January 16, 2006

Avant Garde Solid Gold: Canyon Cinema

Saturday I worked my first screening for Aurora Picture Show. Appropriately it was a compilation of avant garde cinema classics – something on which to build a foundation of cinema-vocabulary. Curator Michelle Silva of Canyon Cinema was in from San Francisco. Small world?

The eleven films, ranging from one to 15 minutes, were shown with a 16mm film projector – how cool is that. The rattle of the projector, its precarious perch on the 1960’s classroom-like stand and its positioning near the front door reinforced that Aurora homey ambiance.

For me the highlight was Martin Arnold's film Passage a l'acte, 1993. The Austrian filmmaker took a ten second segment from the Hollywood production of stutter, the movements and audio of the original film took on new meaning. Here is what Canyon Cinema says:

“Four people at the breakfast table, an American family, locked in the beat of the cutting table. The short, pulsating sequence at the family table shows, in its original state, a classic, deceptive harmony. Arnold deconstructs this scenario of normality by destroying its original continuity. It catches on the tinny sounds and bizarre body movements of the subjects, which, in reaction, become snagged on the continuity. The message, which lies deep under the surface of the family idyll, suppressed or lost, is exposed – that message is war.”

I saw it as very sexual – Freud?