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Feature Article

August 5, 2018

Anthology Film Archives: The Next Screenings, December 1970

Audience watches a movie at the original Invisible Cinema theater of the Anthology Film Archives

On November 30, 1970, New York City’s Anthology Film Archives opened its doors as the first ever “museum of film” at its original location at 425 Lafayette Street. That was an invitation-only Opening Night event with the first public screening occurring the following night, December 1.

A previous article on the Underground Film Journal uncovered the first five nights of screenings at the Anthology, and the reaction in the NYC press to this unique movie theater.

Digging around in the digital archives of the Village Voice, the Journal has been able to piece together most of the screening lineups for the month of December. Unfortunately, these archives do not contain issues for the last week of November nor the first week of December, so we do not have screening info for December 5-9.

However, below are the screenings for December 10-30. The Anthology’s original plan was to have three screenings every night of films from their Essential Cinema Repertory Collection, so that each film in the collection would screen once every month. That way, audiences could watch these classic films repeatedly, mimicking the way one could go see a painting hanging in a museum on a regular basis.

Looking over the screening lineups, one can see that the Anthology did follow this practice, with few exceptions. First, like other museums, the Anthology was closed on Monday nights. Then, on December 15, the 6:00 p.m. screening of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times was cancelled for some reason. Also, on Christmas Eve and December 26, there were only two screenings on those nights. (It should be noted that Christmas Day had the customary full three screenings.)

Analyzing the screening lineups, some patterns emerge of the Anthology’s choices. Stan Brakhage, perhaps the most prolific filmmaker in the Essential Cinema, dominated the 10:00 p.m. programs of the first half of the month with his films screening in mostly chronological order from 1964 to 1970.

Screening films by Charlie Chaplin and Luis Bunuel for several nights together (Dec. 10-15) was perhaps a commentary on surrealism in cinema. Underground filmmakers of the NYC 1960s could generally be classified as proponents of early European and Russian cinema, so the middle of the month was dominated by feature-length films by Carl Th. Dreyer, Alexandre Doyzhenko and, of course, Sergei Eisenstein.

The month then ended, for the most part, with a survey of modern American experimental film, screening films by Ken Jacobs, Marie Menken, Mike and George Kuchar, and others.

Finally, the last film in this calendar is Sausalito (1946) by Frank Stauffacher, who is more well-known as the organizer of the Art in Cinema screening series begun in 1946 at the San Francisco Museum of Art. Stauffacher used that series to connect the European avant-garde with the American avant-garde, a mission one could say continued by the Anthology.

Below is the screening lineup of the Anthology on December 10-30, 1970; and below that is a gallery of the advertisements from the Village Voice used to create this lineup.

December 10

6:00 p.m.: The Pleasure Garden (1953), dir. James Broughton (On DVD)

8:00 p.m.: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), dir. Robert Bresson

10:00 p.m.: Songs 1-8 (1964), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 11

6:00 p.m.: Nuptiae (1969), dir. James Broughton
The Golden Positions (1970), dir. James Broughton (On DVD)

8:00 p.m.: Mouchette (1967), dir. Robert Bresson

10:00 p.m.: Songs 9-14 (1964-65), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 12

6:00 p.m.: The Gold Rush (1925), dir. Charles Chaplin

8:00 p.m.: Un chien andalou (1928), dir. Luis Bunuel (On DVD)
Tierra sin pan (1932), dir. Luis Bunuel
Menilmontant (1927), dir. Dimitri Kirsanov (On DVD)

10:00 p.m.: Songs 15-22 (1965-66), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 13

6:00 p.m.: A Night at the Show (1915), dir. Charles Chaplin
Easy Street (1917), dir. Charles Chaplin
Payday (1922), dir. Charles Chaplin

8:00 p.m.: L’age d’or (1930), dir. Luis Bunuel

10:00 p.m.: 23rd Psalm Branch (1968), dir. Stan Brakhage (On DVD)

December 15

6:00 p.m.: Modern Times (1926), dir. Charles Chaplin (screening was actually cancelled)

8:00 p.m.: Los Olvidados (1950), dir. Luis Bunuel

10:00 p.m.: Songs 24-27 (1967-68), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 16

6:00 p.m.: Le sang d’un poete (1930), dir. Jean Cocteau (On DVD)

8:00 p.m.: Rien que les heures (1927), dir. Alberto Cavalcanti (On DVD)
Entr’acte (1924), dir. Rene Clair (On DVD)

10:00 p.m.: Songs 28-30 (1968-69), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 17

6:00 p.m.: La belle et la bete (1946), dir. Jean Cocteau

8:00 p.m.: Rose Hobart (1939), dir. Joseph Cornell
Cotillion, dir. Joseph Cornell
The Children’s Party, dir. Joseph Cornell
The Midnight Party, dir. Joseph Cornell
Centuries of June (1955), dir. Joseph Cornell
Gnir Rednow (1955), dir. Joseph Cornell
Aviary (1958), dir. Joseph Cornell
Nymphlight (ca. 1957), dir. Joseph Cornell

10:00 p.m.: Scenes From Under Childhood, Parts I & II (1969-70), dir. Stan Brakhage (Part I on DVD)

December 18

6:00 p.m.: Orphee (1950), dir. Jean Cocteau (On DVD)

8:00 p.m.: A Legend for Fountains (ca. 1957), dir. Joseph Cornell
Angel (ca. 1957), dir. Joseph Cornell
Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), dir. Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid (On DVD)
Choreography for Camera (1945), dir. Maya Deren (On DVD)
Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946), dir. Maya Deren (On DVD)

10:00 p.m.: Scenes From Under Childhood, Parts III & IV (1969-70), dir. Stan Brakhage
The Weir-Falcon Saga (1970), dir. Stan Brakhage

December 19

6:00 p.m.: Anaemic cinema (1927), dir. Marcel Duchamp (On DVD)
Ballet mecanique (1924), dir. Fernand Leger (On DVD)
Le sang des betes (1949), dir. Georges Franju
Un chant d’amour (1950), dir. Jean Genet (On DVD)

8:00 p.m.: Zvenigora (1926), dir. Alexandre Dovzhenko

10:00 p.m.: La passion de Jean d’arc (1928), dir. Carl Th. Dreyer

December 20

6:00 p.m.: Statchka (Strike) (1924), dir. Sergei Eisenstein

8:00 p.m.: Arsenal (1929), dir. Alexandre Doyzhenko

10:00 p.m.: Vampyr (1932), dir. Carl Th. Dreyer

December 22

6:00 p.m.: Bronenosets Pottomkin (1925), dir. Sergei Eisenstein

8:00 p.m.: Zemlya (Earth) (1930), dir. Alexandre Doyzhenko

10:00 p.m.: Vredens dag (Day of Wrath) (1943), dir. Carl Th. Dreyer

December 23

6:00 p.m.: Oktyabr (1927), dir. Sergei Eisenstein

8:00 p.m.: Aerograd (1935), dir. Alexandre Doyzhenko

10:00 p.m.: Ordet (1955), dir. Carl Th. Dreyer

December 24

6:00 p.m.: Ivan Grozny, Parts I & II (Ivan the Terrible) (1946), dir. Sergei Eisenstein

10:00 p.m.: Gertrud (1964), dir. Carl Th. Dreyer

December 25

6:00 p.m.: Nanook of the North (1922), dir. Robert Flaherty

8:00 p.m.: Man of Aran (1934), dir. Robert Flaherty

10:00 p.m.: Zorn’s Lemma (1970), dir. Hollis Frampton (On DVD)

December 26

6:00 p.m.: Une Simple Histoire (A Simple Story) (1958), dir. Marcel Hanoum

8:00 p.m.: Intolerance (1916), dir. D.W. Griffith

December 27

6:00 p.m.: Neighbors (1920), dir. Buster Keaton
The General (1926), dir. Buster Keaton

8:00 p.m.: Death in the Forenoon (1955), dir. Jerome Hill
Canaries (1968), dir. Jerome Hill
Blonde Cobra (1962), dir. Kenneth Jacobs and Bob Fleischner

10:00 p.m.: Little Stabs at Happiness (1961), dir. Kenneth Jacobs (On DVD)
Duo Concentantes (1962-64), dir. Larry Jordan
Hamfat Asar (1965), dir. Larry Jordan
The Old House, Passing (1966), dir. Larry Jordan
Gymnopedies (1968), dir. Larry Jordan
Our Lady of the Sphere (1968), dir. Larry Jordan

December 29

6:00 p.m.: Sherlock Jr. (1934), dir. Buster Keaton (screening actually cancelled)

8:00 p.m.: Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son (1960), dir. Ken Jacobs

10:00 p.m.: Listen to Britain (1941), dir. Humphrey Jennings
Pussy on a Hot Tin Room (1961), dir. Mike and George Kuchar
Tootsies in Autumn (1962), dir. Mike and George Kuchar

December 30

6:00 p.m.: Glimpse of the Garden (1957), dir. Marie Menken (On DVD)
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1961), dir. Marie Menken (On DVD)
Go! Go! Go! (1963), dir. Marie Menken (On DVD)
Lights (1965), dir. Marie Menken
Andy Warhol (1965), dir. Marie Menken (Watch Now)
Notebook (1962-63), dir. Marie Menken

8:00 p.m.: Program of Films by Louis & Auguste Lumière

10:00 p.m.: The End (1963), dir. Christopher Maclaine (On DVD)
Geography of the Body (1943), dir. Willard Maas (On DVD)
Bells of Atlantis (1952), dir. Ian Hugo (On DVD)
Sausalito (1946), dir. Frank Stauffacher

Online Cinema

July 29, 2018

Offon — Scott Bartlett

Offon by Scott Bartlett (1968)

This film’s title is spelled various ways in different sources. Variations include Off-On, Off/On, and Offon. The Canyon Cinema Catalog 3, published in Spring 1972, spells it Offon. However, all film titles in the catalog are spelled in all caps, so the Underground Film Journal has opted to spell it as Offon, also based on the title screen, which is in all caps. Some sources also give a completion year of 1967, but 1968 is correct.

Offon is considered one of the first works to combine film and video together. It was celebrated upon its release for both its technical ingenuity as much as for its artistic integrity.

Over the weekend of May 10th, 1968, Offon screened at the first Yale Film Festival at Yale University, where it was awarded First Prize by judges Annette Michelson, Willard Van Dyke, Bernard Hanson, and Jonas Mekas, who wrote about the festival in his Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. Mekas also noted that Offon was rejected by the pre-selection committee of the Oberhousen Film Festival in Germany.

The process to create Offon was a complicated one that was described by Bartlett and reprinted in the book America’s Film Legacy by Daniel Eagan. First, Eagan explains that Offon was originally shot as twenty black & white 16mm film loops for a light show Bartlett was working on with Tom DeWitt called Timecycle. Bartlett then explains that the loops was transferred through a TV switcher where color was introduced through electronic television circuitry cross-feeding.”

Bartlett further explains that:

Simultaneously we projected film loops on a rear screen on the studio floor and a television camera filmed that. The rear screen photage was constructed with a bank of projectors which included a lot of moire patterns & liquids. That composite mage was pumped into the system & crossbred with film chains. Usually the same image on both. Then a second camera is recording the transmission of that combination. It filmed a television monitor on the the control room floor.

Lastly, Eagan explains that Bartlett hand-processed the final film with food coloring through a trough.

Film still featuring a blue eyeball from the short film Offon by Scott Bartlett

Another proponent of Offon at the time included fellow San Francisco filmmaker Bruce Conner who, in a letter to the Canyon Cinemanews reprinted in Scott MacDonald’s Canyon Cinema book, thought that this film was far superior to the “star-slot” sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was released that same year.

Perhaps the biggest champion of Offon was film critic Gene Youngblood, who used a film still for the cover of his influential book Expanded Cinema, in which Youngblood also gives a similar account of the making of the film.

The Canyon Cinema Catalog 3 entry for the film gives two quotes to describe it, one from Youngblood and the other from Sheldon Renan. The entry reads:

“The language of Offon is evocation. We gaze at these iconic forms hypnotically, much the same as we are drawn to fire or water, because they make us aware of fundamental realities below the surface of moral perception.” Gene Youngblood

Offon is so striking a work, so obviously a landmark, that it has been acquired by virtually every major film art collection in America, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Smithsonian Institute.” Sheldon Renan, Curator Pacific Film Archive

Lastly, in the book Film Is, Stephen Dwoskin says that Offon uses the “combined language” of video and 16mm as “a cross between kinaesthetics and figurative abstractions.”

The film opens with title screens reading:

Offon © by Scott Bartlett

Thanks To
Tom Dewitt
additional footage

Michael MacNamee

Manny Meyer
sound composition