Close Up

30 April 2011: '16': 16 Films | 16 Filmmakers | 16mm


Following the recent announcement that Soho Film Lab is to discontinue the printing of 16mm films, Close-Up is organising a very special evening of films, talks and interventions by filmmakers to provide an opportunity for filmmakers and non-filmmakers alike to join us and discuss the future of 16mm. The 4-hour programme will be a lively compendium of diversity that will illustrate the richness of the medium, followed by music and drinks till late…

Anémic Cinéma
Marcel Duchamp
1925 | 8 min | B/W | 16mm

"This characteristically dada film by Marcel Duchamp consists of a series of visual and verbal puns with nonsense phrases inscribed around rotating spiral patterns, creating an almost hypnotic effect." – Light Cone

Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengué.
L’enfant qui Tète est un souffleur de chair chaude et n’aime pas le choux – fleur de serre chaude.
Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?
On demande des moustiques domestiques (demi-stocks) pour la cure d’azote sur la côte d’Azur.
Inceste ou passion de famille, à coups trop tirés.
Esquissons les ecchymoses des esquimaux aux mots exquis.
Avez-vous déjà mis la moelle de l’aimée dans la poêle de l’aimée?
Parmi nos articles de quincaillerie paresseuse, nous recommanderons le robinet qui s’arrête de couler quand on ne l’écoute pas.
L’aspirant habite Javel et moi j’avais l’habite en spirale.

Rose Hobart
Joseph Cornell
1939 | 18 min | Tinted B/W | 16mm

"Joseph Cornell’s filmic masterpiece is a re-edited collage of East Borneo (1931) which starred Rose Hobart. The montage and introduction of a few fragments from a scientific documentary reverses the system of cause and effect, isolates Rose Hobart’s expressions and gestures and converts the conventional Hollywood jungle drama into a surrealistic encounter of a beautiful, but nervous heroine with a quixotic and malevolent natural environment. The film is projected at silent speed, which prolongs and emphasizes the gestures, and accompanied by a musical tape track supplied by the artist. The film was originally projected through a deep blue glass which gave the effect of a tint. When Anthology Film Archives proposed making a colour master Cornell said he preferred a purple tint." – Anthology Film Archives

Hollis Frampton
1971 | 36 min | B/W | 16mm

"As its name suggests, (nostalgia) is autobiographical. Its maker Hollis Frampton is recognized as one of the leading figures of the New American Cinema, a contemporary of Michael Snow, Paul Sharits and George Landow. This film made in 1971 and itself part of a larger work called Hapax Legomena relates to a period between 1958 and 1966 – before Frampton was known as a filmmaker and was working mainly in still photography. Twelve photographs are presented as 'documents' of that period. A number are of friends in the New York art world, others are images that were of aesthetic interest. The tone throughout is dry and ironic. Each photograph is presented to the camera and a voice, speaking in the first person, describes the content of the image, the personal circumstances that surround it and the personal memories it evokes. After a minute or so after the commentary has ceased, each photograph gradually curls up and burns, transformed into black ash by the hotplate on which each in turn is placed. The structure of the film is complicated by the fact that the commentary for each image is out of sync'; each commentary fits the photograph to follow not the one before our eyes. The spectator himself is thus caught up in the process of memory and prediction that is the subject of the film" – LUX

Girl Chewing Gum
John Smith
1976 | 12 min | B/W | 16mm

"In The Girl Chewing Gum an authoritative voice-over pre-empts the events occurring in the image, seeming to order not only the people. Cars and moving objects within the screen but also the actual camera movements operated on the street in view. In relinquishing the more subtle use of voice in television documentary, the film draws attention to the control and directional function of that practice: imposing, judging, and creating an imaginary scene from a visual trace. This 'Big Brother' is not only is not only looking at you but ordering you about as the viewers identification shifts from the people in the street to camera eye overlooking the scene. The resultant voyeurism takes on an uncanny aspect as the blandness of the scene (shot in black and white on a grey day in Hackney) contrasts with the near 'magical' control identified with the voice. The most surprising effect is the ease with which representation and description turn into phantasm through the determining power of language." – Michael Maziere, John Smiths‘s Flms; Reading the Visible

Et le Cochon Fut Né
Julius Ziz
2000 | 25 min | Colour | 16mm

"Created from found film fragments from the basement of The Anthology Film Archives, New York. Sleep, the oneric and the twentieth century are the main paradigms of this work. The semiotic combinations and editing in Et le Cochon Fut Né approaches found footage in a much more surrealist way, evoking a psychological mood, less satirical or within the realms of an agitational propaganda commonly associated with found footage. Et le Cochon Fut Né implies that even the dream like interiority of this cine-poem cannot be free from a problematic and neurotic external world. It could be said that Et le Cochon Fut Né is an insomniac’s film, cloaked in a kind of Fin de siècle anxiety. This film has screened at major international film festivals to critical acclaim and has occasionally been viewed in comparison to Jean-Luc Godard's de l’Origine du XXI Siècle." – Louis Benassi

Zefiro Torna
Jonas Mekas
1992 | 34 min | Colour | 16mm

"Images from the life of George Maciunas. Includes footage I took of George in 1952, at his parents' house, with his father and mother and sister Nijole. Bits of Fluxus events and performances, and picnics with friends (Almus, Andy Warhol, John Lenon, Yoko Ono, etc.); George's wedding and footage I took of him in Boston Hospital three days before he died." – Jonas Mekas

LFMC Demolition
Anna Thew
2004 | 8 min | Colour | 16mm

Anna Thew’s film documents the end of an era and the production centre where some of the most important British experimental films were made. As we watch the systematic demolition of the London Film Makers Co-op, the filmmaker conjures up some cinematic moments manifest as beautiful ghosts.

Ciné-Tracts (1 - 5 - 12 - 15 - 24 - 26)
Jean-Luc Godard & Chris Marker
1968 | 23 min | B/W | 16mm

"Made by politically committed filmmakers to serve as agitational propaganda for the events of May 1968, these films rely exclusively on stills rather than documentary footage, yet the sense of contrast and movement is very strong and the films very effectively make their point; rather than the fact of the May Revolution. And although made anonymously, one can detect the hands of Godard, Marker et al." – LUX

In the Street
Helen Levitt
1948 | 16 min | B/W | 16mm

Generally considered as an extension of Levitt’s photography, In the Street was co-directed by Janice Loeb, and James Agee. They used small, hidden 16 mm film cameras to record street life in the mid 1940s in the Spanish Harlem, New York City. Levitt edited the film and, subsequent to its first release, added a piano soundtrack composed and performed by Arthur Kleiner.

Valentin de las Sierras
Bruce Baillie
1967 | 10 min | Colour | 16mm

"Skin, eyes, knees, horses, hair, sun, earth. Old song of a Mexican revolutionary hero, Valentin, sung by blind Jose Santollo Nasido en Santa Crus de la Solidad." – Bruce Baillie

Margaret Tait
1976 | 9 min | B/W | 16mm

"A coda to Place of Work, is more personalised, more allusive and less naturalistic. The house is being vacated, it is now clear. Children's voices repeating banded-down rhymes and rigmarole's suggest past time as well as now, and there are other reverberations into past and future coming from the handling of objects, revealing of marks of walls, mirroring of myself in a room and shadows in rooms." – Margaret Tait

Larry Gottheim
1971 | 8 min | B/W | 16mm

"Perfect works have a way of appearing unobtrusive or simple, the complexities seeming to be so correct that they flow – mesmerize one through their form – a form that bespeaks of harmony between many aesthetic concerns. … Larry Gottheim's Doorway is such a film. His concern for working with edges, isolating details, the prominence of the frame as a shape and revealer of edges, love of photographic texture, are all dealt with lucidly in this film. … One is drawn into these beautiful images through Gottheim's poetic feel for photographic qualities – i.e., light, movement, texture – his ability to transform a landscape through his rigorous use of the frame to isolate in order to call attention to a heretofore hidden beauty revealed through a highly selective eye." – Barry Gerson, Film Culture

Fire of Waters
Stan Brakhage
1965 | 6 min | Colour | 16mm

Fire of Waters was inspired by a letter from Robert Kelly, in which the poet wrote: "The truth of the matter is this that: man lives in a fire of waters and will eternally in the first taste." The film was shot in a lightning storm, and the ambiguous soundtrack consists of slowed down bird calls, wind, and speeded up audio of Jane Brakhage giving birth to daughter Myrenna (documented in Brakhage's notorious Window Water Baby Moving).

John Latham
1971 | 25 min | Colour | 16mm

"A journey from outer space to the centre of the world, in which consciousness itself is revealed as a form sedimented history. With distant views of the approaching Earth punctuated by black and silence, light years are compressed into a cosmic imaginary." – LUX

At the Academy
Guy Sherwin
1974 | 5 min | B/W | 16mm

"Makes use of found footage hand printed on a simple home-made contact printer, and processed in the kitchen sink. At the Academy uses displacements of a positive and negative sandwich of the same loop. Since the printer light spills over the optical sound track area, the picture and sound undergo identical transformations. At the Academy was sold twice to the National Library of Australia. The second sale became necessary after the first print was mistaken for a roll of Academy Leader." – Guy Sherwin