Interior Landscapes: Films by Bill Brand
Bill Brand in person! Los Angeles premieres!
Master filmmaker Bill Brand comes to Los Angeles to present work by others during the Orphan Film Symposium West, which Filmforum co-presents on May 13 & 14, and he comes to us on the 15th with his own extraordinary films. All the films explore landscape and the body to express a broad variety of themes including industrial production, medicine, travel and family history. Quiet explorations of exterior spaces that unveil more than is apparent. Brand has been making films for four decades now, and was previously hosted at Filmforum back in the 1980s! Every film except Coalfields is a Los Angeles premiere!
SUSIE'S GHOST (2011, 7 min, 16mm or HD Quicktime)
in collaboration with Ruthie Marantz
Los Angeles Premiere!
When filming, I was mourning the loss of my older sister and my photography and the performance of collaborator Ruthie Marantz express a diffuse sense of loss. Is she looking for something or someone? Is she really there? Is she really gone? The film was shot in downtown Manhattan before the housing bubble burst. Construction mania had not yet obliterated the last traces of the manufacturing district I'd moved to 35 years earlier. That too has passed.
SUITE (1996-2003, 30 minutes, DVCAM or SD Quicktime)
Los Angeles Premiere!
This is a suite of five short videos that address personal and family history, in part, dealing with the implications of being the only sibling of five not to have inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease, an incurable disorder. In these works, the body is a site both of beauty and abjection.
MY FATHER’S LEG (1996-97, color, silent, DV video, 3 min.)
Description: In this self-portrait I imagine the disease and pain which caused my father's death twenty-five years earlier. Now that I am older than he at his death, I find, in images of my own body complex feelings of love, guilt, grief and regret.
INTERIOR OUTPOST (2003, color, sound, DV video, 9 min.)
Here, my body is explicitly the screen on which I project photographs from the family archive to articulate my position of difference within the family experience of illness and death.
DOUBLE NEPHRECTOMY (1998, color, sound, DV video, 4 min.)
This double portrait cinematically projects my sister’s wound onto my own body and psyche. Shortly after she received a kidney from a friend, I filmed the scar which resulted from removing both her damaged organs. This video projects that image of her two week old scar onto my own body, visualizing my complex feelings of knowing I have been spared the gene that caused her disease. In the video, I find, on my own body, the imagined scars we share.
MOXIBUTION (1999, color, sound, DV video, 8 1/2 min.)
Also a double portrait, this video is an inside-out variation on the previous one. Here, the video uses projected light to penetrate my own body in order to picture my sister in her trade as an acupuncturist. While she treats me through burning herbs (moxibution) and acupuncture needling, the video imagines the body as landscape. This way, the video attempts to understand the tradition that governs her craft while portraying the particular "hometown" personality she brings to her practice. The contradiction between her commitment to an ancient healing practice and her survival resulting from up-to-theminute high technology surgical and chemical medicine is an unspoken, yet implicit subtext to the piece.
GAZELLE (1998, color, sound, DV video, 3 1/2 min.)
Gazelle is portrait of my wife, the artist Katy Martin, in her studio. In her work, she paints directly on her own body, photographs the painting and later creates digital inkjet prints. Her painting in this video is inspired by fairy tales and zoo animals. The video is "keyed on black" to create a double image picturing the body in the painting and the painting in the body.
SWAN'S ISLAND (2005, 5 min, 16mm)
Co-directed by Katy Martin
Los Angeles Premiere!
This film explores gesture in painting, and how that relates to the hand held camera. Katy Martin paints on her own body, and Bill Brand captures the painted figure and its trace. In its choreography, SWAN'S ISLAND is a duet. The person filming and the person filmed are moving as one, and yet they are separate, each an island. Seeing and being seen are inextricably bound with emotions of love and loss, longing, and a sense of place.
SICÓMORO (2011, 5 min, HD Quicktime)
Text by Carolina Noblega
Los Angeles Premiere!
A meditation on travel and home revealed through ornate doors and other architectural details from Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, Uruguay and a letter to a friend.
COALFIELDS (1984, 39 min., 16mm)
Poetry by Kimiko Hahn, Music by Earl Howard
This film unites political and social content with a radically idiosyncratic avant-garde film language. Primarily a landscape, the film is shot in the mining hollows and river valleys of West Virginia. It centers on the story of Fred Carter, coal miner and black lung activist. Although the film grows out of a concrete situation, it is not simply a social documentary. Instead it is a personal and visual essay that addresses political and personal forces as landscape. The pictures are broken up by abstract shapes that, through optical printing, collage several simultaneous viewpoints into complex patterns of color, shape and motion. The images work with the highly charged poetry of Kimiko Hahn and the music of Earl Howard to develop themes of coal mining, industrial and artistic production, love, separation, struggle, sadness and hope.
On Bill Brand:
For over four decades Bill Brand has been an artist, educator, activist and film preservationist. His experimental and documentary films, videos and installations have exhibited extensively in the US and abroad in museums, microcinemas, and on television since the early 1970's. They have been featured at major film festivals including the Berlin Film Festival and New Directors/ New Films Festival and are written about in cinema history books and in articles by Erik Barnouw, David James, Janet Maslin, Paul Arthur, J. Hoberman, B. Ruby Rich, and Noel Carroll, among others. His famous 1980 public artwork, Masstransiscope, a mural in a NYC subway tunnel that is animated by the movement of passing trains, is in the permanent collection of the MTA Arts for Transit program. In 1973 he founded Chicago Filmmakers, the showcase and workshop and served on the Board of Directors of the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City. He is currently a trustee of the Flaherty Seminar and an advisor to the Orphan Film Symposium. Since 1976 he has operated BB Optics, an optical printing service specializing in archival preservation of small gauge films and films by artists. In 2006 he was named an Anthology Film Archives film preservation honoree and given a month long retrospective to celebrate BB Optics' 30th anniversary. He is currently Professor of Film and Photography at Hampshire College and since 2005 has also taught film preservation in the graduate Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program at New York University.
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; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.
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