FILM PROGRAMMING



11/03/17 - THE DANGEROUS TELESCOPE: FILMS BY IAN HUGO

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"Ian Hugo was a filmmaker and printmaker, the alterego of Hugh Parker Guiler (1898-1985), a banker best remembered as the husband of writer Anais Nin, for whose books he provided engravings. His films included psychodramas, abstractions, portraits, and travel documentaries, all or most featuring members of his and Nin’s circle of writers and artists. His films betray a fascination with the mystic and exotic, the flow of energy, and like a distorting mirror, they give a vision of a world in flux.

"Ian Hugo’s films, made between 1948 and 1979, betray a fascination with the mystic and exotic, the flow of energy, and like a distorting mirror, they give a vision of a world in flux. From his psychodramas, inspired in part by the writings of his wife, Anais Nin (Bells of AtlantisMelodic Inversion), to his documentaries (Ay-YiTropical Noah’s Ark), to his experiments with pure abstraction (Aphrodisiac I & II), Hugo’s films are an invitation to the most puzzling and difficult strains of American underground cinema." -- SB

Ay-Yi, 1950, 16mm, 19.5 minutes
Bells of Atlantis, 1952, 16mm, 9 minutes
Melodic Inversion, 1958, 16mm, 7.5 minutes
Venice Etude #1, 1961, 16mm, 7.5 minutes
Through the Magiscope, 1969, 16mm, 10 minutes
Apertura, 1970, 16mm, 6 minutes
Aphrodisiac I, 1971, 16mm, 6 minutes
Aphrodisiac II, 1972, 16mm, 5 minutes
Levitation, 1972, 16mm, 6 minutes

This screening was a co-presentation of the London Ontario Media Artists Association (LOMAA) and ArtLab Gallery at Western University


10/14/17 - ROBERT FOTHERGILL: COUNTDOWN CANADA

Robert Fothergill (right) with Stephen Broomer (left) after the screening. Photo by Eva Kolcze.

Robert Fothergill (right) with Stephen Broomer (left) after the screening. Photo by Eva Kolcze.

Robert Fothergill is a playwright and professor emeritus of theatre at York University. In addition to his plays, he is the author of Private Chronicles: A Study of English Diaries (1974). He was the founding director of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and made five films between 1966 and 1975: Oddballs, Solipse, Love Seen, Countdown Canada and Campaign. In 1970, Fothergill released Canada’s own War of the WorldsCountdown Canada, a TV news simulation dramatizing the day in which Canada becomes part of the United States. The broadcast included prominent public figures commenting on the last gasp of Canadian sovereignty, some debating the merits of such an assimilation, others engaging in a plea for an independent Canada. It was set in the future (1979), but was aired only five years after the publication of George Grant’s Lament for a Nation, a philosopher’s defence of Canada in an era of its diminishing sovereignty, and only three years after Canada's centennial wrestled a confident and complex nationalism back into the public consciousness. Countdown Canada was bought by the CBC and aired nationwide in September of that year, prophesying what a future of apathy and inaction could bring to the nation. -- SB

This screening was a co-presentation of Ad Hoc and Innis College.


06/23/17 - JIM DAVIS: REFLECTIONS IN ENERGY

Jim Davis (1901-1974) came to filmmaking from his work as a painter and sculptor. His sculptures were designed to channel light — they were mobiles, from which he hung plastics and glass. In his films, Davis used these sculptures to direct light, to cast phantasmagoric rays across the frame, to explore the potential of kinetics and optics in cinema. On occasion he would even catch his own abstracted reflections. The films do not conceal meanings or provoke interpretation, but instead give a pure dynamic experience. In Davis’s luminescent movements, we discover a sight as novel as that of the molecule, or of the whole-earth vision of the satellite. This program covers almost two decades of Davis’s filmmaking, beginning with Paintings and Plastics, in which he announces his methods, and shifting from his early, plainly titled and numbered abstractions, to his mature studies, of the flow of energy, a theme simultaneously mystical and scientific. -- SB

Reflections, No. 11, 1950, 16mm, 7 minutes
Color Dances No. 1, 1952, 16mm, 7 minutes
Becoming, 1955, 16mm, 8 minutes
Energies, 1957, 16mm, 9 minutes
Impulses, 1959, 16mm, 9 minutes
Prismatic Variations, 1965, 16mm, 11 minutes
Paintings and Plastics, 1948, 16mm, 11 minutes
 

At Pix Film Gallery, June 23, 2017. Photo by Claudia Sicondolfo.

At Pix Film Gallery, June 23, 2017. Photo by Claudia Sicondolfo.

Stephen Broomer introducing the  Reflections in Energy  program. Photo by John Porter.

Stephen Broomer introducing the Reflections in Energy program. Photo by John Porter.


06/11/17 - WILLIE VARELA: HIDDEN PRESENCES

Willie Varela has been making personal, experimental moving image work since 1971. The films and videos collected in this program are a sampling of Varela's massive body of work, and include environmental portraits, menacing omens, and experiments with abstract light forms. His work is informed by Chicano culture, Catholic iconography and ritual, and mass media. Varela's work is thus a nexus of regional identity, faith, and technological experience. By this, Varela's films transcend distinctions of formal and social investigation.

Willie introducing his films at CineCycle, June 11, 2017. Photo by John Porter.

Willie introducing his films at CineCycle, June 11, 2017. Photo by John Porter.

His early super 8 films emphasized perception and gestural abstraction. Varela has described them as being "domestic in nature ... concerned with the rhythm and the movements, the colour and the light of daily life." Varela's approach to this dailyness manifests, like in the films of his friend Stan Brakhage, as a record of a life of passionate visual exploration. In his early abstract films, such as Becky's Eye, transforming coloured light suggests, at times, a gradient iris, or an inflamed sclera, and even when these rhythms of are slowed, the film remains ambiguous in its content. Becky's Eye is also unique for its ambiguity, where the light abstraction remains indicative of a concrete thing -- an iris, a lash -- just barely escaping perception. Such light plays announced one theme of Varela's filmmaking, the expression of feeling, both spiritual and emotional, and of time, both mythic and present, through a transforming light. This theme carries forward into his diaries, for example, March 1979, in which elusive, silhouetted figures, refracted light forms, the leaves of houseplants, and the unrestrained bobbing of a caged bird, combine in what is shaped as a single morning, a waking of the world.

Ghost Town is a study of wrecked buildings, Varela's camera panning across the strange beauty of the rusted metal, broken glass, and rotting wood of the structures, eventually discovering another symbol of time, a tree that Varela animates by his dynamic exploration. Recuerdos de flores muertas continues this theme of finding beauty and terror in an unkept environment. It is filmed in an old cemetery, where Varela bears witness to the wounds, both sculpted and incidental, of Christ sculptures that are missing fingers and hands, in the shadow of a highway overpass and with the sounds of traffic and planes whirring in the distance.

In Progress, among the most haunting of Varela's films, compiles scenes from medical films; observations of street life; scenes of protest in San Francisco, in the aftermath of Harvey Milk's assassination; and images from mass media (breaking dancing, rocket launches, Reagan at the start of his second term), all with the characteristic skip of the television set's signal. Varela's camera captures street musicians and commuters cropped in the sharp and often mirrored surfaces of the San Francisco cityscape. The apocalyptic omens that Varela has gathered from television cast a grim shadow, and that shadow is already upon us in the fracturing, dehumanizing witness of Varela's own protest march.

As Varela moved on from film, working with video from the 1990s to the present, the spiritual and autobiographic concerns of his work remained, evidenced in the longer works that conclude this programme, works in contemplation of sacred and profane experience. His Hidden Presence continues the multiform, 'found' image construction of In Progress, accommodating a collage soundtrack of electronic beats, a distorting, looping horn, and a loop of the Velvet Underground, to accompany surreal and horrific scenes of wrestling and crucifixions, as well as diaristic photography. This Burning World is a dual screen video work combining footage of earlier works, rephotographed televisions, images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and iconic faces as diverse as those of Osama Bin Laden and the Sphinx. Repeating images of hands, in wild, infernal colour schemes, make for a visceral reminder of the wounds of Christ. But these wounds are not isolated as historical citation or distant spiritual doctrine, as the hand passes slowly over the glow of television, its signal disrupted, vibrating noise. -- SB

Becky's Eye, 1977, Super 8 (on 16mm), silent, 3:31
Ghost Town, 1974, Super 8 (on 16mm), silent, 2:43
March 1979, 1979, Super 8 (on 16mm), silent, 3:27
Recuerdos de flores muertos, Super 8 (on 16mm), sound, 6:58
In Progress, 1985, Super 8 (on 16mm), sound, 12:30
His Hidden Presence, 1998, video, sound, 10:10
This Burning World, 2002, video, sound, 32:00

This screening was a co-presentation of aluCine Latin Film & Media Arts Festival, the8fest, Pix Film Gallery, the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, and Stephen Broomer.

With Willie Varela at Pix Film Gallery, June 11, 2017. Photo by Madi Piller.

With Willie Varela at Pix Film Gallery, June 11, 2017. Photo by Madi Piller.


01/27/17 - SAUL LEVINE: RADICAL CORRESPONDENT

With Saul Levine at  Saul Levine: Radical Correspondent , Polish Combatants' Hall, the8fest 2017, January 27, 2017. Photo by Tom Taylor.

With Saul Levine at Saul Levine: Radical Correspondent, Polish Combatants' Hall, the8fest 2017, January 27, 2017. Photo by Tom Taylor.

Saul Levine is one of the leading figures in the autobiographical tradition within underground film. His films are often marked by a direct confrontation with the fragile material of 8mm, and the resulting works bear the marks of his construction, splices appearing like indentions in concrete. Through his filmmaking, Levine is also a messenger of American radical politics, politics of a distinctly anti-imperialist sensibility, a lineage in which he follows Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and other American artists whose imagination and creativity was indivisible from their moral and political beliefs. This programme gathers only a small glimpse of his massive oeuvre, focusing on the Notes, a series of films that he has made since the late 1960s when he was the editor of New Left Notes, the magazine of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The Notes included in this programme are bookended by Levine’s first film and one of his most recent, encompassing half a century of revolutionary filmmaking. -- SB

Salt of the Sea, 1965, Regular 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 4:00
Note One, 1968, Regular 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 6:28
Note to Erik, 1966-1968, Regular 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 4:18
Lost Note, 1968-1969, Regular 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 10:21
Note to Poli, 1982-1983, Super 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 2:51
Notes After Long Silence, 1984-1989, Super 8, 16:21
Falling Notes Unleaving, 2013, Super 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 13:00
Dead Day Window Display Note, 2015, Super 8 (on 16mm, 18fps), 4:00

This screening was a co-presentation of the8fest, the Ryerson University Graduate Program in Documentary Media, and the Pleasure Dome.


06/11/16 - 8X8: PAUL CLIPSON - BRIGHT MIRROR

8X8: Paul Clipson - Bright Mirror, CineCycle, June 11, 2016.

8X8: Paul Clipson - Bright Mirror, CineCycle, June 11, 2016.

When I first encountered Paul Clipson’s films several years ago, I saw shades of Bruce Baillie, the survival of a distinct American mid-century west coast sensibility, in wild scenes, otherworldly colours, and geometric forms, all moving in combination. Paul’s is a true mastery of setting images into dialogue with one another through superimposition, a mastery also evident in his sensitivity to qualities of light and composition. I wondered how on earth he was doing this - and I have to admit, I was wondering specifically how he had made images that looked like this on Super 8 film, which is so often given the short shrift, defined by its plainest use as a kind of inscriptive tool - instead of catching records of dailyness, with all of the markers of improvisation that that would imply, Paul was able to cast these perfectly deliberated images. It remains even now a mystery to me, his methods, but I am more moved now, having lived with these films for several years, that the aesthetic character of his works remains so striking, images of earth that transcend earthliness. We see traces of what came before Paul Clipson in his films— I cannot say with any certainty that Paul thinks of cinema as he makes these films, as these films are more celestial than material - but in the tunnel of windows that begins Bright Mirror, we feel the weight of the psychodrama; in the atomic zoom of Transparent Things we may feel something of the journeys of Brakhage’s Black Ice, or of the Eames’ Powers of Ten; in the enigmatic figures of Origin, we see traces of lyric, the body a romantic instrument tuned by light and water. In this way his work is part of a rich continuity of experimental film. -- SB

Landscape Dissolves, 2012, super 8, 6 minutes, music by Alex Cobb
Absteigend, 2012, super 8, 7 minutes, music by Evan Caminiti
Origin, 2009-2012, super 8, 9 minutes, Che Chen
Other States, 2013, super 8, 7 minutes, music by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Transparent Things, 2014, super 8, 7.5 minutes, music by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Bright Mirror, 2013, super 8, 9 minutes, music by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Pulsars e Quasars, 2014, super 8, 4.5 minutes, music by Arp
Light Year, 2013, 16mm, 10 minutes, music by Tashi Wada
Love After Love, 2014, 16mm, 5 minutes, music by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
The Liquid Casket / Wilderness of Mirrors, 2014, 16mm, 7.5 minutes, music by Lawrence English
Made of Air, 2014, 16mm, 11 minutes, music by Grouper


01/30/16 - LEAVE THE WORLD UNSEEN: DIARIES & TRAVELOGUES

L-R: John Creson, Adam Rosen, Brian Wilson, and Stephen Broomer at  Leave the World Unseen: Travelogues & Diaries , Polish Combatants' Hall, the8fest 2016, January 30, 2016. Photo by Alexandra Gelis.

L-R: John Creson, Adam Rosen, Brian Wilson, and Stephen Broomer at Leave the World Unseen: Travelogues & Diaries, Polish Combatants' Hall, the8fest 2016, January 30, 2016. Photo by Alexandra Gelis.

This programme of recent super 8 films demonstrates the continuity of two major and related strains in small-gauge filmmaking, the diary and the travelogue. In the diary film, inscriptions of everyday life balance unpredicted turns with commonplace experiences, bearing witness to time; in the travelogue, great distances collapse into fleeting visions. In these films, witness loving odes sounding across time; witness ten years condensed into an hour of light; pass the intervals between now and then; and see the film strip remembered, to mirror the paths from here to there.

Leave the World Unseen, a line drawn out of Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. chosen as a title for its ambiguity, to at once mean, to part from the world undetected, anonymous, and also to preserve the most intimate regions of experience, to shield them from sight. It seems to me that what those filmmakers working in a diaristic mode do is to assemble something that is simultaneously anonymous – threading scenes from their lives into some greater tapestry of social experience – and utterly individual – "here is my cousin Joe, here is my aunt Sue, this is a concert I attended, this is a family reunion." The diary is also a form that’s central to the history of super 8, for its often-found similarity to the amateur home movie, and it is a form that has been richly laid out by many branches with the work of artists such as Storm de Hirsch, Robert Huot, Saul Levine, Anne Charlotte Robinson, Marjorie Keller. This programme looks to where this genre, and the loosely related genre of the travelogue, continues into the present moment. -- SB

Michael Lyons, Exquisite Interval, 2015, super 8, 3:20
John Klacsmann, Detroit/Brooklyn/Pasadena/DC/Brooklyn, 2015, super 8, 2:35
Alan Gerlach, Fremont Winds, 2015, super 8, 8:10
John Klacsmann, Disney World/DC/NYC/Maine, 2011-13, super 8, 2:21
Lillianna Marie, das Bild (the Image), 2015, super 8, 2:40
John Klacsmann, Vilnius/Frankfurt/NYC/DC/New Hampshire/Brooklyn/DC, 2014, super 8, 2:31
Adam Rosen & John Creson, The Last Scream, 2013, super 8, 3:20
Brian Wilson, Odes and Ends, 2013, super 8, 38:00


10/28/15 - ZOE HEYN-JONES - MEASURES IN TIME

With Zoë Heyn-Jones at  8X8: Zoë Heyn-Jones - Measures in Time , YYZ Artists' Outlet, October 28, 2015. Photo by Eva Kolcze.

With Zoë Heyn-Jones at 8X8: Zoë Heyn-Jones - Measures in Time, YYZ Artists' Outlet, October 28, 2015. Photo by Eva Kolcze.

Zoë Heyn-Jones has been prolific in recent years, making a range of films in super 8 and 16mm, as well as intermedia performance works and gallery installations, that encompass material inquiry, the cataloguing of objects, and the enclosing of gaps between distant cities. She has consistently engaged the working methods of handmade filmmaking, her ephemeral, conceptual projects given a tactile presence by the scratches and tears of bucket processing. Since 2011, she has turned her camera on domestic scenes and international concerns, from films of home and family, to tours of Central America and Iceland. In these films, Heyn-Jones has emphasized the unique time-relations of film, whether condensing long journeys, as in TOR-MTL-TOR, or extending brief communions, as in Gathering. -- SB

American Flags, 2011, super 8, 9 minutes
Easter, 2011, super 8, 2.5 minutes
Sightseeing, 2011, super 8, 2.5 minutes
Guatemala City to Santiago Atitlán, 2011, super 8, 2.5 minutes
Home Land, 2012, 16mm, 6.5 minutes
Dematerialization and Rematerialization of the Nostalgic Object, 2013, super 8, 2.5 minutes
Psychogeography, 2012, super 8, 2.5 minutes
Lake Light, 2013, super 8, 2.5 minutes

With reprises from past editions of the 8 fest:
TOR-MTL-TOR, 2011, super 8, 2 minutes
Immanent Sagas – Vikingfest, 2013, super 8, 3 minutes
Gathering, 2014, super 8, 3.5 minutes
Domestic Product2013, 16mm/35mm slide, 8 minutes


07/09/15 - 8X8: BARBARA STERNBERG - IN PERSON

With Barbara Sternberg at  8X8: Barbara Sternberg in Person , YYZ Artists' Outlet, July 9, 2015. Photo by John Porter.

With Barbara Sternberg at 8X8: Barbara Sternberg in Person, YYZ Artists' Outlet, July 9, 2015. Photo by John Porter.

The films of Barbara Sternberg offer perceptual challenges as they draw from the linguistic and visual processes through which we shape reality. For in these films, Sternberg casts the figure, the landscape, and the memorial inscription in terms both archetypal and mythic, evading the singular, unambiguous meaning while favouring more mysterious definitions. Her work draws its distinct material character from increasingly elaborated acts of optical printing and other forms of image manipulation, distinguishing image and media, dissociating image from subject, as she makes for us the unspecific subject, to be classified, or more rightly, experienced. By the three-decade distance that this programme travels, the image undergoes spatial and temporal fluctuations, all while subject to rhythmic structures – of repetition, substitution, and sudden insight. The8fest is proud to present this rare opportunity to see Barbara Sternberg’s early works, including several films not in distribution, alongside a number of her more recent films. All of this is offered in the context of small gauge film, a material she has used in exhibition and in her process since her earliest films. -- SB

A Study in Pink and Blue, 1976, super 8, 3.5 minutes
Transpositions, 1978, super 8, 7.5 minutes
(A) Story, 1981, super 8, 12.5 minutes
Process workAlong the Aboujagane from Memramcook to Shemogue, undated, super 8, 2 minutes
Awake, 1997, super 8, 3 minutes
"...the waters are the beginning and end of all things", 1980, 16mm, 7 minutes
Burning, 2002, 16mm, 7 minutes
Time Being I-IV, 2007, 16mm, 8 minutes


At  Joyce Wieland: Ars Longa, Vita Breva , the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, Ryerson University, May 14, 2014. Photo by Katie Russell.

At Joyce Wieland: Ars Longa, Vita Breva, the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, Ryerson University, May 14, 2014. Photo by Katie Russell.

With Katie Russell at  Maya Deren: The Mother of Us All, 1943-1958 , the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, Ryerson University, April 2, 2014. Photo by John Porter.

With Katie Russell at Maya Deren: The Mother of Us All, 1943-1958, the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre, Ryerson University, April 2, 2014. Photo by John Porter.