The Body Beautiful - Thur. May 7th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents The Body Beautiful, an eclectic mix of 16mm shorts that explore the human body from sensuality to athleticism, movement and dance and the transformative power of film to alter these all too familiar images into something transcendent and sublime. The evening will begin with a fun exploration of those who dare to bare it all with Nudism: a Way of Life (c. 1950). Experimental genius Ed Emshwiller meditates on the human condition in his monumental work Relativity (1966); from which we will be watching a mesmerizing sequence about corporeality and sexuality. 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. Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia Diving Sequence (1936) endures as one of the most breathtaking documents of the beauty of the human form throughout cinema history. Dozens of chorus girls create a human waterfall in the jaw-dropping Busby Berkeley number "By a Waterfall" from Footlight Parade (1933). Get a glimpse under the skin with the ghostly images of Moving X-Rays (1950).  Plus, an excerpt of the mother of modern dance, Martha Graham's Cortege of Eagles (1969) starring Graham herself as the tragic Greek figure Queen Hecuba, double projection of Vintage Beefcake and Cheesecake shorts, and more surprises.

Date: Thursday, May 7th, 2015 at 8:00pm

Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Relativity (Color, 1966, excerpt)
A new discovery from the stacks; avant-garde master Ed Emshwiller's bizarre and beautiful film was made with a grant from the Ford Foundation.  It's not clear whether or not they knew what they were getting into, but the result is an arresting and audacious poetic masterpiece that examines the human condition from the inside out. Emshwillers called it "something that deals with subjective reality, the emotional sense of what one's perception of the total environment is -- sexual, physical, social, time, space, life, death." We will be skipping past the gutting of a pig to a fascinating segment on human sexuality featuring two disparate halves of a woman's body seamlessly composited into one fascinating image.  The looping soundscore only heightens the hypnotic view of life, sex and the human body.

"By means of the camera and the editing table, he [filmmaker] creates image movements and relationships different from those of the dance choreographer. So, in some cases, two choreographies are united in one film –dance choreography and film choreography. In other cases, dance choreography in the usual sense is practically non-existent. Then the camera and editing techniques provide the movement, contrasts, and transitions in the dance’s image. Cine-dance, then is another way of using dancers – not exactly dance, but a legitimate art form in its own way. To me it is fascinating and challenging." – Ed Emshwiller

Pas De Deux (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.

Olympia Diving Sequence (B+W, 1936)
Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia documents the Olympic games of 1936, using disorienting angles and slow motion in order to display athletic bodies in motion, detached from all purpose. Often it’s unclear where the bodies are in the context of their environment, which allows the film to focus on their pure, Adonis-like form. Riefenstahl’s film captured the body-centric culture cultivated by the rise of fascism, and made it into an aesthetic principle. Silent with added soundtrack by fellow Germans Kraftwerk.

"By a Waterfall" from Footlight Parade (B+W, 1933)
A dazzling and jaw-dropping musical number featuring dozens of lovely synchronized swimmers all choreographed by the legendary and hallucinatory Busby Berkeley.  Ruby Keeler serenades her love by a waterfall and as he nods off to sleep, the waters come alive with bathing beauties, who then form incredible visuals and patterns with only their bodies culminating in the incredible "Human Waterfall".  This extravagant number took over 6 days to film and the pool used for filming took up an entire sound stage and required 20,000 gallons of water to be pumped per minute.

Nudism: A Way of Life? (B+W, c.1950)
An unbiased and unabashed exploration of the nudism movement which first gained popularity in Germany in the early 20th Century.  While the narrator claims to be objective, the lingering shots of partially disrobed women seem to indicate otherwise.  With a visit to a nudist colony and a housewife in nothing but an apron, you'll learn more about the (female) body than you thought you needed to...

Moving X-Rays (B+W, 1950)

For more than a century, X-ray images have illuminated the workings and anomalies of the human body and other objects of mystery, but they still have the ability to fascinate. Director John Kieran's Kaleidoscope was a 15-minute documentary series that aired from 1949 to 1952. Kieran's folksy but learned approach gives Moving X-Rays gives a comfy sense of wonderment at the eerie beauty of these familiar images.

About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is the screening 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.