Owen Land, fka George Landow, was an American experimental filmmaker. One of the more confounding figures in the underground film scene, his personal history — such as his name change — is complex and borderline mysterious. He passed away on June 8, 2011.
Born in 1944 in New Haven, Connecticut, George Landow began his filmmaking career in high school with 2 films, including Faulty Pronoun Reference, Comparison and Punctuation of the Participle Phrase. By the late 1960s, he was studying art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1969, film scholar P. Adams Sitney included Landow in a group of emerging "Structuralist" filmmakers that included Tony Conrad, Paul Sharits, Joyce Wieland, Ernie Gehr and Michael Snow. Many of these filmmakers rejected this categorization; and in 1978, Landow himself said he considered himself an "experimental filmmaker." He also described the arc of his career at that point as having evolved from primarily visual concerns to more literary ones.
Land's early films, such as Film In Which There Appear Sprocket Holes, Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, Etc. (1965-1966), consist solely of repetitive film loop optical printing; which then grew into more complex interactions between film and audience, such as Remedial Reading Comprehension (1971). He also described his work as being autobiographical and as being intentionally provocative.
Many references to his personal life include a fascination with religion, such as converting to Messianic Judaism in 1968. He also taught at a number of schools, including being a visiting faculty at Hampshire College in 1975 and teaching film production at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, San Francisco Art Institute, and Art Center College of Design, Pasadena California. (Years at each school unconfirmed as of this writing.)
Film curator Mark Webber, who was close to Land in his later years, says that Land "vanished" in 1999 and was thought to be dead. In truth, Land had suffered a debilitating stroke, but returned to filmmaking with Dialogues, with which he had an antagonistic relationship with his young Hollywood crew, documented in the film In the Land of Owen.
It was also sometime in the late 1970s that Landow changed his name to Owen Land. Most film texts refer to him as "George Landow," even after his name change, while online he can be found under both names. The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown as of this writing.
Idiolects #1 (June to August 1976)
In 1976, a crudely published fanzine devoted to the experimental film scene made its debut. It was called Idiolects and the first issue offered a definition of its name: “An idiolect is the language of an individual at a particular time.” That definition certainly could be applied to both the filmmakers covered in the zine
Robert Beck Memorial Cinema: 1998 Screenings
This is Part Two in a series of articles on the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema (RBMC). As detailed in Part One, the RBMC was an experimental film screening series in New York City, started by filmmaker Brian L. Frye. Frye programmed the first screening on May 12, 1998 at the Collective Unconscious theater space. The
Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings
This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. 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.
Remedial Reading Comprehension — 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
2012 Ann Arbor Film Festival: Official Lineup
The 50th anniversary of the Ann Arbor Film Festival includes a major retrospective of Bruce Baillie, a Craig Baldwin lecture, and tons of films by George Kuchar, Jodie Mack and more.
Owen Land, R.I.P.
Structural film pioneer Owen Land passed away in his Los Angeles home on June 8. No cause of death has been announced.
The Making Of Owen Land’s Dialogues
Ben Lazarus has documented the disgruntled cast and crew that worked on the avant-garde film Dialogues by legendary underground filmmaker Owen Land.
Chicago Filmmakers: Owen Land’s Dialogues
Chicago Filmmakers will screen the latest film by pioneering experimental filmmaker Owen Land. Dialogues is a third-person autobiographical film.
Anthology Film Archives: Essential Cinema’s Owen Land Program
Anthology Film Archives is hosting this one-night retrospective of early films by George Landow, aka Owen Land. The films are from the late ’60s and early ’70s.
2009 Migrating Forms: The Trailer
I don’t know who made the trailer for the inaugural Migrating Forms experimental film festival, but it’s sheer hallucinatory genius.