From the beginning, Strand's work has posited itself at the junction of experimental and avant-garde filmmaking. Strand never offers much explanation of her work; her attitude has always been intuitive, almost Zen-like. She didn't start filming in Mexico to forge new paths for ethnographic filmmaking; she was shooting what she saw, what she knew. Sometimes factory workers in Mexico, sometimes a bullfighter, sometimes water, and sometimes her friends.
The result is an intensely personal and poetic approach to the idea of representation. Strand's documentary work [Anselmo (1967), Mosori Monika (1970), Anselmo and the Women (1986), Cosas de Mi Vida (1976), Mujer de Milfuegos (1976), and Fake Fruit (1986)] has changed the way we understand non-fiction form. Unintentional as it may have been, Strand laid the groundwork for the acceptance of the experimental and the personal in a field previously dominated by Margaret Mead and Robert Flaherty.
With her camera, Strand does not "document" her subjects--she creates lyrical representations. She is not afraid to look through her lens as a person; questioning, admiring, and honoring what she sees. Just as she brings poeticism and the personal into ethnography, she infuses an integrity, honesty, and selflessness into her works that few people can manage.
All too often, people are recognized for their formal and theoretical achievements, or their influence on a particular school of film. With Strand, it's all this and more. Aesthetically, her films are some of the most beautifully crafted works I've seen; stunningly gorgeous in their visual composition and exceptionally honest and sincere in their content. These films have influenced countless filmmakers working on that divide of document and experiment, changing our views of both expressive and representational models of filmmaking. Any way you look at it, Chick Strand is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of American cinema. A nearly complete retrospective of her work, featuring Strand herself, available for questions at each of the three shows, is a rare opportunity--one that any film enthusiast (maker or watcher) would be stupid to miss.