated lover of cinema cannot simply disregard this work as a “bad” movie with no cultural significance or worth.

While I personally believe that the curators succeeded in proving their overall argument, it is difficult to determine if all of the viewers felt the same way. The films presented in the “Three by Isild Le Besco” program aptly demonstrated that art can exist within the aberrant, but Le Besco’s absence certainly had a detrimental affect on the programmers’ ability to contextualize the films in the best possible manner. Smith’s attempt to provide a brief introduction to the opening and closing films in the program, as well as his suggestion to peruse Film Comment’s latest issue to learn more about Le Besco, were helpful, but no doubt paled in comparison to the explanation and insight that Le Besco could have provided in regard to her own work. Following the screening of Demi-tarif, two patrons vocalized their disappointment that Le Besco could not appear to answer inquiries that they had in reference to the film, and at the conclusion of Bas-fonds, two women were left puzzling over what the “most disgusting thing” in the film was – a conversation that may have been led down a more critically constructive path if Le Besco had been present to lend some directorial guidance. This, however, was the program’s only drawback, and even though the programmers were essentially forced to let Le Besco’s work speak for itself, the staff should be given credit for having the precognition to select a distinct group of films that had such bold and interesting things to say.

Works Cited

Foundas, Scott. “Wildlife: The Marginal Cinema of Actress-Turned-Auteur Isild Le Besco.” Film Comment. 47.1 (2011): 36-37.

“Our Mission.” The Film Society of Lincoln Center. 22 February 2011. <>.

Smith, Gavin. “Gavin Smith on Film Comment Selects at 11.” Online posting. 18 February 2011. Film Society of Lincoln Center Blog. 22 February 2011. <>.

[1] Information regarding the media used for the screenings was provided by a representative of the Walter Reade Theater.

[2] All direct quotations are taken from the film descriptions printed in the program notes for the 2011 Film Comment Selects series.

[3] Ibid.

May 4, 2011

New Directions in Curatorial Models


Curators occupy a preeminent role in the landscape of art history through their position as scholarly figures within institutions. Recently, the practice of "curating" has expanded beyond the borders of institutions and has given rise to a new understanding of curating that does not fall strictly within institutional demarcations.
Sean Kelly will host a panel discussion on Saturday, May 7th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm focusing on curatorial models in the 21st century. Panelists will debate the evolving definition of the role of the curator. Among the questions we will focus on are: What does it mean to be a curator today? What is the process when curating an exhibition?  How has the role of the curator evolved? Who are the curators of tomorrow? Representing different curatorial perspectives on the panel will be: An Independent Curator; A Corporate Curator; and A Collector as Curator. 

This panel discussion will appropriately enough take place at the gallery within the context of the exhibition, Robert Mapplethorpe: 50 Americans (May 7 – June 18, 2011). The gallery invited fifty Americans, one from each state in the Union, to select a single artwork from over 2,000 images in the Mapplethorpe archive that particularly resonated with them. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see two portraits emerge. The first is a fresh look at the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, curated not by museum or art-world professionals, but rather by a cross-section of the American public.  The second portrait is of America itself, a demographic snapshot that reminds us of what a uniquely diverse environment the United States really is, with room for countless differing opinions and tastes.

Isolde Breilmaier - Independent Curator
Liz Christensen - Corporate Curator for Deutsche Bank
Amy Goldrich - Collector as Curator
Moderator - Sean Kelly

For more information, please visit:

Please RSVP to

Posted by Dan Streible
who likes the redundancy of "Please RSVP."

Apr 27, 2011

Difficulties in Going "Public"

At the close of “‘White Slavery’ Versus the Ethnography of ‘Sexworkers’: Women in Stag Films at the Kinsey Archive,” author Linda Williams lobbies for greater access to the Kinsey stag film collection among scholars and archivists, however, she also mentions the “need” for “public screenings”; a proposal that I find both intriguing and problematic (Williams 130). While it is one thing to allow researchers and scholars – knowledgeable about the historical and cultural elements of these films – to have access to screening these works, it is quite another to open such screenings to the public. Due to the controversial and potentially offensive content of many of these films, it is probable that screenings open to members of the public would require a careful and skilled contextualization in order for people to understand how these films can relate to the study of film history and culture.

Williams states that she “do[es] not claim to know how an archive of hard-core films should present its contents…to the public,” but still maintains that these films should “be made available to those interested” in them (128). In the past, numerous provocative film, photography, and art exhibitions have sparked controversy, despite the fact that they were presented within a museum setting – think of the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, or Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Sometimes a scholarly/artistic venue and curatorial contextualization are not enough to persuade members of the public to look at provocative or offensive material in a different light. While this fact is not a legitimate reason to bar the public from viewing these works, it is still incumbent upon curators and archivists to remember that with controversial works, context and understanding are everything, and with public exhibitions, these variables are less easy to control.

Works Cited

Williams, Linda. “‘White Slavery’ Versus the Ethnography of ‘Sexworkers’: Women in Stag Films at the Kinsey Archive.” The Moving Image 5.2 (Fall 2005): 107-34.

Apr 20, 2011

Long Shadows: The Late Work of Satyajit Ray

Hello All,
Here is a great opportunity to see a retrospective on one of India Cinema's most respected and renowned directors Satyajit Ray. Long Shadows: The Late Work of Satyajit Ray runs from Apr. 19 - Apr. 26 at Lincoln Center.

Cruel Cinema: New Directions in Tamil Film at BAM

As a Bollywood enthusiast, I am well aware that India contains multiple film industries based on regional languages and leads the world in quantity of film productions. However, aside from watching a Satyajit Ray (India’s most respected director) film that hails from the Bengali industry, I had never seen any of the other Indian Cinemas. With that being said, I jumped at the opportunity to see Cruel Cinema: New Directions in Tamil Film program consisting of four films by four Tamil directors over the course of four days (April 14-17) at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn. This traveling program was presented by 3rd i, an organization dedicated to showcasing innovative and experimental independent films promoting diverse images of South Asians.

Based in the southern region of Tamil-Nadu, Tamil language films follow Hindi Cinema (based in Mumbai) in popularity, box office gross, and number of productions a year. Cruel Cinema not only provided a unique glance for a Western audience into one of the more unknown film industries of India, but also showed four directors that are the core of a Tamil New Wave. These films are not the run of the mill extravagant musicals as seen in both Hindi and Tamil popular films, but are independent films that depict the violent lives of criminals and outcasts in a gritty mise-en-scène. I went to the opening night to see Selvaraghavan’s Pudhupettai, a gangster film about an outcast's quick rise to the top, juxtaposing both elements of horror (the gangs walk around with machetes slicing one another and the main character is oddly possessed with murderous, supernatural powers) with bits of comedy and cheerful item numbers (song and dance bits). Overall, entertaining with a dark tone, this films both departed from and expanded the traditional escapist entertainment of its popular cinema counterparts by stylizing the gritty, slums.

BAMcinématek was a good organization to host and show the program. The theater was large enough to house the more than forty people that turned out to see the film, the majority were non-South Asians. I would have been interested to hear what is their interest in this type of film. Cruel Cinema was accompanied by a handy program booklet that not only provided a synopsis, Cast & Crew credits, print information (Pudhupettai was a new 35MM print with beautiful color!), but also information about the Tamil New Wave, the series, the directors, 3rd i Cinema, and a short essay entitled Film Culture In Chennai by Lalitha Gopalan originally printed in Film Quaterly. While the information was very valuable for someone really interested to read the very colorful booklet and get details, the program (especially the first night) could have benefited from a speaker from 3rd i Cinema or from BAM to introduce the film and talk about the series. Although my screening was very enjoyable, such an introduction, may have convinced me to come again another night.

Apr 19, 2011

Approaches to Provocative Programming

In reading Chi-hui Yang’s reflection on his experience programming the Flaherty seminar, I became interested in his assessment of the Flaherty as a place where attendees have been known to start notorious debates with one another. I wondered, in programming for a specialized venue such as the Flaherty, where you are presenting a body of work to a select audience of individuals who are highly knowledgeable and often very opinionated about film, at what point, if any, does the urge to intentionally provoke viewers factor into the programmer’s decisions when selecting and arranging films for presentation?

Chi-hui, who provided a very detailed and highly-intuitive lecture regarding his approach to curating and programming, made a number of comments on this topic. He admitted that he was initially taken aback when the 2008 seminar’s “wrap-up” discussion turned into a heated debate between two of the participants, however, in time he came to realize that this explosive and ambiguous ending to the seminar would force people to continue thinking about the various issues that the program had raised regarding the theme of “migration,” even after the event had concluded.

Since this time it appears that Chi-hui’s philosophy towards curating and programming has become one of quiet provocation. “If a program doesn’t upset people’s notions of what they’re looking for,” he remarks, the program is ultimately “less successful.” And while I tend to agree with Chi-hui’s mantra of subverting conventions and using innovative programming to promote alternative ways of looking at certain films, I wonder how one can anticipate the line between slightly upsetting viewers’ expectations and presenting something that unintentionally sparks a huge debate or controversy? How do you curate a program that presents just the right about of thought-provoking controversy when “controversy” itself is so subjective?

Apr 12, 2011

Drive-In Cinephilia

Coming of age during the turn of the millennium, I am not ashamed to say that I am a product of this era that has given rise to a new state of cinephilia. Growing up in a small town in Idaho, where the options of seeing the newest release (or any film for that matter) were relegated to a second-run release at the local drive-in (although the double features were well worth the 5 dollars per person) or waiting until they were released on DVD in which my father would not only purchase them for his growing collection, but then purchase the Deluxe or Anniversary editions that would inevitably follow.

I was not privy to art house theaters that would project original 35MM prints of classics defined as a canon nor do have I had a defining film experience that turned me into a cinephile. Discovering the Turner Classic Movies channel at 17 is as close as I get to that kind of defining moment.

Thinking about the 21st century cinephilia or the death of cinephilia in relation to the changing modes of theater/film into laptop/digital, my experience with film has been defined outside the film theater. And yet, it does not make me any less of a film lover. I would equally enjoy watching a canon film at Anthology Film Archive or a bad bootleg copy of the latest Bollywood release with even worse subtitles.

However, something that I think makes two experiences significantly different is not the quality or the format, but the communal experience of sharing it with others. So as my experience has been defined outside theater, it has still been very much enjoyed with others. I may enjoy watching bad bootleg copies of Bollywood films, but even better I enjoy sharing that bad-bootleg copy with others, something I thing any of the authors who write about cinephilia such as Sontag may not agree with.

Sontag defines cinephilia as a clear cut, pure experience that is defined in a theater with celluloid film, not allowing for any redefinition or malleability. When the concept did start to evolve in the late 20th Century, she cried the death of cinephilia! Yes, cinephilia may never be the same homogenized experience that gave rise to an attitude and life-style, but it is still present and very much alive today. How else would a girl from a small town in Idaho end up loving films?

Terrace Drive-In, Caldwell, Idaho

Apr 8, 2011

EAI in Times Square: April 13 - 19

Curating in a big way....

40 Years of Video Art

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) celebrates its 40th anniversary with a
special project for Times Square. In partnership with the Times Square
Alliance and MTV, EAI brings artists' visions to the MTV 44½ LED Screen.
Marking EAI's 40 years of support for moving image art, EAI in Times
Square celebrates video art's rich history of creative intervention in one
of the world's most dynamic media landscapes.

April 13 - 19, 2011
Noon - 4pm and 6pm - 11pm

Saturday & Sunday, April 16-17
Full program also plays at noon

MTV 44 ½ Screen
Times Square
Broadway between
44th and 45th Streets
New York, NY 10036

EAI partners with the Times Square Alliance and MTV to present artists'
video in the astonishing visual landscape of Times Square. From April 13
to 19, EAI will highlight the remarkable creative media interventions of
artists on a spectacular scale. Works by Vito Acconci, Dan Asher, Phyllis
Baldino, Dara Birnbaum, Gary Hill, Shigeko Kubota, Takeshi Murata, Nam
June Paik, Martha Rosler, Stuart Sherman and William Wegman will be seen
daily on MTV 44½'s large-format LED screen.

Drawn from EAI's archive, one of the world's leading resources for media
art, the videos will play at the top of each hour, between noon and 4pm
and between 6pm and 11pm. On Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17 the
complete program (25:16 min) will also play at noon.

Spanning the 1960s to 2011, the works range from bold animations and
visual poems to witty performances and vibrant electronic experiments. Nam
June Paik's rarely seen Hand and Face (1961) is one of his earliest media
works; Dara Birnbaum's 30-second Artbreak was commissioned for broadcast
by MTV in 1987. Shigeko Kubota brings a profusion of electronic cherry
blossoms to the heart of Times Square, while Martha Rosler eyes domestic
labor in a suburban backyard. William Wegman's dogs perform a timeless

Each day's program will begin with Takeshi Murata's EAI 40th Anniversary
Intro (2011). Linking video art's history to the digital present, this
piece was specially commissioned by EAI for its 40th Anniversary
programming. Murata's video can also be viewed online at

Much as early video artists sought to "slow down" television and "talk
back" to the media, these creative interjections will challenge viewers to
reconsider their visual expectations of Times Square and experience it in
new ways. Encountered on MTV's large-scale LED screen, these visions will
engage the public not just as consumers, but also as active viewers.

Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins said, "We're thrilled to
partner with Electronic Arts Intermix and MTV to support this diverse and
dynamic collection of videos through the medium that makes Times Square so
distinctive to people around the world: our billboards."

Program Schedule

Noon: Takeshi Murata, EAI 40th Anniversary Intro (2011, 1:05 min)
1 pm: Shigeko Kubota, Rock Video: Cherry Blossom (1986, 3 min)
2 pm: William Wegman, Dog Duet (1975, 2:37 min)
3 pm: Martha Rosler, Backyard Economy I (1974, 3:20 min)
4 pm: Stuart Sherman, Chess (1982, 30 sec)

6 pm: Dara Birnbaum, Artbreak, MTV Networks, Inc. (1987, 30 sec)
7 pm: Vito Acconci, Three Frame Studies: Push (1969-1970, 2:59 min)
8 pm: Nam June Paik, Hand and Face (1961, 1:25 min)
9 pm: Phyllis Baldino, Suitcase/Not Suitcase (1993, 36 sec)
10 pm: Gary Hill, Objects With Destinations (1979, 3:41 min)
11 pm : Dan Asher, Artificial Illuminations: Calligraphic (1997, 55 sec)


EAI in Times Square is part of an ongoing series of events and projects
marking EAI's 40th anniversary year. For more information about upcoming
programs in this series, please visit


About the Times Square Alliance

Times Square Arts presents temporary cutting-edge art and performances in
multiple forms and media to the 360,000 to 500,000 daily visitors to New
York City's Times Square, making it one of the highest profile public arts
programs in the United States. Since its inception three years ago, Times
Square Arts has featured works by a diverse group of more than four dozen
prominent and emerging artists. The Times Square Public Art Program is
made possible in part by the NYC Cultural Innovation Fund of the
Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the NYC Department
of Cultural Affairs.


About MTV 44½

A standout among the large electronic displays in Times Square, MTV 44½
captures the eyes of viewers with unique programming, live tapings,
special events, concerts, and MTV-branded creative that breaks through the
clutter in Times Square.


EAI: Celebrating 40 Years

Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is one of the world's
leading nonprofit resources for video art. A pioneering advocate for media
art and artists, EAI fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution and
preservation of video art and digital art. EAI's core program is the
distribution and preservation of a major collection of over 3,500 new and
historical media works by artists. EAI's activities include viewing
access, educational services, extensive online resources, and public
programs such as artists' talks, exhibitions and panels. The Online
Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI
collection, and also features extensive materials on exhibiting,
collecting and preserving media art:

posted by
Dan Streible 

the Swank family

Dear Curating Moving Images, 

How do I get film prints for my special event? 
I'm not a professional or commercial movie exhibitor. 
Can I still get 16 or 35mm prints to project?

In the dark, 
J. H.

Dear J., 

You're in luck. One big nontheatrical film distributor dominates the field, and as the last surviving distributor of this type, Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. distributes for most all of the "majors."

 Below is some text from the company's website. Note that Swank serves several caterogies of venues, including Museums and Film Societies.
 The company traffics in the loan of movies on DVD, videotape, 16mm and 35mm film prints. 
You can also search the company's available movie titles and other credits at . Swank has, for example, 5 Ann Sheridan movies availabe for rent. And 2 Charlie Chan movies.

The offiical blurb:

"Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. founded in 1937, is the major non-theatrical movie distributor, online CE/CME education distributor and public performance licensing agent in venues where feature movies are shown publicly.

Founded in 1937, Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. is a successful, growing business privately owned by the Swank family and led by Tim Swank, Chairman. Headquartered in St. Louis, Swank also maintains sales offices in New York, Berlin and Paris, with an international shipping and distribution facility located near Chicago.

Major Hollywood and independent movie studios have appointed Swank as their exclusive licensing and distribution partner to offer their box-office hits for public performance in non-theatrical markets (markets outside theaters). Swank represents Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Pictures, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Tri Star Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Focus Features, Miramax Films, Overture Films, Warner Independent, Paramount Classics, Paramount Vantage, Fine Line Features, HBO, Hallmark Hall Of Fame Productions, United Artists, National Geographic, ThinkFilm, Magnolia Pictures, Newmarket Films, First Look Studios, First Independent Pictures, Monterey Media and many other independent studios.

Swank Motion Pictures provides both public performance licensing rights and licensed movies to numerous non-theatrical markets, including worldwide cruise lines, U.S. colleges and universities, K-12 public schools and libraries, American civilian and military hospitals, motor coaches, Amtrak trains, correctional facilities and other markets such as parks, art museums and businesses."

 Hope that helps you, J. H.





Apr 7, 2011

Foreign Film Festivals

There was an interesting article last week in The Guardian about England embracing International Film Festivals.

It raises an interesting point about what kind of audiences are attracted to foreign film programming. Is it only native speakers of the film or are regular English-speaking British people embracing foreign film? It would be really interesting to look at American audiences as well in regards to international film festivals.

~Sam L

Barthes vs. Haiku

in '75
films were not sixteen dollars
so go ahead––sleep

Sontag vs. Dargis

Manohla Dargis's piece in the New York Times "The 21st-Century Cinephile" rebuts many of the claims that Susan Sontag's article "The Decay of Cinema" discusses. Susan Sontag's lament of the death of cinephilia was clearly written before the world of blogs, message boards, facebook and twitter. She writes at the end of her piece, "If cinema can be resurrected, it will only be through the birth of a new kind of cine-love." Over the past 15 years since Sontag wrote her piece, cinema has been resurrected.

Dargis mentions a number of ways that cinema is still alive. For examples, the DVD, and now Blu-Ray, has made it possible to see movies you never could have before. Fans are able to see international, avant garde and short films quite easily, paving the way for not just viewers, but collectors. This may have the potential to deter people from seeing films in the theatre or at a festival, but I think for the most part, the access will fuel the desire to see these films on the big screen. There is a reason why places like Anthology and Film Forum still exist; people enjoy the cinematic experience. Maybe the audience numbers aren't as large as they were in the past, but the love of cinema still exists.
Dargis does rightly point out the problem with multinational corporations owning film studios, but this is an issue for a number of art forms. Truly great music for example, is no longer played on the radio because large corporations own the majority of the air waves. Those who truly love music have sought other ways to learn about the next big thing, primarily through blogs and message boards. This does not mean music is dead, but the way we learn about it and listen to it has changed. This is the same with film. You can easily learn about the next great French film by simply following a blog or even contacting someone from France. Cinephilia isn't dead; it has just evolved.

Apr 6, 2011

Manohla Dargis and 21st Century Cinephilia

In her article “The 21st Century Cinephile,” NY Times film critic Manohla Dargis writes, “Not long ago, movies were bigger than life; today you can buy a movie, hold it in your hand and take it home to watch again and again, a revolutionary step in the short history of the medium.” She writes this in 2004 and since then the medium has gone further and further towards a digital revolution. It’s true that more and more of my peers are downloading or streaming movies from their computers and it makes me wonder how long theaters will be in the picture. Video stores are on the outs, will theaters be next?

This also begs bigger questions, such as what will this mean for the ever-changing nature of the cinematic experience and what it means for the art of film? With easy access to movies and the constant barrage of movies releasing in theaters, perceptions of cinema are bound to change. The medium runs the risk of losing its cinematic quality, that is, its beauty and its art.

On the other hand, this constant access allows mainstream audiences exposure to films they’ve never seen or heard of, and it allows independent filmmakers a chance to have their films seen. Case in point my parents. With the advent of Netflix’s Watch Instantly they’ve been able to watch movies from all over the world. These were two people who loved their Pierce Brosnan thrillers, who are now indulging in the works of Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirô Ozu. Twenty years ago, the availability of these films in theaters would have been quite limited.

I, for one, am extremely grateful for online streaming of old classics and new releases (many a paper has been written thanks to Netflix). Yet, I agree with Dargis—going to see a movie in theaters is not yet a dead tradition. There’s nothing quite like seeing Late Spring or 8 ½ on the big screen.

Dargis and the Digital Debate

In “Floating in the Digital Experience,” Manohla Dargis poses an important but daunting question about the future of cinema: should we care about the switch to digital? I first thought about this topic last September when I attended an event at Lincoln Center and heard director David Fincher (who has been shooting on digital for years), remark that “saying [he was] anti-film” would be “like saying [he was] anti-dinosaur.” In other words, he was not against shooting on film – he simply felt that this practice was on the verge of extinction.

If the switch to digital is as inevitable as Fincher suggests, Dargis’ question gains new relevance: should we bother caring about something that is going to happen whether we like it or not? For me, the answer is yes, because while the changeover to digital filmmaking may be unavoidable, the manner and style in which this new technology is utilized is still open for debate. There are different styles of digital filmmaking, and some are more beneficial than others. Fincher crafts his films in such a way that the use of digital shooting actually enhances the themes of the narrative; his masterful crafting of an eerie but oddly familiar San Francisco in Zodiac would have been inconceivable without the aid of digital technology. However, Michael Mann often uses digital filmmaking to create mystifying visual schemes that have little correlation to his films’ stories (i.e. Public Enemies), and thus have a detrimental effect on the success of their narratives.

Celluloid does seem to be headed the way of the dinosaur, but that does not mean that cinema is dead. Filmmaking is still a creative art form, and great directors will find innovative ways of using this new technology to further the artistic progression of the cinematic medium; Fincher already has.

Apr 2, 2011

Fwd: TFF Sunday press screening of Cinema Komunisto postponed

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tammie Rosen <>
Date: Fri, Apr 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM
Subject: TFF Sunday press screening of Cinema Komunisto postponed

Please note that the scheduled Tribeca Film Festival press screening on Sunday at 11am of Cinema Komunisto has been postponed as the print is stuck in Serbia.

Sorry for the inconvenience (and another email in everyone's inbox).



Tammie Rosen

VP of Communications

Tribeca Enterprises

375 Greenwich Street

Apr 1, 2011

BAMcinématek Obstinate Memories: The Documentaries of Patricio Guzmán

Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzman is a legend in my family, so when I saw that his documentaries were going to be shown at BAM I knew that a) I had to go see at least one and b) I had to let you all know about. The program runs this weekend and most of next week. Click through the image for all the showtimes.
I'd definitely check out his new documentary (which is the one I'll probably end up going to), Nostalgia for the Light or his first documentary La Batalla de Chile (The Battle of Chile). Hope to see some of you there!

Mar 31, 2011

Fwd: In Cold Blood, Patricio Guzmán Documentaries, Orphan Films, Chinese Cinema and more!

Reply-To: <>

See below after the Great Liberace.

From: UCLA Film & Television Archive []
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2011 1:29 PM
Subject: In Cold Blood, Patricio Guzmán Documentaries, Orphan Films, Chinese Cinema and more!

Archive home page

302 East Melnitz • 405 Hilgard Ave • Los Angeles, CA • 90095-1323 • ph. (310) 206-8013


In Cold Blood

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

Friday, April 1 - Wednesday, May 25

Our appreciation of writer-director Richard Brooks' iconic classics begins with the powerful true-crime saga In Cold Blood (1967), shot in stunning black-and-white and widescreen using actual locations. Unknowns at the time, Scott Wilson and Robert Blake portray the killers, and the film helped inaugurate Wilson's four-decade career as a popular character actor. Read more »

IN PERSON: actor Scott Wilson (In Cold Blood, 4/1) and author Douglass K. Daniel (Elmer Gantry, 4/23).

Traces and Memory of Jorge Prelorán (2010)

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the UCLA Center for Argentina, Chile and the Southern Cone present

Friday, April 8 @ 7:30 p.m.

A special screening of Traces and Memory of Jorge Prelorán (2010) forms the centerpiece of this tribute to UCLA alumnus Prelorán, whose massive body of work—60 ethno-biographic films over many decades—documented Argentina like no other. This moving and illuminating documentary charts Prelorán's unique aesthetic and ethical stamp. Read more »

IN PERSON: Maria Elena, Howard Suber, Michael Miner and Mabel Prelorán.

FREE Admission!

The Mouse and His Child (1977)

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hammer Museum present

Sunday, April 10 @ 11 a.m.

In the animated musical, The Mouse and His Child (1977), mechanical toy mice embark on a wondrous quest to become self-winding after a toy shop accident sends them to a landfill. Read more »

FREE Admission!

The Battle of Chile

UCLA Film & Television Archive, the UCLA Latin American Institute and the UCLA Department of Spanish & Portuguese present

Friday, April 15 – Wednesday, May 11

Our special preview of Nostalgia for the Light ("One of the Top Ten Best Movies of 2010," Sight & Sound) launches our tribute to Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán. He joins us for The Battle of Chile (1975-'79), his landmark, eyewitness chronicle of General Pinochet's violent coup on 9/11/73 and its fearsome legacy. Read more »

IN PERSON: Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, Parts 1&2, 4/29).

Jalainur (2008)

UCLA Film & Television Archive, REDCAT, Los Angeles Filmforum, Echo Park Film Center, Pomona College Museum of Art and the Museum of the Moving Image (NY) present

Sunday, April 17 & Friday, April 22

Digital media have allowed independent Chinese filmmakers to be bolder, more daring and to better explore fresh themes and locations. The Archive presents two special programs as part of a larger, citywide series of new, independent Chinese cinema. Read more »


Sunday, May 8 @ 7:00 p.m.

The Legacy Project is a collaborative effort bringing together the Archive and Outfest to preserve and restore queer film and video.

The Case of Mr. Lin (1955) is a rarity of exceeding interest: a documentary featuring a psychotherapy session between the esteemed professor Carl Rogers and a homosexual client; equally revealing is The Liberace Show: "Tribute to Mothers" (Syndicated, 1955), in which Liberace devotes an entire episode to his "favorite person," Mom. Read more »

Orphan films

UCLA Film & Television Archive, New York University and Los Angeles Filmforum present

CELEBRATNG ORPHAN FILMS: An Eclectic Mix of Screenings and Discussions
Friday & Saturday, May 13 & 14

The term "orphan film" applies to a wide variety of neglected works, many previously unpreserved because their owners have abandoned them, or because no copyright holder can be found. Enjoy two days of home movies, outtakes, newsreels, silent era cinema, fragments and experimental films presented by a full roster of experts and devotees. Read more »

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

Saturday, May 21 @ The Autry

The Archive is pleased to collaborate with the Autry National Center in an ongoing, occasional series of films that represent the idea of The West in American popular culture.

Ellen Burstyn shines in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), a tender portrait of a single mother with a young son in post-Vietnam America. The film presents a surprising feminist turn for Martin Scorsese's first feature following Mean Streets (1972). Read more »

Note: This series takes place at the Autry National Center of the American West.

The Love Bug (1968)

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hammer Museum present

Sunday, May 22 @ 11 a.m.

Start your engines for fun! It's the original The Love Bug (1968)! When a Volkswagen Bug follows him home from the dealership, racecar driver Jim Douglas (Jones) doesn't know what to think but soon discovers that this is no ordinary car. Read more »

FREE Admission!

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Archive home pageFind out how you can support the Archive!

Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village,
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024
(corner of Wilshire & Westwood Blvds, courtyard level of the Hammer Museum).

The May 21 "The Imagined West" screening takes place at the Autry National Center. Venue/ticket info:

FREE Admission to Admission to "Archive Documentary Spotlight" on April 8; and "Family Flicks" on 4/10 and 5/22.

Advance tickets for other programs at the Billy Wilder Theater are available for $10 at

Tickets are also available at the Billy Wilder Theater
box office starting one hour before showtime:
$9 general admission; FREE to all UCLA students with valid ID; $8 other students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.

$10 Passes for "Celebrating Orphan Films" are now available! More Info

Under the Billy Wilder Theater: $3 flat rate on weekdays after 6 p.m., and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Enter from Westwood Blvd., just north of Wilshire.

INFO / 310.206.FILM

UCLA Film & Television Archive | 302 East Melnitz | Box 951323 | Los Angeles | CA | 90095-1323

Fwd: Letter from Dominic Angerame regarding the future of Canyon Cinema

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: erik piil <>
Date: Thursday, March 31, 2011

Published today, available online here:

Interesting to note that two out of five of Dominic's 'possible
solutions' include dissolving the current cooperative and starting a
501 3 (c) non profit. If I am correct in my history, it was Canyon's
original hesitation on this that caused its estrangement with its
exhibition partner, the San Francisco Cinematheque, in the late

In a day saturated with fascinating discussions regarding curatorship
and archival projection, it is important to observe Canyon's quandary
with the decline in both film rentals and university renting budgets.


Erik Piil
Masters Candidate
Moving Image Archiving and Preservation
New York University

You are currently subscribed to miap-students as:
To unsubscribe send a blank email to


Mar 30, 2011

Seward Park Branch Library's LES Heritage Film Series

The Seward Park Branch Library is pleased to announce the seventh of its Lower East Side Heritage Film Series, Tuesday, April 5th at 6:30 p.m. in our community room. In this installment of our FREE monthly series we will be showing:

Crosby Street (1975, 18 min., 16mm)
Director Jody Saslow takes a look at the various economic, social, and aesthetic strata on a New York City street. Includes interviews with residents and merchants and scenes of the homeless.

The Mural on Our Street (1964, 18 min., 16mm)
Kirk Smallman and Dee Dee Halleck show children and other members of the Henry Street Settlement House as they make drawings of zoo animals for a large tile mural to be used in a new building in their neighborhood. Follows the processes involved in making the tiles and shows views of the completed mural.

The Trouble with Chinatown (1970, 26 min., 16mm)
Originally televised on WNBC's New York Illustrated, producer and writer, Bill Turque's survey of the social and educational structure of New York's Chinatown and its current problems due to increased immigration, the generation gap, and changing socio-political conditions. Includes interviews with leading Chinese-American citizens.

DATE: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
TIME: 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: NYPL Seward Park Branch Library
Community Room - Basement Level
192 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002-5597
(212) 477-6770

Mar 28, 2011

Preview Screening of Duncan Jones's Source Code at the Museum of the Moving Image

After briefly touring the Museum of the Moving Image and speaking with curator David Schwartz for class on Thursday, I decided to buy a ticket for one the museum’s events, the preview screening for Duncan Jones’s new film Source Code. The biggest selling point for me was the fact that Duncan Jones was actually going to be there in person for a Q&A after the film. As someone who absolutely loved Moon, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see, and possibly meet, Jones.


The film screening began at 7:30 in the main theater and I anxiously awaited the start of the film as the lights dimmed. Briefly, Source Code is about a solider (Jake Gyllenhaal) that has eight minutes to save the world. Now I don’t want to say too much and spoil the fun because it really is all about how the plot is revealed to us that makes it rather intriguing and exciting to watch. After about an hour and a half later the film was over and I was left with mixed feelings. Although I don’t think it was as visual stunning or unique as Moon, I definitely felt at that time that Source Code had been entertaining. While the film was far more commercial than Moon, I did think that the plot and visual motif was strong enough to make the film worth the $15 admission.


After the screening, Duncan Jones, as promised, came out for the Q&A, with curator David Schwartz acting as moderator. I must admit, hearing him talk was kind of fantastic. It’s easy to see why Jones chose to do this film: he’s quite the sci-fi nerd. I mean this is the man that credits Bladerunner as one of his biggest influences and believes it to be “the greatest sci-fi film ever made.


Unlike Moon, which he penned himself, the script for Source Code was brought to him by Gyllenhaal in the hopes that he’d agree to direct it. Once he was in, it was easy to secure studio backing with Gyllenhaal as the star campaigning for Jones as director. Jones secured a cool budget of $35 million (compared to the $5 million budget for Moon sans studio backing) to helm this project—a paltry sum, really, considering all of the staggering special effects and the big name stars aboard, including Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Michelle Monaghan.

As the Q&A progressed Jones explained that he’s a director that likes to give his actors “an environment to do what’s in their head as long as it fits the film” and who “likes the idea of building some reveals”—two facts that are most evident in the film. And even though the film tries to appeal to a broader audience, it doesn’t sacrifice story. Overall, I came out quite satisfied as a whole with the event, especially because it was so limited (there are only 267 seats in the theater) I was able to secure a photo!


I'm quite eager to see what other programming the Museum of the Moving Image has coming up. If it's as great as meeting Duncan Jones, I'll definitely be there.