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Sights and Sounds Department Collection and State Library Resources

16mm Experimental Films

The Sights & Sounds Department owns a number of obscure and hard-to-find experimental film shorts in its 16mm film collection. Many of these titles are not available in any other format. Some collection highlights are listed below.

7362 (1965-1967)
dir. Pat O'Neill

Machine-like imagery in color or black and white gradually merges into abstracted forms of the human anatomy. Canyon Cinema describes it as "A bilaterally symmetrical (west to east) fusion of human, biomorphic and mechanical shapes in motion. Has to do with the spontaneous generation of electrical energy. A fairly rare (ten years ago) demonstration of the Sabattier effect in motion. Numbered after the film stock of the same name." Music by Joseph Byrd and Michael Moore. (Pat O'Neill, USA, 1965-1967, 11 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Abraxas (1969)
dir. Mick and Steve Benderoth

Figures on a beach, sunlit fields, Beatle posters, signs proclaiming love, girls running with flowers in their hands, drug addiction, a staged murder, soldiers and protesters marching, a confrontation with the police, and other scenes are used to recreate the land of Abraxas, from the novel Demian by Hermann Hesse, who describes Abraxas as "a land of luminous and dark, of good and evil." It is not to be confused with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe, a 1991 science-fiction/action film starring Jesse "The Body" Ventura. By Baltimore film makers Mick and Steve Benderoth; music, Steve Benderoth and George Strunz. (Mick and Steve Benderoff, USA, 7 1/2 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Actua-Tilt (1960)
dir. Jean Herman

This experimental short combines live action and animation to capture the emptiness, violence, and depersonalized sexuality of much of modern life by focusing on a group of men in a Parisian bistro. As they wander aimlessly from one pinball machine to another - yawning, drinking, never speaking or looking at each other - the men reveal their boredom, callousness and desire for something – anything - to relieve the tedium of their lives. The director intercuts footage of women in cheesecake poses, violence, and war indicate the men's longings, their fantasies, their idea of "something to do." In French with English subtitles. "Jean Herman" is the pseudonymn of French writer Jean Vautrin. (Jean Herman, France, 1960, b&w, 12 minutes, 16mm).
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Agua Salada (1974)
dir. Arturo F. Sinclair

A contemporary passion play shot on location along the turbulent Peruvian seacoast. The tragic tale of two fishermen, father and son, is played against the musical background of Johann Sebastian Bach's Passion according to St. John. Winner of the Gold Hugo Award, Chicago International Film Festival, 1974. (Arturo Sinclair F. Sinclair, Peru, 1974, 12 minutes, 16mm)
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Ai! (Love) (1964)

As they desperately cry "ai," the Japanese word for love, a woman pursues a man across the landscape. When she catches him, she clutches him with arms that stretch to any length, eats and excretes him, and at last puts him on a leash and walks away with him. A strange, grotesque, animated fantasy about the battle of the sexes and the need to love and dominate, by one of Japan's leading indie animators, Yoji Kuri. You can also watch Ai! on YouTube. (Yoji Kuri, Japan, 1964, 4 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Allures (1961)
dir. Jordan Belson

Uses rhythmically changing, overlapped color film patterns to create the sensation of a voyage into outer space. According to critic Brad Glanden, "After an initial foray into animation in the late 1950s, Belson ventured into real-time photography with Allures (1961). It was the first of many films that Belson made from a specially constructed optical bench, using fairly humble equipment given his extraordinary arsenal of special effects. The electronic soundtrack was designed in collaboration with Henry Jacobs, with whom Belson had performed 100 now-legendary multimedia “Vortex Concerts” in San Francisco from 1957 to 1960. The film establishes Belson's cinematic vocabulary, marrying shifting patterns of colorful dots and sparks to less geometrical forms, and introducing Belson's recurring fascination with mandalas. Eastern religion meets Western science as Belson conveys spirit through technology, adding experimental drugs to the mix. (This was the 1960s, after all.) Allures went on to influence Douglas Trumbull's Stargate Corridor sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey." (Jordan Belson, USA, 1961, color, 16mm)
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An American Time Capsule: A Very Short History of the United States (1968)
dir. Charles Braverman

This 3-minute short shows American History from America's beginning to 1968, when the film was made. It employs quick and rhythmic editing (utilizing over 1,300 shots that go so fast that the human brain can't register the split-second images) of paintings and photographs depicting historical events and personages. However, the history presented was selected to match the militaristic drumbeat ("Beat That Drum" by famous drummer Sandy Nelson ) so that only images of America at war, destroying indigenous peoples, and American men in power are represented. It ends with a portrait of Richard M. Nixon. Originally shown on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Pratt also owns Charles Braverman's Braverman's Condensed Cream of Beatles. (Charles Braverman, USA, 1968, 3 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Anemic Cinema (1926)
dir. Marcel Duchamp

An experimental, abstract film by the famous artist, Marcel Duchamp. SILENT FILM; PLAY AT SOUND SPEED. (Marcel Duchamp, France, 1926, b&w, 16mm)
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Asparagus (1979)
dir. Suzanne Pitt

This candy colored animated nightmare rocked audiences upon its release - it ran theatrically with David Lynch's Eraserhead on the Midnight Movie Circuit - and catapulted Suzan Pitt to the front ranks of indie animation. From its opening scene of a woman defecating an asparagus spear into her toilet bowl to the concluding set piece (also very Lynchian and reminiscent of the theater scene in Muholland Drive) in which the artist opens her Medusa's box to release rare wonders before a claymation audience, stunning cel animation propels its blank-faced protagonist into a world of Freudian symbolism and Jungian archetypes. Winner of the grand prize at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival. Suzan Pitt also worked on some Peter Gabriel music videos. Suzan Pitt Web site: http://home.earthlink.net/~suzanpitt/ (Suzanne Pitt, USA,1979, 19 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Ballet Robotique (1983)
dir. Bob Rogers

Robots on a General Motors automotive assembly line do a delicate dance to classical music as showers of welding sparks punctuate their programmed performance. Featuring music recorded by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this space age fantasy turns industrial machines into polished performers through the magic of art and high technology. Pyramid Films.  You can watch this film online at veoh.com. (Bob Rogers, USA, 1983, 8 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Because, That's Why (1967)
dir. Joseph Seidelmaier

A satire on the futility of man's living life as a routine and never pausing to consider the real meaning of his actions. Two business executives decide to "get away from it all" by going hunting, and, in a wildly surrealistic climax, shoot down a runaway car in the woods and then proudly pose in front of their trophy. Director, Josef Sedelmaier; music, Steven Schwartz. Performers, Howard Rieger and Don Brenner. (Joseph Seidelmaier, USA, 1967, 17 minutes, 16mm)
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Black TV
dir. Aldo Tambellini

An artist's sensory perception of the violence of the world we live in is projected through the television tube. Robert Kennedy's assassination, murder, infanticide, prize fights, police brutality at Chicago, and the war in Vietnam are among the out-of-focus abstracted events and images presented in rapid-fire succession. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1969 Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. (Aldo Tambellini, USA, 1969, 10 minutes, 16mm)
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The Boiled Egg (L'Oeuf a la Coque) (1965)
dir. Marc Andrieux and Bernard Brevent

The misadventures of an apparently tipsy and over-confident boiled egg. Takes place on a desert of sand and stones where the egg is pursued by an invisible seeker. A Cinema Nouveau production. (Marc Andrieux and Bernard Brevent, France, 1965, 5 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Breathdeath (1964)
dir. Stan VanDerBeek
The filmmaker, an early experimenter with collage-animation, cuts up photos and newsreel footage to produce an image that is "a mixture of unexplainable fact ... with inexpicable act. Dedicated to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton." He has created a surrealistic fantasy based on the 15th century woodcuts of the dance of the dead. (Stan VanDerBeek, USA, 1964, 15 minutes, 16mm)
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The Cabinet (1972)
dir. Suzanne Bauman

Inside a white frame house stands a plain wooden corner cabinet. On its shelves are a small collection of dolls, old yellow photographs, icons, family memorabilia, toys, and puppets. These inanimate objects brought to life in animated sequences, coupled with live-action episodes, re-enact the life of a little girl ... her games, her laughter, her love for her parents, and her tears ... implying a growing up, a growing old, and dying. Winner of CINE Golden Eagle Award, 1972. Suzanne Bauman is the producer, director, and writer of more than eighty films, both documentary and drama. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College and the NYU Institute of Film and TV, her two student films, Button Button and The Father starring Burgess Meredith, won numerous festival awards. She started her first production company in New York at the age of 26. She received an Academy Award Nomination for her documentary feature Against Wind and Tide: A Cuban Odyssey, and an Academy Award of Special Merit for La Belle Epoque. (Suzanne Bauman, USA, 1972, 14 minutes, color, 16mm)
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The Cemetery of the Elephants (1973)
dir. Armando Robles Godoy

In this non-narrated allegory set in a semi-tropical country, the scene flashes back and forth between the preparation of a young would-be writer about to leave his home full of hope and ambition, and the determined journey of an old man across the rugged landscape. The cyclical nature of man's existence is evident as the path of the young man leaving home with his manuscript determined to conquer the world returns home after years of struggle as an old man with the world still unconquered. (Armando Robles Godoy, 1973, 17 minutes, color, 16mm)
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A Chairy Tale (1957)
dir. Norman McLaren

An allegory of interpersonal relations, involving a young man who tries to sit on a chair which refuses to be sat upon until it feels appreciated. Animated live photography conceived by Norman McLaren; music by Ravi Shankar and Chatur Lal. Produced by Tom Daly. (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1957, 12 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Chick Strand Films
Chick Strand (December 3, 1931 - July 11, 2009)  was an experimental filmmaker who was considered a pioneer in blending avant-garde techniques with documentary subject matter. Pratt owns three Chick Strand titles on 16mm:

Cosas de Mi Vida (1976)
A filmed study of Anselmo Aguacalientes who struggles to rise from a life of poverty to that of a middle-class musician in a small Mexican village. Shows his love for and pride in his children, his obsession to acquire a stereo, television, and other middle-class possessions, and his infatuation for his mistress and lack of affection for his wife, who is locked into the traditional modes of female behavior almost untouched by her husband's socio-economic mobility. (Chick Strand, US, 1976, 23 minutes, color, 16mm)

Guacamole (1976)
Shot in Mexico, this film's poetically surreal use of beautiful, flowing images of fireworks, market places, human faces, church interiors, and the bull ring combined with the sounds of the markets, folk songs and music, is about the loss of innocence and the search for the essence of the human spirit. The words of a poem about how man loses his innocence, and survives to accept this with dignity and grace, appears on the screen as a matador, Manuel Espinosa Armillita, prepares for the ring and then fights and kills the bull. (Chick Strand, US, 1976, 18 minutes, color, 16mm)

Elasticity (1976)
This autobiographical film was funded by the American Film Institute. Chick Strand describes her film as "Impressionistic surrealism in three acts. The approach is literary experimental with optical effects. There are three mental states that are interesting: amnesia, euphoria and ecstasy. Amnesia is not knowing who you are and wanting desperately to know. I call this the White Night. Euphoria is not knowing who you are and not caring. This is the Dream of Meditation. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who you are and still not caring. I call this the Memory of the Future." (Chick Strand, US, 1975, 22 minutes, b&w, 16mm)

Pratt also owns the DVD Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986, which includes the Chick Strand film Fake Fruit Factory (1986, 16 minutes). These films and others by Chick Strand are also available from Canyon Cinema.

Chickamauga (1962)
dir. Robert Enrico

Adapted from a short story by Ambrose Bierce (one of a trilogy that includes Mockingbird and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge), a young, deaf-mute witnesses the carnage of the American Civil War as a surrealistic dream. In it, a small boy wanders away from home, reaches a Civil War battlefield and plays circus and soldier with the dead and dying men. Having returned home, he finds his home in flames and his mother dead. A study of the confrontation of total innocence with the horrors of war.  In French with English subtitles. (Robert Enrico, France, 1962, 33 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Cibernetik 5.3 (1965)
dir. John Stehura

This abstract film uses cybernetic computer techniques to create rhythmic, brilliantly colored images. As an example of early sine wave animations and geometric shapes set to music, it anticipates rave music videos of the early 1990s. The visual music website Caifaudio comments: "John Stehura's spectacular film combines computer graphics with organic live-action photography to create a new reality, a Third World Reality, that is both haunting and extraordinarily beautiful. Made in a basement at UCLA." (John Stehura, USA, 8 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Clay: Origin of the Species (1964)
dir. Eliot Noyes, Jr.

Clay shapes grow, reproduce, change, and devour each other in a visual interpretation of Darwin's theory of evolution. Traditionally, the earliest successful use of the medium of clay for animation-cinematography is credited to American animator Eliot Noyes whose 1964 work Clay constitutes a rough sketch for the type of animation which Will Vinton was to make famous just a decade later with his award-winning short Closed Mondays. Noyes's Clay is best classified as "experimental animation," being the total production of Noyes himself and consisting of a series of rough-hewn representational clay shapes (animals and abstract geometric forms) which metamorphose one-to-another without regard to any narrative or "story." (Eliot Noyes, Jr., USA, 1964, 8 minutes, 16mm)
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Cosas de Mi Vida (1976)
dir. Chick Strand

A filmed study of Anselmo Aguacalientes who struggles to rise from a life of poverty to that of a middle-class musician in a small Mexican village. Shows his love for and pride in his children, his obsession to acquire a stereo, television, and other middle-class possessions, and his infatuation for his mistress and lack of affection for his wife, who is locked into the traditional modes of female behavior almost untouched by her husband's socio-economic mobility. (Chick Strand, US, 1976, 23 minutes, color, 16mm)

Cosmic Zoom (1968)
dir. Eva Szasz

This National Film Board of Canada short depicts the relative size of everything in the universe in an 8-minute sequence that mplys animation techniques. The film starts with an aerial image of a boy on a boat and slowly zooms out, revealing more of the landscape all the time. The continuous zoom-out takes the viewer on a journey from Earth, past the Moon, the planets of the Solar System, the Milky Way and out into the far reaches of the known universe. The process is then reversed, and the view zooms back through space to Earth, returning to the boy on the boat. It then zooms in to the back of the boy's hand, where a mosquito is resting. It zooms into the insect's proboscis and on into the microscopic world, concluding at nucleolus level. It then zooms back out to the original view of the boy on the boat. Drawings, Eva Szasz; animation camera, Raymond Dumas, Wayne Trickett, James Wilson; actuality camera, Tony Ianelo. Like Charles and Ray Eames' The Power of Ten, it was based on the book Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps by Kees Boeke. You can also watch it on YouTube. (Eva Szasz, USA, 1968, 8 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Cycles (1974)
dir. Jordan Belson and Stephen Beck

Film and video are used in this experimental film where the circle connotates the cyclical nature of time and the wholeness of the body and spirit. The images are accompanied by electronic music with a subterranean sound. (Jordan Belson and Stephen Beck, USA, 1974, 11 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Daybreak Express (1953)
dir. D. A. Pennebaker
 
This is the first film made by cinema verite documentarian D. A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back). Set to the music of Duke Ellington's "Daybreak Express," it records a ride on New York City's 3rd Avenue elevated railway. Pennebaker described the experience of making his first film as follows:

"I wanted to make a film about this filthy, noisy train and it’s packed-in passengers that would look beautiful, like the New York City paintings of John Sloan, and I wanted it to go with one of my Duke Ellington records, “Daybreak Express.” I didn’t know much about film editing, or in fact about shooting, so I bought a couple of rolls of Kodachrome at the drugstore, and figured that since the record was about three minutes long, by shooting carefully I could fit the whole thing onto one roll of film. Of course that didn’t work since I couldn’t start and stop my hand-wound camera that easily so I ended up shooting both rolls and even a few more before I was through. It took about three days to film, and then sat in a closet for several years until I figured out how to edit it and make a print that I could show on a projector."

This short played prior to the British comedy film The Horse's Mouth (1958) during its theatrical run and is included on the Criterion Collection DVD of that film. (D.A. Pennebaker, USA, 1953, 5 minutes, 16mm)
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The Doodlers (1975)
dir. Kathy Rose

In this animated short by Kathy Rose (sister of experimental filmmaker Peter Rose), a cartoon character named Miss Knose and her doodle friends have fun doodling and erasing their drawings to suit their whimsical moods. The New Yorker commented, "Kathy Rose’s 1975 droll group self portrait of art class pandemonium, embodies the self-referential tendency of [cartoonist Saul] Steinberg without consciously imitating his style. It also shows how regression into children’s art, particularly “play-acting,” trying on a peculiar persona to see how it might fit, can demonstrate primitive emotional truths about the self-deceptions of identity." Kathy Rose has her own website: www.krose.com. (Kathy Rose, USA, 5 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Dream of the Wild Horses (Le Songe des Chevaux Sauvages) (1960)
dir. Denys Columb Daunant

A cinematic poem which uses slow motion and soft focus camera to evoke the wild horses of the Camargue District of France, showing them as they roam on the beach and  run through a pond covered with burning oil at night. The colors are brilliant, the motion is incessant, and the sound is unnerving. Music by Jacques Laspy. This film won the 1960 Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear Award for Best Short Film. (Denys Columb Daunant, France, 1960, color, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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El Visitante (The Visitation) (1974)
dir. Arturo F. Sinclair

A compelling construction of images, sounds, and music expresses the powerful, private emotions of a contemporary woman--her reactions to her own daughter and to her own life. Without narration. (Arturo F. Sinclair, peru, 1974, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Elasticity (1976)
dir. Chick Strand

Experimental filmmaker Chick Strand's films are carried by Canyon Cinema. Strand describes the autobiographical Elasticity as "Impressionistic surrealism in three acts. The approach is literary experimental with optical effects. There are three mental states that are interesting: amnesia, euphoria and ecstasy. Amnesia is not knowing who you are and wanting desperately to know. I call this the White Night. Euphoria is not knowing who you are and not caring. This is the Dream of Meditation. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who you are and still not caring. I call this the Memory of the Future." Funded by the American Film Institute. (Chick Strand, USA, 1976, 25 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Emak-Bakia (1926)
dir. Man Ray

Surrealist artist Man Ray's film, which takes its name from the Basque expression for "Leave me alone" or "Don't bother me," is subtitled as a cinépoéme and features many experimental filming techniques, including Rayographs, double exposures, soft focus and ambiguous features. Man Ray commented that he used "all the tricks that might annoy certain spectators." According to critic James Travers, of the handful of films Man Ray made in the 1920s, Emak-Bakia "is arguably the one which adheres most closely to the principles of Dadaist surrealism.  It is also perhaps the most baffling of Man Ray’s films, involving some of his most extraordinary abstract visual imagery, with far less recognisable images than his other films, such as L’Étoile de mer and Les Mystères du château de Dé. The film is in fact closer in style to Man Ray’s 1923 experimental short film, Le Retour à la raison, and uses some of the techniques which the artist invented for that film." (Man Ray, USA, 1926, 20 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Experiments in Motion Graphics (1968)
dir. John Whitney

Inspired by the work of Oskar Fischinger, brothers John and James Whitney plunged themselves into the making of abstract films in the 1940s, utilizing John's background in musical composition and James' background in painting. In their later films, James delved into films based on Buddhist and alchemist symbolism, while John explored audio-visual animation techniques based on the ideas of Pythagoras and harmonic ratios; in fact, he was invited by IBM to be the first artist to develop computer animation. In this film, John discusses and demonstrates some of the techniques used to create his computer film Permutations. (John Whitney, USA, 1968, 13minutes, color, 16mm)
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Euclidean Illusions (1979)
dir. Stan VanDerBeek

This animated film, made on a computer at the NASA Space Center in Houston, is an abstract exercise in which various geometric shapes turn in space. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1979, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Face: Her Thought Moments
dir. Steve Estes

Baltimore filmmaker Steve Estes presents a collage of paintings expressing the bewildering variety of emotions and moods in a woman's face. Steve Estes also worked on a number of film projects with tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE (Michael Tolson), including Sound Along with the Bouncing Ball(s), which is also part of the Pratt's 16mm film collection. (Steve Estes, USA, 8 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Fiddle-De-Dee
dir. Norman McLaren (1947)

Thousands of color combinations flow across the screen suggesting the unrolling of a fantastic textile, as this film interprets the sounds of a violin playing the song, Listen to the mocking bird. One of Norman McLaren's experiments in painting directly on film. (Norman McLaren, Canada, 1947, 3 minutes, color, 16mm)
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FILM (1965)
dir. Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett's only foray into the medium of cinema is this 20-minute, almost totally silent film (no dialogue or music one 'shhh!') in which Buster Keaton attempts to evade observation by an all-seeing eye. But, as the film is based around Bishop Berkeley's principle 'esse est percipi' (to be is to be perceived), Keaton's very existence conspires against his efforts. (Samuel Beckett, 1965, 20 minutes, 16mm)
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Four Films by Emile Cohl, 1857-1938
dir. Emile Cohl

Short films utilizing technical innovations that greatly extended the resources of animation: Fantasmagorie (1908); Le Ratelier (The Dentures) (1909); Mobelier fidele (Automatic moving company) (1910); Professor Bonehead is Dead (1912).
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Frank Film (1973)
dir. Frank and dir. Frank and Caroline Mouris

Esteemed as "probably the most celebrated American short," Frank Film is a collection of 11,592 collages sequenced to illustrate the chronology of filmmaker Frank Mouris’ life. Accompanied by two continuous narrative sound tracks played simultaneously, it provide a witty comment by a young filmmaker on his growing up in middle-class American society. Spanning the years of 1945-1973, this short film goes beyond the story of one man's existence to become a collective autobiography of our time. 1974 Academy Award winner (Best Short Subject - Animated Films). If you must own it, a VHS copy is available from Direct Cinema - but it's pricey ($95). Pratt also owns Frank Mouris' Screentest and Caroline Mouris' Impasse. (Frank and Caroline Mouris, USA, 1973, 9 minutes, color)
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Furies (1977)
dir. Sara Petty

Petty employs charcoal and pastels to create Cubist and Art Deco- inspired designs evoking the curiosity, grace and beauty of two cats in constant motion. Set to Ned Rorem's music "Trio for flute, cello, and piano". (Sara Petty, USA, 1977, 4 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk) (1928)
dir. Hans Richter

A humorous, imaginative, and cinematically inventive early avant-garde film. A consciously Dada work where some objects such as hats, neckties, and coffee cups rebel against their daily routines. With music. (Hans Richter, Germany, 1928, 7 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Guacamole (1976)
dir. Chick Strand

Shot in Mexico, this film's poetic use of beautiful, flowing images of fireworks, market places, human faces, church interiors, and the bull ring combined with the sounds of the markets, folk songs and music, is about the loss of innocence. The words of a poem about how man loses his innocence, and survives to accept this with dignity and grace, appears on the screen as a matador, Manuel Espinosa Armillita, prepares for the ring and then fights and kills the bull. Strand herself describes the film as "Poetic surrealism. Approach is experimental in relationship of image and sound. A film about the loss of innocence and the search for the essence of the human spirit. " Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship. (Chick Strand, USA, 1976, 10 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Gumbasia (1955)
dir. Art Clokey

This student film, consisting of animated clay objects contorting and reshaping themselves to a snappy jazz score, so intrigued Samuel G. Engel, the president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association, that he financed the pilot films for what became Art Clokey's The Gumby Show (1957). (Art Clokey, USA, 1955, 3 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Hallelujah (1973)
dir. Mark Henriksen

A witty and sophisticated re-animation of Eadweard Muybridge's celebrated still-photo studies of anatomy synchronized to music of Handel's Messiah. (Mark Henrikson, USA, 1973, 4 minutes, 16mm)
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Happy Birthday, I'm Forty
dir. Alida Walsh

An archetypical voyage of a woman who has reached 40, describing how she went through the trials and adventures of mythological heroes in order to find herself, how she laughed at the ironies of the things she could not change and how she had surrealist visions of herself in history. (Alida Walsh, USA, 1976, 22 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Help! My Snowman's Burning Down (1965)
dir. Carson Davidson

In this Oscar-nominated satire on avant-garde surrealistic films (1965, Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects), a  beatnik in a homburg hat sits in a bathtub on a New York pier, typing on toilet paper and later fishing by casting his ring-baited line down the bath drain. When a female hand emerges from the drain, he paints one fingernail and it disappears. When he opens a medicine cabinet, he finds another guy shaving on the other side. Eventually his bathtub sets sail in the harbour, only to encounter a toy sub in the film’s climax. (Carson Davidson, 1964, 9 minutes, color, 16mm)
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The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough (1981)
dir. Peter Rose

Experimental filmmaker Peter Rose (brother of animator Kathy Rose) uses literary, structural, autobiographical, and performance metaphors to construct a series of tableaux that evoke the act of vision, the limits of perception, and the rapture of space. According to the filmmaker's website (www.peterrosepicture.com), this film features "spectacular moving multiple images; a physical, almost choreographic sense of camera movement; and massive, resonant sound have inspired critics to call it 'stunning' and 'hallucinatory.' The film ranges in subject from a solar eclipse shot off the coast of Africa to a hand-held filmed ascent of the Golden Gate Bridge, and moves, in spirit, from the deeply personal to the mythic." The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough has won awards at numerous festivals, including the Oberhausen, Edinburgh, American, and Sydney Film Festivals, and is in collections at Centre Pompidou in Paris and at Image Forum in Tokyo. Pratt also owns Rose's Secondary Currents (1983, 19 minutes), an imageless film that looks at the nature of language. (Peter Rose, USA, 1981, 33 minutes, 16mm)
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Medina (1972)
dir. Scott Bartlett

Filmmaker Scott Bartlett's lyrical documentary of Morocco combines the rich, poetical patterns of the walls, steps and tiles, the dense calligraphic decoration, the shaded windows and veiled eyes of the city with appropriate musical score. The New York Times wrote, "It is as if all the impulse toward lyrical pattern in Bartlett's film work had found an objective correlative in the walls, the steps and tiles, the dense calligraphic decoration, the shaded windows and veiled eyes of the city." In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films." During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt also owns Scott Bartlett's OffOn (1968), Moon 69 (1969), and The Serpent (1971). Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1972, 15 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Mirrored Reason (1983)
A study in paranoia about a woman's vision of herself being replaced by another woman. The film has a local connection, as the film stars a young Denise Koch, who would go on to become a reporter and Eyewitness News co-anchor at WJZ-TV. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1983, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Moon 69 (1969)
dir. Scott Bartlett

Blurred television tapes of the Apollo 11 moon trip, alternating explosions of blank and color film, music, the voice of an astrologer discussing "all-ness," love, and the stars, and abstract film patterns combine to create what the film's director describes as a "cosmic mind flight" and "a space-age sermon celebrating the joys of metaphysical love." In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films." According to Paul Brawley of the American Library Association, "The interrelated convolutions and spasms of image, color, and sound that filmmaker Bartlett creates is the cumulative effect of his pioneer work using negative images, polarization, television techniques, computer-film, and electronic patterns all compressed into a visual punch that directs one where he normally would not go with a film - on a trip in search of the human soul." Gene Youngblood of the Los Angeles Times adds, "Moon 1969 is a beautiful, eerie, haunting film, all the more wonderful for the fact we do not once see the moon: only the manifestation of its powers here on earth, the ebb and flow of the waters.. fiery rainbows into a cloudy sky... men and rockets transformed into shattering crystals... creating a picture if the cosmos in continual transformation." During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt also owns Scott Bartlett's OffOn (1968), The Serpent (1971), and Medina (1972). Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1969, 15 minutes, color, 16mm)
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OffOn (1968)
dir. Scott Bartlett

An experimental film made by feeding film loops into a color television channel. Interesting both for its technique and the implication "of the reality behind the reality we normally perceive." Reviewer Gene Youngblood comments "The language of OFFON is evocation. We gaze at these iconic forms hypnotically, much the same as we are drawn to fire or water, because they make us aware of fundamental realities below the surface of normal perception." Sheldon Renan, Curator of the Pacific Film Archive, adds "OFFON is so striking a work, so obviously a landmark, that it has been acquired by virtually every major film art collection in America, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian Institute." Amos Vogel, in Film As a Subversive Art, described OFFON as "a perfect, magical fusion of non-verbal communication and advanced technological filmmaking... Indeterminacy, the union of opposites, the cosmic, the expansion of consciousness, the going beyond rationalism; all these are intimated purely visually, almost subliminally, to those willing to see." In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films." During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt also owns Scott Bartlett's Moon 69 (1969), The Serpent (1971), and Medina (1972). Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1968, 10 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Rendezvous (1976)
dir. Claude Lelouche

Few films are as steeped in myth as this 9-minute adrenalin-fueled speed race by Claude Lelouche (Un Homme et Une Femme). Mounting a point-of-view camera on the front of the car, Lelouche takes viewers on a wild high-speed drive through the streets of Paris - all filmed without special effects, sped-up film or blocked-off streets. A favorite of the editors of Car & Driver magazine (“better than any chase ever filmed, because it’s real”). Also known as C'etait un Rendez-vous. This film only recently became available on DVD; you can also watch it on YouTube. (Claude Lelouche, France, 1976, 9 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Replay (1970)
dir. Robert Deugel

This film by Robert Duebel makes the point that history repeats itself and that change is often merely a "replay" of past events. As middle-aged speakers berate the current trends in fashion, dance and entertainment, Duebel uses archival film and photographs of 1920s dance marathons, flapper fashions, early suffragettes, and Pre-Code silent screen stars to point out that the styles and attitudes of yesteryear were just as outlandish and that the Generation Gap may actually be a Generation Link. But what makes this film most memorable is the title song "Replay"; composer Charles Strouse re-used the melody with new lyrics 12 years later as "Tomorrow" in the musical Annie (1982). (Robert Duebel, USA, 1970, 8 minutes, 16mm)
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Report, 1964-1965 (1967)
dir. Bruce Conner
 
In a work of memory, affection, and grief, filmmaker Bruce Conner uses experimental techniques, such as stop-action newsreel footage, numbered leader, television commercials, and a scene from Frankenstein, to record the assassination of President Kennedy, and to protest the exploitation of his death and the violence of the times in which he lived. Between 1963 and 1967, this film went through seven transformations (Pratt's print is a version from 1967), and in 2005 Conner transferred the film to digital for yet another version.(Bruce Conner, 1965, 13 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Science Friction (1959)
In this social satire on rockets, scientists, and the competive mania between nations in the modern world, the filmmaker experiments with animation of cut-out collage figures and objects, and an abstract sound track. You can watch it on YouTube. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1959, 10 minutes, 16mm)
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Scott Bartlett Films
In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films." In Experimental Cinema, David Curtis noted the influence of Bartlett's background in San Francisco's light shows, "an art form in which the ability to make creative (rather than interruptive) transitions between one configuration and the next is of supreme importance." As in light shows, Curtis saw Bartlett's work process as a "live" one in which the basic visual elements came from two sources: high-contrast 16mm loops fed into television circuitry where color was added, and rear-screen projection of the same loops with moire patterns, liquid slide projections, and other effects recorded with a television camera. Bartlett then superimposed his images over one another through optical printing to create an immediate feedback relationship. "The great advantage of working with video," Curtis observed, is this opportunity it offers "for immediate response to the taken picture, allowing for correction and intensification during the actual process of recording." Curtis concluded that few filmmakers exploited television's graphic potential as extensively as Bartlett. During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt owns four of his films. Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. 

Medina (1972)
Filmmaker Scott Bartlett's lyrical documentary of Morocco combines the rich, poetical patterns of the walls, steps and tiles, the dense calligraphic decoration, the shaded windows and veiled eyes of the city with appropriate musical score. The New York Times wrote, "It is as if all the impulse toward lyrical pattern in Bartlett's film work had found an objective correlative in the walls, the steps and tiles, the dense calligraphic decoration, the shaded windows and veiled eyes of the city." (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1972, 15 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Moon 69 (1969)
Blurred television tapes of the Apollo 11 moon trip, alternating explosions of blank and color film, music, the voice of an astrologer discussing "all-ness," love, and the stars, and abstract film patterns combine to create what the film's director describes as a "cosmic mind flight" and "a space-age sermon celebrating the joys of metaphysical love." According to Paul Brawley of the American Library Association, "The interrelated convolutions and spasms of image, color, and sound that filmmaker Bartlett creates is the cumulative effect of his pioneer work using negative images, polarization, television techniques, computer-film, and electronic patterns all compressed into a visual punch that directs one where he normally would not go with a film - on a trip in search of the human soul." Gene Youngblood of the Los Angeles Times adds, "Moon 1969 is a beautiful, eerie, haunting film, all the more wonderful for the fact we do not once see the moon: only the manifestation of its powers here on earth, the ebb and flow of the waters.. fiery rainbows into a cloudy sky... men and rockets transformed into shattering crystals... creating a picture if the cosmos in continual transformation." (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1969, 15 minutes, color, 16mm)
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OffOn (1968)
An experimental film made by feeding film loops into a color television channel. Interesting both for its technique and the implication "of the reality behind the reality we normally perceive." Reviewer Gene Youngblood comments "The language of OFFON is evocation. We gaze at these iconic forms hypnotically, much the same as we are drawn to fire or water, because they make us aware of fundamental realities below the surface of normal perception." Sheldon Renan, Curator of the Pacific Film Archive, adds "OFFON is so striking a work, so obviously a landmark, that it has been acquired by virtually every major film art collection in America, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian Institute." Amos Vogel, in Film As a Subversive Art, described OFFON as "a perfect, magical fusion of non-verbal communication and advanced technological filmmaking... Indeterminacy, the union of opposites, the cosmic, the expansion of consciousness, the going beyond rationalism; all these are intimated purely visually, almost subliminally, to those willing to see." (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1968, 10 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Serpent (1971)
The serpent embodies the primal chaotic life force in mythic symbology. Serpent uses natural and electronic imagery to particularize this creative force. The visceral impact of this marriage of metaphors brings about a union of irreconcilables, fire and water, nature and civilization, extremes of hot and cold. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1971, color, 15 minutes, 16mm)
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Screentest (1975)
dir. Frank Mouris

In a documentary about a male amateur theatrical troupe who create their own costumes, sets, makeup, and roles the filmmaker uses various innovative techniques to juxtapose the images of the actors as they don their masks and disguises, creating a world of unreality. The antics of the actors are full of outside reference--jokes about everything from Magritte to Jessie Royce Landis's famous bit in To catch a thief when she extinguishes her cigarette in a fried egg. The sound track is an edited version of the cast's informal comments as they watch the rushes of the film. Pratt also owns Mouris' Frank Film. (Frank Mouris, USA, 1975, 20 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Serpent (1971)
dir. Scott Bartlett

The serpent embodies the primal chaotic life force in mythic symbology. Serpent uses natural and electronic imagery to particularize this creative force. The visceral impact of this marriage of metaphors brings about a union of irreconcilables, fire and water, nature and civilization, extremes of hot and cold. In his study of 1960s American experimental cinema The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote "[Scott Bartlett's films] exemplified San Francisco's preferred form of cinematic discourse for a later generation of artists, poets, writers and videomakers...The visual structures of Bartlett's films influenced the images we see on MTV today, as well as the digital special effects employed in many contemporary feature films." During his life, Bartlett was sponsored by such filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola. Yet today, despite their undiminished impact and undeniable influence, Bartlett's films are seldom shown. Pratt also owns Scott Bartlett's OffOn (1968), Moon 69 (1969), and Medina (1972). Barlett's films are also available through Canyon Cinema. (Scott Bartlett, USA, 1971, color, 15 minutes, 16mm)
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Sound Along with the Bouncing Ball(s) (1982)
dir. tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE

According to filmmaker tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE (aka Michael Tolson and Monty Cantsin), "This is an extrapolation of the "sing-along-with-the-bouncing- ball" type of film. It consists primarily of manipulated shots of ping-pong balls bouncing on a player piano (in)activated by a roll playing "You Light up my Life" and by a roll made of drapery samples. These visuals are to be responded to as graphic notation by the audience. By responding spontaneously to the film as a score the audience creates the sound-track." The film was shot by Steve Estes, whose film Face: Her Thought Moments is also part of Pratt's 16mm film collection. (tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, USA, 1982, 8 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Stan VanDerBeek Films
Columbia, Maryland-native Stan VanDerBeek was an American experimental filmmaker who ran the University of Maryland Baltimore County'sVisual Arts program until his death in 1984. His early works featured cut-up collage animation techniques that evoked the spirit of surrealism and dadaism, but with an ironic sense of humor more akin to the Beat Generation (they were also a major influence on Terry Gilliam's work with the British comedy troupe Monty Python). By the end of the 1960s, he branched into exploring computer animated films and holographic experiments. VanDerBeek's films are very hard to find. Pratt owns four VanDerBeek films on 16mm.

 

Breathdeath (1964)
The filmmaker, an early experimenter with collage-animation, cuts up photos and newsreel footage to produce an image that is "a mixture of unexplainable fact ... with inexpicable act. Dedicated to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton." He has created a surrealistic fantasy based on the 15th century woodcuts of the dance of the dead. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1964, 15 minutes, 16mm)
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Euclidean Illusions (1979)
This animated film, made on a computer at the NASA Space Center in Houston, is an abstract exercise in which various geometric shapes turn in space. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1979, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Mirrored Reason (1983)
A study in paranoia about a woman's vision of herself being replaced by another woman. The film has a local connection, as the film stars a young Denise Koch, who would go on to become a reporter and Eyewitness News co-anchor at WJZ-TV. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1983, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Science Friction (1959)
In this social satire on rockets, scientists, and the competive mania between nations in the modern world, the filmmaker experiments with animation of cut-out collage figures and objects, and an abstract sound track. You can watch it on YouTube. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1959, 10 minutes, 16mm)
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Study in Wet (1964)
dir. Homer Groening

This is a film by Homer Groening, father of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Unlike the dim-witted Homer depicted in The Simpsons, Matt Groening's real father was a multifaceted artist and filmmaker who specialized in surfing movies. Everything in this film is literally wet, as Groening captures the sounds and pictures of water at rare moments, including views of gigantic waves, Monet-like reflections, a crying girl's tears, goldfish trapped in a diving mask, and of divers and surfers flying into the water. The music, by Maurice Engleman, is made entirely of water sounds from a dripping faucet. Like his famous son, Homer Groening was also a cartoonist, as well as an advertising pioneer, museum founder, filmmaker and war hero. He passed away in March 1995. (Homer Groening, 1964, 7 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Subtitles (1983)
dir. tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE

Filmmaker's statement: "This film has no title, only a subtitle, which is Subtitles. This is 1 of at least 8 significantly different versions of this film. Ideally this film should be shown with an analysis projector at 1 frame per second, in which case it would be slightly less than 4 hours long." tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE (aka Michael Tolson and Monty Cantsin) then goes on to describe his film as "A medley of "B-plot" materials and self-centered ideas edited with an undramatic emphasis of process. Frames within frames set loose within frames. Microchasms. What another film might look like if it lost its loop. What your mind might perceive if it became obsessed with a spiral of self- referential stopped time and moving information." (tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE, USA, 1983, 10 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Time Piece (1965)
dir. Jim Henson

 

Not available in any other format (VHS, DVD) but this 16mm print. This early live-action film produced by and starring Jim Hensen (of Muppets fame) documents a day in the live of one man in the urban rat race. While he is in a hospital bed, the typical day of a young executive flashes before his eyes. Realistic scenes cut to wild dream sequences that comment on the reality they interpret. Nominated for an Oscar (Best Short Subject – Live Action) in 1966. Produced by Jim Henson, photographed by Ted Nemeth with music by Don Sebesky. (Jim Hensen, USA, 1965, 9 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Transparent Smile: Monty Cantsin Performing with White Colours (1985)
dir. Monty Cantsin

According to filmmaker Monty Cantsin (aka tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE and Michael Tolson), "Participants in the Neoist Network were solicited to send 100 transparencies of Monty Cantsin Performing With White Colours to be collated into a transparent magazine in an edition of 100; this magazine is an issue of SMILE. The collected transparencies were used in various ways as the primary visual material of the film. The soundtrack was made by adding excerpts from an audio issue of SMILE as an over-dub to a basic track made by Monty Cantsin Performing With White Colours." (Monty Cantsin, USA, 1985, 18 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) (1902)
dir. Georges Melies

A wizard-like professor and a group of Victorian gentlemen construct a rocket, get in it, and are blasted off by a double line of chorus girls. When they land on the moon, they encounter the subterranean moon people. After battling them, the voyagers make a successful return to the earth. Created by Georges Melies, this film displays his tricks of conjury and cinema. THIS IS A SILENT FILM: PLAY AT 16mm SILENT SPEED (Georges Melies, France, 1902, 10 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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