Close Up

18 February 2017: George Kuchar: Weather Diaries + Greetings from Boulder


We're thrilled to present a rare screening of the visual diaries of the renowned American independent filmmaker George Kuchar, bringing together his series of films known as the Weather Diaries for the first time in the UK. Greetings from Boulder, an earlier tape from one of Kuchar’s reflective vacations in Colorado, will also be screened alongside the Diaries. The programme will be introduced via Skype by Professor Scott Macdonald, one of the leading academics in the field of experimental film.

The Weather Diaries and Greetings from Boulder bring George to motels across Oklahoma and Colorado as he hunts thunderstorms. Without a car and surrounded by wild weather, the movement of a storm chaser eludes George as he becomes, instead, a "storm squatter." With his camera, George hunkers down in fields, cars, and motel rooms, as he looks for glimpses of the storms whilst reflecting on America.

"I developed a fascination with thunderstorms and the furious whirlwinds they sometimes unleashed on the landscape. Instead of just reading accounts of these monstrous, whirling dervishes, and the lives of those caught in the vicinity of the vortex, I decided to take an airplane and go to where they huffed and puffed. So I wound up in Oklahoma City during springtime. I'd stay at the YMCA for three or four weeks and try to absorb, on all levels, the mysterious elements that now obsessed me. I was young and time stretched ahead of me in a seemingly endless event horizon. Perhaps I could fill my head with images and sound that previously had only come from reading books on this subject. This would be the real thing." – George Kuchar

Greetings from Boulder
George Kuchar
1986 | 50 min | Colour | Digital

"One of the earlier video diaries where George vacations in Colorado, reflects on scenery and animal life and visits people." – Video Data Bank

Weather Diary 1
George Kuchar
1986 | 81 min | Colour | Digital

"The tape ultimately addresses all the big questions – death, origin and family, religion – as well as the small discomforts of the body, only to reverse their order of importance." – Margaret Morse
"This (just about) feature length documentary attempts to capture the feel of the Oklahoma experience as I lived it for about three or four weeks in May at a motel/trailer park. It was entirely edited in camera and shot in a start to finish manner with the time being manipulated and expanded upon by in-camera inserts. You get sneak peaks of the occupants of the facility and glimpses of their lives interspersed with threats of turbulent weather both above our heads and squeezed into a TV tube. There are also four legged mammals hanging around and some bugs here and there. I do my best to connect with them all, socially." – George Kuchar

Weather Diary 2
George Kuchar
1987 | 70 min | Colour | Digital

"In a motel in El Reno, Oklahoma, George observes the weather and copes with leaking air conditioning, food shopping, loneliness, television, and eating, among other things." – Video Data Bank.

Weather Diary 3
George Kuchar
1988 | 25 min | Colour | Digital

"Shot in 8mm video and edited entirely in the camera, this picture deals with meteorological and sexual desire on the Plains. It's the only movie in the series where I interact with storm chasers. I'm a storm squatter as I never learned how to drive a car. The young meteorology student who pays me a visit was someone I met in Wisconsin at a screening of my films/videos a few years before. This was his first visit to Oklahoma to chase tornadoes, but the storm season proved to be a dry one. His presence lubricated me on a more personal level, and our friendship helped to sweeten the sourness that happens when nature doesn't put out." – George Kuchar

Weather Diary 4
George Kuchar
1988 | 48 min | Colour | Digital

"Attempting to apologize for the lack of good weather in Weather Diary 3, George arrives in Milwaukee only to find the drought back in full swing. Since there’s not enough good weather, the tape becomes a social diary against the backdrop of the Motivation Of The Carcasoids project." – Video Data Bank.

Weather Diary 5
George Kuchar
1989 | 38 min | Colour | Digital

"A more socially-active addition to the Weather Diary series, we meet the locals and participate in the rituals of business and schooling and high hopes on the flatlands." – Video Data Bank.

Weather Diary 6
George Kuchar
1990 | 29 min | Colour | Digital

“Scenes from a vacation. Music comes on loud and clear and washes over a series of visual impressions of the land and the sky and faulty plumbing that submerges porcelain bottoms in a sea of unmentionable froth.” – Video Data Bank.

Many thanks to the Centre for Public Engagement of Queen Mary University, the Department of Media of Manchester Metropolitan University, HOME Manchester, the University of Manchester’s Drama Department, Video Data Bank, and the Student Community Engagement Board of the University of Manchester, for making this programme possible.