Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dyketactics (1974)

WHO: Barbara Hammer
WHAT: Let me step aside and quote Ariella Ben-Dov's piece on the film from the Radical Light book: 
In 1974 Barbara Hammer came out to viewers not only as a dyke but also as a fearless experimental filmmaker who is credited by some as creating the first-ever film by a lesbian about lesbian lovemaking for lesbian viewers. In a mere four minutes, and a poetic and titillating montage of 110 images, Dyketactics, which Hammer calls a "lesbian commercial," reveals the pleasures of looking at the female nude from a female perspective.
Ben-Dov's piece is brief, but I've cut off the above excerpt before she gets into her best analysis, so I urge you to read the entire piece on page 195 of the book. I'd also add, as if it didn't go without saying, really, that one doesn't need to be a lesbian viewer to recognize the formal acuity of Hammer's film. I haven't seen much else of Hammer's work, but this is just great.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight at 7PM at SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater.
WHY: Although SFMOMA's impending closure removes a key screening space from the Frisco Bay fabric of venues that periodically present 16mm films by "underground" makers like Hammer, the local film community can be glad about other institutions that will continue to show such work after tonight's Phyllis Wattis Theater sign-off for the format.
For instance, on April 2nd the San Francisco Art Institute lecture hall will play host to a free screening of 16mm, Super-8 and video work by SFAI alum Scott Stark, who will be present for the event. Titles to be screened include two of my favorites of his, the brilliant Noema and Shape Shift. I haven't yet seen his Under A Blanket of Blue or More Than Meets The Eye: Remaking Jane Fonda or Speechless but my girlfriend who (full disclosure) is organizing this show assures me they're brilliant as well. More information on this event is to be found here.
The following weekend, eyes turn to the Victoria Theatre, where SF Cinematheque's biggest annual screening event, the Crossroads festival takes up residence with eight full programs held over three days (April 5-7).  Scott Stark will once again be featured, this time with more recent work such as Longhorn Tremelo, Traces and the world premiere of his long-anticipated The Realist. The weekend's seven other programs include films by talents such as Luther Price, Paul Clipson, Kelly Sears, Laida Lertxundi, Ben Rivers, and Michael Robinson among many others. 
SF Cinematheque is currently running a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help pay for the Crossroads festival, confidently timing the last day of the fundraising period to be Thursday April 4th, just a day before the screenings begin. As of this writing the campaign is just over halfway to its goal, so if you have interest in supporting this vital organization and making sure the festival is as good as it needs to be, please do see if you can open your wallet to donate. As usual with these things, donations at certain levels are reciprocated not only with good "underground film" karma but with gifts, which range from DVDs and books (such as the aforementioned and indispensable Radical Light as well as Barbara Hammer-signed copies of Hammer: Making Movies out of Sex and Life) to passes to Crossroads and Cinematheque screenings, to tote bags featuring artwork by the late great George Kuchar. A full list of these gift/benefits for donors is found here; click now because some of these items are in limited supply. I've really enjoyed each of the three previous Crossroads festivals, and at the first one I was able to meet several visiting filmmakers including Barbara Hammer, who was one of the featured guests at the festival. At that time I had not yet seen any of her films, but she was most gracious to me anyway. Crossroads is an unpretentious place for both experienced experimental film viewers and relative newcomers to rub elbows and discuss the works on display.
HOW: Dyketactics screens in 16mm, as does the feature (also by Hammer) that it accompanies at this showing, her 1992 feature Nitrate Kisses.

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