Oddball Films presents Strange Sinema, a monthly screening of new finds, old gems and offbeat oddities from the collection. Drawing on his archive of over 50,000 16mm film prints Oddball Films director Stephen Parr has complied his 75th program of classic, strange, offbeat and unusual films. This installment, Strange Sinema 75: Strange Discoveries celebrates the 75th anniversary of monthly Strange Sinema screenings. In true Strange Sinema style this program presents entirely new discoveries from the archive’s recent acquisition of 300 new 16mm film prints. Most, if not all of these films are rarely screened and unavailable online. Films include Die Pistole (1964), a powerful stop-motion short and wry commentary by West German animation filmmaker Wolfgang Urchs; Art For Tomorrow (1969) an eye-popping exploration of experimental tech-oriented art incorporating early IBM computers, cybernetics, heart beat triggers, invisible art by magnetism all narrated by Walter Cronkite; Two Bagatelles (1953), two experiments in pixilation co-directed by animation genius and founder of the National Film Board of Canada Norman McLaren and filmmaker and actor Grant Munro; Opus (1969) a fascinating tour-de-force montage of British art, architecture, theater and swingin’ London fashions-all that was shocking in 1969; directed by experimental cinema legend Don Levy. Other discoveries include Himalayan Shaman of Northern Nepal (1967), focusing on the work of a shaman including spirit possession, sucking out evil spirits and purifying his mouth with fire; Enfantillage (Kid Stuff) Pierre Trudeau’s potent metaphorical film combines drawings and puppet animation conveying the extreme effects of family discord on a small child; and Subject: Narcotics (1951), a very early drug education film produced for police orientation and training presenting dramatized sequences of addicts in shooting galleries with excellent footage of pre-renewal downtown Los Angeles (a neighborhood now lost). Lumiere’s First Picture Show (1895-1897) is a compilation of the earliest films ever made by French cinema pioneers the Lumière Brothers as well as a vintage look at the Lumières' patented cinematograph, a combination camera, projector, and film printer. To end up the evening we present a fascinating profile of a Nigerian Yoruba healer in Ifa Divination Diagnosis: A Traditional Specialist (1977).
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to RSVP@oddballfilm.com or (415) 558-8117
Die Pistole (Color, 1964)
Wolfgang Urchs was among the prime shapers of film animation in the West German media landscape of the sixties. Urchs made only a few of the graphic films he had envisioned as most of his work was for hire in the industrial and advertising realms. Die Pistole, a powerful stop-motion animated film demonstrates that even the most insignificant little bug is capable of great things, and that each of us can make his own modest contribution; though the film makes it clear that the path is still a long one, steep and rocky. Urch was a member of the radical cinema group that published the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962. The manifesto was a call to arms to establish a "new German feature film”. The signatories to the manifesto became known as the Oberhausen Group and are seen as important forerunners of the New German Cinema that began later in the decade.
Art for Tomorrow (Color 1969)
“The artist is beginning to react to the impact of science and technology and beginning to come to terms with it. The artist better be rather careful or he will be losing his job and the engineer will become the artist of the future.”
In this film, from the Twentieth Century television program narrated by Walter Cronkite the art of the future is foreseen in new techniques demonstrated by artists and engineers using distinctive methods and new technology including computers, cybernetics, heart beat triggers, invisible art by magnetism, prisms, lights, moving objects, converging lines, and number patterns. This fascinating look at the “future past” features a kaleidoscopic portrait of avant-garde art works by Yaacov Agam (who uses strobe lights), Wen-Ying Tsai (vibrating steel rods), John Mott-Smith (computer-generated ideas), Jean Tinguely (machine-made sculpture), Victor Vasarely’s early experiments with IBM computers, Jean Dupuy and many more. Here’s a link to Dupuy’s work “Heart Beats Dust” http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/hearts-beats-dust/
Two experiments in pixilation co-directed by animation genius and founder of the National Film Board of Canada Norman McLaren and filmmaker and actor Grant Munro (who coined the word “pixelization”). In the first, (which was inspired by their award-winning film NEIGHBOURS/VOISINS) a man waltzes to a synthesized version of a Johann Strauss melody; in the second, he moves around playfully to a tune played on a street organ.
Opus (Color, 1969)
Produced for world-wide distribution for the British Government (Central Office of Information) and for continuous showing in the British Pavilion of Expo ’67, Montreal was directed by famed experimental filmmaker Don Levy. This film is a fascinating tour-de-force montage of British art, architecture, theater and fashions-all that was shocking in 1969. Opus is a whirlwind of music and montage of modern British machine sculptors, excerpts from Royal Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Homecoming by Harold Pinter, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum at Charenton under the direction of the marquis de Sade, directed by Peter Brook, extracts from Sir Frederick Ashton’s Ballet Monotones performed by the members of the Royal Ballet Company and swingin’ British fashions, cars and lifestyles!
Filmed in a Himalayan valley near the Dhaulagiri massif this ethnographic work focuses on the work of a shaman, his costume and rituals including spirit possession, sucking out evil spirits from his clients, contact with the "other world", foretelling the future and purifying his mouth with fire.
Directed by John T. and Patricia Hitchcock, pioneers in ethnographic filmmaking. Hitchcock was also a noted cultural anthropologist who studied shamanism and cultures of Himalayas of Nepal and India. For a preview visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I_eMebAqoM
Enfantillage (Kid Stuff) (Color, 1990)
Pierre Trudeau’s film combines drawings and puppet animation conveying the effects of family discord on a small child. In the peace and quiet of his room, a boy draws at his desk, appearing not to notice the angry voices that intrude from the hallway. As his parents' quarrel escalates, however, resentment invades the child's tranquility. The figures he has drawn spring to life. In a lonely and desolate landscape, the clown and robot engage in combat. The music intensifies and the distraught child is spun on a carousel that expresses his rage and revolt. No one hears his muted cry. When calm again descends on the household, all that remains to remind one of the recent conflict is a blackened sheet of paper.
"If a junkie is lucky, he dies early."
Produced for police orientation and training, police officers, and "restricted from the general public and from all youth groups” this early drug education film presents drug addiction not simply as a crime but as a deep-seated social problem. With dramatized sequences of addicts in shooting galleries and excellent footage of pre-renewal downtown Los Angeles, a neighborhood now lost. Produced and directed by renowned filmmakers Denis and Terry Sanders, who wrote this film with Jay Sandrich.
A compilation of short silent films by French cinema pioneers the Lumière brothers shot in the early days of cinema. The shorts are accompanied by informative text that gives background information on each film, as well as historical context with regards to filmmaking and the Lumière company. Shorts include the famous "L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat" (1896) ("The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat"), "La sortie des usines Lumière" (1895) ("Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory"), and a vintage look at the Lumières' patented cinematograph, a combination camera, projector, and film printer.
Ifa Divination: A Traditional Specialist (Color, 1977)
Produced by Singer-Sharrette Productions and part of the Nigerian Traditional Healing Series this fascinating short explores the traditional Yoruba healing system practiced in Nigeria. Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odù Ifá. Here we witness a traditional healer at work. For further information visit: http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/29afr_uk.htm
About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.