From January 15–February 28, the Walker Art Center presents
Expanding the Frame
, a seven-week showcase of established and emerging directors who are breaking the boundaries of film and video. The third edition of the series is presented in two programmatic threads: Place and Time, focusing on films that transform concrete narrative into fluid forms; and Tribute to Experimentation, spotlighting British activist Derek Jarman, West Coast assemblage artist Bruce Conner, avant-garde filmmaker Pat O’Neill, and film-based performances by Bruce McClure and Dean & Britta.
Place and Time
These works take us to places in all corners of the world and experiment with ways that cinema shapes history. Highlights include the area premiere of The Exiles (January 16–18), director Kent MacKenzie’s 1961 landmark film, which never had a theatrical release and was thought to have been lost forever, which portrays the lives of Native Americans living in Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill district. This newly restored 35mm print is presented as part of the Premieres: First Look series. Other highlights include area premieres of Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City, a film essay of the director’s hometown of Liverpool, England (January 23–24); Jia Zhang-ke’s 24 City (Er Shi Si Cheng Ji), set in Chengdu, China, as factories turn into luxury apartments (January 30–31); Fernando Eimbcke’s Lake Tahoe, which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the most recent Berlin International Film Festival (February 6–7); and Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, a sci-fi thriller which was a winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.
Tribute to Experimentation
The tribute to Derek Jarman kicks off with the area premiere of Isaac Julien’s touching documentary about the filmmaker, Derek, on Friday February 20, 7:30 pm, and includes several of the filmmaker’s most well-known films, including Jubilee (February 21, 2 pm), Caravaggio (February 21, 7:30 pm), Sebastiane (February 22, 2 pm), and a selection of the director’s music films (February 26, 8:30 pm). The art and films of Bruce Conner are the focus of a program on February 12 that includes a curator discussion and screenings of short films. Pat O’Neill visits the Walker on February 19 to introduce a screening of his pioneering avant-garde works and his new film Horizontal Boundaries, selected for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The series also features a pair of Performative Cinema programs: the dynamic projections of Bruce McClure (January 15, 7:30 pm), and the screen tests of Andy Warhol paired with the music of Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (February 28, 8 pm).
Unless otherwise noted, films are screened in the Cinema and tickets are $8 ($6 Walker members).
See 5 films for the price of 3 for $24 ($18 Walker members).
EXPANDING THE FRAME
January 15–February 28
Expanding the Frame: Place and Time
Premieres: First Look
Friday–Sunday, January 16–18
Friday, 7:30 pm; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday, 2 pm
Directed by Kent MacKenzie
MacKenzie’s elegy to Los Angeles’ lost Bunker Hill district and the Native Americans who lived there premiered to great acclaim at the 1961 Venice Film Festival. Shot in stunning black and white, it highlights one night in the lives of three exiles from a Southwestern reservation—portrayed by three nonactors—driving, partying, and seeking a new life in new surroundings. Never released theatrically, the film was thought to be lost forever. A “precious document of a vanished culture” (Time), The Exiles is being presented in a newly restored 35mm print. 1961, 35mm, 72 minutes.
The Premieres: First Look series is made possible by generous support from Elizabeth Redleaf.
Friday–Saturday, January 23–24, 7:30 pm
Of Time and the City
Directed by Terence Davies
In his striking film essay that marries archival footage, biting wit, and sweeping new shots of his hometown of Liverpool, Davies describes the social history of the city that was the European Capital of Culture in 2008. In his delightful voiceover, he recalls growing up in neighborhoods that shared great poverty and camaraderie during a time when cinemas were the only palaces his family and friends could actually enter. Ranked among the 10 best contemporary directors by The Guardian, Davies (The House of Mirth, The Long Day Closes, Distant Voices/Still Lives) has crafted a visual poem that is “glorious filmmaking, even at times heart-stoppingly perfect, constructed with the precision that only a master can wield” (Reverse Shot/indieWIRE). 2008, video, 77 minutes.
Friday–Saturday, January 30–31, 7:30 pm
24 City (Er Shi Si Cheng Ji)
Directed by Jia Zhang-ke
Blending fiction and documentary, Jia Zhang-ke puts a human face on the consequences of rapid industrial and economic growth in China. Shot in Chengdu, in the Sichuan province, the film documents the development of state-owned Factory 420 from the 1950s to the present. Once booming with thousands of workers, it was demolished in 2007 to make room for an upscale apartment complex. Grounded by interviews from former factory workers and three of the country’s most important actors (Joan Chen, Lu Liping, Zhao Tao), 24 City’s poetry and lyrical cinematography provide an inspired snapshot of the inexorable flow of China’s future. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, just four days after a massive earthquake devastated parts of Chengdu. 2008, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 112 minutes.
Friday–Saturday, February 6–7, 7:30 pm
Directed by Fernando Eimbcke
Eimbcke’s follow-up to the acclaimed Duck Season captures the absurdity of life with a droll sense of humor similar to the early films of Jim Jarmusch. When doe-eyed teenager Juan crashes his car on the outskirts of his dusty Mexican hamlet, the search for a part to fix it puts him in touch with a love-struck punk-rock mother, a paranoid mechanic, a kung fu–obsessed courier, and an intimidating dog over the course of one of the worst days of his life. Nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. 2008, 35mm, in Spanish with English subtitles, 85 minutes.
Friday, February 27, 7:30 pm
Directed by Alex Rivera
This gorgeously filmed feature debut is set in a near future marked by airtight international borders, militarized corporate warriors, and a Mexican underclass of node workers who plug their nervous systems into a global computer network—one that runs U.S. industrial robots. Rivera’s taut sci-fi thriller is vividly imaginative, delving into the political issues of surveillance, outsourced labor, and immigration. Nominated for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize, and winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. 2008, 35mm, 90 minutes.
Expanding the Frame: Tribute to Experimentation
Thursday, January 15, 7:30 pm Free
Sound and Light: Projector Performances by Bruce McClure
Producing a totally sensory experience, Bruce McClure’s projector performances are informed by the way the brain reacts to light and sound. Using an array of modified 16mm projectors, film loops, and guitar pedals, his work challenges cinematic conventions. Film loops patterned with patches of emulsion on a translucent base are combined with an optical soundtrack to create a physically intense adventure. His performances have amazed audiences at the Whitney Biennial and the Rotterdam Film Festival, and have garnered him the 2008 Alpert Award in the Arts. Program length 60 minutes.
Thursday, February 12, 7:30 Free
The Art and Films of Bruce Conner: 1933–2008
A pioneer of experimental and American avant–garde film, Bruce Conner was also a leading West Coast assemblage artist. His visual art deeply influenced his films during his career, and both will be discussed as film curator Sheryl Mousley talks with Joan Rothfuss, curator of the 2000 Walker retrospective 2000 BC: THE BRUCE CONNER STORY PART II. Some of Conner’s short films will be shown, including REPORT, A MOVIE, VALSE TRISTE, AMERICA IS WAITING, MONGOLOID, 5:10 TO DREAMLAND, and BREAKAWAY, all drawn from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection. 90 minutes.
Thursday, February 19, 7:30 pm Free
An Evening with Pat O’Neill
Introduced by the director
O’Neill began using optical printing techniques in the mid- 1960s, manipulating the cinematic image in ways mimicked by computer technology decades later. His ingenuity has made him a pioneer in avant-garde film and earned him a Maya Deren Independent Film and Video Artists Award from the American Film Institute, among many other accolades. With Horizontal Boundaries (recently selected for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), O’Neill interprets the landscapes of Los Angeles and enhances this multilayered portrait with a new soundtrack and a dazzling 35mm print. 2008, 35mm, 23 minutes. In Sidewinder’s Delta, a title from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection, optical printing is used to combine original material with images drawn from found films. 1976, video, 20 minutes. Rounding out the program is Trouble the Image, a multilayered work that took more than a decade to complete. 1996, 35mm, 38 minutes.
The Films of Derek Jarman
As an agitator and leader of the gay, labor, and avant-garde film communities in Great Britain, artist Derek Jarman exposed the hypocrisy of his country’s class structure and Margaret Thatcher’s conservative policies. Fearlessly “out” in life and in his work, he was unapologetic in addressing and embracing gay culture. In 1986, the Walker organized one of the first touring retrospectives of his oeuvre—Of Angels and Apocalypse—and Jarman became a supporter by donating personal prints of his films to the Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection. A new documentary about his life, Derek, provides an opportunity to revisit the work of this celebrated innovator.
Friday, February 20, 7:30 pm
Directed by Isaac Julien
Piecing together home movies, clips, and interviews, Julien (Looking for Langston, Young Soul Rebel_s) creates a touching portrait of Derek Jarman. As a fighter for gay liberation and for the rights of people with AIDS, the disease to which he succumbed in 1994, Jarman made films that were not just artful, but also politically and socially engaged. Actress Tilda Swinton, his confidante and star of many of his films, guides viewers through _Derek, highlighting the artistic rigor of his work and its effect on the British film community. 2008, video, 76 minutes.
Saturday, February 21, 2 pm
Directed by Derek Jarman
As audacious today as it was more than 30 years ago, Jarman’s time-travel fantasy sends Queen Elizabeth 400 years into the future, to a glitter punk-populated United Kingdom. With star turns by the Slits, transgender legend Wayne County, Little Nell, Toyah Wilcox, and a pre–Prince Charming Adam Ant, Jubilee is an anarchic cult classic with a pounding score that includes Siouxsie and the Banshees, Brian Eno, and the Sex Pistols. 1977, 35mm, 100 minutes.
Saturday, February 21, 7:30 pm
Directed by Derek Jarman
Jarman’s breakthrough film was also the first to feature his compatriot and muse Tilda Swinton (as the prostitute Lena). Using a bold visual style that evokes Caravaggio’s baroque paintings, Jarman also embraces the transgressive history of this painter, who scandalized his patrons by using thieves, gamblers, and male lovers as models for his commissions. 1986, 35mm, 93 minutes.
Sunday, February 22, 2 pm
Directed by Derek Jarman
A reinterpretation of the tale of Saint Sebastian, one of the early martyred Christian saints, with a gay sensibility. Jarman recasts his hero as a homoerotic resistance fighter refusing the advances of a Roman Army captain, in what is most likely the first film shot entirely in Latin. 1975, 35mm, in Latin with English subtitles, 90 minutes.
Thursday, February 26, 8:30 pm Free
Jarman’s Music Films
Jarman’s oppositional cinema allied him with musicians who shared a similar aesthetic. Marianne Faithfull worked with him on a series of films to illustrate her dark album, Broken English (1979). Using Super-8 footage shot in Russia at the end of the Cold War, the filmmaker collaborated with Benjamin Britten, David Ball, and Genesis P-Orrige to complete Imagining Octobe_r (1984), about the connections between the revolutionary spirit of the Soviet Union and that of Thatcherite Britain. Later, he was commissioned to create _The Queen Is Dead, a series of 35mm promotional films for a project by the Smiths (1986). In 16mm and 35mm, 62 minutes.
Saturday, February 28, 8 pm
Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips
13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol’s “Screen Tests”
$22 ($18 Walker members)
Singer/guitarist/composer Dean Wareham (formerly of Galaxie 500 and Luna) was commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to compose music to accompany some of Warhol’s rarely seen silent-film portraits, which the artist called Screen Tests. These extraordinary documents of the 1960s New York art scene constitute a voluminous portrait gallery of well-known celebrities, Factory superstars, and anonymous teenagers. Wareham’s wistful tenor and languorous songs and Britta Phillips’ dreamy harmonies make the perfect live soundtrack for Warhol’s technically simple yet transfixing films.
Beyond the Gallery Preshow Tour, 7 pm
Purchase a ticket to this performance and register for a free preshow tour of the exhibition Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton (opening February 14), which focuses on the artistic practice of celebrity portraiture. Limited to 25 people; early registration encouraged.