Images: Commingled Containers by Stan Brakhage, Bridges-Go-Round by Shirley Clarke

Avant Cinema 3.7: Film-Makers’ Cooperative

Programmed by Caroline Koebel and Scott Stark for Austin Film Society

Mar 31, 2010, 7-9PM, Austin Studios Screening Room, 1901 E. 51st Street, Austin, Texas

Avant Cinema: Film-Makers' Cooperative brings from New York City to Austin the group-curated program A Moveable Feast, originally presented at the Howl! Arts Festival. Coop board members selected titles from the collection most influential on their own filmmaking. The program is also a celebration of the Coop’s move to its new home at 475 Park Avenue South.

The Film-Makers' Cooperative is the largest archive and distributor of independent and avant-garde films in the world. Created by artists in 1962 as the distribution branch of the New American Cinema Group, the Coop has more than 5,000 films, videotapes and DVDs in its collection.

“We don't want false, polished, slick films—we prefer them rough, unpolished, but alive; we don't want rosy films—we want them the color of blood.” – The First Statement of the New American Cinema Group, September 30, 1962

Viet-Flakes - Carolee Schneemann, 1966 16mm, B/W, sound, 11 min
Selected by M.M. Serra
Viet-Flakes was composed from an obsessive collection of Vietnam atrocity images I collected from foreign magazines and newspapers over a five-year period. Magnifying glasses from the "5 & 10" were taped onto a borrowed 16mm Bolex in order to physically "travel" within the photographs - producing a rough animation. Images in and out of focus, broken rhythms and pans, the abstracted shapes and motions, speeding perceptual contradictions. For instance, a pointillism of falling black specks in focus becomes bombs dropping through the sky; an impressionistic swirl of tones translates as faces of US soldiers leading barefoot villagers from a gas-filled tunnel; a "Rembrandt ink drawing" focuses in as a tank dragging a roped body .... Viet-Flakes was central in "Snows," the Kinetic Theater work I presented at the Martinique Theater, New York, 1966, in conjunction with Angry Arts Week. "Snows" concretized imagery and the denied ravages of the war and did its part in heightening moral outrage at the endless destruction. James Tenney's sound collage intercuts three-second fragments of Vietnamese religious chants and secular songs with fragments of Bach and 1960s "Top of the Charts."

Fragments - Mike Kuchar, 1967 16mm, color, sound, 10 min
Selected by Jack Waters
A visual drift into the realm of electric colors, sensual curves and dark, dank grasslands, where one is lost with himself.

Angel Blue Sweet Wings - Chick Strand, 1966 16mm, color, sound, 4 min
Selected by Lynne Sachs
An experimental film poem in celebration of life and visions. Techniques include live action, animation, montage and found images. Exhibition: New York Film Festival; Arles, France Film Festival; Canadian Women's Film Festival.

Bridges-Go-Round - Shirley Clarke, 1958 16mm, color, sound, 7 min
Selected by Donna Cameron
"By my standards, Miss Clarke's picture, an eerie close-up of the metropolitan bridges, is extraordinary. A film that captures the bizarre magic of man-made spans with the movement of a lightning clap and with the same terrible beauty." -- Howard Thompson, The New York Times "A new creative development ... truly excellent." – Mr. Hugh Gray, Dept. of Film, UCLA

Scotch Tape - Jack Smith, 1962 16mm, color, sound, 3 min
Selected by Anne Hanavan
With Jerry Sims, Ken Jacobs and Reese Haire. 16mm Kodachrome shot on the rubble strewn site of the future Lincoln Center. The title arises from the piece of scotch tape which had become wedged in the camera gate.

Commingled Containers - Stan Brakhage 1996 16mm, color, silent, 3 min
Selected by Scott Nyerges
The film begins with anamorphic lens vision of water, prismatically etched dark blue needles of watery turbulence shifting radically in sudden twists of the anamorphic lens. . . a sense of a violently roughened surface to a stream which cuts to a darkened quietude of gently evolving under-water bubbles, pulsing like living entities. The entire film juxtaposes its water surface tensions and its under-water pulsing forms of light, its blues of water surface reflecting sky, and whites of watery turbulence, and its sub surface world of quiet whites yellows and oranges, ending finally on a surface shot which resolves these tones.

Cartoon Le Mousse - Chick Strand, 1979 16mm, color, sound, 12 min
Selected by Bradley Eros
"Chick Strand is a prolific and prodigiously gifted film artist who seems to break new ground with each new work. Her recent "found footage" works such as Cartoon Le Mousse, are extraordinarily beautiful, moving, visionary pieces that push this genre into previously unexplored territory. If poetry is the art of making evocative connections between otherwise dissimilar phenomena, then Chick Strand is a great poet, for these films transcend their material to create a surreal and sublime universe beyond reason." – Gene Youngblood

The Whirled - Ken Jacobs, 1961 16mm, color & B/W, sound, 4 min
Selected by Colen Fitzgibbon
The Following four films are early images of Jack Smith:1. Saturday Afternoon Blood Sacrifice (1956)2. Little Cobra Dance (1956)3. Hunch Your Back (1963) 4. Death of P'Town (1961) The first two shorts were shot around Jack's loft on Reade Street on two 100' rolls (Sunday morning, following Saturday's sacrifice, I saw there was another 50' left) in an impromptu way very different from my initial fastidious art-film approach. I would never be an art-film true-believer again. In 1963 a snatch of "Saturday Afternoon..." was shown on TV when I was somehow invited to participate in a TV quiz program called Hunch Your Back ("Back Your Hunch"). After years of shooting my raging epic "Star Spangled to Death" starring Jack as The Spirit Not of Life But of Living, and after a few months of being on the outs with each other, we got together for one last stab at friendship and the making of a film in Provincetown, Summer of '61. – Ken Jacobs "Mountaineer Spinning" is not for persons afflicted with epilepsy. Music by Rick Reed, best played loud (but not uncomfortable) through two pairs of stereo speakers placed front and rear: "virtual surround" is perfect.

Ceci N'est Pas - Jeanne Liotta, 1997 16mm, B/W, sound, 7 min
Selected by Ghen Zando-Dennis
Hand-developed and unedited, this roll lived in my camera from March to May 1995: A trip to New Orleans, a train ride, the death of a dear friend and artist. This film is the author of itself; its trace function leaves me behind. "The cadaverous presence establishes a relation between here and nowhere." – Maurice Blanchot. "The Phantome disturbs by its just out of reach presence." – Bruce Witsiepe


Kelly Sears: Filmmaker in Person

Programmed by Caroline Koebel for Experimental Response Cinema

May 23, 2012, 7:30-9PM, 29th Street Ballroom at Spiderhouse, Austin, Texas

Experimental Response Cinema and 29th Street Ballroom host Galveston-based animator and filmmaker KELLY SEARS, whose internationally-exhibited collage films are culled from discarded periodicals, books, archives, and orphan cinema. Drawing on experimental, documentary and narrative practices and featuring both analog and digital animation techniques, her films harness images of the past to reflect on the present. She is a current resident at the Galveston Artist Residency and a 2009-2011 fellow at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her films have screened widely, including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ann Arbor Film Fest, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sundance, and Anthology Film Archives. The approximately one-hour program will be followed by a Q & A moderated by Caroline Koebel with Kelly Sears.

Films include: Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise, Imprinted, Cover Me Alpha, Voice on the Line, The Body Besieged, Jean, The Believers, He Hates to be Second, The Drift, Angels Chant Like Witches, Devil's Canyon, and Charles and Christopher.

Experimental Response Cinema is an Austin-based collective of avant-garde film and video artists, devoted to bringing local, national and international experimental films to Austin screens.


The Friendship State: Texas Experimental Filmmakers

The program embraces the dialog between makers and comprises five artists, including me, from diverse points of Texas: Lyndsay Bloom, Caroline Koebel, Jennifer Lane, Kelly Sears, and Scott Stark. Program Details

Peras de Olmo – Ars Continua, Sep 28, 2013, Buenos Aires, Argentina

CineMarfa, May 5, 2013, Marfa, Texas

Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, Apr 27, 2013, New Orleans, Louisiana

Austin Film Society, Feb 22, 2013, Austin, Texas

Microscope Gallery, Nov 5, 2012, Brooklyn, New York


Kino B: Contemporary Cinema by Berlin-based Artists

Commissioned by Aurora Picture Show, Kino B initiates viewers into the swarm of moving images made thus far in the 2010s by Berlin-based artists. Sylvia Schedelbauer's SOUNDING GLASS, the stunning and astounding experimental short about vision, history, memory, and war that won accolades at Ann Arbor and Oberhausen, centers the outwardly spiraling program.

The other projects—curated in situ during a research trip to Berlin—include film, video and installation (transposed to single-channel projection) by Guillaume Cailleau & Ben Russell, Harun Farocki, Isabella Gresser, Bernd Lützeler, Anna Marziano, Deborah S. Phillips, Michael Poetschko, and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.

Chosen for their individual merits and seemingly unrelated in their disparateness, the works nonetheless share a command of cinema's potential for experientially transformative critical reflection. Each title, in its own way, acts as an experimental essay on the world as it can be encountered, engaged and repositioned so as to enable a dialogue between self (artist) and others (viewers) on that world. Program Details

Aurora Picture Show, Oct 19, 2013, Houston Texas