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Feature Article

December 17, 2017

Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings

Flyer for a film screening in Chicago

This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. You can read Part One here.

Formed in 1983, the Experimental Film Coalition started holding regular monthly screenings starting in 1984. The screenings brought to Chicago the work of independent, experimental filmmakers across the country, as well as screening local work.

Screenings were held at the Randolph Street Gallery, an alternative performance and exhibition space located at 756 N. Milwaukee Ave. The Gallery eventually closed down in 1998 and donated their archives to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; which exhibits some of the Coalition’s flyers on their website.

Below is a sample of screening information culled from those archives, listed in chronological order:

1984

March 23
2 Razor Blades, dir. Paul Sharits
Make Me Psychic, dir. Sally Cruikshank
Unsere Afrikareise, dir. Peter Kubelka
Roslyn Romance, dir. Bruce Baillie
Musical Poster #1, dir. Len Lye

April 27
Rainbow Dance, dir. Len Lye
One Week, dir. Buster Keaton
On the Marriage Broker Joke As Cited By Sigmund Freud In ‘Wit and Its Relationship to the Unconscious,’ Or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed?, dir. Owen Land
Fuji, dir. Robert Fulton
Nightsail, dir. George Semsel

October 26
The Ties That Bind, dir. Su Friedrich
Trial Barrons, dir. Robert Breer
Hurry! Hurry!, dir. Marie Menken

November 30
Cantico, dir. James Herbert
Devotions, dir. James Broughton and Joel Singer (On DVD)
Last Works, dir. Len Lye
Trekkeriff, dir. Will Hindle
Loony Tom, dir. James Broughton (On DVD)

Flyer for a film screening in Chicago

1985

December 20
Pull My Daisy, dir. Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie
The End, dir. Christopher MacLaine
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, dir. Kenneth Anger

1986

March 21
Willie, 1985, dir. Danny Lyon
How to Get Out of a Burning House, dir. Robert Nelson
The Beholder, dir. Christopher Sullivan

April 18
Fireworks, dir. Kenneth Anger
Un Chant d’Amour, dir. Jean Genet
Sync Touch, dir. Barbara Hammer
Little Stabs at Happiness, dir. Ken Jacobs
Confessions, dir. Curt McDowell
Cumulus Nimbus, dir. Virginia Guitlian
Hermes Bird, dir. James Broughton (On DVD)

May 16
Wilderness: A Country in the Mind, dir. Robert Fulton
Mosaik im Vertrauen, dir. Peter Kubelka
Taris, dir. Jean Vigo
The Woman When Sacred, dir. Walter Gutman
Sunstone, dir. Ed Emshwiller

June 20
Caswallon Fire Loop, dir. Stan Brakhage (Chicago premiere)
Jazz Dance, dir. Roger Tilton (photographed by Ricky Leacock)
Films by Maya Deren, Joseph Cornell and Larry Jordan (exact films not specified)

1987

April 17
Silverpoint, dir. Barbara Linkevitch
La Jetee, dir. Chris Marker
Love Sacrifice, dir. Stan Brakhage (Midwest premiere)
Scar Tissue, dir. Su Friedrich

1988

February 15
“Midwest Experimental Animators”
Place in a Well Lit Spot, dir. Tom Stills
Landscape With the Fall of Icarus, dir. Chris Sullivan
(Plus other films curated by Sullivan)

1989

January 20
5th Anniversary Show
(Films screened unknown)

November 17
Perfect Film, dir. Ken Jacobs
Rocket Boy Versus Brakhage, dir. Phil Solomon
Dreams From China, dir. Fred Marx
Possum O’ Possum, by the Center for Southern Folklore

December 15
Thundercrack, dir. Curt McDowell
Der Elvis, dir. Jon Moritsugu

1990

September 21
Untitled, dir. Heather McAdams
Why?, dir. Charolette Pryce
The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough, dir. Peter Rose
Where’s My Feet, dir. Michael Kane
Shells and Rushes, dir. Sharon Couzin (former President of the Experimental Film Coalition)

October 19
The Suicide Squeeze, dir. Bradley Lewis
Ready-Made, dir. Caroline Avery
Breathdeath, dir. Stan Vanderbeek (Watch online)
Bedtime Story, dir. Esther Shatavsky

December 21
Hyacinth Fire, dir. Lawrence Brose

1991

January 19
Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, dir. The Brothers Quay
L’Ange, dir. Patrick Bokanowski

1992

January 17
Watersmith, dir. Will Hindle
Plus, three other films by Hindle

February 21
“Contemporary Animation From the Netherlands”
Films by: de Nooyer, Vegter, Nassenstein, Maxwell, de Bruyn, Poeth, Verbeek and Wiertz

March 20
“In a Realm of Her Own”
(Films screened unknown)

June 19
First Annual Film Slam
(Films screened unknown)

October 9
Coalfields, dir. Bill Brand
(Other films screened unknown)

1993

March 21
The Famine Within, dir. Katherine Gilday

Online Cinema

November 18, 2017

Remedial Reading Comprehension By George Landow

Remedial Reading Comprehension by George Landow (1971).

Although P. Adams Sitney‘s Visionary Film gives a completion year of the film of 1971, an on-screen copyright notice gives the year as 1970.

Most references to Remedial Reading Comprehension discuss the autobiographical nature of the film. In an article about autobiography in experimental filmmaking in The Avant-Garde Film: A Reader of Theory and Criticism, Sitney quotes Landow, who says of his own film:

There is a relationship between the personal and the non-personal images which is roughly the same as the relationship between the first image and the next-to-last image.

The first image is of a woman sleeping; and the film’s concluding images are of Landow himself running.

Film still of George Landow running

While Landow says that there is a personal connection between himself and the film, Sitney argues in Visionary Film that Remedial Reading Comprehension and other films by Landow at the time are devoid of psychology; while Fred Camper in a review of the film in Film Culture 52 claims that Landow is not describing his own psychological being or reality, but instead is describing the structural interrelationships between different forms of filmic perception and knowledge.

Given the title of the film, there is considerable text contained in it. About three-quarters into the film, Landow includes a sequence of text flashing on the screen. The bootleg copy of the film above (source unknown) is too blurry to read this text; nor has the Underground Film Journal come across a source that reprints or identifies the origin of the text.

However, most references to the film address primarily the text phrase “This is a film about you … Not about its maker” that appears on-screen in two sections.

Finally, though the film is credited solely to George Landow, Camper’s Film Culture review claims that John Schofill provided Technical Assistance. Schofill was another underground filmmaker at the time who would later become the Chairman, Filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.