From January 12–February 24, the Walker Art Center presents the series
Expanding the Frame
, a six-week showcase of established and emerging directors who are breaking the boundaries of film and video. Highlights of this year’s series include the area premiere of St. Paul native Esther B. Robinson’s A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory (January 18, 7:30 pm; January 19, 2 and 7:30 pm; January 20, 2 pm), which won a Teddy Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival; Polish artist Piotr Uklański’s Summer Love (January 12 and 26, 7:30 pm; January 13 and 27, 2 pm), a take on the classic western which also becomes an allegory of his country’s history during the demise of Communism; Jennifer Fox’s six-part Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman (January 31–February 2), a sexy, humorous, and personal yet universal investigation of modern womanhood; and four films by German artist Ulrike Ottinger (February 22–24), presented in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Film Studies. Uklanski, Robinson, Fox, and Ottinger will be present to introduce their films.
Expanding the Frame, which look in depth at into the work of several filmmakers, opens with Uklański’s Summer Love, touted as the first Polish western. He calls it “a copy of a copy,” referring to the European spaghetti Western as much as to the original American archetype and addressing issues of cultural authenticity by exploiting cinema’s most codified genre.
Beyond the buzz of Uklański’s film, this second edition of Expanding the Frame reaches back as far as the mid-1960s, but most of the work is recent. Some films have a thematic overlap to the Walker exhibitions Brave New Worlds, which spotlights socially and politically focused art from around the world, and Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes (opening February 16), which reflects on art and architecture from and about American suburbia. Some filmmakers with previous connections to the Walker were selected to help audiences reconnect with their work. “This is probably the program that most adheres to the Walker’s mission,” says film/video curator Sheryl Mousley. “It’s global, it’s about experimentation, and it’s about working with artists over their careers.”
Jennifer Fox is emblematic of Expanding the Frame’s mission—exposing experimental, boundary-breaking filmmakers. She earned acclaim and credibility for her breakout debut, the 1987 documentary Beirut, the Last Home Movie. The Walker screened her An American Love Story eight years ago. She rejects the sound-bite approach to documentaries, and instead spends years investing in the lives of her subjects. When she set out to document her ideas of sexuality, attempts at motherhood, and transition into middle age, she didn’t initially foresee a journey taking her to 17 countries and unfolding, ultimately, as six hours of film. While visiting and interviewing women about their own sense of womanhood, she turned the narrative form on its head with a filmmaking technique called “passing the camera”—she handed it to her interviewees and had them point the lens back at her.
Expanding the Frame also goes deep into the thematic works of European filmmakers Cristian Nemescu, Cristian Mungiu, Heinz Emigholz, and Ulrike Ottinger. Nemescu and Mungiu, with one short and two features in the series, embody the artistic liberation of the post-Ceauşescu generation in Romania. Emigholz’s films, documenting design and architecture, complement the Walker’s Worlds Away exhibition. The four Ottinger films in the series, presented in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Film Studies, trace the filmmaker’s globe-trotting fiction and documentary work.
Another series highlight is A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory. The filmmaker, Esther B. Robinson, documents the complicated personal and professional relationship between Andy Warhol and her uncle, Williams, and explores the possibility that their entanglement played into Williams’ unsolved disappearance.
Unless otherwise noted, all films are screened in the Cinema and are $8 ($6 Walker members). Tickets to free films available one hour prior to each screening at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk.
Receive five tickets for the price of three: $24 ($18 Walker members). (Offer does not include screenings of Danny Williams’ Factory Films on January 20.)
EXPANDING THE FRAME
January 12–February 24
A Film by Piotr Uklański
Saturday, January 12 and 26, 7:30 pm
Sunday, January 13 and 27, 2 pm
Introduced by the director on January 12 and 13
Calling his debut feature film “neither homage nor a parody,” Polish artist Piotr Uklański re-creates all the character and storyline trappings of the classic American western while spinning an allegory of his country’s history during the demise of Communism. Breaking up the all-Polish cast is a cameo by Val Kilmer. The artist’s related artworks were part of the Walker’s recent exhibition Paper Trail: A Decade of Acquisitions. 2006, 35mm, 93 minutes. Free movie poster with film ticket.
Premieres: First Look
January 18–20: Friday and Saturday, 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 2 pm
A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory
Introduced by director Esther B. Robinson
“Every family history has its missing. People whose lives diverge from the accepted narrative are often excised, but their presence hovers,” writes filmmaker and St. Paul native Esther B. Robinson. Her uncle, Danny Williams, had a period of intense brilliance in the mid-1960s, only to be stifled by drugs, anxiety, jealously, and heartbreak. An editor for the documentary team Albert and David Maysles, Williams extended his reach in the film world as part of Andy Warhol’s Factory—he made more than 20 films and designed light shows for the Velvet Underground—and also became Warhol’s live-in lover. In July 1966, while staying with his family in Massachusetts, he took a drive to the beach and was never seen again. In this documentary, Robinson explores Williams’ career, his connection to Warhol, and ways that his life in the ultra-competitive Factory scene might have played in his still-unsolved disappearance. Winner of the Teddy Award, Best Documentary Film at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival, and the New York Loves Film Award at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. 2007, video, 75 minutes.
Premieres: First Look is made possible by generous support from Elizabeth Redleaf.
Live Music + Film
Sunday, January 20, 7 pm
Danny Williams’ Factory Films
Directed by Danny Williams
$12 ($10 Walker members; $5 for students with ID)
Those tantalized by glimpses of Esther Robinson’s A Walk into the Sea can see the films in their entirety, with live musical accompaniment by T. Griffin and Catherine McRae, otherwise known as the Quavers. The program includes Factory Films with Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick; Harold Stevenson Pt. 1 and Pt. 2; and The Velvet Underground and The Velvet Underground Eat Lunch, which was shot by Williams in 1965 but not processed until early 2007. 1964–1965, 16mm transferred to video, 70 minutes. Copresented by the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC).
Films by Cristian Mungiu
Wednesday, January 30, 7:30 pm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamani si zile)
The responsibilities of friendship are put to the test in this “heroically observed story” (Washington Post) revolving around one Romanian woman’s planned abortion at a time when the procedure was illegal in that country. A surprise winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this is Romania’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 2008 Academy Awards. Along with California Dreamin’, the film illustrates the emergence of Romanian filmmakers commenting on the social and political struggles of their homeland. 2007, 35mm, in Romanian with English subtitles, 113 minutes.
Films by Jennifer Fox
Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman
Thursday, January 31, 7 pm, Chapters 1–3 FREE
Friday, February 1, 7 pm, Chapters 4–6
Saturday, February 2, 7 pm, Chapters 1–3
Sunday, February 3, 12 noon, Chapters 1–3; 4 pm, Chapters 4–6
Ticket price for any two programs: $12 ($10)
Chapter 1: No Fear of Flying: Living the Free Life
Chapter 2: Test Piloting: TICK TOCK The Biological Clock . . . The Single Woman
Chapter 3: Experiencing Turbulence: The Price of Sexual Freedom
Chapter 4: Crash and Burn: The Things All Women Share
Chapter 5: Walking Away from the Wreck: The Secret of Male Power . . .
Chapter 6: Breaking the Sound Barrier: Female Life Backwards: New Technology for the “New Woman”
Jennifer Fox delivers a sexy, humorous, and personal yet universal investigation of modern womanhood. Flying follows Fox’s travels to more than a dozen countries to, as she puts it, “understand how women define their lives when there is no map.” While the story evolves over six hours, this compelling series’ distinct parts can be viewed individually or as a whole, in sequence or not. “Part delectable soap opera, sociopolitical inquiry, and narrative experiments, Flying sweeps us up into an addictive international adventure” (Sundance Film Festival). 2007, video, 60 minutes each chapter (total running time 360 minutes).
Films by Cristian Nemescu
Thursday, February 7, 7:30 pm FRE
Marinela from P7
In this early short, Cristian Nemescu takes us to the world of magical realism as a precocious juvenile delinquent befriends an electrically charged prostitute in Marinela from P7 (2006, 35mm, color, in Romanian with English subtitles, 40 minutes).
Friday, February 8, 7:30 pm
California Dreamin’ (Endless)
You can’t help but draw connections to present-day American foreign policy through the tale unfolding in California Dreamin’, winner of Un Certain Regard at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and “one of the best films about how America is perceived abroad ever made” (Washington Post). In this true story from the 1990s, a Romanian bureaucrat delays an American NATO train on its way to Kosovo as a way to avenge the arrogance and neglect he feels the United States displayed toward Romanians after World War II. The film was in postproduction in August 2006 when the director, Cristian Nemescu, and his sound editor were killed in a car accident. 2007, 35mm, in Romanian and English with English subtitles, 155 minutes.
Purchase a ticket to this film and register for a free prescreening tour of the Brave New Worlds exhibition focusing on the work of the Romanian artists at 6:30 pm. Limited to 25.
Films by Heinz Emigholz
Thursday, February 14, 7:30 pm FREE
Photography and Beyond I (Photographie and Jenseits I)
Introduced by Rembert Hueser, Associate Professor of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, University of Minnesota
Saturday, February 16, 7:30 pm
Sunday, February 17, 2 pm
Schindler’s Houses: Photography and Beyond Part 12 (Schindler’s Hauser: Photographie und Jenseits Teil 12)
Heinz Emigholz launched his 1984 Photography and Beyond project with the ambitious goal of documenting key accomplishments across the broad fields of design (writings, drawings, photography, architecture, and sculpture) in 25 separate films. Here, the German artist illuminates the varied projects of Louis H. Sullivan, including the National Farmer’s Bank in Owatonna, Minnesota, and the bridges of Robert Maillart (1993–2000, five short films, 110 minutes). Emigholz continues his exacting approach in Schindler’s Houses. In and around Los Angeles, the houses of Austro-American architect Rudolf M. Schindler are as celebrated as those of Frank Lloyd Wright, with whom Schindler once worked. In this 12th part of his series, Emigholz focuses on the unity of Schindler’s homes and explores the compromising effects on his work by modern remodeling and urban planning run amok (2007, 35mm, 99 minutes).
Films by Ulrike Ottinger
Introduced by the director
Friday, February 22, 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 23, 1 pm
Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia
Saturday, February 23, 7:30 pm
Ticket of No Return (Bildnis Einer Trinkerin/Allez Jamais Retour)
Sunday, February 24, 2 pm
12 Chairs (Zwölf Stühle)
German artist Ulrike Ottinger’s visions play out on stages, exhibition walls, and texts, but nowhere is she more prolific than on the screen, where she blends science fiction, adventure, documentary, and fantasy into complex, nonlinear narratives. Presented by the Walker in 1991, Ottinger returns to introduce all four of films in the series. This program is presented in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Studies Film Collaborative. All films $8 ($6 Walker members and U of M students with valid ID).
The first and newest of these is Prater, Ottinger’s only nonfiction work shown here, which documents a social and cultural history of the world’s oldest amusement park in Vienna, and in the process delivers an amusement ride through time and space. (2007, 35mm, in German with English subtitles, 104 minutes.) Two divergent worlds collide in the director’s most ambitious production, Johanna d’Arc Mongolia, a thrilling epic and a trilingual tale about the abduction of a group of women by a tribe of female Mongolian warriors. The primary focus is cultural interaction and conflict, not only between Mongolian natives and European and American natives but between characters with different personalities. The film, shot entirely in inner Mongolia, plays on conventional fantasies and images about this remote land. (1989, 35mm, in German, Mongolian, and English with English subtitles, 165 minutes.)
Ottinger crafted Ticket of No Return as a potent study of urban life, wedging a narcissistic retreat into a dark tour of Berlin. A nameless heroine is determined to drink herself to death, drowning herself not only in booze but in flamboyant, preposterous costumes. The Chicago Reader calls this film “a continuous string of delights, worth anybody’s time.” Watch for a cameo by Berlin-based punk-legend Nina Hagen. (1979, 35mm, in German with English subtitles, 108 minutes.) Twelve Chairs, an adaptation of Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov’s early Soviet-era novel, spins a tale of people scouring the Ukraine for 12 rare and valuable chairs. Inspired by Ottinger’s own travels throughout Eastern Europe and Russia, the film mixes costumed actors with nonprofessionals in a modern landscape. An acclaimed still photographer, Ottinger does her own cinematography here, with her off-center framing and long-held, tableau shots creating a counterbalance to a film about people always on the move. (2004, 35mm, in German and Russian with English subtitles, 198 minutes.)
Stranger Comes to Town
Directed by Jacqueline Goss
January 2–February 29
Screens every half hour from 12 noon during gallery hours
By reworking low-tech animations from the Department of Homeland Security combined with interviews of foreigners who have passed through immigration upon entering the United States, Goss creates a damning portrait of the less-than-welcoming experience of crossing borders. 2007, video, 28 minutes.