Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Children's Party (1938)

WHO: Joseph Cornell made this film, and gave it to Lawrence Jordan to finish shortly before his 1972 death. Jordan writes that he left the editing structure intact, and that his contribution was that he "made the films printable".

WHAT: I've seen quite a few of Cornell's collage films (and a few of his other, later collaborations with Rudy Burckhardt as well), but I don't believe I've seen this or the other two films that make up what is called "The Children's Trilogy" (Cotillon and The Midnight Partybefore. I do know that, like the majority of Cornell's films, they were not screened publicly until decades after they had been conceptualized and created. Few sources seem to agree which year these films even belong to; I've seen them dated as early as 1930 and as late as 1970, and frequently using multiple years (presumably in reference to the time when they were originally made and when they were finally printed and projected) or, as in the Canyon Cinema catalog, a vague range (1940s). 

Girish Shambu has written on these films evocatively. An excerpt:
He inserts title cards but only holds them for a frame or two, with the result that they fly by in a flash and are impossible to read. On the other hand, he’ll take an ordinary image—a boy sleeping or a girl sneezing—and will freeze-frame it and hold it, forcing us to examine every inch of it with care. In other words, elements of the film that might provide information about plot, character, narrative causality, etc., are purposely de-emphasized, while our eyes are redirected to stay with ‘unexceptional’ images on their own and in conjunction with other images (through montage), so that they start to appear anything but banal.
WHERE/WHEN: Scheduled to screen at 6:45 and 8:20 tonight only at the Kadist Art Foundation's Mission District storefront.

WHY: Children's Party and its sisters in the "Children's Trilogy" screen, along with Michael Snow and Carl Brown's dual-projector Triage and Anthony McCall's seminal 1973 para-cinematic piece Line Describing A Cone (which I've been dying to see for years and especially since hearing Robert Davis & J. Robert Parks discuss it on a podcast last year), as part of the launch of a Canyon Cinema Pop-Up in which the Kadist space will become the site of a kind of temporary avant-garde cinema DVD rental store for titles you'll never find through Netflix or Redbox or probably even Le Video or Lost Weekend. More details on that here

If you can't make tonight's screening event, there will be three more events at the space in the next two weeks; a live performance of Kerry Tribe's tribute to Hollis Frampton's 1971 film Critical Mass this Saturday, an as-yet unannounced selection of humorous experimental films (that I strongly suspect will include Robert Nelson's The Off-Handed Jape) on the following Saturday, December 14th, and a presentation of films selected by Janis Crystal Lipzin and Denah Johnston on December 18th.

HOW: All of tonight's selections screen from 16mm prints from Canyon Cinema.

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