Underground Film Journal

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Teaser Trailer: In Search of Avery Willard

By Mike Everleth ⋅ August 26, 2011

In the underground film world, there are some filmmakers who are still so obscure that they’re virtually unknown to anybody. One of those filmmakers is Avery Willard. However, documentarian Cary Kehayan hopes to change that in the very near future. Embedded above is a preview trailer of the upcoming doc In Search of Avery Willard, which hopes to bring the work of this pioneering gay avant-garde film artist to a more public light. WARNING: The trailer is very NSFW thanks to the frank display of male full frontal nudity taken from Willard’s gorgeously shot footage included in it.

In a blog post, Kehayan covers his discovery of Willard’s films while doing research for the Queer/Art/Film screening series at the IFC Center with fellow filmmaker Ira Sachs. The pair headed to the New York Public Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division where, as Kehayan explains:

Upon requesting access to the Avery Willard Collection at the library, we were presented with three nondescript cardboard boxes. Each contained dozens of tangled, decaying reels of film shot by Mr. Willard from the 1940s through the 1970s. After restoring and viewing four of the prints, we were instantly mesmerized. The films were so wonderfully strange and enchanting that we knew there had to be a fascinating life behind them. And so, with almost no clues, we set out in search of Avery Willard.

The quest to find out more about Willard will be the focus, obviously, of In Search of Avery Willard, but will also feature significantly in Sachs’ own film Keep the Lights On, which recently wrapped up shooting.

Although the teaser trailer only offers brief glimpses of Willard’s films, the footage is very beautiful and reminiscent of other avant-garde underground filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger. Also, from the brief voice-over interviews in the trailer, Willard sounds like a fascinating figure and a great subject for a documentary.

You can follow more on the film at the Facebook page for Keep the Lights On and on Twitter.

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