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
Directed by Craig Rice. 1980 • USA • 8 min. • 16mm
* Film prints generously provided by USC Archives.
‡ Film prints generously provided by UCLA Archives.