Stan Brakhage Films

Cinema Project @ Whitsell Auditorium

Sun Oct 12, 7 pm

It's impossible to talk about underground cinema without discussing the films of Stan Brakhage. With nearly 400 films under his belt before his death last March, Brakhage's mind-boggling output shames these weenie "six years between projects" filmmakers of today. Of course, Brakhage never bothered with movie studios, high-priced starlets, or even plots for that matter. Hell, one of his films is only nine seconds long. Like those of his 1960s colleague Kenneth Anger, Brakhage's films are abstract, non-linear, complex, and sensually beautiful. It's just the kind of stuff that the folks at Cinema Project get off on.

Cinema Project was born from the ashes of the celebrated Four Wall Cinema, whose founders have decided to concentrate on personal film projects. Remaining members of the original collective, Pablo de Ocampo, Autumn Campbell, and Jeremy Rossen formed Cinema Project to take over where Four Wall left off. Their mission is simple and direct--to screen innovative, avant-garde film in the vein of structuralist directors like Michael Snow, James Benning, and Trinh Minh-Ha, whose work they're screening in November.

Last month, Cinema Project paid tribute to the late Brakhage with a screening of his classic works, including the seminal Dog Star Man, a 1964 landmark in experimental film. Frantically edited scenes of throbbing hearts, snowflakes, human birth, explosions of pure color, and scratched emulsion punctuate a man's seemingly endless climb to a mountain peak. As a chaotic visual experience, it reflects Brakhage's interest in hypnagogic vision, or what you see through closed eyes.

Sunday night, Cinema Project screens some of Brakhage's later films, mostly from the past decade. Almost completely forgoing recognizable imagery, Brakhage's late films are mainly comprised of celluloid that the artist paints, scratches, and bleaches, frame by frame. Incredibly rich in texture, color, and vibrancy, these late films bring two artists named Blake to mind--the starry and volcanic William, and the contemporary video artist Jeremy, who did those trippy abstract interludes in Punch-Drunk Love. Anybody looking for character development and plot twists are advised to steer clear of Brakhage's work at Cinema Project, but for audiences interested in one man's search for the "pre-linguistic seeing of children," Sunday night belongs to you.