Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Chairy Tale (1957)

WHO: Sitarist Ravi Shankar, along with tabla (Indian percussion) master Chatur Lai, composed and performed the music for this short film.

WHAT: By the time Shankar came to Canada to record the score for this film, co-directed by the National Film Board's head animator Norman McLaren and by Montreal filmmaker Claude Jutra, he'd begun to tour in Europe and North America and his scores for Satjajit Ray's films were already beginning to be heard by international film festival audiences, but his name was still nearly a decade away from becoming a household one outside India. His collaboration with McLaren and Jutra was one of his earliest collaborations with artists in the West. It's a delightful piece, and although Jutra's performance as a man having a disfunctional relationship with a piece of furniture is quite memorable, I don't think the film could work without Shankar's expressive score. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in cross-cultural collaborations of the 1950s, and of course for fans of Shankar, Jutra or McLaren.

WHERE/WHEN: 8PM at Oddball Films tonight. Seating is limited, so it's best to RSVP by e-mailing or calling ahead at (415) 558-8117.

WHY: With 2012 receding in the rear-view mirror, it's an ideal time to remember some of the luminaries who left this world during the calendar year. Frequent Oddball curator Lynn Cursaro has put together a program to tribute some of the personalities we're just going to have to learn to do without in 2013. The afterworld roll call includes (but is not limited to) Shankar, who died just over a month ago, Chris Marker, who died in July and is represented with his groundbreaking sci-fi short La Jetee, Davy Jones, whose February passing inspires an opportunity to bring out rare outtakes from his band the Monkees' television show, and author Maurice Sendak, whose work inspired Gene Dietch's 1975 animation In The Night Kitchen, and who since May has been exploring That Great Night Kitchen In The Sky.

HOW: All of the above will be screened on 16mm prints from Oddball's extensive archive. It says a lot about the depth of the collection that Cursaro was able to locate relevant works to honor each of the above-mentioned individuals. I understand she has more up her celluloid sleeve that aren't mentioned in the program announcement.

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