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February 1 - 22, 2005  

Life Stories: Film and Autobiography


February 1 (Tuesday) 7 pm

American Splendor

Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
US, 2003, color, 101 min.
With Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar

The life of comic-book artist Harvey Pekar is brought to the screen in this surprising and smart adaptation of his highly idiosyncratic, autobiographical work. Paul Giamatti stars alongside the real Harvey, as well as an animated version of the author, creating a unique, multi-layered account of a life lived outside the mainstream. The film’s original structure underpins a warm and touching warts-and-all story about two depressives who find love among their allergies and paranoias. Part narrative, part documentary, part animation, the film never loses sight of the real humanity of its characters. It is at once as personal, unique, and mundane as its subject, and maintains an un-ironic stance towards Pekar that makes the title of the film more true than one might imagine.

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February 1 (Tuesday) 9 pm

David Holzman's Diary

Directed by Jim McBride
US, 1967, b/w, 73 min.
With L.M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz, Lousie Levine

David Holzman is a struggling young filmmaker living in New York City who decides to make a film about his life. Inspired by Godard’s famed quote that film is “truth at 24 frames per second,” David throws himself headlong into the process, alienating his girlfriend and pushing himself to the brink of sanity. A vital piece in the New York-based American independent film movement of the 1960’s, McBride’s faux documentary offers an immediate critique on the truth-telling claims of non-fiction film.

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February 8 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Nostalgia

Directed by Hollis Frampton
France, 1984, b/w, 65 min.
French with English subtitles

 

"[Nostalgia] is mostly about words and the kind of relationship words can have to images. I began probably as a kind of non-poet, as a kid, and my first interest in images probably had something to do with what clouds of words could rise out of them...I think there is kind of a shift between what is now memory and what was once conjecture and prophecy and so forth."
-- Hollis Frampton

Hollis Frampton's 1971 black and white film Nostalgia is composed of twelve still photographs, each accompanied by a voice over commentary and reminiscence, though sound and image are out of synch. The camera shows us one image while the voice describes another, yet to come. Each photo is marked sonically by nostalgia and anticipation. The movie camera "shows" each photograph, and simultaneously registers its destruction. One by one the photos are placed on a gas ring and each shot lasts as long as it takes for the photograph to burn up. The movie camera registers this disappearance, this burning up of the still image, as movement, it animates the still image as it destroys it - the photographs curl and tremble and dance, shudder, waver, and crumble into ash. Nostalgia thus stages an encounter between photography and cinema, between stillness and movement, sound and image, present and past. In recording and destroying the still photographs cinematographically Frampton, in a sense, remakes them. He also documents a discovery: the final commentary describes how, at the moment of taking the photograph, the camera had captured something he had not seen. This aberrant chance detail, caught and revealed by the mechanical apparatus, is subjected to scrutiny via enlargement, so he tells us, to such an extent that it becomes virtually illegible.

Program notes adaprted from Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.

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February 15 (Tuesday) 9 pm

In this Life’s Body

Directed by Corinne Cantrill
Australia, 1984, color, 147 min.

Australian filmmakers and publishers of Cantrill’s Filmnotes, Corrine and Arthur Cantrill have gained prominence worldwide for their impressive body of documentary and experimental film work. In In this Life's Body, a middle-aged Corinne reflects on the events of her life using photographs and home movies. Drawing from a wealth of materials, she reconstructs forgotten moments and emotions from the 1930s to the present that remind her of a distant, forgotten self.

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February 22 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Tarnation

Directed by Jonathan Caouette
US, 2004, color, 88 min.

Jonathan Caouette leaves no stone unturned in his iMac produced debut feature. A dizzying mix of Super-8 home movies, photo booth snapshots, video diaries, answering machine messages, the film is an often harrowing portrait of the growing dysfunction within the young director’s family. Featuring dramatic scenes of his mother’s breakdown and his grandmother’s stroke, the film’s most compelling footage is of Caouette himself performing in drag as a child and participating in a high school musical rendition of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

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