Underground Film Journal

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Pacific Film Archive: Unseen Cinema: Revolutions In Technique And Form

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 5, 2010

Exterior entrance to the Pacific Film Archive

Sept. 8
7:30 p.m.
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94720

Hosted by: Pacific Film Archive

To mark the 10th anniversary of the release of the massive underground and obscure film DVD collection Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1893-1941, curator Bruce Posner presents a night of obscure and rarely publicly screened films, including several classics of the avant-garde.

Included in the program is what is considered the first underground film produced in the U.S.: Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand’s Manhatta. Completed in 1921, Manhatta is a visual poem celebrating the architecture of NYC.

During that same time period, the early avant-garde was in full swing in Europe and tonight’s program will also include several of that era’s most famous works, such as Man Ray’s Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason), Marcel Duchamp’s Anémic cinéma, and Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique. (To see how all these films fit into the history of underground filmmaking, please visit the Underground Film Journal’s Underground Film Timeline.)

Also screening are even more obscure, and sometimes uncredited, films, as well as early film experiments, such as film tests of the Eiffel Tower. The full list of films screening is listed below. Copies of the Unseen Cinema box set will be on sale at the screening, or if you can’t make it to this event, you can buy it on Amazon.

Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Palace (1 min), Palace of Electricity (1 min), Champs de Mars (2 mins), Panorama of Eiffel Tower (2 mins), Scene from the Elevator Ascending Eiffel Tower (2 mins) (All: Edison Manufacturing: James White, William Heise, 1900, Silent, B&W, 16fps)

Suspense (Lois Weber, Philips Smalley, 1913, 8 mins, Silent, B&W)

Triptych Film Poem (c. Unidentified filmmaker, 1925, 4 mins, Silent, B&W)

Manhatta (Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand, 1920, 11 mins, Silent, B&W, 16fps)

Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason) (Man Ray, 1923, 3 mins, Silent, B&W, 16fps)

Anémic cinéma (Marcel Duchamp, 1924-26, 7 mins, Silent, B&W, 20fps)

Ballet mécanique (Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy, 1923-24, 16 mins, B&W, Sound on CD, 20fps)

Soul of the Cypress with interpolated scenes (Dudley Murphy, 1920, 13 mins, B&W/Color tinted, Sound on cassette, 22 fps)

Ella Lola, a la Trilby (Edison Manufacturing: James White, William Heise, 1898, 1 mins, Silent, B&W, 22fps)

M. Lavelle, Physical Culture, No.1 (American Mutoscope & Biograph: Frederick S. Armitage, 1905, 1 min, Silent, B&W, 18fps)