Curating

Message to Man (Послание к Человеку) (8·15 - 10·15)

Films from L'Abominable

Films from L'Abominable
October 28, 2015

Word Order (Порядок Слов), Saint Petersburg (Russia)

PROGRAM NOTES

The independent filmmaker's laboratory L'Abominable was created in a Paris suburb in 1996. At this time, a number of similar underground filmmakers' workshops were cropping up all over Europe in order to enable experimentation at the development and printing stages, creative aberrations from standard processes that were unwelcome at traditional laboratories. The founders of L'Abominable, of whom today remains only the de facto leader Nicolas Rey, pursued an ideological goal, as well: the liberation of filmmaking from the constraints of the commercial cinema industry. As the mainstream adopted digital formats, an increasing amount of "obsolete" equipment fell into the hands of members of the growing organization, allowing filmmakers to create analog films with their own hands, from the development stage to the exhibition print. Thanks to the determination and exceptional selflessness of many of its members, L'Abominable gradually emerged from the underground and today, as has remarked the film scholar Nicole Brenez, can compete in productivity with any French production company. In the proposed program, which selectively encompasses the whole period of L'Abominable's activity, one can see textural experimentation with the film medium, attained through various non-standard processes, as well as a renewed interest in reality, a particular documentary gaze that explores the surrounding physical world. Perhaps, this new tendency holds one of the keys explaining the unwavering draw of filmmakers toward the "obsolete" analog format.

PROGRAM

Workshop with Victor De Las Heras: Kolomna 16x122

Workshop with Victor De Las Heras: Kolomna 16x122
October 1, 2015 and October 2, 2015

LenDoc Studio and Art of Foto, Saint Petersburg (Russia)

PROGRAM NOTES

This year, "Message to Man" places special emphasis on the technological revolution that has taken place in the cinema industry in the last decade. Among the festival's programs will be offered a unique two-day workshop on shooting and developing black-and-white 16mm film. Using portable analog cameras, participants will create a collective silent documentary project about a vanishing historic Saint Petersburg neighborhood, Kolomna.

"Here nothing is as it is elsewhere in Petersburg; it's neither capital nor countryside ... here it's all peace and retirement," wrote Nikolai Gogol about Kolomna nearly 200 years ago. Against all odds, this unique neighborhood has managed to maintain its singular atmosphere. But, today, Saint Petersburg is developing at such a relentless rate that Gogol's Kolomna may cease to exist in just a few more years.

It might seem that the same fate awaits celluloid. However, there is a fair number of celluloid enthusiasts and independent, collective film laboratories around the world, who see it as their mission to support and extend the life of analog film. The instructor of the workshop, Parisian filmmaker Victor De Las Heras, is a member of two such collectives: L'Abominable and L'Etna.

This project has been organized in partnership with the curator Mariya Nikiforova and with the support of the open film studio LenDoc and the artisan photo laboratory Art of Foto.

Tatia Sh: Два пространства

Tatia Sh: Два пространства
August 25, 2015

New Stage of Alexandrinsky Theater, Saint Petersburg (Russia)

PROGRAM NOTES

Международный фестиваль «Послание к Человеку» объявляет борьбу за существование киноплёнки в эпоху цифровых технологий. 25 августа на Новой сцене Александринского театра пройдет специальный показ Tatia Sh (Татии Шабуришвили), участницы знаменитой парижской кинолаборатории L'Abominable.

Два фильма будут показаны с 16 мм. Это редкий шанс увидеть своими глазами неповторимые живые цвета плёнки Fuji, более не производимой. После показа автор фильма, Tatia Sh, ответит на вопросы зрителей.

Tatia Sh закончила Центральный колледж искусства и дизайна имени Святого Мартина в Лондоне, долгое время работала ассистентом экспериментального режиссёра Стивена Двоскина. С 2005-ого года живет в Париже.

PROGRAM
Balagan (10·11 - present)

Brûle la mer

Brûle la mer
March 5, 2015

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

PROGRAM NOTES

Through a collaboration with the Emerson College collective Film Organics, we are very proud to present a brand new 35mm copy of Brûle la mer (Burn the Sea), made by Nathalie Nambot and Maki Berchache in 2014 and partially completed at the independent filmmakers' collective and laboratory L'Abominable. A very special thanks to MoMA and the filmmakers for this fortuitous opportunity!

Brûle la mer stands at the paradoxical crossroads between the lively energy of a revolution in progress (Tunisia), the momentum of a departure to Europe, and the violence of a welcome declined. The film targets what constitutes the sensitive framework of an existence at a time of rupture; that which is the smallest, the most common, far from exoticism, but haunted by a dream, like an exhortation. It is not a film about emigration or revolution, it is an essay on freedom, or rather an essay that stages freedom: a real and fictitious attempt to escape which involves the making of a film, taking part in the process of emancipation: burning the sea, borders, laws, papers, etc. What does it mean to break with one’s past life, leave one’s country and family in which, somehow or other, strong links of solidarity, mutual assistance and ancestral ties to the land still prevail, and join a world mythologized and dominated by capitalist relationships? What is meant by ’living one’s life’?

Recent Works from Collectif Jeune Cinéma

Recent Works from Collectif Jeune Cinéma
November 23, 2014

Carpenter Center Room B04, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

A special co-presentation with Collectif Jeune Cinéma and programmer Filipe Afonso. Located in Montreuil (the historic site of Lumière brothers' and Méliès's workshops!), this filmmaker-friendly organization has distributed and projected experimental works since 1971. It also organizes a yearly festival, whose most recent edition has just rocked a converted meat locker in the 13th arrondissement. The presented program includes contemporary European works, several of which have been produced by hand at the independent film labs L'Etna and L'Abominable.

Co-curated by Filipe Afonso (appearing in person) and Mariya Nikiforova. We are grateful to the French Consulate in New York and the Harvard Film Archive for assistance with this screening.

PROGRAM

Rearrangement of Frames and Memories

Rearrangement of Frames and Memories
October 27, 2014

Paramount Center, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Balagan presents a program of rarely seen Japanese experimental cinema from the past several decades, guest curated by filmmaker Tomonari Nishikawa. The program focuses on short works that display unique visual effects. Some express a boundary between reality and illusion, while others simply express the artists’ interests in image manipulation and exploring the limits of the medium. The films will be presented in their original formats, with the majority of the prints coming directly from Japan.

About the curator:

Tomonari Nishikawa is filmmaker and installation artist working in the mediums of 35mm, 16mm, and Super-8 film. His works have screened at numerous festivals worldwide including the Toronto International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Berlinale. As a curator, he has programmed for the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions in Tokyo. He currently lives and teaches in upstate New York at Colgate University.

This event has been made possible by the generous support of the Japan Foundation, the Graduate Student Association of Emerson College, and Colgate University.

PROGRAM

Outré Montréal

Outré Montréal
September 18, 2014

Paramount Center, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Montreal continues to be a source of innovative experimental cinema that is rooted in hands-on, formally adventurous production -- thanks, in part, to the exuberant activities of the Double Negative filmmakers' collective. Co-presented with Bright Lights (Emerson), this program highlights a number of works from Double Negative members and their friends completed in the last several years.

Filmmakers and DN members Daïchi Saïto and Eduardo Menz will discuss the films with the audience in a post-screening Q&A.

Made possible with support from the Québec Government Office in Boston and Emerson College.

PROGRAM

Shadowplay: Summer Fundraiser Screening

Shadowplay: Summer Fundraiser Screening
July 31, 2014

Norman B. Leventhal Park, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

After some months of rest and recuperation, Balagan again travels to the strange quiet of the Financial District. This time, we present a screening of short works selected from an open call, featuring filmmakers from Boston, the greater US and Canada. The resulting program, taking place during midsummer twilight in Norman B. Leventhal park, is a crepuscular journey through hypnagogic wormholes.

The event's goal is fundraising for future Balagan programs, and the represented filmmakers have generously donated the rentals of their films for our cause. Many thanks to all those who offered us their work that we were unable to include in this program.

Admission is free and open to everyone, but we ask that you please consider making a donation at the event -- or online via our Support page -- Balagan relies on the help of the community to continue programming such as this.

PROGRAM

Waldeinsamkeit

Waldeinsamkeit
April 17, 2014

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Rebounding from the sylvan charms of A Spell to Ward off the Darkness, we've decided to unveil this melancholy program centered on Waldeinsamkeit, or, woodland solitude. The forest has always sparked the imagination of the lonely traveler, promising encounters with tree-dwelling spirits, ferocious bandits, treacherous plantlife, and feline royalty... During Transcedentalist times, it grew into a benevolent zone of introspection and personal growth. And today, it has gained the status of vestige signifying humanity's lost innocence.

The presented films touch upon some of these ideas in direct or oblique ways, whether through exploring the endlessly compelling shapes of the forest, the evolution of a solitary space across time, or the human's place within. The lineup features a number of new international works that innovatively utilize experimental techniques like pinhole cinematography, screenprinting, layering of multiple exposures, and timelapse; as well as a couple rarely-seen classics.

PROGRAM

Ben Russell + Robert A.A. Lowe

Ben Russell + Robert A.A. Lowe
March 25, 2014

Middlesex Lounge, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Special partnership with Non-Event and The DocYard! Hot on the heels of their collaboration on A Spell to Ward off the Darkness, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (Lichens) and Ben Russell will join forces once more to present an evening of improvised vocalizations and musical compositions accompanied by live-manipulated 16mm film projections.

Poster by Alexander Squier.

Workshop with Process Reversal: The Mirror

Workshop with Process Reversal: The Mirror
February 22, 2014 and February 23, 2014

Handcranked Productions

PROGRAM NOTES

In this two-day workshop, we will be exploring the anatomy of a film strip through a variety of physical and chemical phenomena that will reshape, destroy and sculpt the film's emulsion. Techniques such as reticulation and bleach etching will all be covered and applied to previously processed strips of film (e.g. found footage), followed by their analysis and interpretation on an optical printer. Additionally, issues concerning both the aesthetic and practical application of these techniques will be addressed through discussions and film screenings, providing participants with a grounds for establishing a sound working method for each process.

Film stock, chemistry and found footage will all be provided for the workshop, but participants may also bring their own footage if they wish (keeping in mind that this is essentially a course on destroying film…) (Process Reversal)

Workshop with Process Reversal: Handmade Emulsion

Workshop with Process Reversal: Handmade Emulsion
February 15, 2014 and February 16, 2014

LaPete Labs

PROGRAM NOTES

The process of handcrafting film emulsion is one that offers to the filmmaker an unprecedented degree of creative intervention and expressiveness that simply cannot be accomplished with commercial film stocks. By making emulsion, the filmmaker is given the ability to manipulate its shape, alter its chemical properties, apply it to non-traditional bases and adjust it in countless additional ways to create a unique photosensitive material. As such, the process manifests new forms of dialogue within the film’s production, many of which are still waiting to be explored.

In this two-day workshop, participants will study the craft of producing black and white, silver gelatin emulsion by formulating, mixing and coating emulsion onto cellulose acetate and various other materials. Theories concerning emulsion chemistry and emulsion production will also be explored in this workshop, providing participants with a foundation to develop their own processes and methodologies. (Process Reversal)

La Cicatrice intérieure (1972) by Philippe Garrel

La Cicatrice intérieure (1972) by Philippe Garrel
October 1, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Ominous and sublime landscapes of Iceland and Sinai, gorgeous soundtrack by Nico, which was later released as the album Desertshore (with the notable exception of "König," which only appears in the film), and the 23-year-old director languishing with his Teutonic muse in amazing linen and leather outfits: such are the makings of this 1972 underground classic. The film was produced in connection with the Zanzibar collective, inspired by the wild spirit of 1968 and financed by a French heiress, Sylvina Boissonnas. Also appearing in the film are the beloved Pierre Clémenti, Nico's son Ari Boulogne-Päffgen, and the artist Daniel Pommereulle. Although the dialogue is occasionally in French and German, the film is not subtitled at the insistence of the director.

PROGRAM
  • La Cicatrice Intérieure (The Inner Scar)

    Philippe Garrel, 1972, 35mm, 60m

Poster by Alexander Squier.

Echo-Systems: outdoor music + film

Echo-Systems: outdoor music + film
September 22, 2013

Norman B. Leventhal Park, Post Office Square, Boston

PROGRAM NOTES

A special treat: outdoor screening and performance in the middle of Boston's masonic Financial district, courtesy of the caretakers of the Norman B. Leventhal Park. Acclaimed JP-based filmmaker Robert Todd and Fort Point-based filmmaker Douglas Urbank will present their most recent 16mm works in collaboration with local experimental musicians, Ernst Karel and Jorrit Dijkstra.

Poster by Alexander Squier.

Mirror Stage

Mirror Stage
May 13, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Much has been said about what is regarded as the quintessential cinematic experience: the darkened, softened, uterine surroundings, the hypnotic flicker ahead, the lulling whirr from the projection booth. It is a comfortable hiding place from which to observe others' nightmares and desires. As much as we at Balagan embrace this fancy, we like to break the spell on occasion by channeling an earlier form of cinema, when projected images elicited bewilderment instead of reverie.

This time, we aim to shatter cinematic illusions by shifting our attention 180° away from the spectacle. As we ponder the screen, the stage and the curtains; as we gaze into the spectators' faces and observe their body language -- entranced or impatient -- we see a reflection of ourselves. So we enter Lacan's "mirror stage": the anxious moment of catching sight of oneself for the first time and beginning to grasp the reality of one's existence.

PROGRAM

Guest program for the online festival Kinodot

Guest program for the online festival Kinodot
May 1, 2013

Kinodot.com

PROGRAM NOTES

This program of films and animations was collected from friends and collaborators of Balagan - a monthly series of film screenings that has been in operation since 2000. Balagan was begun by two avant-garde filmmakers -- Jeff Silva and Alla Kovgan -- in a small video projection room of a movie theater in Brookline, MA. It has since grown to include two more curators -- Stefan Grabowski and Mariya Nikiforova -- and to be hosted by the historic Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA, which accommodates a couple hundred audience members and a variety of analog and digital formats.

As the name of the series may imply, the curators take a somewhat carnivalesque approach to the programming -- mixing live performance, formal experimentation, personal documentary, and traditional narrative -- in order to approach the cinematic experience as it may have been at the historical beginnings of film projection, before the movie industry began to dictate the now-familiar exhibition format. We try to nurture a continuation of that original strain of image-making, which never ceased to question and test the emotional and dialectic powers of the medium.

For this particular program, we have chosen representatives of a big variety of techniques and formats in order to showcase the incredible versatility of experimental media practitioners working today. There are animations made by a sculptor using thousands of xerox copies; a workplace drama assembled from a sea of 1970s' German industrial films; an unusual documentary portrait by a Stockholm-based artist and experimental musician; a strange puppet story; a stop-motion exploration of an abandoned insane asylum; a structuralist flicker poem; a series of wild fantasies drawn on paper; and an abstract film-bridge between identities.

PROGRAM

Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle
April 23, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Mixing a number of rarely juxtaposed genres, Balagan takes a 360-degree look at cyclical structure and circular form. We are happy to present three locally-based artists and filmmakers: Nicolas Brynolfson, Santiago Gil and Julie Miller; as well as an audiovisual performance by NY-based artist Thomas Dexter and a 1970s' experimental film by Japanese avantgardist Toshio Matsumoto.

PROGRAM
Poster by Alexander Squier.

An Evening with Sami van Ingen

An Evening with Sami van Ingen
April 1, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

We are thrilled to present, in person, the Finland-based experimental filmmaker, installation artist, curator, and educator Sami van Ingen!

In his work, Sami distills meaning from fleeting moments of footage -- be it home movies, travelogue scenes, mainstream blockbusters, or archival discoveries -- by physically deconstructing, manipulating and rephotographing the film strip. A passionate proponent of analog film, he is also interested in the ways digital technology can add new qualities to experimental filmmaking. He has recently published a book on the subject, Moving Shadows: Experimental Film Practices in a Landscape of Change (2012). Together with filmmaker Mika Taanila, Sami co-curates the new Helsinki-based screening series, Pakopiste (Vanishing Point).

PROGRAM
Poster by Nathaniel Wyrick.

DIY Dystopia

DIY Dystopia
March 14, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

With the natural world teetering on the brink of multilateral catastrophe, a group of analog filmmakers have taken matters into their own hands. Through direct contact with the medium – lifting and reassembling images on the film strip – adhering waste matter to celluloid – leaving emulsion to languish in the landfill – the artists interpret physical processes that ravage our land. Their grave methods yield results of unexpected poetry, vibrancy and beauty.

Attendees of this show will receive a special, locally-produced, collaborative zine, made available through the Papercut Zine Library.

PROGRAM
Poster by Robin McNulty.

Breakwater

Breakwater
February 19, 2013

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

From camera motion inspired by the fluidity of bubbling streams -- to the productive potential of organisms residing within -- to the symbolic significance of a teacup's or a storm's destructive powers -- water has given rise to some incredible cinematic images. With this small-gauge film program of works old and new, the first of 2013, we explore the form's aesthetic and figurative possibilities.

All films on 16mm unless noted.

* Two films did not arrive in time for us to screen them. We showed instead: My Name is Oona (1969) by Gunvor Nelson, Kristallnacht (1979) by Chick Strand, Window Water Baby Moving (1962) by Stan Brakhage, and Remains to be Seen (1989/94) by Phil Solomon.

PROGRAM
Poster by Nick Bunch.

In Captivity

In Captivity
December 4, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

In this time of extreme industrialization, wilderness is all but forgotten. In cities, the trees are kept in corrals, with clearly posted visiting hours, if not caged up in solitary confinement.

While we had originally intended to put together a program of works celebrating the wild, both around us and within, we quickly realized that captivity was inescapable. Wild and tame – free and enslaved – are fundamentally entwined concepts. The very notion of liberty exists only to contrast the many constraints that humans have built.

Come and be our captive (or captivated?) audience for the Boston premieres of new films by Daniel Sousa and Robert Todd, as well as classics by Malcolm Le Grice and Jonas Mekas (presented in 16mm). We promise not to lock the doors.

PROGRAM

Spectral Evidence

Spectral Evidence
November 6, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

The surprising focus on the female body at the heart of the Republican party's social campaign, which has increasingly entered the public consciousness in the past year, should feel familiar to Bostonians, especially around this spooky time of year. The sentiments expressed by ideologues such as Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, Todd Akin, Michele Bachmann bear some resemblance to those evoked during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 and the European witch hunts, which had raged about a century before. At these trials, spectral evidence was an effective form of court testimony, in which the accuser recalled dreams or visions implicating a community member in witchcraft.

The majority of executed 'witches' were female, as women were understood to be more susceptible to the Devil's charms due to their "insatiable" "carnal lust" (as found in Malleus Maleficarum, a Medieval treatise on witchcraft). Compare with Limbaugh's recent comments regarding a Georgetown student advocating for state-funded access to contraception, "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? ... She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."

Not to mention Todd Akin's infamous quote about "legitimate rape," illustrating a complete ignorance of biology, a suggestion that rape can be consensual, and a magical view of the female body.

One of the catalysts of a wave of European witch hunts was a 1580 publication called De la Démonomanie des Sorciers, which taught to differentiate witches via visible and invisible markers, outlined pseudo-legal guidelines to witch trial procedures, and advocated for the ultimate punishment for anyone remotely implicated. According to a theory by German sociologists Gunnar Heinsohn and Otto Steiger, Bodin's book aimed to criminalize midwifery and traditional herbal medicine practiced by women, which were rendered suspicious, in order to restrict women's access to contraception and abortion. This was part of a bigger effort on the part of prominent Europeans such as Bodin to repopulate the continent after the bubonic plague, resulting in the practice of gynecology coming to rest in the hands of strictly male doctors.

Consider the almost carnal zeal with which Mitt Romney is preparing to pounce on Planned Parenthood. Or the "Protect Life Act" that Paul Ryan has co-sponsored, which would allow state-funded hospitals to deny abortions to women even on the brink of death. The proposal to save a potential life at the expense of another may seem hypocritical, but the New Right figurehead, Paul Weyrich, has made the conservative stance clear, "I believe that if you have to choose between new life and existing life, you should choose new life. The person who has had an opportunity to live at least has been given that gift by God and should make way for new life on earth."

In a political climate where the female body is examined for its childbearing properties and where feminine autonomy is suspicious, artistic creativity by female artists may be seen as a kind of witchcraft. And so we present you "spectral evidence" against these artists: four films that rival the male gaze of contemporary American cinema by taking a new look at the trappings of the female body.

PROGRAM

80th Anniversary of the Saint Petersburg Documentary Film Studio (Russia)

80th Anniversary of the Saint Petersburg Documentary Film Studio (Russia)
September 4, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Although the official founding year of Russia's oldest documentary house is considered to be 1932, the studio's history goes as far back as 1914. Its building in the historic city center evokes the extent of its history, as the studio is located in the luxurious former residence of a 19th-century senator, a lover of horses who built a flamboyant equine drinking fountain and a riding arena on the premises. Among the many pieces of archival chronicles held by the studio – including home movies by the Romanov family, footage from the 900-day city siege during WWII, and Anna Akhmatova's epic funeral in 1966 – are treasured insights into Russia's and Saint Petersburg's past that are revisited time and time again by the studio's archivists, filmmakers and curators.

Russian documentary production has diminished from the heyday of the '60s, but the studio continues to support a group of filmmakers who regularly present 35mm and digital films at international festivals. Among the most acclaimed members of the collective are three filmmakers we will feature this evening – Pavel Medvedev, a legendary figure who appeared at the 2009 Flaherty Seminar; Sergei Loznitsa, who has recently received international attention for his Cannes entries My Joy and In the Fog, and Alina Rudnitskaya, an investigator of female roles in Russian society, whose most recent film I Will Forget This Day made an impact at a host of international festivals.

All films presented on 35mm with English subtitles.

PROGRAM
Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Ship to Shore: Providence

Ship to Shore: Providence
August 25, 2012

Grant's Block, Providence, RI

PROGRAM NOTES

Part two of the double-city outdoor event (see description under "Ship to Shore: Boston" below).

PROGRAM
Poster by Meredith Stern.

Ship to Shore: Boston

Ship to Shore: Boston
August 24, 2012

Norman B. Leventhal, Post Office Square, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Balagan and Magic Lantern Cinema have collaborated to present a pair of outdoor film events on consecutive nights in Boston and Providence under the banner “Ship to Shore,” evoking the seafaring histories of their respective cities. Each screening will present one feature film and one short film by acclaimed experimental filmmakers Peter Hutton and James Benning – two artists who share a similarly contemplative approach to place-based documentary film practice while still retaining strikingly original styles of filmic analysis and expression.

These screenings mark the second collaboration between members of Balagan and Magic Lantern in the last year, and also extend these film series’ parallel inquiries into site-specific modes of film curation and exhibition, with each screening functioning as an exploration of cinema’s ability to change the ways we experience and inhabit urban spaces. By placing Hutton’s insightful studies of seascapes and waterways in dialogue with Benning’s penetrative analyses of landscape and national politics, “Ship to Shore” seeks not only to explore the lines of communication existing between these two artist’s film practices and contemporary relations between nature and the built environment. It also seeks to strengthen the connections that tie Boston’s experimental film culture to that of Providence.

- Josh Guilford (Magic Lantern Cinema)

PROGRAM
Poster by Meredith Stern.

Reflection/Refraction

Reflection/Refraction
July 3, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

A look into any mirror presents an image familiar yet curious - a backwards world and an unblinking face staring back at you. The physical imperfections of its surface reflect distorted truths, often unnoticed but always present. You can never truly see yourself. Even the mind's eye sees a warped self-image, refracted by subjective perception and experience.

This program features films that explore the ideas of reflection and refraction, through content, composition and structure. The final piece will be a unique performance of 16mm manipulation and live sound by Architecture of the Sun. A few of the pieces in this program will also be featured as part of a traveling program, Private Territory, on the theme of personal space, within the home or within the mind.

PROGRAM

Acceleration

Acceleration
June 5, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

As a large section of the city floods out during the summer months toward worlds of water and other amusements, Balagan maintains momentum with the June 5th program: Acceleration. Come on board the cinematic roller coaster as we rocket toward maximum velocity, with pulsing lights and flowing hallucinogenic landscapes rushing by on all sides.

PROGRAM

Projection Performance by Bruce McClure

Projection Performance by Bruce McClure
April 10, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

HIS SCAFFOLD IS THERE SET UP AS IF TO EDIFY

Bruce McClure, an architect turned filmmaker with an inclination toward rock-stardom, utilizes multiple 16mm projectors and short film loops to create rhythmic strobes and drones, all filtered through an array of guitar effects pedals and turned up to 11. The sound-image relationship slowly evolves as the loops drift to different phases of syncopation. The physicality of the flashing light and penetrative audio results in a visceral, transcendent experience.

Poster by Rachel Deutsch.

Whose Land?

Whose Land?
February 7, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

This American Land. Bound by arbitrary lines whose authority is daily reinforced by violence and bureaucracy. Sectioned into states, counties, and municipalities, based on voting patterns and property lines. Continually expanding its scope through bloody conquest, financial persuasion and cultural influence.

What lies in the middle? Empty space, crumbling centenarian constructions and a mysterious, crawling vine that swallows up several feet a day…

Inspired by the Occupy movement, which questioned the "publicness" of spaces we take for granted, Balagan presents four films.

PROGRAM
Poster by Alexander Squier.

Breathing a Fatal Stillness: A Visit from Daïchi Saïto

Breathing a Fatal Stillness: A Visit from Daïchi Saïto
January 24, 2012

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Japanese filmmaker based in Montreal, Daïchi Saïto studied literature and philosophy in the USA and Hindi and Sanskrit in India before turning to film. His work has screened at numerous venues worldwide, and his film Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis won the Best of the Festival Award at the 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Jury Grand Prize at the 16th Media City Film Festival. Co-founder of the Montreal-based artist filmmaking collective Double Negative, Saïto also serves as Co-Director of CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

PROGRAM
Poster by Chad Arnholt.

Homegrown Short Films

Homegrown Short Films
October 18, 2011

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

This was our big opening & fundraising event and a screening of old and new works from local film- and videomakers. All but two of the filmmakers attended the screening. DJ Jesse Kaminsky opened the evening with an hourlong set.

PROGRAM
Poster by Alexander Squier.
Cinematic Disobedience (3·12 - 6·13)

Hamburger, USA

Hamburger, USA
June 2, 2013

Studio Soto, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Cinematic Disobedience is back! This summer, we are focusing on questions of personal health, lifestyle, and ecological impact, which are, at least partially, within the realm of our control.

What better way to begin than to survey the contents of our plates, 1970s-style?

We'll learn about the mysterious origins of all-American foods: peanut butter, hamburgers, and mustard, with the help of Woody Allen and a funky soundtrack, and keep up with latest food industry technologies of 1975.

Food safety and quality are as much a concern today as they were 40 years ago - but at least Food Sticks™ are no longer around.

Doors at 6pm, screening at 7. Suggested donation: $5-10. All films presented on 16mm unless noted. Big thanks to Liz Coffey at the Harvard Film Archive and Paul Shannon at the American Friends Service Committee for assistance with this screening.

PROGRAM

The Story of a Peanut Butter Sandwich (1971, 16 min)
Is a Career in Food Preparation for You? (1975, 13 min)
Hot Dog: How Do They Make Mustard? (1972, 3 min)
Eat, Drink, and Be Wary (1975, 21 min)
Hunger (computer animation by Peter Foldès, 1973, 12 min)
Hamburger, USA (1978, slide show & cassette, 28 min)

Neighbors (1977) + Cost of Living (1978) by Richard Rogers

Neighbors (1977) + Cost of Living (1978) by Richard Rogers
May 9, 2012

549 Columbus, Boston, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

This was the third gathering of Cinematic Disobedience, screening Richard Rogers's wonderful short documentary "Neighbors - Conservation in a Changing Community" in the South End, the very same neighborhood where the film was made 35 years ago.

"Neighbors" was followed by Rogers's 1979 study of people's attitudes toward money, "The Cost of Living."

PROGRAM

7pm - potluck
8pm - Neighbors (1977, 29 minutes)
Cost of Living (1979, 55 minutes)

Big thanks to Documentary Educational Resources for assistance with this screening!

Money Talks: 16mm oddities from Zampano's Playhouse + Chris Faraone

Money Talks: 16mm oddities from Zampano's Playhouse + Chris Faraone
March 30, 2012

Somerville Cable Access Television, Somerville, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Cinematic Disobedience and Zampano’s Playhouse present the second film program inspired by Occupy —

— an eclectic mix of short vintage films on the American pursuit of the almighty dollar. From grim depression-era cartoons like the Fleischer Bros.’ “Greedy Humpty Dumpty” (1936) to howlingly optimistic 1970s’ training films like “Work - Coping with the 20-Hour Week,” tonight’s movies gain plenty of added resonance on the backdrop of the Occupy Movement. Any One-Percenters in the audience will particularly enjoy tonight’s inspirational noir drama “Crossroads USA” (1952) in which a disaffected young gas station attendant learns to Dream Big when a prosperous oil man passes through his station. (Brought to us by OIL INDUSTRY INFORMATION COMMITTEE.) Nine short films in 90 minutes!

AND —

Chris Faraone, JP-based journalist who camped at many occupations around the country, will open the evening with a presentation of his book, 99 Nights with the 99 Percent.

PROGRAM

7pm: Potluck
8pm: Book reading by Chris Faraone
8:30pm: 16mm Screening

Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston

Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston
March 1, 2012

Spectacle, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Inspired by the Occupy movement, Cinematic Disobedience aims to bring people together for food and discussion and to present films that reflect in one way or another on the state of our economy, our public space and our society. Events will take place on the first of every month in different locations around Boston.

Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston (1978) by Richard Broadman

“The story of what happened to Mission Hill is the story of many of America’s older ethnic neighborhoods. Seventy years ago, Mission Hill was an Irish neighborhood of homes and small stores in which people lived near their schools, their church, and their shopping area. But between 1940 and 1980 it changed: thousands of units of public housing were built and decayed there. Nearby hospitals expanded, displacing people from their homes. Developers and speculators bought and sold property and built twenty-story apartment houses. A new, poor population and an affluent professional population arrived to compete for parts of the old neighborhood.

Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston is the story of urban renewal, racial conflict, and the struggle of a neighborhood to survive these changing times. Spokespeople include real estate developers, community activists, workers, and residents.” -DER

Big thanks to Documentary Educational Resources for assistance with this screening!

PROGRAM

7pm: Potluck
8pm: Screening, followed by a discussion

Loring-Greenough Film (9·09 - 10·12)

Halloween Night

Halloween Night
October 30, 2012

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

An evening of classic Hollywood, delicious food & drink, costumes, and magic. Bonus - celebrating All Hallows' Eve in the company of ghosts at the 250-year-old historic house! Free!

7pm - Potluck in the dining room
Food, dessert & (white) wine welcome

8pm - Magic show by Joe Ledoux

8:30pm - Screening -

PROGRAM

Loring-Greenough House on Film

Loring-Greenough House on Film
September 28, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

This was the last (until October 2012) of the local film screenings at the LGH, so we decided to film the place itself. The program included 16mm and super8 works shot at the house as part of a collective exercise. The participating filmmakers were Stefan Grabowski, Matt McWilliams, Gordon Nelson, Mariya Nikiforova, Nicole Prowell, and Robert Todd.

Last Show

Last Show
May 18, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM
Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Animation!

Animation!
April 20, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

For our eighth screening the Loring-Greenough House presented a program of fantastic locally-made animation. All works were shown on video with the exception of Dan Sousa's The Minotaur (16mm).

PROGRAM
Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Paul Turano and Matt McWilliams

Paul Turano and Matt McWilliams
March 16, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

For our seventh screening we presented the films of Roslindale-based filmmaker Paul Turano and his former student at Emerson, Matt McWilliams.

Paul Turano has independently produced numerous award-wining experimental films and videos over the last 15+ years. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at Emerson College since the fall of 2007.

Matt McWilliams is a graduate of Emerson College who is currently making and screening films here in Jamaica Plain and around New England.

PROGRAM
Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

FILM (Parkour) by Christopher May

FILM (Parkour) by Christopher May
February 16, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

"Christopher May's 16mm and Super-8 film work currently explores sensually visceral qualities of cinema and their topographical relationships with sub-cultural landscapes. His films have screened at Yale University, the Austrian Film Museum, and MALBA - Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires." -CM

Christopher is the founder of The International Experimental Cinema Exposition.

Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Kathryn Ramey and Jonathan Schwartz

Kathryn Ramey and Jonathan Schwartz
January 19, 2010

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Kathryn Ramey's films are inspired by the avant-garde filmmaking tradition, ethnographic research, celluloid manipulation and personal inquiry, resulting in a unique and acclaimed body of work. Kathryn teaches film, animation and film history at Emerson College in Boston.

Jonathan Schwartz is a filmmaker and sound designer who currently teaches film studies at Keene State College in Keene, NH. His travelogue film Nothing Is Over Nothing has screened at numerous festivals, including Views from the Avant-Garde (NY), TIE, ICE (Iowa City), EXiS (Seoul)...

PROGRAM

Architecture of the Sun

Architecture of the Sun
December 15, 2009

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Architecture of the Sun is a live projection duo composed of Brittany Gravely and Jenn Pipp, who met while studying at SMFA and currently live in Boston. They were joined by long-time musical collaborators, the Glass Shivers.

The evening opened with a collective projecting of a 16mm loop by Julianna Schley and Matt McWilliams.

Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

By the Waters of Boston: Saul Levine and Adam Paradis

By the Waters of Boston: Saul Levine and Adam Paradis
November 17, 2009

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Robert Todd and Joe Roberman

Robert Todd and Joe Roberman
October 20, 2009

Loring-Greenough House, Jamaica Plain, MA

Private Territory (7·12 - 8·12)

Stockholm

Stockholm
August 17, 2012

Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden

PROGRAM NOTES

Last stop of the tour, in collaboration with Ryan Tebo, Sally Müller, and Mats Lundell. See description under "Reykjavik" below.

PROGRAM

Helsinki

Helsinki
August 16, 2012

Harakka Island, Helsinki, Finland

PROGRAM NOTES

Third stop of the tour, in collaboration with Kari Yli-Annala and with assistance from Sami van Ingen. The evening also included an electronics workshop and the finissage of the datadada mail-in art exhibition. See tour description under "Reykjavik" below.

PROGRAM

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg
July 28, 2012

Erarta Contemporary Art Museum and Galleries, Saint Petersburg, Russia

PROGRAM NOTES

Second stop of the tour, with assistance from Masha Godovannaya and Alexandr Mashanov (Erarta). See tour description under "Reykjavik" below.

PROGRAM

Reykjavík

Reykjavík
July 19, 2012

Bíó Paradís, Reykjavík, Iceland

PROGRAM NOTES

Private Territory was a program of films on 16mm and video that originated in Boston and traveled to several Northern European cities between July 18th and August 19th, 2012. Inspired by the curator's voyage from her current home in Boston to her native home in Saint Petersburg, the program was collected around the ideas of home, interiority and self-reflection. Along the way, the effort of cultural exchange was taken further through collaboration on joint programs with local filmmakers and curators - Masha Godovannaya and Mikhail Zheleznikov (St. Petersburg); Kari Yli-Annala (Helsinki); Ryan Tebo, Sally Müller, Mats Lundell, Tamara Henderson, and Åsa Hoflin (Stockholm).

PROGRAM
Poster by Jay Zehngebot.
Backyard Band/with (7·11 - 10·11)

Internal Refrains

Internal Refrains
October 8, 2011

21 Brookside Backyard, Jamaica Plain

PROGRAM NOTES

An evening of contemporary and classic silent film with live accompaniment. All films were presented on 16mm.

PROGRAM

Cinépoèmes and Dreams of Flight

Cinépoèmes and Dreams of Flight
August 20, 2011

21 Brookside Backyard, Jamaica Plain

PROGRAM NOTES

A night of silent films, live music, and fresh homemade pies under the stars. All films were presented on 16mm with the exception of L'étoile de mer, which was shown on video.

PROGRAM
Radon Lake (11·10 - 9·11)

Distilled Motion Show at Magic Lantern Cinema

Distilled Motion Show at Magic Lantern Cinema
September 14, 2011

Cable Car Cinema & Cafe, Providence, RI

PROGRAM NOTES

This is the third screening in the Distilled Motion series, featuring many works previously shown at screenings in Boston and Cambridge, with a few notable additions.

PROGRAM

Distilled Motion II

Distilled Motion II
July 25, 2011

Wildlife Preserve, Lyndell's Bakery, Cambridge, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

This is the second part of a program first shown at Spectacle in JP on June 23rd. All films were shown on 16mm and super8.

PROGRAM

Distilled Motion I

Distilled Motion I
June 23, 2011

Spectacle, Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

Allow your eyes to be hypnotized and your mind to be fooled into seeing things that never were. Thousands of individually rendered frames express movement not captured but merely implied. Some works possess a quiet grace; some produce a wonderful malaise through erratic colors, textures and sounds. All willfully exploit the entrancing flicker of analog film projection.

All films were shown on 16mm.

PROGRAM
Poster by Stefan Grabowski.

Jacques Cousteau Centenary Celebration

Jacques Cousteau Centenary Celebration
November 5, 2010

Ad Hoc (now Spectacle), Jamaica Plain, MA

PROGRAM NOTES

From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free. (Jacques Cousteau)

In June of 2010 our favorite underwater explorer would have turned a hundred years old. On November 5th, a bit belatedly, we had a Jacques Cousteau birthday bash at Jamaica Plain's co-working space and venue, Ad Hoc. We projected three 16mm prints from the TV series called The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

PROGRAM

Octopus, Octopus (1971)
Sharks (1968)
The Savage World of the Coral Jungle (1968)

With a musical intermission by the Grand Mandibles and 16mm scratch-film interludes by Mariya Nikiforova and Stefan Grabowski.

Poster by Mariya Nikiforova.