Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 7:30pm
Curated by Saul Levine and Rebecca Meyers
An excavation. A recent Boston transplant and a veteran city dweller who has been making and programming films in Beantown for over forty years provide a glimpse into the rich, varied, and little told histories of experimental cinema in Boston, the same town that "has come to be recognized as the fountainhead of American documentary filmmaking" (Scott MacDonald).
Marked by two distinct periods of concentrated activity, these histories have been equally impacted by the transient nature of a region organized around academic institutions—to and from which students, teachers, and artists come and go—and the community and organizations forged by longtime residents who claim Boston as their home.
It's the 1960s. Saul Levine, a student at Boston University, is making films alongside classmates Tom Chomont and Andy Meyer. Chomont and Bruce Conner are both making and programming films, organizing avant-garde screenings around the city. Fred Camper and friends begin the MIT Film Society in 1965. A lot of stuff is in the air.
A decade later. Boston is the locus of small gauge activity. Toni Treadway and Bob Brodsky begin working together to advocate for and preserve the Super-8 format and Steve Anker curates films for the Boston Film and Video Foundation's cinematheque. The Massachusetts College of Art Film Society begins the regular programming that continues today. In the mid 70s and into the 80s there is a flurry of activity—Anne Robertson, Joe Gibbons, Dan Barnett, and Mark Lapore are actively making films; Mark McElhatten programs at BFVF (and then Cambridge's Brattle theater), around the time that Luther Price, Nina Fonoroff, Pelle Lowe, and many others—most of them passing through Mass Art—begin their careers.
The films selected for this program share more than the geographic location in which they were produced. Perhaps in some way connected to Fonoroff's observation that Boston practitioners work[ed] "at the margins of the art world," these films have been described as edgy, gritty, raw, messy, difficult. Their intensity derives from bold formal concerns, from acute representations of psychological states and inner landscapes—this is a deeply personal, expressive cinema. Stormy.
An Early Clue to the New Direction, Andrew Meyer, 16mm, 1966, 28 mins
Oblivion, Tom Chomont, 16mm, 1969, 4 mins
Untitled, Marjorie Keller, 8mm, 1971, 8 mins
Tenent, Dan Barnett, 16mm, 1977, 5 mins
Big Story, Nina Fonoroff, 16mm, 1984, 10 mins
Apologies, Anne Robertson, S8mm, 1990, 17 mins
Earthly Possessions, Pelle Lowe, S8mm, 1992, 23 mins
Saul Levine adopted the medium of 8mm film in the 1960s and began using the camera to record his daily life, out of which he developed his art. Over the years, he has created a body of work that is, first and foremost, a collection of "cine-poems." Saul's films have screened throughout the United States and Europe. He has been featured in solo shows at the New York Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Festival. In addition, he is also influential as a teacher at MassArt and programmer at MassArt Film Society (Boston). He holds an MFA from the Chicago Art Institute, where he studied with Stan Brakhage. Levine is widely considered the master of small gauge (8mm) filmmaking in America, and he also works with 16mm film, video, sound, and performance art.
Rebecca Meyers is a filmmaker and programmer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she works at the Harvard Film Archive. Her films have screened internationally at festivals and in curated exhibitions such as Media City, Images, the London International Film Festival, "Bringing to Light" at the San Francisco Cinematheque, and "White Shadows: Stories and Polar Visions" at the Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea of Trento, Italy. Rebecca holds an MFA from the University of Iowa in Film/Video Production. During her time in the Midwest she worked on the gone but not forgotten THAW Festival of Film, Video, and Digital Media in Iowa City, Iowa and co-curated Chicago's Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival.
Tickets - $7, available at door.