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Archive: Winter 2006

Los Angeles/Experimental Film Series
The Most Typical Avant-Garde:

Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles

The Most Typical Avant Garde: Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles

Introduction and Discussion with David E. James,
Professor of Critical Studies, Cinema-Television, USC.

In his new book, The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), David E. James points out that besides being the center of the commercial film industry, Los Angeles has nourished a dazzling array of avant-garde, minor and minority cinemas: Socialist cinemas in the early teens and the 1930s; formal experimentations from the margins of the film industry in the 1920s; amateur cinemas with various relations to the industry in the 1930s; personal cinemas of psychic self-investigation begun by Maya Deren in the 1940s and continued by Kenneth Anger, Curtis Harrington and Stan Brakhage; the tradition of radiant abstract visual music that runs from Oskar Fischinger and John and James Whitney to contemporary digital works; the counterculture’s utopian visions of the 1960s; and the attempts by African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Chicanos, women, gays and lesbians to create cinemas of their own in the 1970s and since.

With these and other movements keeping the city in the aesthetic and social vanguard in all periods of cinema, James argues that Los Angeles, rather than New York or San Francisco, is the true center of avant-garde cinema in the United States and hence the prototype of all 20th-century attempts to create emancipatory alternatives to capitalist culture. The Film and Video Center is pleased to screen a selection of the works James discusses, emphasizing films that have rarely been screened recently. Mr. James will be present to introduce and discuss both programs.

Los Angeles Avant-Garde I • October 26, 7pm

Soul of the Cypress
Directed by Dudley Murphy. 1920 • USA • 12 min. • DVD

The Life and Death of 9413-A Hollywood Extra*
Directed by Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich and Gregg Toland.
1927 • USA • 13 min. • 16mm

The Salvation Hunters*
Directed by Josef von Sternberg. 1925 • USA • 65 min. • 16mm

Even As You and I
Directed by Roger Barlow, Harry Hay and LeRoy Robbins.
1937 • USA • 12 min. • 16mm

Gold Diggers of 1935 (“Lullaby of Broadway” sequence)
Directed by Busby Berkeley. 1935• USA • 13 min. • DVD


Los Angeles Avant-Garde II • November 16, 7pm

Gold Diggers of 1933 (“Remember My Forgotton Man” sequence)
Directed by Busby Berkeley. 1933 • USA • 12 min. • DVD

Kern County Cotton Strike
Directed by Los Angeles Workers Film and Photo League.
1935 • USA • 14 min. • 16mm

THX1138: 4EB (student version)*
Directed by George Lucas. 1967 • USA • 15 min. • 35mm

Now That the Buffalo’s Gone
Directed by Burton Gershfield. 1968 • USA • 8 min. • 16mm

Directed by Wallace Berman. 1976 • USA • 10 min. • 16mm

Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie
Directed by Thom Anderson. 1966 • USA • 11 min. • 16mm

Directed by David LeBrun. 1976 • USA • 9 min. • 16mm

Directed by Los Angeles News Reel. 1970 • USA • 10 min. • VHS

FilmForum Film
Directed by Craig Rice. 1980 • USA • 8 min. • 16mm

* Film prints generously provided by USC Archives.
Film prints generously provided by UCLA Archives.



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