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Feature Article

April 15, 2018

Canyon Cinema Cooperative: Catalogue No. 2, Supplement No. 1

Front cover to Canyon Cinema Cooperative Catalog #2, Supplement No. 1

In 1966, after six years of existence, the Canyon Cinema experimental film collective of San Francisco, California decided to start its own cooperative distribution center. Canyon made the announcement in the November ’66 issue of their News newsletter, citing that they would be following in the footsteps of New York City’s Film-Makers’ Cooperative that had been distributing underground films since 1962.

This origin of the Canyon Cinema cooperative is covered in Scott MacDonald’s exhaustive history of the organization, in which he lays out the timeline of publication of the first two catalogs:

November 1966: Canyon lists films to rent in their News publication
December 1966: Canyon Cinema Cooperative Catalog, Number 1
1968: Catalog Number 2
1969: Catalog Number 2, Supplement Number 1
1970: Catalog Number 2, Supplement Number 2
1970: Catalog Number 2, Supplement Number 3

MacDonald states that the second Catalog was 128 pages long, but the Supplement Number 1 begins its numbering on its title page with Page 125. The title page gives an address for Canyon Cinema as Room 220, Industrial Center Building, Sausalito, California 94965.

(The ICB Building was built in 1942 as a ship building center for World War II. In 1957, it was converted into a space to be rented out to light industrial businesses, but the cheap rents attracted Bay Area artists and it has stood as an arts space since the 1960s. As of this writing, it is not known exactly how long Canyon occupied Room 220 in “the ICB.”)

Page 126 of Supplement Number 1 gives a copyright of 1969; refers readers to the official catalog for rental prices and agreements; gives a “Printed by” credit to Bindweed Press, San Francisco; and includes the following acknowledgement:

Canyon Cinema gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Jonas Mekas and the American Film Institute toward the publication of this supplement.

The Supplement runs approximately 50 pages, including the above described intro pages, listings of films, pages of film stills, corrections to the second Catalog and an index. The listings are arranged alphabetically by filmmaker, starting with Steven Arnold and ending with Michael T. Zuckerman. (The index lists the films alphabetically.)

What is most striking about the first Supplement is the sheer volume of films and filmmakers listed in just fifty pages. There are too many to list in this article, so understanding just how large the avant-garde and experimental film community was in the late 1960s is a little staggering. Below are some of the more notable Supplement entries, but by calling these out, the Underground Film Journal understands that we are grossly overlooking the efforts of a many underserved and unsung filmmakers.

That said, of special note:

Stan Brakhage lists four films:
The Horseman, the Woman and the Moth (1968)
Scenes From Under Childhood, Section #1 (1968) — Although the film includes sound, Brakhage recommends viewers screen the film silently, as the sound will be removed once the entire Scenes From Under Childhood is completed
Scenes From Under Childhood, Section #2 (1969)
Lovemaking (1968)

James Broughton
Nuptiae (no year given)
Credits: Photography: Stan Brakhage
Music: Lou Harrison
First Award: Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1969

Fred Camper, mostly known for his film criticism/writing, has four films listed:
Joan Goes to Misery (1967)
A Sense of the Past (1967)
Dan Potter (1967-68)
Welcome to Come (1968)

Bruce Conner:
Antonia Christina Basilotta (no year given)
Breakaway (no year given)

George Kuchar:
House of the White People, starring Donna Kerness, George Segal, Helen Segal, Walter Gutman
The Mammal Palace, starring Frank Meyer, Zelda Keiser, Donna Kerness, Hope Morris
Mosholu Holiday, directed by George Kuchar, re-edited by Mike Kuchar, starring Bob Cowan and Bill Ronald
The Lady From Sands Point, artists Betty Holliday and Helen Yellin

Mike Kuchar:
The Craven Sluck, narrated by Bob Cowan and Floraine Connors; starring Floraine Connors, Bob Cowan, George Kuchar, Bocko (dog)
The Secret of Wendel Samson, music by Bob Cowan; starring Red Grooms, Mimi Gross, Maren Thomas and Floraine Connors
(Both The Craven Sluck and The Secret of Wendel Samson are available on DVD.)

Below are scans of the film stills printed in the Supplement. Many of the stills are from films in the full Catalog and not the Supplement. Identifying text in each scan indicates that info. Stills are in order that they appear in the Supplement.

Online Cinema

April 8, 2018

Anybody’s Woman — Bette Gordon

Anybody’s Woman by Bette Gordon (1981)

Starring Nancy Reilly and Spalding Gray

In the 1970s, filmmaker Bette Gordon was associated with the Structuralist style of experimental filmmaking. For example, there is a review in the first issue of Idiolects of a screening event she shared with James Benning at the Millennium Film Workshop on June 12, 1976. The only film of Gordon’s noted in the review was Noyes (1976). Both Gordon and Benning were teaching filmmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the time. (A letter by Gordon in the 2nd issue of Idiolects takes umbrage at the mostly negative review.)

Anybody’s Woman represents Gordon’s shift into narrative filmmaking in the 1980s while not totally abandoning her experimental film roots. The film is clearly not a traditional narrative, but is a collection of short monologues — delivered on and off screen — interspersed with purely visual sequences of mostly New York City’s seedy Times Square neighborhood.

According to an interview with Gordon in Downtown Film and TV Culture: 1975–2001, the title of Anybody’s Woman comes from the similarly named title of a 1930 pre-code film by Dorothy Arzner, one of the few women directors working in Hollywood from the ’20s to the ’40s. The voiceover while Reilly flips through pornographic photos and Hollywood publicity stills is writer Karyn Kay describing Arzner’s film.

Woman standing in front of adult actress images

In Gordon’s description on Vimeo of making Anybody’s Woman, she writes that she was given $75 by Art’s Space in NYC to create a film for an event called “Emergency.” Gordon shot the film on Super 8mm and asked her friends Spalding Gray and Nancy Reilly, both of the Wooster Group, to talk about their experiences with pornography on camera. A photo of Gordon at the Emergency show at NYC’s The Kitchen in 1981 is in the book Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin.

While Anybody’s Woman features numerous street scenes of NYC’s Times Square, the Variety theater that features prominently in the film was actually downtown on 3rd Avenue at 13th Street. The Variety was operating at the time as a porn theater; and Gordon would go on to use the theater as the main location of her feature film Variety (1983).

In addition to the Emergency show, Anybody’s Woman screened again at The Kitchen on May 27, 1982 at 10:30 p.m. The screening was part of the fourth annual Filmworks survey of independent cinema. That year’s Filmworks was curated by Amy Taubin and Anybody’s Woman screened as part of a program of Super 8mm films.

The film opens with a title card typeset on a fashion photograph that just reads: Anybody’s Woman.

The end credits are also typset on fashion magazine advertisements. They read:

Bette Gordon 1981

Nancy Reilly
Spalding Gray
Mark Heidrich
Tom Wright

Voice Over Story:
Karyn Kay