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March 22, 2017

Bobby Lee (1942-2017)

BobbyLee

Our friend Bobby Lee passed away yesterday. Bob was a community organizer and a member of the Chicago Black Panthers. His home has been the 5th Ward in Houston over the past few decades, and he is indeed known as “Da Mayor” of the 5th Ward.

Bobby Lee was one of those rare people who had the ability to form unlikely friendships and connect to the humanity of whoever he was engaged with, whether it was a transplanted, white Appalachian mom or a Chicago police commander, or myself…a girl who grew up in the suburbs, trying to find the audience for her upstart film archive.

I can’t remember if I met or only “knew of” Bob in the early ’80s through photographer Michael O’Sullivan. But I came to know Bob so much better in 2006 when I asked him to be a panelist at an early program CFA created called To Bear Witness: The Question of Violence. He shared the stage with Robert Lucas, who led civil rights protesters in the 1966 Cicero March, and Paul Sequeira, a gifted Chicago photojournalist whose work was prolific here in Chicago during the ’60s and ’70s. The discussion that night veered most often to that careful balance between anger and purpose and loss.

During this time, Bob would call me a lot, and we had long conversations about his past and the work he did in the 5th Ward. This work often constituted mowing older neighbors’ lawns, collecting clothes and toys for the kids in the ward, and building community centers. I was a worried mom then, worried about the dangers that my pre-teen kid might face, and we talked about that too. We talked about Mike Gray, Jim Dennett, and Bill Cottle of the Film Group. We discussed Howard Alk who directed The Murder of Fred Hampton and American Revolution II and his difficult and crazy shortened life. Bob’s losses were considerable over his lifetime. He lost brothers in the Panthers, his younger blood brother El Franco Lee and his nephew, James Byrd who was dragged behind a pickup truck until he died by white supremacists in Jasper, Texas.

In 2008 I went down to Houston to tape Bob for a CFA retrospective on Howard Alk. Bob met me at the airport, parking his big black sedan (if I remember that correctly) right outside the baggage claim. He stepped out of the car with his arms open wide, one of them grasping a cane that seemed to extend into eternity. That began a three day visit I will never forget. I stayed with Bob and his wife Faiza at their house while I was there. We ate ribs, visited his work, and shot that interview about Alk. Each morning that I was there, Bob would get up at 4am to prepare coffee and breakfast for Faiza and me. That is when he also quietly worked on his newsletters (or artistic pronouncements of activities, movements and beliefs). Faiza would go to work, and we went to work preparing to tape his interview.

But the most startling and memorable time I had during that visit was having dinner with Faiza and Bob in their bedroom watching not-too-significant television. I was in my pajamas on the floor, Bob was in a chair, clearly set up for his support and comfort, and Faiza in bed, all of us eating some great food she had prepared and laughing at really stupid stuff. I remember for one sliver of a moment thinking this is both so surreal and so comfortable.

Bob had MS the entire time I knew him. He used a cane and then more often used a wheelchair as time moved on. He was the most positive and forceful person I have ever met.

-Nancy

January 31, 2017

Collaborating with the Korean Film Archive

KOFA’s Sangam facility in Seoul, South Korea

In September of last year CFA was approached by Eric Choi from the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) with a proposition: Eric works in the acquisitions department of KOFA and was inquiring about collaborating with CFA to make any Korea-related material held by CFA accessible to researchers in South Korea through KOFA. We said yes.

KOFA, located in Seoul, South Korea, was first established in 1974 as the Korean Film Depository, a name it used until a restructuring in 1991 changed it to KOFA in 1991. The national film archive for South Korea, KOFA currently holds over 6,000 Korean films, along with thousands of items of film-related ephemera, and operates the archive, a museum, library, and cinematheque. For anyone not in South Korea, KOFA also runs the Korean Movie Database and a YouTube channel featuring full-length films for free (highly recommended).

Read More »

January 11, 2017

CFA’s New Year Awards and Grants Roundup

The turn of the year has been full of news for CFA! Here’s a round up of the grants and awards we have received recently, which we are extremely grateful for. Lots of reasons to keep checking back in with us to see what we’re up to!

CFA and Partners Awarded “Hidden Collections” CLIR Grant

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Chicago Film ArchivesNortheast Historic Film and the Lesbian Home Movie Project are extremely pleased to announce that we have been awarded a “Hidden Collections” grant, a granting program of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) that is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This collaborative project will unleash the work of 50 women filmmakers by supporting the digitization of their works. CFA is particularly happy to increase exposure to the work of Millie Goldsholl and JoAnn Elam, two twentieth-century filmmakers who are largely unknown.

Millie Goldsholl (1920-2012) headed up the filmmaking division of the renowned Chicago design firm, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates. She attended classes at Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s new School of Design when the New Bauhaus movement was just taking hold in Chicago. Her work is playful, political and highly innovative. The Goldsholl’s studio gave space and guidance to new experimental filmmakers such as Larry Janiak, Byron Grush and Robert Stiegler, all who have archived their work at CFA. A large portion of the personal films made by Millie will be digitized and made accessible as a result of this grant.

JoAnn Elam (1949-2009) was a champion of the small gauge film, and an experimental filmmaker as well. She, too, was highly political and at an early age made two feminist films RAPE and LIE BACK AND ENJOY IT. Both still are in distribution. Her collection of films is vast and not easily decipherable. A closer look often reveals a home movie to be subtle commentary. Many of her films depict every day events with shadings of political overtones. So, it’s unclear what is and is not a “finished” film. JoAnn died before finishing her documentary named EVERYDAY PEOPLE. In the coming years, CFA hopes to take a stab at extending her themes into unexpected places.

 

CFA Acknowledged by the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

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Chicago Film Archives, along with the Batsheva Dance Company, will receive the 2017 Ruth Page Award for significant contributions to the world of dance. This unexpected honor came to us just recently for CFA’s “dedication to preserving the legacy of Ruth Page.” With enduring trust from the Ruth Page Foundation and financial support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, CFA spent three and a half years stabilizing, digitizing and describing this large collection of films and videos that dates from the early 1920s. Today hundreds of performances, rehearsals, home movies and dance films can be viewed streaming from CFA’s website

This award will be presented Friday, January 27th at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance after the performance of Last Work by the Batsheva Dance Company. Hope to see you there!

 

CFA Goes International!

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CFA is happy to announce we have been awarded a grant from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund to produce an International Media Mixer!!

Chicago Film Archives (Chicago, IL) and Lab 80 film (Bergamo, Italy) will partner in this exciting project by exchanging digitized film footage from our respective repositories. Each organization will then commission two media artists (from our respective countries) to create new works using the partner’s footage (digitized, of course!). Upon completion of these four new silent video works (2 in Italy and 2 in the US), the partnering organizations will once again exchange the works so that two musicians/bands from the partnering country can score the new pieces.

Once completed, these four new media works will be screened in the Chicago area and in northern Italy with live accompaniment by the musicians who created the scores. Our Italian colleague, Karianne Fiorini, will be representing Lab 80 film to identify the Italian artists, curate the project, and coordinate the screenings on her side of the ocean. CFA will be doing the same in Chicago.

The goal of this project is twofold. It will allow archivists and filmmakers to explore the process and outcomes of creating culturally hybrid works of media art with archival footage. It’s a sort-of cross cultural “call and response” exercise, mixing and layering artistic audio/visual expressions that emanate from artists of two different cultures. It will also bring definition and a sense of scope to the international practice of media conservation, combining the practices of art and archiving to produce new artistic works.

Background
This project is based upon an artistic collaboration that Chicago Film Archives has sponsored locally over the last five years. CFA provides footage to three Chicago media artists to create original video works. These videos are then handed over to three local musicians, bands or audio artists who each score one of the new works. These three new fully-realized media works are then premiered at CFA’s annual Media Mixer at the Hideout. This MacArthur proposal will add an international component to the mix.

October 12, 2016

Preserving the Bill Stamets Collection

This past summer, CFA was lucky enough to have Shahed Dowlatshahi as an intern. Amongst other things, he did significant work processing the Bill Stamets Collection. Here is what Shahed had to say about what he found in Stamets’ films.


 

As an unobtrusive observer capturing life as it happened in the 1970s and 1980s, Bill Stamets shot thousands of feet of Super-8mm film on the streets of Chicago. This professional documentarian and photographer filmed protests, parades, political events, and many more public proceedings. A few years ago, some 40 years after these efforts, he donated a large amount of footage, which consists almost exclusively of Super-8mm film reels (there are a few U-matic tapes), to the Chicago Film Archives. Many of the reels are smaller pieces of film, perhaps outtakes, spliced together into 50ft, 100ft, or 200ft reels.

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African-American mayor, was a major inspiration to Bill Stamets, and much of the footage in the collection consists of Washington’s many public appearances throughout his term. There are examples of footage of Harold Washington as varied as him casually smoking a cigarette in an indoor space as one of his colleagues is giving a speech to celebrating and accepting his inauguration as mayor in Navy Pier.

Art Jones + W

Harold Washington speaks in “Art Jones + W.”

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to inventory the entire collection, inspect the smaller reels, and digitize several of his materials.

While much of the Super-8 films in this collection have magnetic stripe soundtracks, they remain unheard even on the comparatively few films in the collection that were digitized due to the very specific equipment required to digitize these soundtracks. The silence adds a certain timelessness and lyrical quality to the documented scenes of protest and celebration.

The lack of sound helps to focus the viewer’s attention on the images. For example, during “Pilsen Demo – El Salvador – 18th Street,” the camera zooms out from a “God Bless America” mural to the protestors and their banners alleging that the US Governments supported genocide abroad. This focus on the movement of the camera, imposed by the lack of sound, pulls attention to how Stamets, behind the camera, is choosing to interpret the scene around him.

Pilsen Demo – El Salvador – 18th Street

Stamets juxtaposes the words on the wall with the words on the banner in “Pilsen Demo – El Salvador – 18th Street”

Stamets’ strong point-of-view is clear in other films as well. In “Art Jones + W,” a white-supremacist group is gathered for a demonstration in a park. While they assemble their banners and organize, the camera frames a black police officer, standing still. I presume this officer is on duty protecting the right of the demonstrators to exercise free speech. Once again, the strong framing and camera movements bring the irony of the scene into sharp focus; no voice-over commentary, script, or diegetic sound is needed to remind the viewer of America’s racist legacy. The image itself engages the viewer with questions of free speech, hate-speech, and the separation of a person’s professional duties and their sense of right and wrong.

Art Jones + W

A police officer at work in “Art Jones + W.”

These powerful images of protests, parades, political events, and public proceedings are unique. Almost every piece of film in this collection is a reversal positive; this means that these pieces of film are the same exposed as were developed at the lab and the product is a viewable positive with no negative produced. Thus, no copies are available in any other format, and each image is the only one of its kind. Until twenty years ago, many film archives would not have considered such material of value as it falls outside of the professional scope.

Inspecting the Bill Stamets film collection at the Chicago Film Archives in the summer of 2016

Thankfully, shifts in thinking regarding the value of such footage have occurred, and many archives the world over now collect and preserve such “orphan films.” While the Stamets collection occupies a middle-ground between amateur home-movies and professional film-making, the historical and cultural value of these outtakes is undeniable, and thanks to the CFA’s existence and increased advocacy in preserving such material, it is now in safe hands for future generations.

Images of Chicago’s past are given a second life by the Chicago Film Archives

-Shahed Dowlatshahi, September 2016

September 26, 2016

Maggie And The Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter Finding Aid

 

This past summer, CFA was lucky enough to have Maggie Sivit as an intern. Amongst other things, she crafted the finding aid for the Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter Collection for us. Here is what Maggie had to say about her experience creating the finding aid:

 

Two months ago, I arrived at Chicago Film Archives as a summer intern. One of the projects I worked on during my time at CFA was the development of a finding aid for the Somersaulter-Moats and Somersaulter collection.

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a kind of research guide to a particular collection. It is a compendium of records of the works, organizations, and individuals associated with a group of films. It typically includes an abstract and overview, which answer questions such as: What films are included in this collection? When were they made, for what purpose, and by whom? Additionally, a finding aid includes metadata (e.g., geolocation tags, Library of Congress Subject Headings, production dates, etc.), access and restriction information, and media samples.

Why are finding aids important?

Finding aids are useful to researchers, as well as to anyone who wants to learn about the collections in an archive. Without these records, films might be archivally preserved, but no one would know anything about them or how they related to one another. (Furthermore, unless you visited the physical archive, you might have no idea that they existed.) A finding aid communicates a body of work clearly and succinctly; it provides a collection with context and coherence.

Read More »

June 27, 2016

CFA Media Mixer 2016 (in review)

We had a lot of fun on June 9th at the 5th annual Media Mixer and are extremely thrilled with the videos produced by this year’s line-up! Thanks to all who came and participated, but if you couldn’t make it (or if you just want to watch them again), we now have two of the videos available to stream below.

And if you’re new to the Media Mixer in general, the premise of the annual event is simple: three filmmakers, paired with three audio artists, have the full run of CFA’s vault to create new video art with the archival footage.

2016′s talented lineup included (filmmakers listed first):

Melika Bass AND Coppice
Jon Cates AND Jeff Kolar
Andrew Mausert-Mooney AND Bobby Conn

(more on this year’s artists here)

Read More »

June 7, 2016

CFA Media Mixer 2015 (in review)

A couple of weeks ago we shared the video collaborations from 2014′s MEDIA MIXER event on the blog, and now we’re excited to bring you some of 2015′s videos, available to stream for the first time! Check ‘em out below and also see 2012, 2013, and 2014 for more MEDIA MIXER greatness. And don’t forget to come to the Hideout on June 9 for this year’s event!

2015′s talented lineup included (filmmakers listed first):

Amir George AND The O’My’s
Jesse Malmed AND ONO 
Fern Silva AND Phil Cohran 

(more on that year’s artists here)

Read More »

May 19, 2016

CFA Media Mixer 2014 (in review)

We’re getting so excited about the upcoming CFA MEDIA MIXER that we started looking back at past years’ projects and realized there are TWO years of amazing collaborations that we never assembled in one place to stream. In this post we’re proud to present the videos produced by our 2014 Media Mixer participants (you can view 2012 and 2013 here and here, respectively).

2014′s talented lineup included (filmmakers listed first):

Lori Felker AND Cheer-Accident
Deborah Stratman AND Olivia Block 
Latham Zearfoss AND Bastardgeist 

(more on that year’s artists here)

Read More »

May 3, 2016

CFA Out of the Office at Midwest Archives Conference & Nitrate Picture Show

Amy here. I have recently returned to the CFA office after attending the 2016 Midwest Archives Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Midwest Archives Conference, or MAC, is a regional professional association with over 800 individual and institutional members that represent all types of archives in the 13 heartland states and beyond. The association’s annual conference rotates its location yearly, and as Milwaukee is a quick train ride north, I took the opportunity to attend. I was looking to get an idea of the current state of archives in the region that CFA represents, it would allow CFA to be represented at the conference, and it would also be my first trip to Milwaukee!

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CFA’s offical MAC credentials

During the conference I attended panels led by a variety of different archival professionals, all sharing perspectives on both their triumphs and failures in their workplaces. A few themes surfaced for me, the first of which was diversity and inclusion. A panel on promoting women in archival collections, a panel of archiving Midwestern immigration history, and the conference’s plenary session (with keynote speech from current Society of American Archivists President Dennis Meissner!) were amongst the settings where diversity and inclusion were explored. I appreciated the opportunity to hear attendees discuss this theme, as women and social justice are very present subjects in CFA’s collections.  Read More »

March 28, 2016

CFA Media Mixer 2016: Meet this Year’s Artists

Our annual video remix benefit is BACK this year with yet another amazing lineup of artists working together to create new video works out of digitized items in our vault. Right now, three extraordinary filmmakers are loading up with massive amounts of footage culled from the deepest corners of our collections – including some rare, little-seen gems and a few staff favorites – which they’ll edit, re-interpret, transform, and kick over to three of Chicago’s most imaginative musicians to score. Then, come June 9, you’re all invited to the Hideout to celebrate the world premiere of their collaborations, along with raffle prizes, auctions, and more. It’s CFA’s Media Mixer 2016!

This year’s artists (filmmakers listed first, followed by musician(s)) include:

Melika Bass + Coppice
jonCates + Jeff Kolar
Andrew Mausert-Mooney + Bobby Conn

More on this year’s artists…

Read More »

March 11, 2016

The arrival of the Kinetta Archival Film Scanner

Amy here. I arrived at CFA two months ago to serve as Digital Collections Manager. One of the cardinal reasons I was brought onto the CFA team was to help guide a refining and expansion of the archive’s digital initiatives, with the Kinetta Archival Film Scanner being a big part of the initiative. As we awaited the arrival of the scanner, I took the time to familiarize myself with the digital collection and how it’s currently organized.

CFA’s current digital collection is largely comprised of standard definition video files that act as surrogates for access to films in the archive. Many of the files have been generated by digitizing our films with our Tobin telecine machines and processed using various video editing softwares; tools which have been integral to our client services and internal operations for years. The few high definition video files that exist in CFA’s digital collection have been acquired from vendors that have processed our preservation works, partly thanks to grants funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF). CFA puts a huge emphasis on access, and although providing access to moving image film is the archive’s focus, providing access to films via digital media has been a crucial and realistic action for our operation. As I rifled through the archive’s various digital storage drives and digital metadata in the database, I got a clear impression that CFA was absolutely ready to formalize and intensify their digital collection holdings.

And then the Kinetta film scanner arrived. And we turned it on. And we ran a film through it that showed up so sharp on the monitor that it made us catch our breath. We were definitely not looking at a film anymore, but we were looking at a gorgeous interpretation of a film.

The Kinetta, a creation developed by Jeff Kreines, was made with an archival environment in mind. The scanner can accommodate the handling of a film in healthy condition, and it can handle a film that has been beaten up and shrunken. CFA has films that fall into both of those categories and every category in between. Jeff sat with the staff for a week to help us acclimate to the new equipment, new related softwares, and new file creation capabilities. Jeff knows film, and has made digital technology its true complement with the scanner.

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Jeff at the controls

Read More »

February 18, 2016

The John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation Honors CFA

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Chicago Film Archives is so pleased to announce that we are a recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.  It came as a surprise.  We are among several other cultural institutions in Chicago who have received this honor, and we are in great company.

These superbly imaginative organizations exemplify Chicagos thriving arts and culture community, which is vibrant and economically vital to the region,said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. Support for these diverse and leading organizations reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all.

This honor is particularly sweet because of our grass roots beginnings and the huge amount of “back room labor” that is required to make any archive and its holdings accessible.  Since much of the work we do is invisible to the public, we are especially moved that the folks at MacArthur imagined the scope and nature of what we do in our office every day.

Another reason this award is so important lies in the fact that no other film preservation organization (or any media preservation organization for that matter) has ever won this award.  The critical nature of moving image preservation often goes unnoticed, giving way to other cultural pursuits, leaving history behind as something merely made of nostalgia.  The ability to recognize that moving image records offer a glimpse into our future as well as our past is something rare.  Moving images can offer a more visceral, dense and rich reflection of our collective past than either text or photographic images can provide. So we are doubly thankful that the MacArthur Foundation is throwing light on this often over-shadowed cultural endeavor.

Just recently, CFA completed the preservation, digitization and cataloging of the massive Ruth Page dance collection funded by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.  The results can be found on CFA’s website where nearly 400 films are described and streaming in full with extensive notes about each of these works.  In addition, CFA has conserved twenty-eight films with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation including the Film Group’s Cicero March which was selected for the National Film Registry in 2013.

Particularly satisfying, though, was Davia Crutchfield’s note to CFA after we shared with her one of our obscure films that featured her great-uncle Doug Crutchfield.

Due to your generosity several generations of the Crutchfield family were able to revisit (or see for the first time) my great-uncle Doug as well as my great grandparents, Howard and Jean Crutchfield. I did not have the opportunity to meet my great-grandfather so to see him and my great-grandmother (who passed away a few years ago) interact was absolutely surreal.

My grandfather (who is nearing his 80s), as well as my great-aunt (who was recovering from bypass surgery) sat on the edge of their seats gleaning as they watched their parents and brother argue once again :)

Please spread the word and join us as we celebrate throughout the year with special programming and events with the goal of expanding our capacity to rescue films, creating new archival presentations and serving our constituents with new digital capabilities.

This award of $200,000 will be placed in reserve to ensure the stability, longevity and integrity of CFA’s operations and mission.

January 18, 2016

Ruth Page Collection Fully Catalogued

Guest poster here—it’s Pamela Krayenbuhl, announcing that I have completed the cataloguing process for the vast Ruth Page Collection of dance film and video. It has been a long journey, but now that I’ve earned the advantage of hindsight, I am pleased to provide a general overview of the collection and highlight a few gems of particular interest (out of hundreds!).

Ruth Page was a trailblazer in the field of American concert dance, and helped to establish Chicago as a center for American ballet even before George Balanchine founded the School of American Ballet in New York City in 1934. The films and videos of the collection here at CFA visually document her long career as a choreographer and company director, from the Page-Stone Ballet of the 1930s to the Chicago Opera Ballet in the 1950s and 60s, and the Chicago Ballet in the 70s—though there were also several interim company titles such as The Ballet Guild of Chicago, The Ruth Page Ballets, and Ruth Page’s International Ballet. Over the years, Page’s choreographic style and subject matter changed a great deal. Below, in a 1957 video from Series II of the collection, Page explains the arc of her early career to Ken Nordine for a Chicago television program.

https://youtu.be/5hKL9s8OK2g

Read More »

November 16, 2015

Collection Spotlight: Robert Stiegler

Capitulation, Robert Stiegler, 1965

We received the film work of Chicago photographer Robert Stiegler earlier this year, and while we already put a few of his major titles streaming online, I wanted to put a brief spotlight on him and his work, which includes some fantastic, experimental depictions of Chicago in the 1960s.

Robert Stiegler was born in Chicago in 1938 and received a bachelor’s degree in 1960 and a master’s in 1970 from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He served in the army in Germany, worked for photographer-filmmaker Vince Maselli and the design firm Morton Goldsholl Associates, and in 1966, started teaching at the University of Illinois Chicago, where he would continue to work until he passed away in 1990. Robert was instrumental in the development of the school’s photography department and the New Works gallery, a vital part of the MFA photography program.

From 1967-1969, Robert and his friend Larry Janiak ran a film and photography workshop in a large loft space in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, which attracted a large variety of local and visiting artists—including Mike Kuchar, David Katzive, Jon Jost, Red Grooms, Ron Nameth, Kurt Heyl, Peter Kuttner, Peter Kubelka, Strom de Hirsch, Jonas Mekas, and the filmmakers of the Chicago Newsreel film group—who participated in numerous informal film screenings and discussions.

Today, Robert’s work resides in a variety of collections, both public and private, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the University of Illinois Chicago.

Of the total films donated to CFA by Robert’s wife, Anita David, we have four completed works available for streaming on our Robert Stiegler finding aid, listed below with notes from Robert himself.

Traffic (circa 1960)

“An investigation of what a motion picture camera can do in the hands of a good driver”

Capitulation (1965)

“A guided voyage through a negative world. A subjective view of the world and self”

Licht Spiel Nur I (circa 1967)

“Abstracted footage shot with a camera, each frame time-exposed to create different light qualities. Cutting was based on a musical form much like a Bach fugue. The film contains both real and synthesized color.”

Full Circle (1968)

“A contemporary Koan. A series of highs, encompassing people: waiting for the bus, laying tiles at Swami’s house, celebrating a Spring Be-in and children smiling.”

On display in these films is Robert’s interest in discovering alternate ways of looking at the world in motion through the specific medium of film. At the beginning of Capitulation, he inverts the black and white film into negative, transforming a snowy landscape into a strange and alien planet. Later in the film, Robert heads to downtown Chicago, filming the crowds walking by and editing them into a frenzy of shuffling, slight glances, and the occasional wave. Long exposures, time lapses, and superimpositions abound, as he experiments with disrupting the regular motion of our busy modern society in continually new and fascinating ways.

Chicago is again the subject at the beginning of Full Circle, as Robert films moving through the Loop with John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” on the soundtrack. But Robert is not content to remain there, and as the film progresses, it encompasses a variety of found footage (including cartoons and celebrity photographs) and audio, as well as documentary footage of a lakeside Be-in and housework. It ends with children playing and smiling to the tunes of the Beatles.

A personal favorite is Licht Spiel Nur I (literally “Light Play”), in which Robert combines still images of light in motion in rapid succession, creating an entangled mass of color and line that dances on screen. While it looks especially spectacular in motion, we were also struck by how dazzling the frames looked on the bench.

Licht Spiel Nur I_2Licht Spiel Nur I_1 Licht Spiel Nur I_4

Along with Robert’s films we also acquired his large collection of ¼” audio reels, and with a grant from Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), we’ll be processing them in the coming months. Among the tantalizing titles include labels that say “Whitehouse Jazz Concert 1978,” “Studs Terkel,” and a series of readings from a PFC A.J. Osborne. We’re looking forward to seeing what insight they’ll provide to Robert’s art and life.

We still have many more of Robert’s films we’re still processing and working to get online, but their cans are already promising more great work to explore and share.

Can1 Can2

October 6, 2015

Now Streaming: The Larry Janiak Collection

Larry Janiak in 2004

Larry Janiak, 2004

We’ve been talking a lot about Chicago filmmaker/artist/designer, Larry Janiak, lately. We screened his films this past summer at Anthology Film Archives, and again this past week with Conversations at the Edge. We’re now excited to make his entire filmography publicly available (for the first time!) over on our Larry Janiak finding aid. We feel very fortunate to be the chosen caretakers of Larry’s collection, which includes experimental films and documentaries he made primarily from the years 1960 to 1970:

Allegro (1960)

DL #1 (Disintegration Line #1) (1960)

Adams Film (1963)

Glasshouse (1964)

Agamemnon in New York (1964)

Life & Film (1965)

Hale House (1965)

Vedanta Temple Dedication Day Ceremony (1966)

DL #2 (Disintegration Line #2) (1970)

Homage #5 (1970)

Animation Film Making: A Teaching Method at the Institute of Design in Chicago 1968 to 1980 (1999)

Filmmaking for Larry was a very spiritual exercise. It was a means to explore his own meditative practice…an exercise to control nature and be free. We realize a small Quicktime isn’t the most ideal format to view Larry’s work, but we are overjoyed (& overwhelmed!) by the opportunity to share his work beyond the theater. We invite you to discover and feel the films for your self.

+on a personal note, this will probably be my last blog post for CFA. I’m headed to the Southeast soon to do some of my own exploring. It’s been such a pleasure to work at CFA over the past eight years, and I’m super proud of all that we’ve accomplished in that time. I’m really going to miss CFA…especially Nancy, and the other wonderful people I’ve met along the way. CFA , Anne

 

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detail of a birthday card made by Larry Janiak