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September 23 - November 14

Recent Restorations

The art and practice of film preservation saves many films from decay and disappearance. Thanks to archival and funding organizations, and individuals committed to the care of original film material and the integrity of films in need of restoration, the survival of our film heritage is protected.  We celebrate these efforts and present the work of two independent filmmakers whose recently restored films enable those unfamiliar with their work to discover it for the first time.  These programs provide as well the opportunity to return to films not exhibited in years, giving new life to work now available in beautiful restoration prints.

With special thanks to Mike Sperlinger, LUX; Scottish Screen Archive; Andy Lampert, Anthology Film Archives; Bill Brand, BB Optics; National Film Preservation Foundation.

September 23 (Saturday) 7 pm

Margaret Tait: Subjects and Sequences

One of the UK’s most valued media organizations, LUX is committed to the preservation and distribution of artists' moving image work.  In 2004 LUX organized two programs of new and restored prints from one of Britain’s most individual filmmakers, Margaret Tait (1918-1999).  Tait studied at the Centro Sperimentale de Cinematografia in Rome during the height of the neorealist movement before founding her own film company and returning to Scotland in the early 1950s.  Over 46 years she produced over 30 films and published three books of poetry and two volumes of short stories.  Tait described her films as poems, and often quoted Federico García Lorca’s phrase of “stalking the image” to define her philosophy and method, believing that if you look at an object closely enough it will speak its nature.  She once said that her films are born of “sheer wonder and astonishment at how much can be seen in any place that you choose… if you really look.” 

Program notes adapted from LUX.

Three Portrait Sketches

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1951, 16mm, silent, b/w, 6 min.  

Made while Tait was still studying in Rome, the three portraits
of the title are: Claudia Donzelli, Fernando Birri, and Saulat Rahman.




Portrait of Ga

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1952, 16mm, color, 4 min.  

A portrait of Tait’s mother, filmed on Orkney.




Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1974, 16mm, color, 4 min.

“Touches on elemental images; air, water, (and snow), earth, fire (and smoke) all come into it.” – Tait




Hugh MacDiarmid A Portrait

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1964, 16mm, b/w, 8 min.  

An affectionate study of the poet, seen at home and in Edinburgh, is accompanied by his poems “You Know Who I Am”, “Somersault”, “Krang”, and some lines out of “The Kind of Poetry I Want”.


Colour Poems

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1974, 16mm, color, 20 min.  

“Nine linked short films. The titles within the film are: Numen of the Boughs, Old Boots, Speed Bonny Boat, Lapping Water, Incense, Aha, Brave New World, Things Found, Terra Firma.  A poem started in words is continued in images - Part of another poem as an addition to the picture - Some images formed by direct-on-film animation - Others ‘found’ by the camera.” – Tait


Where I Am Is Here

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1964, 16mm, b/w, 33 min.

A film poem in seven parts: Complex, Here and Now, Interlude, Crocodile, Come and See, Out of this World, The Bravest Boat. “Starting with a six-line script which just noted down a kind of event to occur, and recur, my aim was to construct a film with its own logic, its own correspondences within itself, and its own echoes and rhymes and comparisons, through close exploration of the everyday, the commonplace, in the city, Edinburgh, where I stayed at the time.” – Tait

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September 23 (Saturday) 9 pm

Happy Bees

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1955, 16mm, color, 17 min.

“Happy Bees was intended to be an evocation of what it was like to be a small child in Orkney; when, one (wrongly) remembers, it was sunny all the time, and everything is bursting with life. A film about what surrounds a child, so quite a lot of it is watched at the child level.”  – Tait


The Drift Back

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1957, 16mm, b/w, 10 min.

A documentary made for Okney Disctrict Council following the return of families to Orkney.




Place of Work

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1976, 16mm, color, 31 min.

“An exploration of the ambience of a house (Buttquoy House, Kirkwall, Orkney) in the 4-5 months before it had to be vacated...allows Margaret Tait to present not only aspects of the present but something of the nature and intensity of her experiencing and re-experiencing a place that was, for half a century, the family home, and, for the past seven years the centre of her film-making” (Alex Pirie).



Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1976, 16mm, b/w, 9 min.

The film was conceived as a coda to Place of Work, made in the same year.  “It covers the time of finally emptying a longtime family home, with its personal memories and connection with some of my own work.” – Tait   



Garden Pieces

Directed by Margaret Tait
UK 1998, 16mm, color, 11 min.

A set of three pieces: Round the Garden is literally a look right round a back garden, from a central point, repeated da capo.  Fliers is an animation piece, scratched-on.  With added dyes.  Grove studies and contemplates a group of trees planted maybe sixty years ago in a disused quarry.”  – Tait


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November 14 (Tuesday) 7:00 pm

Notes For Viewing: An Evening with Saul Levine

A legend of small gauge filmmaking, Saul Levine’s practice includes film, video, live performance, collage and installation.  Included in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1998 exhibition Big As Life: An American History of 8mm Films, Levine’s work is noted for its incorporation of splice marks, percussive editing, “unconstrained camera movements and spontaneous formal accidents” (Steve Anker).  This distinctive style, informed by a background in the blues, poetry, and radical politics, produces “exquisitely kinetic,” and often very beautiful cinematic experiences.  Levine’s influence extends beyond his film work: he has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art for over 25 years and programs the longstanding Mass Art Film Society.  Since 1964, he has made over 80 films and videos, five of which we present in this program.  "Saul Levine is the foremost dissenting filmmaker in America. With about 35 years of consistent production behind him, and no signs of fatigue, he can show us the shape of a life passionately and uncompromisingly devoted to filmmaking. His works are high-energy messages of friendship, records of sexual love and political activism, radiated by humor, prophetic anger, loneliness and even though rarely, representing repose.” - P. Adams Sitney

Restoration 16mm blows-ups of 8mm films by the National Film Preservation Foundation, Anthology Film Archives and BB Optics.

The Big Stick/An Old Reel

Directed by Saul Levine
US 1967-73, 16mm, silent, b/w, 17 min.

The Big Stick/An Old Reel “intercut[s] two Charlie Chaplin shorts centering on policemen with newsreel footage of police crowd control and street fighting. Levine questioned the social implications of media, not only by making temporal, aesthetic and contextual comparisons of his sources, but by presenting this discomforting ragout in a film gauge whose cost, availability and mobility make simply working it an intrinsically political gesture... Levine's adroit use of graphic action from the newsreels and close-ups from the shorts change the rapid cuts from awkward stumbles to almost profound superimpositions." - James Irwin, Artweek

New Left Note

Directed by Saul Levine
US 1968-82, 16mm, silent, b/w, 26 min.

As editor of New Left Notes, the newspaper of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Levine was at the center of multiple radical political movements.  For this film, he employs a rapid fire editing style to create a frenetic, kaleidoscopic portrait of the antiwar movement, women’s liberation and the Black Panthers.  “New Left Note is a study of radical politics in radical film form." - Marjorie Keller

Note to Pati

Directed by Saul Levine
US 1969, 16mm, silent, b/w, 8 min.

Part of a series of films celebrating daily life, Note to Pati “concerns images of winter, children playing in snow, trees, a bird flying through branches… the red hats of the children in the snow have the intense luminosity of a Renoir.” - David Curtis

Note to Colleen

Directed by Saul Levine
US 1974, 16mm, silent, b/w, 5 min.

A study of a day spent with friend and filmmaker Colleen Fitzgibbon.

Light Licks: By the Waters of Babylon In the Hour of the Angels

Directed by Saul Levine
US 2004, 16mm, silent, color, 24 min.
Restored print

Described by Levine as ecstatic flicker films inspired by jazz and mystic visionary practice, Light Licks is a series of films begun in 2000 and made frame by frame, often by flooding the camera with enough light to spill beyond the gate into frames left unexposed.  Begun in 2000, the series is ongoing—By the Waters of Babylon In the Hour of the Angels is the most recently completed Light Lick.  “I Saw The Light - Praise the Dark." - Saul Levine

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