Thursday, May 2, 2013

Words of Mercury (2011)

WHO: Jerome Hiler made this.

WHAT: I haven't seen Words of Mercury in over a year, and even when I did I was forced to see it in a compromised quality (on video rather than 16mm film) so let me excerpt a brief quote from a 2012 review of the film (which, if intrigued, you should read in its entirety) by P. Adams Sitney:
The opening superimposition of Words of Mercury ... layers a dance of jittering lights over a crepuscular landscape, as if the pencil-thin white and colored lines of light were swarming midair before a barely discernible background of trees, as night falls.
WHERE/WHEN: Words of Mercury screens on a SFMOMA program starting at 7:00 tonight only. 

WHY: Today marks the midpoint of the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, and there are certainly screenings of interest happening tonight; the first festival showings of Salma, Computer Chess and Frances Ha (all at the Kabuki) and the final festival showings of Something In The Air and The Act Of Killing (both at the Pacific Film Archive), for example. 

But the festival is not the only interesting screening entity in town over these two weeks, as I noted by cataloging most of the alternative film screening opportunities during SFIFF in a post last week. Tonight in particular there are some very tempting alternate options to see rarely-screened films. The Stanford shows the 1953 War of the Worlds and the early Ray Harryhausen effects showcase 20 Million Miles To Earth today and tomorrow. Oddball Films has a 16mm set of Jewish comedy shorts. And the Castro hosts a very enticing Nicolas Roeg bill. Note that since my post last week, the Castro has released its entire May calendar, including a double-feature of Badlands (on DCP) and Electra Glide In Blue (in 35mm) happening the night before the SFIFF closing night presentation of Richard Linklater's terrific Before Midnight at that venue.

All of this is enticing but screenings of Jerome Hiler films projected properly may be rarer than all of the above combined. Although, as Carl Martin has noted, Words of Mercury was in fact a 2012 SFIFF selection, it screened on film only at it's PFA screening. It was shown on video at New People because the latter venue then lacked a variable-speed 16mm projector that could show the film at its maker's desired frame-rate. So tonight's screening feels like the completion of some unfinished business from last year's festival for some of us.

HOW: Words of Mercury screens in 16mm, along with a new work by Hiler and two of the films most newly made by his partner Nathaniel Dorsky.

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