Expanding the Frame: Journeys
, a five-week series featuring film and video works that challenge the form and structure of conventional cinema, will be presented at the Walker Art Center January 21–February 28. Unusual approaches by the filmmakers represented provide a fresh and profound take on the universal as they journey into the unknown. Expanding the Frame: Journeys is highlighted by programs featuring visiting filmmakers, including film premieres introduced by Beijing-based artist Zhao Liang (January 29–30) whose work is also screened in a gallery installation; two evenings featuring Ben Russell and Daniel Barrow, blurring the lines between cinema and performance (January 21 and February 24, respectively); and four screenings and an evening presentation with cinematographer/filmmaker Ellen Kuras (February 17–20).
Expanding the Frame: Journeys also presents three area premieres, including Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Where Is Where? (Missä on missä?), the Finnish artist’s dreamlike exploration of death from moral, political, and philosophical perspectives (January 23 and 27); Jennifer Kroot’s documentary It Came from Kuchar, a tribute to legendary experimental filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar, shown with two of George Kuchar’s short films (February 11); and Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool, about a merchant sailor who returns to his home in Argentina after spending most of his life at sea (February 12).
The series also includes programs celebrating two important and influential filmmakers. On February 27 and 28, Hollis Frampton’s recently restored, multipart Hapax Legomena is screened, introduced by former Walker film/video curator Bruce Jenkins, a close friend of Frampton’s and a scholar of his work. From February 4–7, films by and about popular French writer and filmmaker Marguerite Duras are presented, which were selected by Walker artist-in-residence Haegue Yang.
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: JOURNEYS
January 21–February 28
Saturday, January 23, 7:30 pm
Wednesday, January 27, 7:30 pm
Where Is Where? (Missä on missä?)
Directed by Eija-Liisa Ahtila
“With her fluid, highly original use of multiframe images, Ahtila expands, beautifully and arrestingly, the expressive power of cinema.” —Museum of Modern Art
An acclaimed Finnish artist known for her moving-image installations, Ahtila gives us a dreamlike exploration of death from moral, political, and philosophical perspectives. The film references the 1950s killing of a French boy by his two Algerian friends. Utilizing split screen, animation, and digital effects, Where Is Where? features Kati Outinen (from Aki Kaurismäki films) and was screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. 2009, 35mm, in Finnish with English subtitles, 61 minutes.
Thursday, February 11, 7:30 pm, Free
It Came from Kuchar
Directed by Jennifer Kroot
This documentary is a well-deserved tribute to legendary experimental filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar, the Bronx-born twins who spent five decades pioneering underground filmmaking. Their campy, zero-budget parodies—an homage to Douglas Sirk melodramas laced with a healthy dose of Ed Wood’s aesthetic—influenced multitudes of directors from Guy Maddin and David Lynch to John Waters, who called them his first inspiration: “These were the pivotal films of my youth, bigger influences than Warhol, Kenneth Anger, even The Wizard of Oz.” 2009, video, 86 minutes.
Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966, 16mm, 17 minutes) and the Film in the Cities-produced Curse of the Kurva (1990, video, 16 minutes), both directed by George Kuchar.
Friday, February 12, 7:30 pm
Directed by Lisandro Alonso
Heralded by the New York Times as one of Argentina’s most prominent filmmakers, Alonso (Freedom [La libertad]) offers a stark, realist approach to cinema with his portrayal of isolated rural settings and down-to-earth characters. In his latest work, the siren call of home lures an alcoholic ship worker to the remote logging village in Tierra del Fuego where he was raised. “Alonso’s brand of minimalism is funky, uninflected, and given to moments of unexpected beauty” (Village Voice). 2008, 35mm, in Spanish with English subtitles, 84 minutes.
The Premieres: First Look series is made possible by generous support from Elizabeth Redleaf.
Live Performance Cinema
Thursday, January 21, 7:30 pm, Free
An Evening with Ben Russell: TRYPPS and The Black and White Gods
The Chicago-based photographer, curator, and experimental filmmaker presents some of his key works. His TRYPPS cycle (Parts 1–6, 2005–2009) captures the energy of the noise music scene in Providence, Rhode Island, and includes other psychedelic journeys, both physical and psychological. The Black and White Gods (2008) is a performance in which looped projections are manipulated to alter both image and sound. Russell won the Overkill Award at the 2009 Images Festival for his work, which approaches extremes of incorrigibility through form and challenges the notions of experimental practice. 2005–2009, film/performance, program length 77 minutes.
Wednesday, February 24, 7:30 pm
An Evening with Daniel Barrow: Every Time I See Your Picture I Cry
Wildly imaginative, heartbreaking, and intimate, Barrow’s “manual animation” tells the story of a sanitation worker who creates personal histories of the people along his route by sifting through their trash. The innovative performance combines animation executed on an overhead projector with video, music, and live narration. Winner of the 2008 Images Prize at its world premiere, Barrow’s work is like a graphic novel come to life. 2008, 60 minutes.
Visiting Artist: Zhao Liang
Zhao Liang’s work examines both rural and urban realities, fast-paced progress and nostalgia, the nature of politics, and the beauty of the natural world. One of China’s leading artists working in video, photography, and documentary film, he clearly connects with the working class, whom he considers to be the engine of society, and homes in on the everyday aspects of life ignored by public institutions. Zhao had a recent exhibition at the newly created Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (Beijing) and has shown his work at the Berlin Biennial and the International Center of Photography (New York) as well as at the Walker in the 2003 exhibition How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age and as part of the 2002 Dig.It Festival of Digital Media. Works by Zhao are also being presented by the University of Minnesota Department of Art from January 22–31.
Zhao’s visit is supported in part by the Consortium for the Study of the Asias, University of Minnesota.
Friday, January 29, 7:30 pm
Petition—The Court of the Complainants
Premiere introduced by director Zhao Liang
“An exemplary piece of journalism.” —Screen Daily
Since 1996, Zhao has filmed the “petitioners” who come to Beijing from all over China to file complaints about abuses and injustices committed by the authorities. He follows the sagas of peasants thrown off their land, workers from liquidated factories, and homeowners who have seen their dwellings demolished but received no compensation. Often living in makeshift shelters around the southern railway station, the complainants wait months or even years for justice and face brutal intimidation. Filmed up to the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, Petition arrestingly illustrates the contradictions of a country experiencing powerful economic expansion. Premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. 2009, in Mandarin with English subtitles, video, 120 minutes.
Saturday, January 30
Gallery Talk: Zhao Liang, 3 pm
Free with gallery admission
Join the artist for a discussion of the exhibition Heavy Sleepers.
Crime and Punishment (Zui yu fa), 7:30
Premiere introduced by director Zhao Liang
“Rigorously observational and sometimes quite amusing, when it isn’t shocking.” —Variety
Filmed on the border between North Korea and China, Crime and Punishment documents the daily life of young Chinese guards dealing with a range of people, from petty thieves to those truly in trouble. The film positions itself at the border of past and future, where the idea of justice has advanced but the practice does not necessarily follow. Winner of the Best Director Award at the 10th One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Czech Republic) and the top prize at the Festival of Three Continents (Nantes, France). 2007, in Mandarin with English subtitles, video, 122 minutes.
Zhao Liang: Heavy Sleepers
Through March 14
Zhao’s immersive video environment, Heavy Sleepers, shows the interior of a dormitory for construction workers. Simple scenes illustrate the personal sacrifices made by China’s laborers: one side of the space shows sleeping men; the other, a row of empty beds. The camera pan reveals telling details within each man’s cramped personal space. A second work on view, Narrative Landscape, observes the decay of the Great Wall.
Filmmakers in Conversation: Ellen Kuras
“When I was a kid, someone asked what I wanted to be, and I realized that I had always dreamed of working with my hands, of wanting to shape something textural, luminous.” —Ellen Kuras, International Cinematographer’s Guild interview
The Walker hosts an evening of conversation with cinematographer/ filmmaker Ellen Kuras and screens some of her most groundbreaking work. Called by Filmmaker magazine ”one of the most talented directors of photography working today,” Kuras’ impressive body of work ranges from documentaries to features, straddles the commercial and independent film worlds, and is shot on formats from mini-DV video to 35mm film. She has been the ongoing director of photography for many celebrated directors, including Martin Scorsese, Michel Gondry, and Spike Lee. Kuras was the recipient of a Gotham Award and the Kodak VISION Award for her career. She has won a record three Sundance Film Festival cinematography awards for Swoon (1992), Angela (1995), and Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (2002). With the 2008 release of the lauded documentary The Betrayal, she has entered the directorial realm.
The Filmmakers in Conversation series is made possible by support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Wednesday, February 17, 7:30 pm
Directed by Tom Kalin
Kalin’s debut feature, a landmark of New Queer Cinema, revisits the notorious 1924 kidnapping and murder by Leopold and Loeb. Unlike other films about the incident (Rope, 1948, and Compulsion, 1959), Swoon confronts head-on issues of homosexuality and the tragic ramifications of society’s prejudice. The film is also remarkable for Kuras’ striking black-and-white cinematography, described by the New York Times as “hauntingly stylish.” 1992, 35mm, 92 minutes.
Thursday, February 18, 7:30 pm, Free
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Written and directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
Post-screening Q&A with Ellen Kuras
“Impressionistic and lyrical, as well as somber and gripping, The Betrayal conveys a ceaseless flow. It’s as if the filmmaker has opened a window onto a parallel world traveling beside our own.” —Village Voice
Twenty-three years in the making, this story of a Laotian refugee family ripples with the impact of the covert U.S. war in Laos. Thavisouk “Thavi” Phrasavath escaped Laos at age 12 and landed in Brooklyn with his mother and siblings in the 1980s. Phrasavath’s role evolved from being Kuras’ translator to the documentary’s subject and its codirector, writer, and editor. A poetic tale of loss, The Betrayal was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary. 2008, video, 96 minutes.
Friday, February 19
I Shot Andy Warhol, 7:30 pm
Directed by Mary Harron
This riveting portrait of radical Warhol groupie Valerie Solanas’ descent into madness is highlighted by Lili Taylor’s bravura performance. Kuras’ cinematography intercuts the tinfoil sheen backstage at Warhol’s Factory with grainy black-and-white scenes of Solanas’ blistering quasi-feminist diatribes, and handheld camera shots reveal her jumbled state of mind. “Kuras’ lensing luminously combines the broad strokes of the Pop Art era with the immediacy of reportage” (Variety). 1996, 35mm, 103 minutes.
Berlin, 9:15 pm
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Lou Reed recorded the album Berlin in 1973, but didn’t perform it live until 33 years later at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. For this concert film, Kuras collaborated with artist/director Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Basquiat) to capture his moodily majestic set design and bring to life the album’s devastating story of Caroline (Emmanuelle Seigner) and her lovers. Reed hailed Kuras’ gritty, intimate cinematography as “incredible.” Featured at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, Berlin has rarely been screened in the United States. 2007, 35mm, 85 minutes.
Saturday, February 20, 7:30 pm
An Evening with Ellen Kuras
$10 ($8 Walker members)
Kuras discusses her career and artistry in an evening that includes clips and discussion of her work included in the retrospective plus other notable directors such as Spike Lee and Michel Gondry.
Hollis Frampton: Hapax Legomena
Part I: Saturday, February 27, 7:30 pm
Part II: Sunday, February 28, 2 pm
Directed by Hollis Frampton
Introduced by Bruce Jenkins, professor of film, video, and new media, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
“Hapax legomena are, literally, ‘things said once.’ The scholarly jargon refers to those words that occur only a single time in the entire oeuvre of an author, or in a whole literature.” —Hollis Frampton
Gorgeously restored by the Museum of Modern Art and Anthology Film Archives, the seven-part Hapax Legomena investigates the potential of film and its relationship between artist and audience. Frampton’s towering achievement poses complex philosophical questions about the nature of the moving image in a manner that can be challenging, revealing, and at times amusing. Introduced by former Walker film/video curator Bruce Jenkins, who was a close friend of Frampton’s and is a leading scholar of his work and editor of On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters: The Writings of Hollis Frampton. Frampton’s (nostalgia), one of the sections of Hapax Legomena, is featured in the Walker’s new exhibition Abstract Resistance. 1971–1972, 16mm; Part I: 95 minutes, Part II: 110 minutes.
Of Language and Longing: The Films of Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Duras, called “preposterous, self-obsessed, eloquent, unstoppable” (New York Times Review of Books), was one of the most widely read French writers of the postwar era. She authored 34 novels from 1943–1993, including her autobiographical L’Amant (The Lover), winner of France’s distinguished literary Prix Goncourt. She also penned the celebrated film Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Disliking others’ adaptations of her work, in the 1960s she began to direct—16 films in all. Her work is characterized by its self-reflexive nature; she often moved one story, or elements of a story, through genres: novel, film, play—even film to film. In her obituary, the New York Times lauded “her simple, terse writing style, as if language itself were merely a vehicle for conveying passion and desire, pain and despair.” These films by and about Duras were selected by Walker artist-in-residence Haegue Yang.
Except where noted, all films are directed by Marguerite Duras, screened in the Cinema, and $8 ($6 Walker members).
Thursday, February 4
Marguerite, a Reflection of Herself (Marguerite par elle même)
Directed by Dominique Auvray
Screens at the top of each hour, beginning at 4 pm, Free
U.S. Bank Orientation Lounge
Dominique Auvray, a friend of Duras and editor of three of her feature films, was given unprecedented access to archival materials, photographs, television interviews, clips from Duras’ films, and home movies to create a personal portrait of the writer and director. 2002, video, 60 minutes.
The Truck (Le Camion) and Césarée, 7:30 pm
Introduced by Joëlle Vitiello, professor of French and Francophone Studies, Macalester College
In Duras’ typically minimalist style, this conversation in a dark room between Elle (Duras) and Lui (Gérard Depardieu) is interspersed with images of life on the highway. The dialogue creates a seamless juxtaposition of images, and the sparse lyrical plot alludes to the journey of life that we all share. 1977, 35mm, 80 minutes. Preceded by Césarée; 1979, 35mm, 11 minutes. Both in French with English subtitles.
Friday, February 5
India Song, 7:30 pm
Introduced by Anne-Marie Gronhovd, professor of French, Gustavus Adolphus College
A sensuous consular wife in 1930s India, Delphine Seyrig deals with anxiety after her affair is discovered and she is disgraced. The narrative is told through the off-screen whispering of gossiping harpies, government attachés, and servants, making the main action aural rather than visual. A beautiful exposition on isolation incorporating haunting images from Duras’ youth. 1975, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 120 minutes
Saturday, February 6
Destroy, She Said (Détuire, dit-elle), 7:30 pm
Introduced by John Mowitt, professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota
Two men and two women, all afflicted with mental illness, create their own social order within the walls of a rural asylum by teasing each other with games that border on the erotic. When rules are broken, tensions flare and loyalties are tested. 1969, 35mm, in French with English subtitles,
Sunday, February 7
Nathalie Granger, 4 pm
Introduced by Anne-Marie Gronhovd, professor of French, Gustavus Adolphus College
In this voyeuristic meditation, “a celluloid equivalent of atonal music or free verse” (Time Out), shot at Duras’ country house, the director creates a cycle of laconic domestic ritual over the threat of impending doom. Two women (Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bosé) share a home with their children. Barely able to contain their indifference to life, they’re distracted by the expulsion of one child from school, escaped convicts lurking in the neighborhood, and a bumbling washing machine salesman (Gérard Depardieu) who keeps pestering them. 1972, 16mm, in French with English subtitles, 83 minutes.
This program, part of Haegue Yang’s residency, is made possible by the Nimoy Foundation. Programming assistance provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Culturesfrance.
Free Daily Screenings
January 5–February 28
Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, Parts I–V
Directed by Yang Fudong
Screens daily from 12 noon during gallery hours
This black-and-white experimental masterpiece traces the epic journey undertaken by a group of young people—as a meditation on the changes China is undergoing. The title refers the legendary Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, a group of third-century intellectuals who dropped out of society to take up residence in the countryside for Daoist-inspired reflection and drinking. “Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest may serve as a metaphor for the overwhelming task—evident in China and many other parts of the world—of keeping up with today’s torrential change” (Sundance).
Yang Fudong shot this atmospheric, visually lush film in five parts over five years, and presented it in its entirety at the 2007 Venice Biennale. 2007, video transferred from 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 290 minutes. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. Each of the five sections will screen on consecutive Target Free Thursday Nights beginning January 7.