Metamorphic Cinema: Meditations on Transformation - Thur. May 12th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Metamorphic Cinema: Meditations on Transformation, a multi-genred evening of 16mm short films and animation reflecting on mutations and transfigurations. From mesmerizing time-lapse nature films to jaw-dropping animation, evolutionary musings to early cinema magic - including several new dazzling films from the depths of the archive - it's a one of a kind program celebrating the beauty of change. Films include legendary outsider filmmaker Sid Laverents' homegrown nature film The Butterfly with Four Birthdays (1965) in which shedding the cocoon is likened to getting "out of a girdle with a belt on and your hands tied behind your back," Transformation (1901), a super-rarity from turn of the 20th-century France featuring Méliès-like special effects transforming a lady magician into an ever-changing butterfly among other things.  The brilliant animator Peter Foldes gives us two hallucinatory metamorphic shorts: Hunger (1974), a disturbing early computer animation criticizing over-consumption in a world struck with famine and the collage and cell-animation Go Faster (1971) commenting on man's reliance on the rat race. Evolution goes at hyperspeed in the one minute cartoon Ecomega (1972), and gets a jazz-grounded claymation treatment in Eliot Noyes' Oscar nominated Clay or The Origin of the Species (1964). Mysteries of Plant Life (1940s) offers us masterful time-lapse photography of plants and flowers as they grow and bloom with sublime Kodachrome color cinematography from the pioneering photo-innovator Arthur C. Pillsbury. James Gore's Sixshortfilms (1973) is a stream of consciousness animation of faces warping into demons and birds transforming into telephones to strange and surreal effect. Bert Haanstra's Oscar-winning short Glass (1958) displays the hypnotizing art of glass-blowing with a soundtrack by the Pim Jacobs Quartet. Plus Bill Plympton's Your Face (1987) and a metamorphic pre-show from the Moody Institute of Science.

Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2016 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Transformation (B+W, 1901)
Camera magic from 115 years ago! This uncredited Pathé Fréres rarity is making its Oddball debut. A female magician enters and bows before a stage. She produces a number of illusions, appearances and disappearances that are rendered by using Méliès-esque camera techniques such as the stop trick including turning herself into a marble bust, pulling babies out of a giant cabbage and dancing with butterfly wings that change shape and pattern with each flap.

Sixshortfilms (Color, 1973)
A pen on paper, stream of consciousness animation from director James Gore. Funny, creepy and thought-provoking, faces become monsters, birds become telephones, and all reason floats out the window.

The Butterfly with Four Birthdays (Kodachrome Color, 1965)
A fascinating little gem of a homemade nature film from outsider filmmaker Sid Laverents. Laverents (1908-2009) performed as a one man band in the Vaudeville days and only started making films in his late 50s but went on to become one of the most celebrated amateur filmmakers of all time. This charming backyard nature doc (literally filmed in his backyard over a number of years) features an oft subjective and quirkily colloquial narration. As the caterpillar attempts to shed his skin, our narrator intones ''This is sort of like trying to get out of a girdle with a belt on and your hands tied behind your back." At the end of the film, Laverents winks at the audience by filming a beautiful girl holding a butterfly and showing off more than her insect friend before getting yelled at by his wife.

Clay or The Origin of the Species (B+W, 1964)
The Academy Award-nominated stop-motion film from Eliot Noyes Jr. offers a kinetic take on Darwin’s revolutionary work. Backed by a swinging jazz tune, clay takes form as everything from primordial ooze to carnivorous creatures, devouring, dividing, and dancing to the rhythm. It’s survival of the fittest, and this crowd-pleaser stands up. Beginning with a simple graphic motion on the clay ‘sea’ from which forms of life emerge and the play, watch as the evolving organisms devour one another and morph into worms, gorillas, mermaids, clams, lions, whales and other animals, climaxing with the creation of a human!

Glass (Color, 1958)
Brilliant Academy Award winning short juxtaposes traditional glass blowing with “modern” glass manufacturing. Made by Bert Haanstra (Netherlands), the wordless Glass is a near perfect film, perfectly balancing images and rhythm with the wonderful cool jazz soundtrack by the Pim Jacobs Quintet. 

Ecomega (Color, 1972)
A 1 minute animated take on human evolution ending in the polluted demise of humanity. Dark and humorous. Directed by James Duron and David Stipes.

Hunger (Color, 1974)
Brilliant, disturbing, landmark early computer animation by Peter Foldes, this mind-blowing short is one of the most mesmerizing films of the entire collection. Characters morph and cannibalize in this mesmerizing Pop Art short, with a super cool soundtrack by Pierre Brault. A bleak comment on gluttony, greed, lust and consumerism with a literal take on "eat the rich". One of the very first computer animated films and one of the most mind-blowing films of the collection.

Go Faster (Color, 1971)
The pace of modern life demands that we constantly go faster, often forgetting where we are going, according to this satirical animation from the brilliant Peter Foldes. Modern man is shown to be at the mercy of his car, although on the surface he seems to have made it suit his needs. Our hero shaves, dictates letters, watches T.V., eats, drinks and makes love to his secretary - without budging from behind the wheel. Everyday the routine is the same, increasingly faster and more perfunctory. He is indifferent to the changing scenery. Nothing changes even when he exchanges his car for a boat, or a plane, or a spaceship. At last he begins to wonder what it’s all about. The film speculates that man’s machines serve him efficiently, but the resulting way of life gives little pleasure or sense of purpose.

Mysteries of Plant Life (Kodachrome Color, 1940s, excerpt)
Watch as plants grow with the help of microcinematography and time lapse photography in this gorgeous kodachrome nature film photographed by inventor and photographer Arthur C. Pillsbury, inventor of the panorama camera and innovator of time-lapse and micro-photography. A mesmerizing treat in breathtaking color from one of America's premiere photo-innovators!

Your Face (Color, 1987)
This film set the style and started career of famed animator Bill Plympton. One of the most popular short films ever made, it’s still showing all over the world. As a second- rate crooner sings about the beauties of his lover’s face, his own face morphs into the most surreal shapes and contortions imaginable. The music was written and sung by Maureen McElheron, then slowed to sound like a man’s voice because Plympton was too cheap to hire a male singer. Your Face earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short in 1988.

Curator’s Biography
Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric film hoarder. She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009. She has programmed over 200 shows at Oddball on everything from puberty primers to experimental animation.

About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.

Our screenings 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.