Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Behind The Eyes Are The Ears (2010)

WHO: Nancy Andrews made this video work.

WHAT: I haven't seen much of Andrews' work but I really liked her 16mm film Haunted Camera, which I saw and wrote a bit about when it screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival back in 2006. Behind the Ears Are the Eyes is a video-produced piece from the Maine-dwelling filmmaker, but like its forebear it takes a syncretic production approach, utilizing silhouette animation reminiscent of Lotte Reiniger, collage cut-outs a la Stan Vanderbeek, anthropomorphic costuming recalling Isabella Rossellini's "Green Porno" series, and archival images from educational and other films (I spotted Miriam Hopkins from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and several animal stars from Chang myself). And more. 

It's all in service of a mad scientist tale about one Dr. Myes, a researcher doing self-experiments in a quest to increase the capacity of human perception. The genesis of the project was actually a song cycle composed by Andrews and musical co-conspirator Zach Soares, which forms much of the soundtrack to the 25-minute short. In turn, Behind the Eyes Are the Ears is currently being transformed into a feature-length film called The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes starring Michole Briana White, Gunnar Hansen (who played Leatherface in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre), and Jennifer Prediger (from Joe Swanburg's Uncle Kent and other films). She was inspired to move into the realm of feature filmmaking after being inspired by Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives to consider features as a way to get more exposure to experimental work.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens on a Pacific Film Archive program at 7:00 tonight.

WHY: Avant-garde film and video filmmakers and fans are converging on Toronto to experience the Wavelengths festival, and many of those left out are eyeing the just-announced program for the Views From the Avant-Garde festival happening in New York City in October. But what of those of us here on the West Coast, who can't make time or spend the cash to jet to an out-of-town festival? SF Cinematheque's Crossroads festival is a Spring event, and in 2013 provided us with opportunities to see terrific work like Scott Stark's The Realist and Jodie Mack's Dusty Stacks of Mom months before New York and Toronto viewers will get to. Hopefully some of the better works from these more-established festivals will find their way to Crossroads 2014. But in the meantime, there are a number of opportunities to see some of the works being presented at Views From the Avant-Garde, and other works by Wavelengths and Views makers at the PFA thanks to its Alternative Visions season, which has recently announced all programs through November on its website. Between these shows and the hot-off-the-press Other Cinema calendar for Saturday night experimental mayhem at Artists' Telvision Access, the Autumn is shaping up to have some good options for fans of "artist-made" cinema.

Nancy Andrews isn't in Wavelegths or Views this year, but two makers who are part of next week's Alternative Visions program, Lost And Found: Recent Experimental Animation are in the latter. James Sansing's Verses, which was a real highlight of the SF International Film Festival's avant-garde programming, will appear at Views, and Jodie Mack has a one-woman show of brand-new works. We'll have to wait to see those, but we will get to see her beautifully fibrous Point de Gaze on a program that also includes new work from local legend Lawrence Jordan and (full disclosure: my girlfriend) Kerry Laitala, as well as Stacey Steers, T. Marie, and Evan Meaney. Steers, Laitala, Jordan, and Sansing are all expected to be on hand for the screening.

Canadian Marielle Nitoslawska will present her new work about Carolee Schneemann, Breaking the Frame at the PFA October 9th, just after its Views From The Avant-Garde premiere. The following week, the great Phil Solomon will be here present two programs of work at the PFA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, including his new Views piece Psalm IV: Valley of the Shadow at PFA. ELSA merdelamerdelamer, one of two new Abigail Child works playing at Views will be part of the PFA's in-person screening of film and video from the last thirty years of her career. Unfortunately we won't see Wavelengths/Views selection Three Landscapes at the PFA's November 6th showcase on Peter Hutton, but his beautiful work shows rarely enough that we might be happy enough to see the four 1990's-era 16mm films programmed.

And there's more. A showing of Holy Motors with the brilliant Jeffrey Skoller on hand to help contextualize it, a student work showcase, and in-person screenings with Portugal's Susana de Sousa Dias (showing 48) and Lynne Sachs (showing Your Day Is My Night, which also plays Other Cinema November 16th) help make the Fall 2013 Alternative Visions program a very diverse and enticing one. See you Wednesdays!

HOW: Digital presentation along with another Andrews work called On A Phantom Limb.

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