Strange Sinema 56 - Friday Sept. 21 - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Strange Sinema 56, a monthly screening of new finds, old gems and offbeat oddities from Oddball Films’ collection of over 50,000 film prints. This evening features a series of short, confounding and plainly strange films ranging from unique animation to spellbinding science to silent slapstick.  Works include the brilliant Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s Very Nice, Very Nice (1961), a sardonic re-reading of 1950s consumerism, mass media and popular culture, Charlie Chaplin’s silent Laughing Gas (1914) where he pumps his patients with laughing gas, pulls out the wrong teeth and knocks them out with clubs, the Mouse Activated Candle Lighter (1973), a bizarre Rube Goldbergesque short demonstrating the principles of motion, Crystallization (1975), award-winning filmmaker Carroll Ballard’s cinematic science excursion into microcinematography and electronic music, another short by Arthur Lipsett- Free Fall (1964) featuring dazzling pixilation, in-camera superimpositions, percussive tribal music, syncopated rhythms and ironic juxtapositions, Rhinoceros (1965), Polish master Lenica utilizes cutouts creating an animated version of Ionesco’s play about conformity, Experimental (1974), famed director Robin Lehman’s brilliant montage of feats of flight produced with the Experimental Aircraft Association. Other films include the euphoric Dream Flowers (1930s) featuring opium poppy harvesting and smokers, an eye-opening verite view of Texas cheerleaders  Beauty Knows No Pain (1971) by famed American photographer Elliott Erwitt, and a rare film They Shall See (1972) by Los Angeles filmmaker Nicholas Frangakis with cinematographer Steve Craig in a theological orientation to the mystery and beauty of nature, without narration and produced by the Franciscan Communications Center.  These films will amaze, delight, confound and inspire, so be sure to come get your strange on!

Date: Friday, September 21, 2012 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Very Nice, Very Nice (B+W, 1961)
From the brilliant avant-garde filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, this film is composed of the rapid juxtaposition of still images and sound fragments. In Very Nice, Very Nice, Lipsett disrupts the representational value of documentary image and sound, moving beyond the genre's aesthetic codes of truth and reliability. The result is a sardonic re-reading of 1950s consumerism, mass media and popular culture. Critically acclaimed it still plays frequently in festivals and film schools around the world.

Laughing Gas (B+W, 1914, silent w/added sound)
Pretending to be a dentist Charlie Chaplin wreaks havoc on his “patients”, pumping them full of laughing gas, knocking them out with clubs, pulling the skirt off the dentists’ wife and pulling the wrong tooth out of an unfortunate patient. Watch this laugh riot from the master of silent silliness.

The Mouse Activated Candle Lighter (Color, 1973)
Watch this fascinating Rube Goldberg device consisting of a mouse trap, fishing pole, alarm clock, ice pack, train motor, rubber band, match and candle illustrates various forms of kinetic energy.

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.

Free Fall (B+W, 1964)
Free Fall features dazzling pixilation, in-camera superimpositions, percussive tribal music, syncopated rhythms and ironic juxtapositions. Using a brisk “single-framing” technique, Lipsett attempts to create a synesthesic experience through the intensification of image and sound. Citing the film theorist Sigfreud Kracauer, Lipsett writes, “Throughout this psychophysical reality, inner and outer events intermingle and fuse with each other – 'I cannot tell whether I am seeing or hearing – I feel taste, and smell sound – it's all one – I myself am the tone.'” Note: Free Fall was intended as a collaboration with the American composer John Cage, modeled on his system of chance operations. However, Cage subsequently withdrew his participation fearing Lipsett would attempt to control and thereby undermine the aleatory organization of audio and visuals. 

Rhinoceros (Dir. Jan Lenica, Color, 1965)
Filmmaker and multitalented artist Jan Lenica's checkered career has encompassed excursions into music, architecture, poster-making, costume design, children's book illustration, and all aspects of filmmaking. It is, however, for his animation that he is best known, particularly his collage and "cutout" films, which have their roots in the art of Max Ernst and John Heartfield. The films have influenced the work of Jan Ĺ vankmajer and Terry Gilliam.
In this film, Polish master Lenica utilizes cutouts creating an animated adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s brilliant play about the oppressive and manipulative power of conformity.

Experimental (Color, 1974)
Oscar award-winning British filmmaker Robin Lehman’s non-narrative impressionistic evocation of the history of aviation culminating in the advent of the Concorde and hang-gliding. Made with the cooperation of the Experimental Aircraft Association. With an innovative use of sound montage.

Dream Flowers (B+W, Silent, 1930s)
Beautiful black and white time-lapse footage of the development of the poppy flower in its various stages, both fascinating and other worldly. Watch smokers partake of the euphoric drug.

Beauty Knows No Pain (Color,1971)

In Texas, Gussie Nell Davis, who wears harlequin glasses and seems to exercise her face by smiling, talks about the values she instills in the girls who become Kilgore College Rangerettes; loveliness, poise and dependability. “Beauty Knows No Pain” is a documentary film about the Kilgore Rangerettes by Elliott Erwitt. In 1940, the Kilgore College Rangerettes became the first dancing drill team in the nation. They have been performing at half-time shows during college football games ever since. Beauty Knows No Pain gives an in-depth look at the young ladies who come from all over the country to compete in a two-week drill, knowing that not all of them will make the cut.   At the end of the two week camp, the girls gather to see who is in, who has been chosen as an alternate, and who will go home unfulfilled. The girls meet their triumph and disappointment with shrieks and tears. An eye-opening verite view of true-blue All-American culture.

About Elliott Erwitt
Erwitt discovered the Rangerettes while on assignment for Paris Magazine to document Texas culture in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. Erwitt is an internationally renowned artist and Magnum photographer since 1953 and his work includes Arthur Penn: the Director (1970), Red, White and Bluegrass (1973) and the prize-winning Glassmakers of Heart, Afghanistan (1977). He is credited as Camera Operator for Gimme Shelter (1970), Still Photographer for Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (2005), and provided Addition Photography for Get Yer Ya Ya's Out (2009).

They Shall See (Color, 1972)
Los Angeles filmmaker Nicholas Frangakis with cinematographer Steve Craig created this theological orientation to the mystery and beauty of nature, without narration. The camera captures the wonder of the everyday world from the simplicity of the dewdrop to the grandeur of crashing surf. Influenced by the 1960s countercultural movement this exploration into non-narrative filmmaking was produced by the Franciscan Communications Center in a unique attempt to create a sense of visual meditation for theological purposes.

Curator Biography:
Stephen Parr’s previous programs have explored the erotic underbelly of sex-in-cinema (The Subject is Sex), the offbeat and bizarre (Oddities Beyond Belief), the pervasive effects of propaganda (Historical/Hysterical?) and oddities from his archives (Strange Sinema). He is the director of Oddball Film+Video and the San Francisco Media Archive (, a nonprofit archive that preserves culturally significant films. He is a member of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) where he is a frequent presenter.