Los Angeles Filmforum presents Peter Mays: Tantras and Sutras

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
Death of the Gorilla, 1965 16mm Film © Peter Mays
Yoga Sutras, 2010 Video © Peter Mays
Los Angeles Filmforum presents Peter Mays: Tantras and Sutras
Curated by: Adam Hyman

6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
October 17th, 2010 7:30 PM - 9:45 PM

experimental film video-art
$10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members


Sunday, October 17, 7:30 pm

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Peter Mays: Tantras and Sutras

At the Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian

6712 Hollywood Blvd. (at Las Palmas)

Admission for Filmforum screenings: $10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members

Advance ticket purchase available through Brown Paper Tickets at

On November 12-14, Filmforum and USC Visions & Voices will present the symposium Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles 1945-1980 at USC.  In the weeks leading up to it, Filmforum will host evenings with long-time Los Angeles-based filmmakers in evenings of old and new works.  Peter Mays has been actively making films and paintings in Los Angeles since the 1960s, a key person of the experimental film scene.  We’re delighted to host him with some of his early works and several new ones.

Peter Mays grew up in Los Angeles and attended UCLA where he majored in painting and minored in mathematics.  He made his first experimental film while in graduate school, for which he constructed a printer and developing tank.  Pat O’Neill and Bob Abel were on a similar course in the design division.
Mays made several experimental shorts in 16mm in the middle 60’s.  This was a very exciting period for the avant-garde film, as well as for the art cinema in Europe.   Inspired by the emerging counter-culture, Mays shot a 16mm feature film in 1967.  This movie made extensive use of color gels for lighting, inspire by Warhol's Chelsea Girls; it was structured as a mass dream.  In 1968 Mays was a founding member of the Single Wing Turquoise Bird light show, which performed with 4 to 7 members until 1973.
In 1975 Mays premiered his feature, Sister Midnight, at the Fox Venice Theater, but it did not play well.   
Mays reinvented himself in the early 80s.  He wrote a program for the Atari microcomputer to portray large chapters of history through computer animation of geography, spending eight years on a prototype on World War One.  Today he has four “experimental” educational films with Discovery Education.  During this time (the structuralist period), he made several long avant-garde films that gave greater weight to the sound track and "meaning."  Perhaps the most important is Astral Man, an investigation into the past, shot in the 60s but completed in 2000.
In the 21st century Mays returned to experimental shorts and produced four digital shorts using the extensive effects available in Premiere and After Effects, and based on the artifacts of lost civilizations, including those of the Vikings, Egypt, and the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Death of the Gorilla (1965, 16 min., 16mm film or SD)
A sight/sound combine of exotic imagery shot semi-randomly in superimposition off a TV and then cut to make a fast moving but extremely ambiguous "story.”

The Star Curtain Tantra (1966/69, 18 min., 16mm film or SD)
A trance film originally released in 1966 as THE STAR CURTAIN, about the settling and relaxation of the senses after a climax. "Sentences" of cosmic imagery were added in 1969 to form the vision glimpsed in the trance.

Light Show (1970, 4 min., SD)
The SINGLE WING TURQUOISE BIRD was active in Los Angeles from 1968-73. Initially the house light show for rock concerts at the Shrine, we developed it further in various locations, backed by Sam Francis.  In 2005 the film was in the Visual Music exhibitions at MOCA  and the Hirshhorn.

Arrival of the Purple Legions (2003, 8 min., video)
This short story, illustrated with Viking artifacts, is a metaphor, based on a dream, about death.   It is dedicated to Jon Greene.     

Dark Island (2009, 24 min., video)
This film, three years in the making, is an exploration of an imaginary dark island of the mind.  It might be about religious activity in the jungle, especially dancing.  Featuring King Kong, the Buddha, Siva and Shakti, and a tree spirit.  

Yoga-Sutras (2010, 16 min., video)
Using material originally intended for a light show, this three part film interweaves Tibetan Buddhist yantras and western magic to invoke a faustian new age.

For the screenings at the Egyptian Theater:

Parking is now easiest at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Bring your ticket for validation. Parking is $2 for 4 hours with validation. Enter that complex on Highland or Hollywood. The theater is 1.5 blocks east.

This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2010 is our 34th year.

Memberships available, $60 single or $95 dual

Contact us at