Underground Film Journal

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Bruce Baillie Now On DVD

Bruce Baillie sitting on a boat

Underground film pioneer Bruce Baillie is finally offering his work on DVD. The first volume is available now via Canyon Cinema and includes a selection of his experimental films made in the late ’60s. The titles include:

Tung (1966)
Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964)
Valentin de las Sierras (1967)
Castro Street (1966)
All My Life (1966)

Personally, I haven’t seen any of these films, but his most famous one is probably Castro Street, a poetic 10-minute montage of an industrial neighborhood in Richmond, CA. (It doesn’t have anything to do with the famous S.F. street.)

Baillie also founded the Canyon Cinema distribution co-op where his films have always been available for rental. He was a very influential and well-respected member of the underground film movement in the ’60s, although his popular reputation isn’t like that of other superstars of the period, like Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow or Kenneth Anger. In 1971, Jonas Mekas devoted one of his last “Movie Journal” columns to Baillie, calling him “the most American of all the avant-garde filmmakers.”

Hopefully through this release — and possibly more in the future — will bring more attention to Baillie’s films. Although, it’s still a little difficult to get your hands on a copy. They’re only available via Canyon Cinema and you have to inquire about them to buy one at $50 a pop.

Below I’ve embedded a video discussion of Baillie’s work from the 1973 program Screening Room. Baillie shows up late to the show and doesn’t say much, but they do show an excerpt from On Sundays, which is the filmmaker’s first film and is not included on this DVD: