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Directors in Focus
Gregory J. Markopoulos: Toward The Temenos

One of the key figures in the evolution of the New American Cinema of the 1960s, Gregory J. Markopoulos (1928–1992) developed unique forms of camera work and editing that created ravishing imagery and complex patterns of what he termed "thought-images." With their reliance on mythic and poetic texts and complex themes, his films defy easy description, a situation that was exacerbated by Markopoulos’s decision in 1967 to leave this country for Greece (the birthplace of both his parents) and to place restrictions on the screening of his work. While he continued his ambitious work in Europe, including plans to construct an archive and film theater in Lyssaraia, Greece - The Temenos - his films went virtually unseen here for three decades. Fortunately his partner, the filmmaker Robert Beavers, has continued work on The Temenos and on preserving Markopoulos’s films. This series, which presents newly remastered prints, includes the artist’s important early works, his experimental features, and the series of portrait films he made in Europe.

Special thanks to Robert Beavers for making this series possible. This program is dedicated to the memory of Kirk Winslow. The HFA also thanks the generous assistance of the the Kokkalis Program at Harvard University and Temenos, Inc.


March 28 (Friday) 7 pm
Introduced by Robert Beavers

Psyche

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1947, 16mm, color, 25 min.
With Ann Wells, George Emmons

This early film by Markopoulos was inspired by an unfinished novella by French poet and novelist Pierre Louÿs, whose sensuous evocations of ancient eroticism set the tone for the filmmaker’s own poetic enterprise. Featuring a musical excerpt from Ralph Vaughan Williams’s "Serenade," the film was made while Markopoulos was studying at the University of Southern California and attending lectures by celebrated filmmaker Josef von Sternberg. Psyche was filmed in and around Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills with performers chosen for their appearance and for the naturalness of their gestures.

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March 28 (Friday) 7 pm

Twice a Man

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1963, 16mm, color, 49 min.
With Paul Kilb, Olympia Dukakis, Violet Roditi

Based on Markopoulos’s modernist reworking of the myth of Hippolytus, in which a chaste youth rejects the incestuous advances of his mother, Phaedre, and is saved from death by a caring physician, Twice a Man was filmed by Markopoulos in and around New York. For Markopoulos, this short feature represented his most elaborate attempt to date to create "a new narrative form through the fusion of the classic montage technique with a more abstract system." The film opens with an extended passage of black leader and the sound of falling rain before plunging into a dazzlingly complex array of interwoven single frames and clusters of images to elaborate a tale of artistic rebirth.

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March 28 (Friday) 7 pm

Ming Green

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1966, 16mm, color, 7 min.

This portrait of the filmmaker's apartment, painted in the color of the title, was made a few months before his departure from New York. It is dedicated to the filmmaker Stan Brakhage and was shot without a scenario and edited entirely in the camera.


March 29 (Saturday) 7 pm
Introduced by Kristin Jones

Himself as Herself

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1967, 16mm, color, 60 min.
With Gordon Baldwin

One of the most vertiginous of Markopoulos's interior landscape studies, Himself as Herself is based loosely on Balzac's Séraphita. The film consists of a shimmering, nearly plotless evocation of gender identity in flux, and it contains some of Markopoulos’s most haunting, densely interlaced images. This film is dedicated to the American artist Emlen Pope Etting and features a musical excerpt from Poulenc's "Gloria."

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March 29 (Saturday) 7 pm

Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1967, 16mm, color, 15 min.

One of the most accomplished works in Markopoulos’s series of film portraits, Through a Lens Brightly is a vivid study of the dancer and poet Mark Turbyfill that uses paintings and photographs in his home to recapture and illuminate a life in the arts.

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March 30 (Sunday) 7 pm
Introduced by Bruce Jenkins

Bliss

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
Greece 1967, 16mm, color, 6 min.

The first film made by Markopoulos after moving to Europe, Bliss was shot over the course of two days using only available light to create a lyrical study of the interior of the Church of St. John on the island of Hydra.

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March 30 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Illiac Passion

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1964-67, 16mm, color, 92 min.
With Taylor Mead, Andy Warhol, Jack Smith

One of Markopoulos’s most critically acclaimed films, The Illiac Passion is an ambitious work based on Prometheus Unbound. For his cast, Markopoulos made imaginative use of artist friends and underground figures in the roles of mythical beings. The result is a lively, resolutely contemporary reimagining of the classical realm with striking imagery and a sound track that features the filmmaker’s reading of Thoreau’s translation of the Aeschylus text and excerpts from Bartók.

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March 31 (Monday) 7 pm
Introduced by Nathan Lee

Galaxie

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
US 1966, 16mm, color, 92 min.

A veritable who’s who of the art world in the mid-1960s, Galaxie includes portraits of thirty-three painters, poets, critics, filmmakers, and choreographers. Shooting with his Bolex camera and utilizing an intricate system he developed that allowed for multiple images and for editing the entire work in-camera, Markopoulos created elaborate portraits of such seminal figures as W. H. Auden, Jasper Johns, Erick Hawkins, and Susan Sontag.

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March 31 (Monday) 7 pm

Political Portraits

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
Switzerland/Italy/West Germany 1969, 16mm, color, 60 min.

Each consisting of a single film roll, these portraits are of people Markopoulos encountered in the late 1960s in Europe. As he noted, the film is meant to be seen as "political portraits in the Greek sense, daily living." Like Galaxie, these portraits feature major figures from across the arts, including the painter Giorgio de Chirico and dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

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March 31 (Monday) 7 pm

Sorrows

Directed by Gregory Markopoulos
Switzerland 1969, 16mm, color, 6 min.

Set to music by Beethoven, this lyrical portrait moves from a chilled and misty exterior to the crystalline interior of the Swiss chateau that King Ludwig II built for Wagner.

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