A Decade of Experimentation: 1960s Avant-Garde Cinema - Thur. Apr. 3rd - 8PM

Oddball Films presents A Decade of Experimentation: 1960s Avant-Garde Cinema, an evening of breathtaking, mind-blowing experimental films featuring works by Norman McLaren, Saul Bass, Chick Strand, Arthur Lipsett, Pat O'Neill, Bruce Conner and more.  The 1960s were a decade of political turmoil and rebellion as well as sexual and pharmaceutical experimentation.  This shift in consciousness affected a whole generation of media innovators who used the climate of change to permanently alter the landscape of cinema.  Canadian innovator Norman McLaren's Pas De Deux (1968), superimposes the minute movements of two glowing ballet dancers to create one of the most beautiful and ethereal films of the collection. Why Man Creates (1968), directed by Saul Bass, explores the human impulse towards creativity while vacillating between live action and animation.  Collage film master Bruce Conner reimagines the Kennedy Assassination by remixing news footage in Report (1967). Arthur Lipsett's Very Nice, Very Nice (1961) is a culturally disruptive montage of still images and his first film nominated for an Academy Award.  Underground Film (1970) is a television arts program segment on the Bay Area's own Chick Strand, going in depth into her process and displaying excerpts of several of her most important films of the 1960s.  Local legend George Kuchar's Lady from Sands Point (1967) is a zippy, trippy portrait of artist Betty Holiday. The languid rhythms of fades, dissolves and superimpositions permeate 7362 (1967)  a masterful avant garde film by the auteur of the optical printer Pat O’Neill. Watch the surreal, beautiful and disturbing images of horses in the ocean in Denys Colomb de Daunant's innovative film, Dream of the Wild Horses (1962), suitably scored by Jacques Larsy. Plus! Homegrown hallucinogenic freakout SF Trips Festival: An Opening (1967) and more surprises for the early birds.

Date: Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 at 8:00PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to: 415-558-8117 or RSVP@oddballfilm.com 

Highlights include:

Pas De Deux (Norman McLaren, B+W, 1968)
Canadian experimental animator, Norman McLaren uses film to create a hypnotic dream world out of the simple balletic movements of two dancers.  With minimal lighting, the two glow against the black backdrop, and as he utilizes camera and editing techniques, the dance is transformed into a meditation of movement and pure, ethereal beauty.  The optically superimposed images make the viewer aware of each scintilla of body motion.  With dancers Margaret Mercier and Vincent Warren  and a soundtrack by the Folk Orchestra of Romania.  Winner of the 1969 BAFTA award for best animated film.

Why Man Creates (Saul Bass, Color, 1969)

This inquiry into and celebration of the creative impulse was directed by Bass and won the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary Film in 1969.  Part informational essay, part creative explosion, it examines human creativity in its many varieties: from practical scientific applications to creativity for the sake of expression.  A series of explorations, episodes and comments on creativity, this film is one of the most highly regarded short films ever produced. Humor, satire, and irony are combined with serious questions about the creative process and how it comes into play for different individuals. A fascinating cornucopia of trenchant ideas and important truths, it’s transgressive and insightful, way-out and weird.

Very Nice, Very Nice (Arthur Lipsett, 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.

Report (Bruce Conner, 1967, B+W)
"Report” can mean an account of events or a blast of a rifle and both meanings are apt for this incendiary work. Using found footage, footage the news coverage captured from his home TV and even mostly blank film, Conner arranges familiar images and audio against each other in throbbing juxtapositions. Events in Dallas had a clear before and after for America, but Conner's careful structure plays with the sequence of events to shocking effect. Report ultimately fuses images of promise and plenty with those of cataclysm and oblivion.

The Lady from Sands Point (B+W, 1967) 
A charming George Kuchar portrait of local artist, Betty Holliday.  A grandfather of underground film, an inspiration to countless filmmakers like John Waters and Todd Solondz, George Kuchar never stopped creating films throughout his life. He made raunchy melodramas, goofy tornado-chasing  diaries, and throughout the years, George was filming those artists around him that inspired him. The Lady from Sands Point is one of these portraits, and a tantallizing and entertaining one at that. He documents his friend and local artist, Betty Holliday, but in a way that only George could have done, with a zippy soundtrack and unique editing that seem to make the artwork dance across the screen.

Underground Film (Color, 1970)

An exploration into ‘underground’ film through the eyes (and films) of California experimental filmmaker, Chick Strand, this documentary gives a close look into the life and work of one of the west coast’s (and Bay Area’s) most innovative independent filmmakers. Included among the interviews and footage of Strand working is a full-length version of her film, Anselmo, shot in Mexico in 1967. Lush color, layered images and intimate cinematography create an inimitable portrait of a musician friend and a tuba in Anselmo. Working in 16mm and Super 8mm, Chick Strand was one of a group of Bay Area filmmakers including Bruce Baillie, Gunvor Nelson, Dorothy Wiley, and Robert Nelson (to name a few) who established Canyon Cinema, San Francisco Cinematheque, and self published a journal of writings from and on filmmakers working in the area in the ‘60s and ‘70s. These filmmakers’ film work and efforts established a unique Bay Area community of distribution and exhibition for local film artists and have had an indelible impact on West Coast experimental and independent film aesthetics.

7362 (Pat O'Neill, Color, 1967)

The languid rhythms of fades, dissolves and superimpositions permeate this masterfully dense film by famed avant garde filmmaker and auteur of the optical printer Pat O’Neill. This film preserved by the National Film Preservation Foundation and included in their dvd box set Treasures of the American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986.

“This film started out to be about the motion and sound of the oil derricks that once lined the beach in Venice, California. The derricks, which had been built during the oil boom of the 1920's, were made of wood and rusted iron, and were largely open and unattended. I was attracted to these towers by their moaning sounds, their heady aromas, and the consolation of the endless rising and falling of the pump heads. Somehow it seemed like prayer. The film came to contain a human body, and then moving objects, which I filmed in my studio: rotating and oscillating shapes whose outlines would merge with one another. But in a way the piece was really about re- photography - about making something out of ordinary parts using mechanical technology to reveal a glimpse of something uncanny.

Thirty-some years later, it seems to be about orgasms. Joseph Byrd, later of the United States of America (a band) made sounds on the fly from a primitive synthesizer. Burton Gershfield stopped by with a gallon each of yellow, cyan, and magenta developers from Technicolor, which were used to develop black and white, emulsion 7362”.-Pat O’Neill

A Dream of Wild Horses aka Le Songe des Chevaux Sauvages (Color, 1962) 
This landmark short film is a cinematic poem which uses slow motion and soft focus camera to evoke the wild horses of the Camargue District of France, showing them as they roam on the beach through fire and water, biting and kicking one another. The raw yet elegant physicality of the horses in motion is breathtaking and euphoric.

S.F. Trips Festival: An Opening (Ben Van Meter, Color 1967)
Experimental multi-exposure freak out documents the 1966 Trips Festival, an acid-drenched “Happening” staged in San Francisco at the Longshoremen’s Hall (400 North Point) in January of 1966.

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.