Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 8pm
Genre Trouble

Curated by Su Friedrich

I would ask that you not take this too seriously. This is above all a show of diverse works that I like for various reasons, some quite old and some relatively new, that you may or may not have seen.

I’m not trying to establish any new genres, defend any existing ones, or compete with anyone else’s notions of which genres prevail within the avant-garde. This program isn’t based on any published article or curated program that has tried to set up a genre framework through which one might view avant-garde work.

I just think that we can’t help but work with some eye to what’s been done before. We are a diverse group of makers and, as a result, one person’s work speaks to the lineage of films that use the single shot while another person’s work takes up the banner of the agit-prop documentary, etc. So in the spirit of that ongoing dialogue between works and workers, I wanted to present a group of films that each seemed to emerge from, or talk to, other works of its “genre.”

Not that there aren’t hundreds of exceptions to this, which is why the whole enterprise isn’t that serious. Many people are inspired by many kinds of work, so their own work is an amalgam of genres, and that’s all to the good. The same thing could be said about Hollywood studio films—many fit neatly within one genre while many others bridge a few, or at least pay passing lip service to one while operating somewhat solidly within another.

When it comes down to it, what interests me always is the way that form and content intersect. With Hollywood genres, the emphasis tends to be on content (although the style/form of each is also part of the discussion). But since there’s so much more room to be formally inventive within avant-garde film practice, the discussion about work tends to treat the two aspects more as equal partners (which sometimes quarrel, or in which one is ascendant), so I was also looking at these films in that respect—how does the particular genre make for something that either foregrounds content or form, or do the two cohabit peacefully and successfully? In other words, if the genre is led by a formal issue (length of the shots, let’s say), how does that affect or determine the content? Or if it’s led by content (a documentary) how does that allow for formal innovation? And in the end, how much does the work owe to its predecessors and how much does it take the past and run with it?

Enough said.

- SF

The program will include work by Peggy Ahwesh, Diane Bonder, David Ellsworth, Sonali Gulati, Kyle Kibbe, Mara Mattuschka, J.J. Murphy, Ursula Puerrer, Alex Rivera, Kelly Sears, John Smith, and Wojciech Wiszniewski.

Friedrich began filmmaking in 1978 and has produced and directed eighteen 16mm films and videos, including From the Ground Up (2007), Seeing Red (2005), The Head of a Pin (2004), The Odds of Recovery (2002), Hide and Seek (1996), Rules of the Road (1993), First Comes Love (1991), Sink or Swim (1990), Damned If You Don't (1987), The Ties That Bind (1984), and Gently Down the Stream (1981). Her films have won many awards, including the Grand Prix at the Melbourne Film Festival and Outstanding Documentary at Outfest. Friedrich has received fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations as well as numerous grants from the Jerome Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA and ITVS, and in 1995 she received the Cal Arts/Alpert Award. Retrospectives of her work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Stadtkino in Vienna, the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver and the National Film Theater in London, among others. Friedrich is the writer, cinematographer, director and editor of all her films, with the exception of Hide and Seek, which was co-written by Cathy Quinlan and shot by Jim Denault. Her work is screened and distributed widely throughout the US, Canada and Europe. She teaches film and video production at Princeton University. Her DVD collection is distributed by Outcast Films.

Tickets - $6, available at door.