Feb 27, 2013

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA

The Films of Stanley Kubrick

Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for the month of February 2013, this film series included all movies directed by Kubrick shown in chronological order, from Fear and Desire (1953) to Eyes Wide Shut (1999). With a few exceptions, all films were screened on 35mm, with prints provided by UCLA and Harvard Film Archive.

Feb 26, 2013


Apologies again. 


"Blues For Smoke" at the Whitney Museum

The Whitney Museum of American Art's current exhibition “Blues for Smoke” first came to my attention when I overheard a conversation between a few colleagues, who were discussing their experiences at the exhibit. “I stayed and watched one television station for seventy-five minutes,” said one; the other said, “it's easy to do, they're showing all sixty hours of The Wire.” At that point, I knew I had to go and find out what exactly this exhibit was, and what on earth they were doing showing all sixty hours of The Wire.

“Blues for Smoke,” it turns out, is an exhibit that originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles which attempts to use blues music and the “blues aesthetic” as a lens through which to explore contemporary art, music and literature, as well as film and television. The exhibit makes use of a number of fairly standard curatorial techniques for including moving images – the small mounted wall screen in the corner of a room otherwise dedicated to paintings, the dark room with a single video projected at one end of it – and while I could spend several paragraphs talking about the choices made around these works, what I'd really like to focus on is the room that did, indeed, hold all sixty hours of The Wire.

Those sixty hours were being played on a small television on the floor of medium-sized room, with two headphones attached. There were two other televisions on the floor of this room; nine other television sets ringed the room at approximately eye level. Each television appeared to be of a different size, model and make, although all were flatscreens and played digital video images. Two sets of noise-cancelling headphones were hooked up to each television, and most of the sets were within easy reach of the benches that sat in the middle of the room, allowing the visitor to select the content that looked most appealing and spend as long as they wanted listening to it. In addition to the televisions, two of the walls also had videos projected onto them, and the soundtracks of these films were quietly audible to everyone in the room and in a certain degree of competition with each other. There was also a station of two headphones linked directly into the wall, for an audio-only experience.

After walking into this room, I walked directly out again to see if there was any curatorial note for the room as a whole. There was none; the room was not an exhibit in and of itself, just the format that the curators had chosen to present all of these audiovisual works to the viewer. Each television did have a curatorial note next to it to explain what it was playing, as did the projected videos. The full audiovisual contents of the room, starting from the corner directly to the right of the entrance and going around in a clockwise direction, included:
    • two blues performances from the sixties, “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Ball and Chain,” on loop (eye-level television)
    • Cecil Taylor: All the Notes, 2004 documentary on the free jazz pianist (eye-level television)
    • Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life, 1935 short film set to the music of Duke Ellington (wall projection)
    • R&B performances from the band Trouble Funk (eye-level television)
    • a performance of the song “Devil Got My Woman” (floor-level television)
    • Anything for Jazz: Jaki Byard, 1980 short documentary (eye-level television)
    • Art Ensemble of Chicago, 1981 documentary about the musical group (wall projection)
    • several Henry Flynt musical works on loop (audio-only station)
    • Henry Flynt in New York, 2008 web video profile on the avant-garde artist (eye-level television)
    • Space is the Place, 1974 science fiction musical film written by and featuring musician Sun Ra (large eye-level television)
    • The Wire, 2002-2008, five-season television program (floor-level television)
    • The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman, 2007 documentary on the life of the science fiction author (eye-level television)
    • music videos by the eighties hardcore punk bands “Bad Brains” and “Minor Threat” on loop (floor-level television)
    • Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, 1979 recording of the stand-up comedian (eye-level television)
    • rap music videos “212,” “Get Got,” “Wut,” “Ellen Degeneres,” and “Are You . . . Can You . . . Were You . . .” on loop (eye-level television)
There didn't seem to be any particular chronological or thematic order to the arrangement of the selections, although the pieces that played on loop together on the same television set were usually short thematically linked. While I originally thought that the pieces projected on the wall might be film originals, which would account for the difference in their mode of presentation, a look at the curatorial notes revealed that, like the rest, they were being projected as video pieces. There was therefore no obvious rationale behind the choice to project these specific pieces on the wall with audible sound, instead of on a television set like the rest of the material; while Symphony in Black was shot on film, other film-original pieces such as Space is the Place were shown on television screens, and the other projected piece, Art Ensemble of Chicago, was shot on video.

Furthermore, I will note that it took me some research to discover what the original carriers were of any of these pieces in order to make comparisons – even for a piece like Symphony in Black, which was shot in 1935 and well before the invention of video, the curatorial note listed the piece as “video” with no reference to the fact that this was not the original medium. In fact, all of the pieces in the exhibition were simply labeled as “video,” with no distinction made between analog and digital, and no mention of whether any transfer had occurred in order to allow the work to be presented in the installation. This was despite the fact that several of the pieces, such as the 1960s recording of “Ball and Chain,” showed severe pixilated artifacts left over from the digitization process. Some of the curatorial notes did mention that the work was provided courtesy of a distributor – for example, Kino Video in the case of Symphony in Black – while others did not refer to the the origin of the copy of the work that was being presented. 

Title credits of Symphony in Black

To me, it seems clear from this that the exhibit has no particular investment in these works as artifacts in and of themselves. The first impression when I walked into the room as a visitor was of an overwhelming array of indistinguishable media, and throughout the time I spent there that didn't really change. While it's certainly possible for a visitor to personally customize their experience of the exhibit by putting on a set of noise-cancelling headphones and attempting to focus intensively on one piece alone – in fact, the friend I was with went straight to the documentary on Cecil Taylor and did just that – there is nowhere anyone can sit within the room without having at least two other works flickering in their peripheral vision. Viewed within the context of the curatorialstatement of the show, which says that “Blues for Smoke holds artists and art worlds together that are often kept apart, within and across lines of race, generation, and canon,” the spatial design of the room seems intended to remind the visitor that none of these pieces exist in isolation. They build on each other and echo each other, within the culture of the blues. As far as more direct relationships go, well, as the curatorial statement reminds us, “the expanded poetics of the blues is pervasive – but also diffuse and difficult to pin down.” Depending on your perspective, this is either an elegant way of encapsulating the complexity of the topic, or a cop-out that allows the curators to avoid drawing out the specifics of the deeper meaning behind their choices. 
Still, even if one takes this sense of overwhelming interconnectedness as the purpose of the installation's design, I'm not sure how I feel about the audiovisual media being essentially segregated away from the rest of the pieces in the exhibit. When the curatorial statement talks proudly about the heterogeneity of the works presented, it seems to imply that the connections it wants to draw out exist between all aspects of blues culture – it's not just the case that music affects art, film, television, and literature, but rather that all these different disciplines play into one another. A nod to the literary presence by including a documentary on Samuel R. Delaney in the “media room” just doesn't seem to cut it. There are a few audiovisual pieces that escape exile into the video room, but they tend to be works that are much easier to mentally categorize as “artistic” – the ones that spring to mind are video puppet show titled Fall Frum Grace: Miss Pipi's Blue Tale and a four-channel video installation by Jeff Priess titled “Stop, 1995-2012.” It's notable that “Stop” is the only piece of audiovisual media containing a curatorial note as to its original medium, which, for the record, was 16mm film. It's hard not to draw a connection between this extra attention to detail and the privileged status of the piece as a piece of art among other pieces of art, in contrast to the popular culture that's been consigned to the video ghetto. 

As a work originally intended for museum exhibition,
Kara Walker's Fall Frum Grace is one of the few audiovisual works in the collection to be displayed in a gallery among different mediums of art

Moreover, this particular choice in the architecture of the installation seems to be an innovation of the Whitney Museum's, rather than integral to the exhibit as a concept. Reviews of the initial incarnation of “Blues and Smoke” at the Museum of Contemporary Art mention that “at the entry, five flat-screen televisions display film and video clips that range from 1935 musical numbers by Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to today's hip-hop performers” – a far cry from the fifteen different audivisual devices presented together in the reimagined Whitney exhibit. Meanwhile, The Wire seems to have had a small room to itself, tucked away behind a projection of a Kara Walker piece. It seems to me that treating the audiovisual media the same way that the rest of the works of art are treated and interspersing them throughout the exhibit is a better way of conveying the interconnectedness of blues and blues-inspire culture than by throwing them all together in one big pop-culture corner. If the goal is to show how the blues permeates our culture and our lives, then why put the parts of that culture that are most likely to be directly familiar and relevant to the audience – the films and documentaries, the music videos and contemporary rap – away in their own little corner where a visitor could easily get overwhelmed, or ignore them entirely?

On the other hand, some reviewers have found the entire concept of the exhibit somewhat problematic in terms of the blues aesthetic. One review of the Whitney version of the exhibit complains that “the allusions to jazz and blues are sometimes there, but conveyed in an art-gallery language that is alien to blues or jazz,” adding that the choices often come across as “esoteric and academic.” While I'm not really qualified to talk about what is or isn't inherent to a blues or jazz aesthetic, I will add, as a final note, that for an exhibit celebrating a musical form and culture so strongly rooted in African-American history and traditions, the audience that I saw viewing the exhibit was almost overwhelmingly white. And if I were in charge of curating this exhibit, I might find that fact a little concerning.

New from Old: Practices of Appropriation

On Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, at 7 pm, the Millennium Film Workshop held the first event in a three part Personal Cinema Series at the New School under the banner New From Old: Practices of Appropriation. The venue was Wollman Hall, in the Eugene Lang Building on the outskirts of the West Village.

A copy of the event poster

After brief prefatory remarks by event organizers, the viewing began, projected digitally on a retractable screen. Nine short cinematic works by three artists—Martha Colburn, Coleen Fitzgibbon, and Bradley Eros—were presented in succession over the course of an hour, with almost no interruptions of any sort.

Martha Colburn’s four animated shorts jolted with their garish colors, disjointed movement, unsettling repetition, and discomfiting compositions. Her antic parades of crude expressive images and sound from pop-culture are created with meticulously crafted cut-out puppets and mixed-media collages. As with Colburn, Fitzgibbon presented repetitive displays of media imagery. Where Colburn shouts in your face with an emotive pop-culture vernacular, Fitzgibbon whispers through the quiet traces of typically more subdued original media objects, such as scrolling newspapers. Apparently, her whispers were too quiet for some: a third of the audience shuffled out during the screening of her works. The final part of the screening comprised two works by Bradley Eros. First was TransTrans (or Transformers Transformed), a 2009 remix by Eros of the first movie in the Transformers series, blending manipulated HD video, textual selections from Marinetti’s Futurist manifestos, and a soundtrack culled from the experimental fringes of rock and avant-garde music. The audience was raptly attentive; a security guard against the back wall was watching with a wide grin. Aurora Borealis, the final viewing of the event, is a reworking of found footage from scientific films. Snippets of film from various science labs were cut and spliced together to create a sequence of sublime visual tableaux. The soundtrack contained a live element: Eros sat at a table near the projector, and over the course of the screening he "played" various objects through a nearby microphone to augment the recorded sound: bouncing ping-pong balls, paper tearing, a plate crashing against the floor.

Aurora Borealis (Bradley Eros, 2002)

The screening was followed by a casual discussion with the three artists. Bradley Eros spoke of his use of found film, positing that his selection of the most fascinating bits of footage from otherwise abandoned films is the practical way to keep these films in circulation and expose them to a wider public: “I kind of thought this is the way to keep them alive. I know archivists and purists and everybody is upset about this. I know everybody says there’s no film anymore, but there’s more than anybody can possibly see. I feel that I’m saving this footage because nobody has the time to watch these, even for the most committed person it is too boring to watch these for thirty minutes.”

While billing itself as a Personal Cinema Series, there was a surprising absence of context to deepen audience appreciation of each artist as an individual creator. Spare opening and concluding remarks omitted mention of thematic interests and evolving artistic practices. While each artist screened works that involved appropriation and reuse of pre-existing imagery, sounds and/or symbols, the event could have benefited by exploring the central event theme of appropriation—new from old—within each artist’s oeuvre.

A sampling of the exhibited works:

Anti-Fracking, by Martha Colburn

Daily News [clip], by Coleen Fitzgibbon

TransTrans, by Bradley Eros and Tim Geraghty

-Jared Eisenstat

Dance on Camera Festival 2013

Dance on Camera Festival

1-5th February 2013



The 41st edition of the Dance on Camera Festival took place in February at the Film Society Lincoln Center. For five days, people dashed to and from locations, trying to catch as much as possible. In previous years the festival was primarily situated in the Walter Reade Theater, which sat many more at a time, but prevented simultaneous events. This year three separate screening locations enabled the showcase of a larger amount of films but also caused some trouble for dedicated viewers, like myself, as we tried to be in several places at once, so as not to miss anything. The annual event was primarily located in the FSLC's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. The Francesca Beale Theater and Amphitheater hosted the majority of the feature length films paired with shorts. Almost every film program was either introduced and/or followed by a Q&A with directors and dancers. Joanna Ney (co-curator of the festival) held the microphone most of the time while one session was conducted by the former MOMA film and media curator Laurence Kardish (for the Shirley Clarke program). Most films were projected using a digital projector (and this was made apparent since it froze at least 3 or 4 times throughout the festival) and 16mm prints were used for Shirley Clarke's films.

            A small gallery space a few blocks away was used to showcase two programs of short films. Set on an hour-long loop, playing from a DVD from a projector, they were projected onto a small white wall with a not-so-cozy-floor seating approximately 10 people (see picture). This space also hosted "meet the artist" events and a Dance Film Association reception.    


            The festival typically works but selecting films from a large range of submissions and then pairing them with a retrospective of some sort, sometimes connecting old films to new ones, sometimes not. This edition contained a wide variety of films, some more dance-like than others and incorporated a tribute to Shirley Clarke (five of her films) and a documentary on Busby Berkeley by Andre Labarthe (1971). The main slate was held at the Walter Reade Theater (for opening and closing nights premieres) and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Center, (Francesca Beale Theater and Amphitheater). Most feature films were grouped with one or two shorts at times displaying a historical connection (ex: a Merce Cunningham night), at other times focusing on a geographic one (a Finnish film night). The general scope of "dance" was expanded to include ice skating, music videos and music performance. The films are a mix of narrative films about dancers, documentaries on performers or choreographers, and experimental work falling under the category of "dance for camera". Two nights compiled all short films and these were the nights where the breadth of the art was truly conveyed.


            A parallel shorts program was programmed to run twice a day on a daily basis at the 25CPW Gallery, 25 Central Park West. This exhibition was presented in part by Rooftop Films (Underground Film Outdoors). It included on the walls of the space drawings of dancer Sylvie Guillem and the film loop. It was unclear why these films were relegated to the "free of charge" venue with bad seating and semi-darkness. Films were screened in a different order than the one listed on program making it frustrating to match each film with its description.

            Free panel discussions such  "Fair Use for Film and Video Projects: Real Cases and Trustworthy Answers", "Preserving a Legacy: Eistein on the Beach", and "Capturing Motion NYC" were held though I was unable to attend most of them. "Meet the artists" were held in the gallery space and 4 artists were invited to informally discuss their work. I attended a book signing and was one of the few aware that the book in question was not in fact the "journal" described in the program. At least they got the author right.  


            The festival was organized by Dance Film Association. The curators were Liz Wolff (newly hired, works for DFA) and Joanna Ney (Film Society's curator for Dance on Camera since 1996)  both of which I was able to meet and have a quick word with. According to the program, Dance Film Association was founded by Susan Braun in 1956. Braun was an enthusiast whose goal it was to collect and preserve dance films until her death in 1995. Their small archive that holds narrative films, documentaries and experimental films. I am also told that they keep a copy of every (new) film screened at the festival. I have been in their headquarters and must say that for the most part these films are on DVD and stored in big grey file cabinets. Access to these is therefore limited to those who know that they are there. They have no screening facilities and  the borrowing procedure is not made public anywhere. They also used to publish a small journal called Dance on Camera for about ten years, but it was discontinued last year. DFA employs approximately ten people, their office seats three.


            DFA's mission is to promote the art of dance film and to establish a network of dancers, filmmakers, and enthusiasts. Their organization is dedicated to "bringing dance film to the widest possible audience by promoting and facilitating its production, distribution, and presentation". Their three areas of activity include preservation, presentation and production. They are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Department of Culture and the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. The first Dance on Camera festival was held in 1971 at Anthology Film Archives and later moved to the Lincoln Center in 1996. It was originally intended to foster collaborations between choreographers and filmmakers but now focuses more on reaching a wider audience. Sponsors of the 2013 festival include Spain arts & culture, General Consulate of Finland, Spain Culture New York, FilmoTeca de Catalunya, John Wim Macy's CheeseSticks (HA! I did not see any cheesesticks anywhere) 


            As one of the oldest festivals of its kind Dance for Camera has a good reputation.  Filmmakers are attracted to its status as a New York City event, giving them visibility in the local dance world. Apparently this year the festival received three times as many submissions as they usually do which could mean that either more artists are producing films or the festival is becoming better recognized on a global scale. However it does cater to a broad audience and therefore is known to lack a specific curatorial argument. 


            The primary audience would be the kind that goes to the ballet, shows at BAM or the Joyce. Select events were attended by dance "royalty", including former dancers with prestigious companies and noticeable by their rigid posture and loud dramatic embraces and hellos. In large part the weekday and daytime events were attended by people within the industry while the weekend evenings and matinees were attended by old people and a few children. While the audience did seem to be the intended one, I was surprise to see that there were few people under 20. The price of tickets ranged from $13 general public, $9 students, and $8 for members of the FSLC or DFA. The festival also had discounts for buyers of multiple tickets which was great for me since I went to a total of 13 events.  


            Other elements that shaped the exhibition were the side registration room, intended to welcome filmmakers and artists and sign patrons up for DFA memberships. This was only visible to patrons if they ventured into a room by accident while looking for the bathroom. It had one television monitor playing two films from previous year, on a loop and available for purchase. The merchandise table, which was my job for a while, was a sad site. I sold one DVD in 4 hours and was almost going to tell the customer that the documentary in question was available to stream online on Netflix but decided he did not look tech-savy enough to understand.


            Generally speaking the screens were large and made the viewing of the films pleasant. The scheduling of events unfortunately coincided with  a "big dance weekend". For example Trisha Brown had a show up at BAM which was sold out and which had me dashing across town to get to all the events on my list. The seats in the auditoriums were comfortable and the local snack-bar was getting good business.


            Both DFA and the FSLC websites had the full program of events. Numerous trailers were available which helped decision making when it came time to ordering tickets online. Here is the link: http://www.dancefilms.org/festival-items/2013/


            The program was filled with typos and hard to navigate. It gave the impression that it had been put together in a rush and sent to print without a copy editor. It could use some serious help. All the information was there but the calendar should be foregrounded and the organization of programs should be chronological not thematic (such as all the short films on one page, all the feature on another). This caused too much flipping between the pages, a sound that was most irritating during the beginning of screenings. 


            If the festival's goal is to gain a broad audience then the current format of the festival works well. It promotes big names and slides in short films that are inspired or related to these names. It packages all the recent short films by emerging artists together so that in one evening one is bound to find at least one good film. It also promotes getting closer to the artists with popular Q&As and meetings. Typical questions at these included: "So...tell us...what inspired you to make this film?", "What was it like to work with so-and-so?" The curator's task here seems primarily to assemble a selection of films that gives a broad definition of dance film, draws from some historical footage in order to reflect on the current practices. It does not offer a critical stance or forum for debate. The films presented are no longer being judged, there are no prizes given out, simply "festival highlights" or "not-to-be-missed" ones. 


            Overall I would say that the festival was a success on the basis of attendance. Many screenings were sold out (to my knowledge the Shorts program were especially popular, a feature film "Five Dances" and a music video night featuring the work of Sigur Ros). I found myself unable to attend certain events because there were no tickets available and I was booking 10 days in advance. The festival's strengths would be bringing together an international selection of films and filmmakers. Their new initiative to start discussing the process of distribution for short films would benefit the industry and myself for my research. Aiming to produce a DVD to collect and distribute the shorts (as other festivals have done this as well) would guarantee greater visibility and documentation of these films which often go "missing" after festivals. Just in case this never happens I hunted down as many filmmakers as possible to recruit films, telling them that I "plan to write about them". Some events were free which allowed greater access. I do not think it generated a larger number of patrons. The main weakness of the festival was the scheduling which made it impossible to see everything at least once. In addition the connections between films were primarily based on country of production, (for example a Finnish night) whereas I would encourage more thematic grouping to be able to compare and contrast the working methods and styles of the choreographers.



-Sylvie Vitaglione   




Feb 25, 2013

Documentary Fortnight 2013

Documentary Fortnight 2013 
MoMA's International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media
February 15 - March 4, 2013

A brief introduction of the festival's history 

The Museum of Modern Art presented the first Documentary Fortnight from December 6 through December 16, 2001. The event was organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, and William Sloan, Librarian, Circulating Film and Video Library, Department of Film and Media. According to MoMA's press release in 2001, Doc Fortnight "reflected an expanding interest in the documentary form," and provided "a provocative examination of recent documentaries produced by independent film- and videomakers worldwide." Films showcased in the first exhibition included "a timely collection of works that focuses on the effects of the tragic events of September 11 as seen through the fimmakers' lens" as well as a range of collaborative works on the disaster.  In the following year, Doc Fortnight added "nonfiction film and video" as its focus, and mixied the word use of "nonfiction film and video" with "documentaries" in the introduction of the exhibit. This showcase went on under the collaboration between Berger and Sloan for nine years until 2010 when William Sloan stepped down from the festival comittee. Then the festival was organized by Sally Berger, with the assistance of Maria Fosheim Lund, Director Liaison, Department of Film. In the same year, DF claimed itself as an "International Festival of Nonfiction Film" and rearranged its organzing strucutre, introducing a selection committe of three members. The 12th Documentary Fortnight inherited this type of structure except for one thing that it rebranded itself as an international festival of nonfiction film and media, starting from 2011. The current member of the selection committe are Sally Berger (2010 - Present), Chi-Hui Yang (2011 - Present), independent curator, and Michael Gitlin, documentary filmmaker and professsor at Hunter College (2013). Chi-hui Yang is also the President and Board of Trustee of the Flaherty Film Seminar, a nonprofit media arts institution in support of documentary and other independent film and video. 

Although claiming itself as an international festival, DF actually doesn't accept submissions from film- and videomakers worldwide. Therefore the festival's line-up largely relies on the active outreach of its selection committee members, especially on Berger and Yang's connections. Doc Fortnight is based on an art museum. It is not an indepedent film festival. Then it's unlikely that MoMA would offer substantial financial support to have their programmers travelling all around the world and have access to films directly from the filmmakers. Therefore, DF would mostly rely on other international and regional documentary film festivals to have a first-round selection.

From my knowledge, an interesting case study would be the seletion of China Concerto, conceived by a China-born, Brooklyn-based artist Bo Wang, who is also a graduate from School of Visual Arts in New York. His film was world premiered in the 8th Beijing Independent Film Festival in August 2012. The gurilla-style film festival was shut down and power-cut by the local security several times. However, the film was recommended by America- and Canada-based film critics or distributors who specify in Chinese Independent Cinema to Sally Berger or Chi-Hui Yang, and had its North American Premiere back in New York. 

The opening was on Friday, February 15, and started at 4:00pm in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theatre 2 (T2). Films in the thematic programs were screened for once, while most of the films in the international selection were shown twice, one screening in the afternoon and another in the night. There were four screenings in the weekdays starting from 4 pm and six screenings on the weekends from 2 pm through 10 pm-ish.
Tzvetanka (Bulgaria/Sweden, 2012) is director Youlian Tabakov's debut work. The film tells the life story of a Bulgarian woman who experienced three political regimes, from monarchy to socialism to the present, both a personal and national history. Archival footage, interviews, and staged scenes with Tzvetanka are interwoven with animated sequence to produce an imaginative reflection. What I expected before watching the film is a balance between comedy and sorrow. And it really is. It attends to the repressed history but doesn't want to bring too much pathos and nosltagia of the old times back to here-and-now.Youlian Tabakov is a set designer-turned-filmmaker. The staged scenes in the film are especially well-designed. There's one scene when the old lady, dressed like a polyclinic, enters into an isolated room where bright-colored flowers grow out of the wooden floor. When the political situation gets worse, the color of the flowers fade. Illness becomes a metaphor. 

Bo Wang, the director of China Concerto, is another example of "crossing the boundary." Wang holds a master degree of theoritical physics from Tsinghua University, one of the most elite universities in China, and shifted his focus to photography and new media after quiting his Phd progam from University of Maryland. Wang's film is narrated by an untraceable female voice reading fictional letters of a man. This essay film, a salute to Chris Maker's Sans Soleil, reflects the author's thoughts on spectable and ideology in a quasi-totalitarian country. Mixing found/propoganda footage and documentation of the resurrgence of "revolutionary songs" (红歌) from the Mao era in the public space in the city of Chongqing, Wang's homeplace, the film presents a somehow sophisticated juxtaposition of the past and the present. In both post-screening discussions, Wang introduced the background story, the reason for the uprise of the collective activities in all types of "People's Park" in China, and the collapse of the Chongqing regime. Wang Lijun, Chongqing's police chief, broke up with Bo Xilai, the head the Chongqing muncipality, and fled to the US consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu. Bo Xilai was later dismissed. Some observers saw this incident as the biggest politcal scandal in China since 1989. The first screening of China Concerto was in the afternoon of a Wednesday and in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theatre 1 (T1) of MoMA. Audiences were dispersed in the theatre and half of them were the students brought by their professor from SVA, celebrating their excellence alumi. Another screening the next day was a full house. 

As a film festival attached to an art museum, it is difficult not to compare these moving image exhibitions to the gallery ones. One thing is very clear: moving image exhibitions lack academic publications. When I was doing research on Doc Fortnight's histories, what I can have access to is only the press release for each year's exhibition, plus the brochure at the front desk. Comparing to the close relationship between art history department of universities and art museums, college's film and media studies departments are loosely-connected with film festival and exhibitions. Another issue is the lack of technical info of the selected films: 35mm or 16mm or DigiBeta or HDCAM? And what is the ratio? These are significant technical info for researchers to trace back the history of film exhibitions. Also this technical shift is a significant parameter to evaluate the ambiguity and the blurred boundaries of nonfiction filmmaking in this transitional period from grain to pixel.
Zhou Xin  



Film as a Subversive Art at the Spectacle
Dan Erdman
(Image taken from the Spectacle's page for the series)

The Spectacle Theater
Brooklyn's Spectacle Theater, an all-video-projection, 25-seat microcinema, has been running an ongoing series based on Amos Vogel's book Film as a Subversive Art since the beginning of the year. Each month of screenings encompasses a different chapter of Vogel's book; in February, the programmers are concentrating on films from the "International Left and Revolutionary Cinema" section. This was the first such showing that I was able to attend - I had only became aware of the series in the first place a few days previously - so I'm not sure which or how many of the other films featured in the chapter were shown in earlier weeks. On February 20, two films from Latin America, The Hour of the Blast Furnaces (Fernando Angolans, Argentina, 1967) and The First Charge of the Machete (Manuel Octavio Gomez, Cuba, 1969) were projected (each from a digital copy of uncertain provenance and not terribly outstanding quality).
The Hour of the Blast Furnaces is a plotless, four-and-a-half-hour-long exercise in agitational montage, with a topical focus, unsurprisingly, on the struggle for Latin American nations to achieve economic, social and cultural independence in the shadow of the United States. The First Charge of the Machete, meanwhile, is a more conventional narrative historical drama, re-enacting a pivotal military victory of the native Cuban rebels against their Spanish colonial overlords in the nineteenth century. Shot faux-documentary style (complete with sit-down "interviews" with historical personages), the film suggests that the then-new Cuban communist government had roots in earlier conflicts against other global superpowers.
The screening was co-sponsored by The New Inquiry, a journal which describes itself as "a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources - both digital and material - toward the promotion and exploration of ideas."1 (The relevant entry on Wikipedia helpfully states that "The magazine has been deemed to be elitist by some, but not others."2) Though I am not intimately familiar with this publication, perusing what contents are available online definitely give the impression is at the very least in broad sympathy with the political left, although it seems to be affiliated with no particular party, clique or tendency.
The event was hosted by that publication's film editor, Willie Osterweil (an "unannounced compañero" was also advertised for the event in addition to Osterweil, but no such person appeared at my screening, which was the later of two to occur that evening). Only brief, non-contiguous excerpts from The Hour of the Blast Furnaces were to be shown, followed by the whole of The First Charge of the Machete; Osterweil guided the audience through the scenes from Solanas's movie, offering some context for the work (which, according to him, inspired riots when shown in Argentina) and explaining some of the movie's more arcane historical references. He also offered some personal reminiscences related to The Hour of the Blast Furnaces; having first encountered it in an undergraduate film course, he claimed to have breathlessly exhorted his classmates during the subsequent discussion period to leave campus, lay waste to the downtown and begin the revolution right there. This memory of youthful intemperance amused the audience as well as the host, who professed a light embarrassment over the matter. He also added, in an aside, that little of the political content of The Hour of the Blast Furnaces remained as convincing to him as it once had been, though he declined to elaborate further.
The remarks for The Hour of the Blast Furnaces were reasonably brief and light, devoted mostly to stage-setting and pointing out certain stylistic features. Likewise with The First Charge of the Machete - Osterweil provided some background on the real-life historical events on which the movie was based and removed himself to the back row of the theater when it began. Although a post-film discussion had been advertised, this did not occur. Probably this had something to do with the fact that, by time the last movie finished, it was midnight, and the audience, aside from Osterweil and a ticket-taker, consisted of six people (which, admittedly, is enough to fill up a quarter of the Spectacle's seats).
Vogel's main argument in the chapter on "International Left and Revolutionary Cinema" is that truly politically engaged films exist in order to directly inspire the spectator to immediate political action, rather than as a means of merely representing an issue or conflict. In this view, film is "a tool to change the world, no longer an 'art object' existing 'parallel to the world. This supreme attempt at subversion - film as act rather than creation - represents a desperate attempt to bridge the gap between life and art."3
There is an irony, then, which was left unexplored in the screening. As Vogel probably realized in the years before his death in 2012, both film and the type of new left politics favored by his selections are almost completely obsolete as a means of producing anything new.
While various social and political currents make use of media technologies, film certainly isn't one of them; one is as likely to find someone wielding a stone tablet and stylus as a Bolex H16. Reading Vogel less literally, cinema, conceived of as a feature-length, theatrically-screened finished work, hardly fares any better as a means of political motivation than does its original medium. Moving image technology in general is of service to political groups more as a means of documentation and communication than as agitation. The notion of a movie winding its audience up to a riot after the fashion of The Hour of the Blast Furnaces seems quaint.
In addition, the type of new-left politics espoused by the two movies screened have barely any more life in them than does film. The films' critiques are nearly half a century old, taking aim at a world which no longer exists in the same form. In 2013, the only internationalist movement violently agitating for total political transformation is run by religious fanatics instead of materialists; even recent revolts in the Middle East were largely the product of demands for reform of crooked and sclerotic governments rather than attempts to establish working-class dictatorship. Occupy Wall Street withered on the vine; its most notable accomplishment was to have solidified a mood of general populist resentment which was then successfully co-opted by a presidential re-election campaign. This has come about due to a variety of factors and may not necessarily be a permanent state of affairs, but the general left-wing perspective cannot find the same type of purchase that it did in 1968.
The way in which the films have dated made this acutely apparent to me and, I suspect, to the rest of the audience as well. The Hour of the Blast Furnaces provoked laughter from the small crowd with its didacticism, which even back in 1967 showed the first signs of curdling into theatrical ultra-leftism - one title card, presumably meant to be read without irony, reads "All cultural expression is now controlled by the CIA" (The small crowd took a mildly condescending attitude toward the films, chuckling indulgently at the hokier parts but generally giving them respectful attention). In particular, its unsubtle criticism of popular culture as top-down western cultural imperialism has aged particularly poorly in light of the way in which the study of that field has advanced in the intervening five decades. Vogel himself even had his doubts: "The very sophistication of its structure and narration...precludes its use with the masses and stamps it as a work for intellectuals, students, and the already convinced. To others, its facts resemble allegation, its revolutionary purity dogmatism and its transformation of images into polemic through editing, demagogic distortion."4
The other film, meanwhile, actually felt remarkably current. Given slightly better production values, The First Charge of the Machete could stand a chance at popular success in the 21st century. The faux documentary-style tropes could fit into an episode of The Office without disturbing any viewer's good time, let alone his political prejudices. Furthermore, the decades in between Star Wars and Avatar have aptly demonstrated that the story of a plucky band of rebels taking the fight to an on-paper-superior military force has commercial legs. That being the case, however, it only proves that the film now fails on its own terms, or at least on Vogel's. "The portrayals of decadent upper classes and heroic peasants are sharp and incisive, and distancing devices - such as characters addressing the camera - are used to induce attitudes of analysis instead of involvement."5 What was radical in form and content in 1969 is the stuff of the most mainstream possible popular entertainments of the early 21st century.
All of this might have been worth commenting on in some way. Nothing of this sort was brought up in Osterweil's comments, nor was I able to detect any sort of perspective in the pairing of the two movies. The organizers seem to have ceded curatorial authority to Vogel, respectfully declining to ask any questions about his selections or justifications for including the two films in his canon.
Given the contentious, polemical character of the book (and author) which is supposed to have inspired this series, this lack of framing on the part of the programmers strikes me as the wrong approach. Film as a Subversive Art is nearly 40 years old and, while indisputably a valuable contribution to cinema scholarship, it is hardly beyond criticism, or at least comment. The great strength of the book - the wide net of "subversion" as a descriptor catches an astonishing breadth of films, making for intriguing juxtapositions - is also something of dead end. If everything is subversive, is anything?
It is possible that lack on comment on Vogel's choices could be read as simple affirmation; the same might be said for the politics of the films, irrelevant though they may be (despite Osterweil's demurral). What is more likely at play is a nostalgia for the period Vogel was writing and working, when films such as these had far more aesthetic and political currency than they do now. Given the venue - a charmingly shabby, DIY microcinema devoted to all manner of moving image esoterica - this seems like the most likely alternative. It is a shame that more effort was not made to replicate the spirit of the original curatorial project it's paying tribute to, rather than imitation.
All of that said, it was nice to have access to these films under any circumstances. I checked Vogel's book out from the University of Wisconsin's Memorial Library (where it was kept in the mysterious Locked Case, behind the front desk and out of the hands of casual browsers) as a freshman in 1994 and pledged to see every single film listed therein. 20 years on I must admit that I've done a spectacularly terrible job and so welcome any assistance offered to me. Most readers of Film as a Subversive Art (particularly the ones who spent most of their lives outside of New York) have only experienced the featured films as 200-word blurbs, and thus not been able to engage fully with Vogel's text. Each film that is added to the "have-seen" pile opens up the book that much more, so I suppose there is a value to simply introducing them and letting the viewer make of them what he will.
1"About", The New Inquiry, thenewinquiry.com/about/
2"The New Inquiry", Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Inquiry
3Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art, Random House, New York, 1974, 120
4Vogel, 164
5Vogel, 163

Projects 99: Meiro Koizumi

Projects 99: Meiro Koizumi

Museum of Modern Art
Organized by Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator,
Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.
January 9th - May 6th 2013

   Currently exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Projects 99 showcases three of Meiro Koizumi’s filmic works, as well as a glass cabinet display of original sketches for the exhibit’s focal piece, Defect in Vision (2011). The ink and pencil outlines, aptly named Idea Drawings, give the spectator a sense of the artist’s process in conceiving and creating the work. The film, which is projected onto two sides of a single screen, but shows different images on each side, is drawn on paper as two images on top of one another, in what could have possibly been the initial concept of projecting two overlapping and transparent images on a single screen. The end product however, would have lost an essential essence if this was in fact Koizumi’s original plan; the idea that the viewer is prevented from watching both screens at once is paramount to the piece. One screen is predominantly close-up shots, and the other wide shots.
   Set in Japan at the end of World War II, the twelve minute video is simplistic in its nature, showing a man and wife sitting at a chabudai, or low table, in a traditionally japanese living room setting. The dialogue is purposefully repetitive and centers around impending disaster and death - most likely the kamikaze pilots that flew into American warships in the Pacific Ocean, the husband being one of them. The viewer quickly realizes however, that both characters are blind, the wife both physically and philosophically. “Please come back alive,” she tells her kamikaze husband. It is indicative of a social and political ignorance from both a Japanese and American, or simply an Eastern and Western standpoint.

   To a passing spectator, Koizumi’s two other pieces in Projects 99, Human Opera XXX (2007) and My Voice Would Reach You (2009), seem tacked on and even unrelated to the exhibit’s main attraction. Whilst Defect in Vision is presented in its very own space, in a dark room separated from the museum floor by large thick curtains, the companion films are presented outside this room on two television screens, a square 4:3 screen and wide 16:9 screen respectively. Nonetheless, after watching both pieces - you must use the provided headphones and stand (or sit on the floor), the relation between them and the exhibit’s focal piece becomes clear. In all three pieces, Koizumi plays on human emotions, bringing them to the forefront via forced emotional manipulation as in Human Opera, by way of decisive ignorance as in My Voice Would Reach You, and through a mix of both in Defect in Vision.

   Like Nickelodeons of the early twentieth century, film exhibitions in a museum setting tend to play on a reel, and the films in Projects 99 are no different. Spectators coming and going at different parts of a piece can often be chaotic and distracting, however for Defect in Vision, there is method to the madness, of sorts. Whilst Human Opera and My Voice Would Reach You have defined beginnings and ends, albeit not controlled in time by the viewer (they’d have to wait for it to end if they wish to watch from the start), Defect in Vision has no clear-cut story arc. The very fact that museum-goers enter the room at various points in the film, coupled with the double back-to-back screen, emphasizes the idea that there is no one way of seeing and experiencing the piece.
   The room that hosts the film is also very purposeful in its presentation; it is a dark room with black walls, black paneling and black carpeting, and serves to reflect the film’s black and white saturation in a simplistic yet meaningful way. Not only do the streaks of light pouring in through slits in the curtained doorway accentuate the shadowy style of Koizumi’s film, but as spectators enter the room from the brightened museum corridors, they fumble as their eyes adapt to the dark. Asides from the low lighting, there is another initial confusion for the viewer to contend with upon entering the room; some people see the screen in front of them and cease to move from where they stand, others notice the flashes of light from the opposite screen on the back wall, and head straight for the farther side of the room, and a handful of viewers circle the screens and watch the film for a time on both. However, even amongst those that notice the back-to-back screen set up, there seems to be few who realize that the content of each differs. At one point on the far screen, a man, who Ken Johnson in his New York Times article (January, 2013) deems to be a production assistant, enters the frame and rearranges items on the table whilst the man and wife continue their conversation obliviously. Johnson writes that it “lend[s] it all an oddly artificial feeling,” however it is probably more important to note that the spectator who declines to watch the film by way of the far screen, will never garner that specific component of the film. Perhaps, something is lost on them as a result, but perhaps it is their unique experience of the film, however great or small that is more important to Koizumi’s vision.

   Organized by Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator in the Department of Print and Illustrated Books (an unusual project for someone in such a department), the presentation of Defect in Vision at MoMa also lends itself to both the abstruse and performative nature of the film. The latter is reflected in the simplicity of the darkened room and the connotative power of its cinematic display, the curtains, carpet et al. evoking the theatric and the dramatic. The former however, is slightly more subtle. The film on the first screen is almost entirely close-up shots of the face, which comes in and out of focus as the subject moves back and forward, and as the image blurs, so too does the spectator’s agitation.  Not only does the focus, or lack thereof, illustrative the protagonist's blindness and ignorance, but it is also analogous to the awkwardness of the museum-goers as they fumble into the room, often crossing the view of their fellow spectators. It is appropriately reminiscent of the film’s chaos. Cheiko, the man’s wife continues throughout the film to ask the same questions and make the same inane comments. As he puts down his newspaper, the husband explains to Cheiko that the Japanese offensive against the Americans in Okinawa will commence soon. And throughout the piece, we come to realize that he will be part of it. At one point on the far screen, the husband is seen in a shaky, handheld, and almost fish-eye close-up shot were he is obviously flying a plane. Amongst the roar of the engine and the whooshing sound of the wind, he cries out to Chieko that he is sorry. Her questions posed to her husband in the piece such as “Will kamikaze blow again?” make it clear that he is embarking on a suicide mission, yet they still converse as if this is not the case. Planning his supposed return, she says “We will take a long walk... have a long bath... [and] have sake for lunch.” But, whether they are playing a game for the sake of normalcy amongst his impending death or whether the husband is satisfying his wife’s ignorance and/or denial, is not acutely evident. Even the thought that the couple are simply well lubricated on sake is not far from the viewer’s mind. The obscurity of the film nonetheless is given ample opportunity to thrive in the exhibit’s dark and somewhat somber environment.

   The inclusion of the two other video installations, Human Opera and My Voice Would Reach You, as accompaniments to Defect in Vision seems to be a purpose based choice. Koizumi’s films are seemingly very different, yet broach similar territory in both theme and tone. He is known to be a quirk both in his personality and his art, blending tragedy and comedy into an intractable bond, and all three films showcase this in varying ways. In Human Opera, Koizumi interviews a man who responds to the artist’s advert (the text of which we see at the start of the film) that asks for someone with a tragic life story to recount the tale on camera for a substantial amount of money. It begins with Koizumi himself, with his face painted silver, setting up the interview room with random objects such as foil tubing, rubber animals et al. Finally, Rob Hoekstrer, a computer engineer from Amsterdam, is brought in to be interviewed by the artist. Koizumi gets him to recount his story in which his girlfriend took away his daughter as result of his alcoholism. However, as Hoekstrer tries to tell the tale, Koizumi continuously interrupts him, saying that “something is missing in the image,” or that he “need[s] something more vivid.” He gives Hoekstrer different obscure objects to hold, cuts his shirt open, doodles on his face, writes “free drink” on his bare chest, and even has him continue his story with a bread roll in his mouth. As Johnson (January, 2011) writes, “the final scene, a kind of shamanistic exorcism, is shocking, scary and hilarious.”
    Similarly, My Voice Would Reach You delves into that obscure yet intrinsic correlation between humor and tragedy. The emotional response to both - laughter and crying - is equally cathartic, and Koizumi displays that effortlessly in what seems to be the overriding theme of the exhibition as a whole. Defect in Vision however, is slightly more akin in its form to My Voice Would Reach You. The film centers around a man who calls the information desk at a credit card company and acts as if he is speaking with his deceased mother. Like in Defect in Vision, he suggests they book a trip to a hot spring, after which the phone operator asks him if he means “hotline.” Whilst absurdly funny at times, it is rooted in the man’s devastation, and probably more so in his guilt about not becoming the man his mother hoped he would be. Unlike Defect in Vision though, the protagonist is most certainly play acting for the purpose of normalcy - he just wants to have a simple phone conversation with his mother - in the face of a tragic reality.
   Projects 99 is also part of MoMa’s Elaine Dannheisser Project Series, which is dedicated to giving new and emerging artists space for their work. And, as both the abstract for the exhibition and Johnson’s article (January, 2011) mention, there is a relevance to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, which supposedly occurred whilst Koizumi was in the midst of making Defect in Vision. And so, the sense of impending catastrophe, as well as the running motif of blindness and ignorance take on a greater cultural meaning. The viewing experience thus employs at least one other consistency other than natural sound.

  Projects 99: Meiro Kuizumi runs through May 6th at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Defect in Vision (2011)
Installation with two-channel high definition video
(black and white sound)
12 min

Human Opera XXX (2007)
Video (color, sound)
17 min

My Voice Would Reach You (2009)
High Definition video (color, sound)
16 min

Ken Johnson, 2011

"Avant-garde Masters: A Decade of Preservation "

Anthology Film Archives (Jan, 16th, 2013) 

(Image taken from AFA’s Series page)

 • Frank Stauffacher, Notes On the Port of St. Francis (1951, 21 min, 16mm Preserved by Pacific 
   Film Archives, with narration by Vincent Price)
 • Rudy Burckhardt, The Climate of New York (1948, 21 min, 16mm, Preserved by Anthology Film
 • Beryl Sokoloff, GAUDI (1962, 14 min, 16mm, Preserved by Silver Bow Art)
 • Tom Palazzolo, HE (1966, 8 min, 16mm, Preserved by Chicago Filmmakers)

   Originally scheduled for Sunday, October 28th and then lumped again into their “Sandy Redux” series on January 11-16th, this screening was an attempt to give these films a reception when their original screenings had been cancelled due to natural disaster and emergency. The ameliorative screening showed to a nearly sold-out crowd in the 60 seat Maya-Deren Theater. The “Avant-Garde Masters: A Decade of Preservation,” showed the above works to a crowd of students, film lovers, archivists, and film-makers. There was lingering discussion and chatter, and many greetings in the crowd afterwards.

 As the eponymous title indicated, the A-G Masters is a singular grant, now in its 10th year, devoted specifically to preserving avant-garde films. The A-G Masters grant recipients are one of the very few ways in which these already overlooked works have been saved from obscurity and a slow death. Created in 2003 by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) and The Film Foundation with the intent to preserve American Avant-garde cinema, according to the NFPF website this grant has preserved over 105 films by 49 filmmakers. Twenty organizations have thus far participated in sponsoring films for preservation that run the gamut from classics of the avant-garde (ex: Brakhage) to handmade efforts by overlooked, never-heard from artists (ex: Sokoloff). The unknown films that are chosen challenge and help expand the idea of the “avant-garde” American film. However, it is interesting to note that the grants restrict themselves only to film made beyond the last 20 years, film as a medium (rather than video, for example), as well as welcoming artists excluded from exhibition and the canon. As Martin Scorsese, the funder/patron of the fund notes on the NFPF website, however, "there's no other program of its kind."

  Anthology Film Archive had been one of the recurring sponsoring institutions, as it is similarly singular in being held synonymous with the avant-garde canon it helped create and their preservation and exhibition today. Dedicated in not only showing, but also actively preserving and archiving film, it has actively sponsored a number of films for NFPF grants and is, therefore, also one of the few institutions around the world in which such an screening is perfectly natural and in tune with the institutions missions from its very founding until now: to provide a home and effectively help canonize, preserve, and show in their original format works that were rarely seen to begin with

  Introduced enthusiastically by archivist Jon Klacsmann, the four small gauge films shown were not introduced in any heavy-handed way that introduced the curation involved, however the films evidenced a commonality that went beyond their avant-garde status to their content of cityscapes and street pedestrian scenes, in a lyrical and loosely-documentary fashion that would be immediately appealing in a grant application. These films often showed unusual footage of a variety of neglected districts and areas, such as the then empty wasteland of Astoria, the “foreign and exotic” Chinese enclaves in San Francisco, or New York City’s Times Square at mid-century lit up and aglow with neons.

  While I thought the night’s screening of 16mm preservation work within the Maya Deren theater at Anthology Film Archives quite fitting and successful, some other attendees closely affiliated to pieces felt that the films were not absolutely loyal to the original works in some way. Another attendee mentioned to me that he thought the colors were much too bright to not have been improved upon in some way. I also later found out that one of the pieces was an 8mm blow-up and that the accompanying sound had been played on CD.  These comments rang in my head, as questions of fidelity to original format is a difficult philosophical preservation issue, given the lack of 8mm screening opportunities. The technical issues of syncing a separate sound source is a difficult technical issue. How to appropriately preserve work that cannot be readily screened in its originally format is a dilemma that preservationists will only be forced to grapple with more and more. Given the committed audience members, however, it seems only natural that there were some mixed criticisms on the philosophically as well as technically difficult work that went behind the screenings of the night. 

 In its yearly exhibitions of NFPF film grant preservation projects, Anthology Archives is one of the few forums to actively promote preservation work that would otherwise never be seen in their film format. The NFPF events page makes it clear that while the grant application reserves a section on the access/exhibition of the film, films in 16mm such as the ones included on the program are probably difficult to screen. In addition to the fact that many film theaters simply would not have the audience or desire to screen these works, technical limitations and the very real lack of 16mm projectors in film theaters today due to the very decisive turn to digital formats have also decreased the chance of these films to be reconsidered and re-seen. Luckily, institutions like AFA have continued in their dedication to film. Jed Rapfogal, curator at Anthology has interviewed regarding his curating practices and states that "our goal...is to give exposure to films that might otherwise fall through the cracks." The work screened, due to content as well as its film medium certainly counts as films that have fallen through the cracks.

Julia Kim 

Given that these films will be very difficult to see in 16mm, I've decided to include links to online digitized clips of from these not-often-seen filmmakers:
Palazzolo's Jerrry's Deli (1974)=
Stauffacher's Bicycle Polo at San Mateo (1940)

National Film Preservation Foundation Avant-Garde Masters Grants.  http://www.filmpreservation.org/nfpf-grants/avant-garde-masters-grants