Underground Film Journal

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UnionDocs: Two Early Films Of Jim McBride

By Mike Everleth ⋅ January 12, 2011

Flag logo for UnionDocs

Jan 15
7:30 p.m.
322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hosted by: Cineaste Magazine

Cineaste Magazine and curator Jed Rapfogel present two early documentaries by filmmaker Jim McBride: Pictures From Life’s Other Side and My Girlfriend’s Wedding. Both movies are intensely personal and chronicle McBride’s relationship with his then-girlfriend, Clarissa Ainley.

My Girlfriend’s Wedding, made in 1969, is 60 minutes of McBride interviewing Ainley about her life, particularly her decision to marry another man she’s only known for a week in order to obtain a Green Card. However, the more Ainley reveals about herself, it becomes more apparent that the film is all about McBride’s personal feelings. In fact, McBride has been known to describe the film as a fiction film in that it’s a projection of his own personal idea of what Ainley was like, not who she actually was.

Pictures From Life’s Other Side was made two years later, in 1971, and chronicles a trip McBride and Ainley took across the U.S. looking for a home where they could settle down with their soon-to-be-born baby.

Both movies were originally shot on film, but tonight’s presentation will be a digital projection. Curator Jed Rapfogel will be in attendance for a pre- and post-screening chat. Rapfogel is currently the programmer for the Anthology Film Archives.

McBride is probably more well known for his mainstream indie films such as The Big Easy starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin, Great Balls of Fire! also starring Quaid and Winona Ryder and the American remake of Jean Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic Breathless starring Richard Gere.

However, before all these films, McBride made the infamous 1967 film David Holzman’s Diary, one of the first true hoax films, a solipsistic rant made by filmmaker David Holzman, who, it turns out, is actually a character played screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2).

Pictures From Life’s Other Side and My Girlfriend’s Wedding, though, are indeed true documentaries.