Fantasmes Français - Fresh French Discoveries - Thur. Mar. 5th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Fantasmes Français with an almost entirely newly-unearthed slate of marvelous and award-winning French shorts from the likes of Pierre Etaix, Claude Berri, Jean Mitry, Robert Enrico, and Jean L'Hôte. This multi-genred program features everything from farce to experimental to animation with chilling, heart-warming, hilarious and animated shorts dug out of our 40,000 16mm film archive. The hilarious Pierre Etaix wrote, directed and stars in the delightful vampire tale Insomnie (1963).   Robert Enrico's Chickamauga (1962) is a brilliant, dark and surreal retelling of Ambrose Bierce's civil war story of a deaf-mute boy's interpretation of one of the bloodiest battles in the American Civil War.  A man gets trapped inside a rather-huge church bell and wreaks havoc and hilarity all over Paris in Jean L'Hôte's silent-inspired slapstick farce La Cloche (1964). Jean Mitry gives us a symphony of locomotive and musical artistry in the beautiful avant-garde piece Pacific 231 (1949). And for a little abstract French animation, we have a double shot of Oscar-nominated animator Jean-Charles Meunier, Hypothèse Beta (1967) and The Glob Family (1970).  Early birds will be treated to another Oscar-winning delight One Eyed Men Are Kings (1974).   

Date: Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 8:00PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Insomnie (Color & B+W, 1963, Pierre Etaix)
A delightfully comedic send-off to the vampire-melodrama written by, starring and directed by French clown, comedian, and acclaimed filmmaker Pierre Etaix. A man (played by Etaix) is having trouble sleeping.  He takes pills, settles in and yet, nothing.  He begins to read a vampire novel, fading in and out of the narrative (and even playing the head vampire as well) as he gets more and more invested in the story and all the more insomniomatic.  As daylight enters the story and "real" life as well, the man finally falls asleep, only to find out that the blood-sucking has only just begun!

Chickamauga (B+W, 1962, Robert Enrico)
Far and away the darkest film of the night, this all-but forgotten masterpiece is also the most remarkable. The first part of Robert Enrico's Civil War Trilogy, based on the short stories of Ambrose Bierce. The most famous of the trilogy, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, won several international awards, and yet this masterpiece of dark surrealism has largely been overlooked for years, yet remains even more poetic, more devastating and more haunting than Occurrence. A young boy, who is both deaf and mute wanders away from his home on the day of battle at Chickamauga creek (a battle which claimed 35,000 lives within two days and earned Chickamauga its nickname "The Bloody Pond").  Unable to hear the carnage and without the life experience to grasp the horrors around him, he wanders through an increasingly bleak and bloody landscape perceiving it as some kind of ridiculous fantasy.  The counterpoint of the boy's glee and enthusiasm to the grim realities around him make for one unforgettable cinema experience.

La Cloche (B+W, 1964, Jean L'Hôte)
In this silent-styled slapstick comedy, a young man steps under a church bell to get out of the rain. The bell is on display for a ceremony before its installation. The bell falls off its stand onto a dolly trapping the man; yet, he can move the bell from inside of it. He goes all over the countryside inside the bell, wreaking havoc with the inevitable hilarity ensuing.  Writer/Director Jean L'Hôte was a collaborator of Jacques Tati and French legend in his own right. 

Pacific 231 (B+W, 1949, Jean Mitry)
This beautiful experimental symphony carefully blends the beauty of music (Arthur Honegger's orchestral piece by the same name) with incredible imagery of locomotive artistry.  With loving close-ups and juxtaposition of wheels, tracks, gears and more, the film is a cinematic love poem to train engineering and the masterful use of intricate editing enhances both the music and the viewer's experience. Awarded the short film Palme D'Or at Cannes.

Hypothèse Beta (Color, 1967, Jean-Charles Meunier) 
An Oscar-nominated French filmed animation, which deals with an isolated computer punch card perforation who tries to join groups of well-behaved perforations, is rebuffed, and finally manages to create complete disorder. Remember punch cards? Neither do I.

The Glob Family (Color, 1970, Jean-Charles Meunier)
An abstract animation about a pair of leucocytes that fall in love and decide to have a little glob family of their own. A witty and bizarre parable of human behavior as told by blobs!

For the Early Birds:

One-Eyed Men Are Kings (Color, 1974)
A French silent film, both comedic and poignant, about a man and his dog?  No, not The Artist, but the 1974 Oscar winner One-Eyed Men Are Kings, about a lonely Parisian sad sack whose dog-walking assignment becomes a gateway into social popularity which is as fleeting as it is fortuitous—and featuring one of the least sympathetic canines you’re likely to meet.

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.