Experimental Film Is Alive and Well
Richard Foreman's unorthodox methods place him in the avant-garde wing of American theater. American movies also have a thriving experimental branch, and a recent two-evening show called "Avantgarde Cinema Today" spotlighted recent trends at Anthology Film Archives, the unofficial world headquarters for independent film.Skip to next paragraph
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Experimental movies have always been an important venue for young directors with innovative things to say, and the Anthology program showed that women are currently making a major impact.
Jennifer Reeves showed three movies of extraordinarily high quality: "Configuration 20" and "The Girl's Nervy," which might be called nature studies with a beat, and "Chronic," the expressively told story of a young woman's struggle with "so-called mental illness," as Reeves puts it in a program note. Lynne Sachs made "The House of Science: A Museum of False Facts," which uses fictional scenes, home movies, "found footage," and diary entries to explore how women's minds and bodies are forced into male-dominated molds.
Other films included "Winter Wheat" and "Echo Anthem" by Mark Street, explorations of American mythology and ideology; the brief "Sleepy Harem" and "Alpsee" and the ambitious "The Memo Book," personal film-poems by Matthias Mueller; the harrowing "Sodom" by Luther Price, which turns images of gay sexuality into a cry of pain and sorrow; and "Hardwood Process" by David Gatten, a gentle film about art-making as a hands-on activity.
The programs were curated by Colorado filmmaker Stan Brakhage, a towering giant of the avant-garde scene whose many contributions include a gift for recognizing and encouraging bright young talents.