Strange Sinema 104: Alternative Artscapes - Fri. Sep. 16th - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Strange Sinema, a monthly evening of old finds, rare gems and newly discovered films from the stacks of the archive. Drawing on his collection of over 50,000 16mm film prints-the largest archive in Northern California, Oddball Films director Stephen Parr has compiled his 104th program of offbeat, ethnographic, experimental, and unusual films. Strange Sinema 104: Alternative Artscapes is a compendium of films surveying sculptural landscapes from such artists like Robert Smithson’s own massive construction of a 1,500 foot coil in the Great Salt Lake Spiral Jetty (1970) to Hans Richter’s portrait of innovator of the mobile sculptor Alexander Calder as he plays and performs with his miniature hand-crafted kinetic circus in  Alexander Calder: From the Circus to the Moon (1963).  Winner of the Academy Award for best short film Red Grooms: Sunflower in a Hothouse (1987) is a colorful look at the life and work of  innovative artist Red Grooms, as he sketches people, and conducts a tour through the two-and three-dimensional walk-in works he calls 'Picto-Sculptoramas'. In a rarely screened film, Belgian documentarian Paul Haesaerts attains intimate access to Picasso's artistic process with the help of giant panes of glass in the eye-popping A Visit to Picasso (1949).  In the 1960s, technology melded with new media aesthetics - epitomized by the massive and shape shifting stand-alone sculptural sound machines of artist Len Lye in an excerpt from the dynamic documentary Art of the Sixties (1968). Plus! Two Oscar-winning and inspiring stop-motion animation shorts: Closed Mondays (1974), Will “California Raisins” Vinton’s breakthrough claymation tour de force of an old drunkard in an art gallery after hours, and The Sand Castle (1977), utilizing clay and sand brought to you by the National Film Board of Canada and director Co Hoedeman and winner of 22 international awards.

Date: Friday, September 16th, 2016 at 8:00PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating, RSVP to: 415-558-8117 or


Spiral Jetty (Color, 1970, Robert Smithson)
Directed by Smithson himself, this remarkable film documents the construction of the massive earthwork in the Great Salt Lake.  Smithson used all natural materials to construct a giant spiral extension to the land that juts into the lake.  This 15 foot wide and 1,500 foot long artificial peninsula still remains today, although the black rocks have turned white from salt encrustation.  As the lake rises and lowers, the jetty is obscured and revealed.  Follow Smithson from plans to construction in this landmark film.
Alexander Calder: From the Circus to the Moon (Color, 1963)
Produced by visionary experimental filmmaker Hans Richter this whimsical world of world-renowned sculptor Alexander Calder is on full display in this insightful look at his work. Utilizing materials unfamiliar in conventional sculpture at the time including wire, discs and cut-outs, a fresh vocabulary emerges for three-dimensional expressions, exuding a his own brand of quirky surreality that is the essence of whimsy. Calder (1898 –1976) was an internationally admired American sculptor and artist who is best known for making sculpture move. In the 1930’s, he combined engineering and art to invent the mobile, a kinetic abstract sculpture of metal pieces connected by wires or rods that are delicately balanced to float in space and move in response to surrounding air currents or the push of a finger. Calder also created wire sculptures, paintings and jewelry, illustrated books, designed sets for the grand dame of modern dance, Martha Graham and created one-off art covering airplanes, and racing cars.

Red Grooms: Sunflower in a Hothouse (Color, 1987)
A colorful look at the life and work of an innovative artist, Red Grooms, as he sketches people, and conducts a tour through the two-and three-dimensional walk-in works he calls 'Picto-Sculptoramas'. This film provides a playful and often surprising perspective on the artist and his inspirational sources, brilliantly reflecting the humor and humanism prevalent in his work. Winner of the Academy Award for best short film. Grooms was best known as a multimedia artist creating colorful pop-art constructions depicting frenetic scenes of modern urban life. 

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Grooms made a number of "Happenings". The best known was "The Burning Building," staged at his studio in New York's Lower East Side in December 1959. Shortly thereafter, Grooms invented "sculpto-pictoramas" These vibrant three-dimensional constructions melded painting and sculpture, to create immersive works of art that invited interaction from the viewer. The pieces were often populated with colorful, cartoon-like characters, from varied walks of life. 

Grooms's two most notable installations—The City of Chicago (1967) and Ruckus Manhattan (1975)—were enormously popular with the public. These works were executed in collaboration with then-wife, the artist Mimi Gross. Along with Gross, he starred in San Francisco cult filmmaker Mike Kuchar's Secret of Wendel Samson (1966), which tells the comic story of a closeted gay artist torn between two relationships. 

Closed Mondays (Color, 1974) 

This breakthrough film created by Will Vinton (The California Raisins) and Bob Gardiner won an Academy Award in 1975. In an after-hours visit to an art museum, a drunken man encounters the world of modern art. As he wanders through the gallery, paintings and sculptures shift from illusion to reality, an abstract painting explodes with rhythmic movement, a Rousseau jungle releases its captive images, a Dutch scrub woman talks about her plight, and a kinetic sculpture comes briefly and breathtakingly to life. A tour-de-force of clay animation that set the standard for Claymation as an art form.

A Visit to Picasso (B+W, 1949, excerpt)
This elegant document of artistry in motion features Pablo Picasso in his studio, painting on large panels of glass stationed in front of the camera, exposing his fluid, masterful and often hilarious artistic process.  Mesmerizing and inspiring! Directed by Belgian filmmaker Paul Haesaerts and nominated for a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in 1951.

Art of the Sixties (1968, Color, Len Lye Excerpt)
Produced and narrated by WCBS Arts Critic Leonard Harris, this fascinating documentary profiles contemporary artists who broke down the barriers of art in the 1960's to create kinetic sculptures, mixed montages and pop art. This excerpt features sculptor Len Lye creating wildly inventive kinetic works. The film captures an exciting era and some of it's foremost innovators. 
To view Len Lye's kinetic sculptures visit:

The Sand Castle (Color, 1977)

An Oscar-winning animated film utilizing clay and sand.  A funny little sand man emerges from a dune and slides around.  He creates another little man out of sand and a small creature.  They find more creatures and decide to work together on building a big sand castle.  Once they are done, they all dance around together.  Then, the wind starts to pick up and sand starts to blow in, destroying all their hard work.  Brought to you by the National Film Board of Canada and director Co Hoedeman and winner of 22 international awards.

Curator Biography:
Stephen Parr’s 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 Films, a stock film company and the San Francisco Media Archive (, a non-profit archive that preserves culturally significant films. He is a co-founder of Other Cinema DVD and a member of the Association of Moving Archivists (AMIA) where he is a frequent presenter.

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About Oddball Films
San Francisco's strangest film archive and microcinema, Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like The Nice Guys and Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Transparent and 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.