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February 8 - 28, 2004

Andy Warhol and the Factory: Selected Works

Andy Warhol’s film projects consciously deconstructed traditional notions of filmmaking and created a new genre of hyper-real cinema as they returned to the returned to the origins of the medium. These films were shot on black-and-white film stock, used simple fixed-frame compositions and little or no editing, and were projected at “silent speed,” which distended motion and increased to perceptibility the medium's signature flicker. His casts were drawn from the seemingly endless array of artists and assistants, socialites and hustlers, curators and collectors who nightly populated Warhol's infamous midtown studio, the Factory. Recapitulating film’s original fascination with observing everyday people and objects, his early films attempted to sustain audience interest by simply recording the most quotidian aspects of life—eating, sleeping, kissing. Although he soon introduced stories (enacted by his Superstars), the fascination in his films derives less from narrative innovation and more from the anxious negotiation of his performers as they stare back into Warhol's unblinking camera.

This series encompasses classic and rare films directed and produced by Warhol; as well as recent films made about Warhol, the Factory, and his Superstars. Special thanks to Florence Almozini, who curated this program at BAM Cinematek. Program notes adapted from BAM Cinematek


February 8 (Sunday) 7 pm
February 9 (Monday) 9 pm

Absolut Warhola

Directed by Stanislaw Mucha
Germany, 2001, color, 80 min.
Slovak with English subtitles

An offbeat documentary that traces Warhol’s family to a small town in Slovakia, Absolut Warhola (the artist dropped the “a” from the family name), features interviews with surviving relatives who seem appropriately nonplussed about their famous kinsman and a visit to the nearby Andy Warhol Museum.

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February 8 (Sunday) 9 pm

Four of Andy Warhol’s Most Beautiful Women

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1964, b/w, silent, 15 min.

In this condensed version of Warhol’s 13 Most Beautiful Women, Warhol simply lets the camera roll while a each of a quartet of potential Superstars strikes a screen-test pose. Warhol made hundreds of such “screen tests,” in which subjects posed silently in close-up before a static camera without direction for the duration of a single roll of film. Many of these portraits were compiled into series, including 13 Most Beautiful Boys and 50 Fantastics.

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February 8 (Sunday) 9 pm

Mrs. Warhol

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1966, b/w, 66 min.
With Julia Warhola, Richard Rheem

A recently preserved Warhol film, Mrs. Warhol features Andy’s real-life mother, Julia Warhola, filmed in her basement apartment and playing “an aging peroxide movie star with a lot of husbands,” including the most current spouse, played by Richard Rheem. Casting her as a former Mack Sennett bathing beauty, Warhol follows his delightfully oddball mother as she goes about her daily domestic routines.

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February 10 (Tuesday) 9 pm
February 28 (Saturday) 9 pm

Nico Icon

Directed by Susanne Ofteringer
US/Germany, 1995, b/w and color, 70 min.

As the stone-faced chanteuse of the Velvet Underground, Nico was the embodiment of Warholian beauty and apathy. Suzanne Ofteringer’s inventive documentary culls archival footage from Nico’s early modeling days and performances in films such as La Dolce Vita and The Chelsea Girls as well as rare performance footage from her work with the Velvets and her eerie, heroin-fueled solo gigs.

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February 10 (Tuesday) 9 pm
February 28 (Saturday) 9 pm

Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart

Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
US, 1998, b/w and color, 73 min.

Originally produced as part of the American Masters series for PBS, this revealing portrait of the iconic singer-songwriter captures his early days in forgettable garage bands as well as the many transformations he has undergone in his career with the Velvet Underground and as a solo performer. The film features a mix of interviews from Factory-era stalwarts, fellow Velvets, and contemporary disciples of Reed, each of whom pays respects to New York’s poet laureate of rock and roll.

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February 11 (Wednesday) 9 pm
February 14 (Saturday) 7 pm - Directors in Person

Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story

Directed by Vincent Fremont and Shelly Dunn Fremont
US, 2000, color, 75 min.

This fascinating chronicle of ubiquitous Warhol Superstar Brigid Berlin is told through interviews with the sixty-something media heiress and ex-bohemian food-and-drug addict herself, as well as with other former Factory-related personalities and commentators such as Patty Hearst and John Waters. As Pie in the Sky traces her early days as a rebellious socialite, the first of her “scandalous” appearances in Warhol’s films, and her role as muse to the filmmaker-artist, this unique personality emerges as something of a significant artistic presence in her own right.

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February 13 (Friday) 7 pm - Introduced by Professor Roy Grundmann, Boston University

Blow Job

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1963, b/w, silent, 35 min.

In Blow Job, an unnamed man seen in static close-up receives an unseen blow job. A sly commentary on voyeurism and audience expectations, Blow Job classifies the act among the same kind of quotidian activities Warhol documented in many of his productions of the period: sleeping, kissing, eating, getting a haircut. It is one of his most effective uses of off-screen filmic space.

Vinyl

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1965, b/w, 66 min.
With Gerard Malanga, Edie Sedgwick, Ondine

This idiosyncratic adaptation of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange featured Warhol protégé and poet Gerard Malanga in the role of the reprobate youth, Alex (here, Victor). Malanga performs his famous “whip dance” before his arrest and subsequent deprogramming, with the result here given a decidedly sado-masochistic twist. Warhol incorporated Vinyl into a multimedia extravaganza that he mounted in the spring of 1966 at the Dom in the East Village under the title “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable.” Essentially a discotheque, the piece consisted of multi-screen projections, strobe lights, recorded music, and live performance by the Velvet Underground.

The Velvet Underground and Nico (A Symphony of Sound)

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1966, b/w, 67 min.
With Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico

The film documents The Velvet Underground and Nico rehearsing at the Factory and contains uncharacteristic wild camera work and psychedelic zooming (by Paul Morrissey), possibly indicating its intended use as an eventual multi-media projection behind the band’s live performances. The second reel records an actual visit from the NYPD, acting on a noise complaint, and reveals Warhol in negotiations with a cop as the band members mill about.

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February 14 (Saturday) 9 pm

Kiss

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1963, b/w, silent, 54 min.
With Naomi Levine, Gerald Malanga, Baby Jane Holzer

Updating the Edison Company's early cinematic production The Kiss (1896), Warhol featured a group of his Factory regulars performing the titled act in extreme close-ups. Mixing genders, sexual orientations, and races in his documentation of serial couplings (each one lasting approximately one camera roll), Warhol reserved the film’s only significant camera movement (a zoom out) to confirm the gender of the participants in the work’s first gay sequence.

Eat

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1963, b/w, silent, 45 min.
With Robert Indiana

Another experiment with endurance and chronology, Warhol frames the noted pop artist Robert Indiana (along with his cat) as he very slowly samples a mushroom. The use of Indiana was not accidental. The artist had exhibited his “Eat” paintings and sculptures at the Stable Gallery in New York, which also represented Warhol at the time. The film was shot in Indiana’s studio on Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan.

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February 15 (Sunday) 7 pm
February 16 (Monday) 9 pm

Lonesome Cowboys

Directed by Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey
US, 1968, color, 102 min.
With Viva, Taylor Mead, Joe Dallesandro

One of Warhol’s most notorious collaborations with filmmaker Paul Morrissey—Warhol was briefly put under FBI surveillance for attempts to transport obscene material across state lines, and the film was seized by authorities in Atlanta—Lonesome Cowboys transplants the New York Factory Superstars to a wild west town and dude ranch in Arizona. By turns shocking and hilarious, the film combines cowboy and sexual violence, as well as the evanescent Taylor Mead performing the Lupe Velez twist.

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February 15 (Sunday) 9 pm

Couch

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1964, b/w, silent, 54 min.
With Gerald Malanga, Ondine, Taylor Mead

The couch at Andy Warhol’s Factory was as famous in its own right as any of his Superstars. In Couch, visitors to the Factory were invited to “perform” on camera, seated on the old couch. Their many acts—both lascivious and mundane—are documented in a film that has come to be regarded as one of the most notorious of Warhol’s early works. Across the course of the film we encounter such figures as poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, the writer Jack Kerouac, and perennial New York figure Taylor Mead.

Couch

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1966, b/w, 66 min.
With Ondine, Mary Woronov

Since is a rare, unfinished work that portrays the Kennedy and Oswald assassinations. The dramatic action is re-enacted on a couch at the Factory multiple times and even in slow motion—as Warhol said, “just like we’ve seen on TV.” Here Ondine stars as LBJ, Mary Woronov as JFK, and Ingrid Superstar as “Loonybird” Johnson. The Kennedy assassination and its iterative presence in the mass media became a source of visual and social investigation for a number of experimental film and video makers of the period (Bruce Conner, Ant Farm). Warhol himself had already engaged the subject and method in such paintings as 16 Jackies (1964), which featured serial images of Jacqueline Kennedy.

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February 16 (Monday) 7 pm
February 17 (Tuesday) 9 pm

My Hustler

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1965, b/w, 67 min.
With Ed Hood, Paul America

A benchmark film for gay cinema, My Hustler is almost conventional by today’s standards, though still powerfully frank in its portrayal and in the deployment of the signature early Warhol style. The “story” concerns an aging homosexual who rents a butch blond hustler to bring his Fire Island home for the weekend, only to find him being wooed by the competition. Initially conceived for the soft-core porn market, My Hustler remains a fascinating document.

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February 27 (Friday) 7 pm

The Chelsea Girls

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1966, b/w and color, 210 min.
With Nico, Ondine, Brigid Berlin

Perhaps Warhol’s best-known film and one of the masterpieces of avant-garde cinema, The Chelsea Girls combines twelve “portraits” of Factory Superstars into one contrapuntal underground fugue, in which two 16mm films are projected side by side. The line between performance and reality is impossible to draw as Brigid Berlin shoots up with amphetamines and Ondine, seemingly cast as the Pope, angrily assaults another of the Superstars. Other sequences include “The Gerard Malanga Story” and “Hanoi Hanna,” featuring Mary Waronov and International Velvet. Originally conceived as documents from various rooms at the Chelsea Hotel, references to actual room numbers in which the sequences unfold were removed after the venerable establishment threatened a lawsuit.

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February 28 (Saturday) 7 pm

Outer and Inner Space

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1965, b/w, 33 min.
With Edie Sedgwick

Shot in the summer of 1965 with newly available portable video equipment from Norelco, this prescient experimental work is built around a multiple portrait of Factory superstar Edie Sedgwick, who is seen both in close-up on the video monitor and seated next to it talking, smoking, and just hanging out. Warhol multiplies the mirroring structure by creating a second film that similarly resituates Sedgwick and her video double.

Poor Little Rich Girl

Directed by Andy Warhol
US, 1965, b/w, 66 min.
With Edie Sedgwick

Organized as a day in the life of Edie Sedgwick, the “poor little rich girl” of the title, this semi-documentary takes portraiture to a new level as Warhol’s out-of-focus cinematography is set to the strains of the Everly Brothers. We follow Edie as she wakes up, orders up coffee and juice, smokes and exercises, talks on the telephone, and explains how she ran through a sizeable inheritance in just six months.

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