Oddball Films and guest curator Scotty Slade bring you Aligning the Trance Particles, a program of physical and metaphysical forms of trance exploration that examines ancient traditions alongside experimental film practices. In tandem with the ongoing Trance Cinema film series, this program begins under the microscope, so that we might start to imagine the molecular alignment of our own inner beings, in Crystallization (1975). Once aligned on a molecular scale, it will be time to climb up the particulate ladder with Norman McLaren’s A Phantasy (1952), a space-borne surrealist film of dance and ritual glow. From there, we’ll bounce into Maya Deren’s A Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946), and once our minds have become fully lubricated, the incredible film Pomo Shaman (1964) will be there to move us into the next realm. In that deep space of next level consciousness, let us be further blown away by Pat O’Neill’s color ceremony in 7362 (1952). We’ll then jump back through time, from special effects land to the Kalahari, where everyone will be encouraged to get up and move around with the !Kung Bushmen in N/um tchai: The Ceremonial Dance of the !Kung Bushmen (1973). The evening will end with Takashi Ito’s mind bending gymnasium camera ritual symbolic mental portal exploration Spacy (1980). Everyone is encouraged to melt.
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 558-8117
Crystallization (Color, 1975)
Directed by award-wining filmmaker Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion) this film explores the formation of crystals in liquids through the electron microscope under polarized light. With innovative electronic soundscore. Shown at the SF International Film Festival and winner of the Golden Gate Award in 1975.
A mind-blowing visual and sound experience by famed experimental filmmaker (and sometime Star Wars special effects wiz) Pat O’Neill with sound by cult musician/early synthesizer artist Joseph Byrd (The United States of America). Described as “a bilaterally symmetrical (west to east) fusion of human, biomorphic and mechanical shapes in motion. Has to do with the spontaneous generation of electrical energy. A fairly rare (ten years ago) demonstration of the Sabattier Effect (re-exposing partially developed film to light during the processing) in motion. Title refers to the film stock of the same name.
Spacy (Color, 1980-81)
Hypnotic avant-garde rarity by Takashi Ito. This experimental stop-motion film takes place in a gymnasium: we approach a picture on a frame, which turns out to be a picture of the gymnasium. We enter the picture and approach another frame, which turns out to be a picture of… and so on. A mesmerizing electronic soundtrack completes this trance-inducing meditation on time and space.
Cut-out animation by Norman McLaren, and music for saxophones and synthetic sound by Maurice Blackburn. In a dream-like, meditative and surreal landscape drawn in pastel, inanimate objects come to life to disport themselves in grave dances and playful ritual.
A Ritual in Transfigured Time (B+W, 1946)
Maya Deren was one of the most influential female avant-garde filmmakers of the 20th century. She was dancer, choreographer, poet, writer and photographer. In the cinema she was a director, writer, cinematographer, editor, performer, entrepreneur and pioneer in experimental filmmaking in the United States. She collaborated with Marcel Duchamp and her social circle included the likes of Andre Breton, John Cage and Anais Nin. This enigmatic film is a social event choreographed in the manner of a dance, illuminated by concepts drawn from Greek legend. This is a sensual and metaphorically elusive study of the female psyche often considered one of filmmaker’s most intriguing works.
An extremely rare and fascinating chance to see a Pomo healing ceremony, led by Essie Parrish, a Pomo sucking doctor and a leader of the Kashaya Pomo community near Stewarts Point, California. Shot through holes in the walls of a ceremonial roundhouse (so as not to interfere), the ceremony features Parrish entering a trance and with the aid of a spiritual instrument, she attempts to cure her patient with traditional sucking techniques. The Kashaya agreed to the filming in order to preserve their traditions for future generations, and continue to watch it before healing ceremonies, believing the film is impued with Parrish’s healing spirit.
N/um tchai: The Ceremonial Dance of the !Kung Bushmen (B+W, 1973)
Tchai is the word used by Ju/'hoansi to describe getting together to dance and sing; n/um can be translated as medicine, or supernatural potency. In the 1950's, when this film was shot, Ju/'hoansi gathered for "medicine dances" often, usually at night, and sometimes such dances lasted until dawn. In this film, women sit on the ground, clapping and singing and occasionally dancing a round or two, while men circle around them, singing and stamping rhythms with their feet. The songs are wordless but named: "rain," "sun," "honey," "giraffe," and other "strong things." The strength of the songs is their n/um, or medicine, thought to be a gift from the great god. N/um is also in the fire, and even more so in the "owners of medicine," or healers. Most Ju/'hoan men would practice as healers at some point in their lives, and in this film we see several men in various stages of trance. A light trance gradually deepens, as the medicine grows "hot," and eventually some men will shriek and run about, falling on hot coals, entering the state Ju/'hoansi call "half-death."
The film opens with a brief introduction to the role of n/um tchai in healing and in warding off evil, followed by scenes from one all-night dance. The dance begins with a social gathering and becomes increasingly intense as the night wears on, finally concluding at dawn.