Fall 2010 F.I.L.M. Series Begins Sept. 19

The lineup for the fall F.I.L.M. (Forum for Images and Languages in Motion) series has been announced. Programs are scheduled for Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the Bradford Auditorium in the Kirner-Johnson Building, with the exception of Diaries (1971-1976) which will be shown in two parts on Sunday, Oct. 31, and Monday, Nov. 1. All events are free and open to the public. Organizer and Visiting Professor Scott MacDonald has directed the film series for more than 20 years. Listed below are the programs in the fall 2010 series.

Sunday, Sept. 19: Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman (1928), with live accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
(The Battle of the Orchestras, Part 1. See the Nov. 7 listing for Part 2.)

In his last great American comedy, Keaton plays a daguerreotype portrait photographer, struggling with the fact that his technology is out of date—at a moment when Keaton himself was struggling to adjust to the coming of sound.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra is a five to seven piece chamber ensemble that recreates the small local orchestras that were popular in America for accompanying movies in the days before talkies. Mont Alto uses original compositions and orchestrations from the turn of the century through 1930. Formed in Colorado 21 years ago, Mont Alto has toured the country at venues ranging from elementary schools to Grauman's Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

Sunday, Sept. 26: The Best of Flaherty, 2009-2010

The Robert Flaherty Seminar was established 55 years ago by Francis Flaherty, the widow of Robert (Nanook of the North, 1923), to honor his approach to filmmaking. It has become an annual event that brings accomplished filmmakers together with teachers, students, programmers, distributors, librarians, scholars and other makers, for a week-long immersion in mostly nonfiction cinema. The program will include some of the most memorable short films shown at the 2009 and 2010 Flaherty seminars. It will be followed by a discussion with local Flaherty attendees from Hamilton and Colgate University.

Films/digital videos to be screened include Michael Glawogger’s HAIKU (1987), Alex Rivera’s The Sixth Section (2003), Pawel Wojtasic’s Dark Sun Squeeze (2004), Laura Waddington’s Cargo (2001), Mika Rottenberg’s Tropical Breeze (2004), and Naomi Uman’s Kalendar (2009).

Sunday, Oct. 3: Photographer Sylvia de Swaan presents Along the Tracks: Explorations in Central New York

Though she has traveled the world, Sylvia de Swaan continues to make her home in central New York. In recent years she has become increasingly engaged in exploring the photographic possibilities of the Mohawk Valley. “I’m a traveler, explorer and seeker. Having been displaced from my original culture at an early age I feel both out of place and at home anywhere I go. My work stretches the boundaries of documentary photography by incorporating the subjective, the bygone and the intangible,” she said.

In addition to her accomplishments as a photographer, de Swaan directed Utica’s Sculpture Space during the years when that workshop emerged as a force in the American art scene. She has lectured widely, has taught photography at Hamilton, and is currently Scholar-in-Residence at Hamilton.

Sunday, Oct. 10: Visual Music: “Keep Looking Up: Samuel Pellman and Miranda Raimondi’s Selected Nebulae”

For several years, Hamilton’s own Sam Pellman, Leonard C. Ferguson Professor of Music and author of An Introduction to the Creation of Electroacoustic Music, has been composing music that commemorates the human race’s exploration of space. Recently he began working with Miranda Raimondi, Hamilton class of 2008, who produces video accompaniments to his compositions.

Their presentation will be contextualized by several brief films that are landmarks in the long history of cinema as visual music, including the Walt Disney Studio’s Steamboat Willie (1928, the first successful Mickey Mouse cartoon), Oskar Fischinger’s Komposition en Blau (“Composition in Blue,” 1933), the Fleischer Brothers’ Singalong with Popeye (1933), Len Lye’s Kaleidoscope (1935), Norman McLaren’s Begone Dull Care (1949), Bruce Conner’s Cosmic Ray (1962), and Kenneth Anger’s Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965).

Sunday, Oct. 24: Ed Pincus’s Black Natchez (1967)

In 1965, Ed Pincus and David Neuman traveled to Natchez, Miss., to document the civil rights movement that was sweeping the Deep South. In Natchez the black population was struggling to decide which approach to the white power structure might be most effective in ending southern apartheid: some advised working within the system, others wanted to take to the streets, and still others imagined a secret organization that might counter the KKK. Pincus and Neuman found themselves in the middle of this struggle, and the result of their efforts was Black Natchez, a landmark work in the tradition of observational, fly-on-the-wall cinema. Hamilton professor Chad Williams will discuss the film with the audience after the screening.

Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.: Ed Pincus and Jane Pincus present Diaries (1971-1976) (1980

In 1971 MIT film professor Ed Pincus and artist Jane Pincus (one of the founders of the Our Bodies Ourselves Collective) agreed to re-think their 11-year marriage and explore the possibility of open and honest involvements with other partners while maintaining their own nuclear family. The open marriage idea was Jane’s but Ed agreed to it as long as Jane agreed to his filming the experience. Ed’s plan was to film their domestic life for five years then wait another five years before editing the footage. The resulting film, Diaries (1971-1976), was completed in 1980 and has become a landmark of personal documentary. Pincus’s work at both the Film Section at MIT and at Harvard, and this domestic epic, were a crucial inspiration for what has become one of the most productive forms of documentary filmmaking.

Parts One and Two of Diaries (124 minutes) will be shown Sunday afternoon; Parts Three, Four, and Five, on Monday evening (74 minutes). The Pincuses will be present to take questions about the film and its ramifications for their life together.

Sunday, Nov. 7: The Alloy Orchestra, back at Hamilton to perform with the newly restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1928)
(The Battle of the Orchestras, Part 2)

“The best in the world at accompanying silent film” (Roger Ebert), the Alloy trio—Terry Donahue (accordion, musical saw, junk, vocals), Roger Miller (keyboards), and Ken Winokur (clarinet and junk percussion)—return to accompany a remarkable silent film, with their brand new score.

Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang (M) is epic in scope and was inspired by the New York City of the 1920s. The then-sci-fi film was set in the 21st Century in a gigantic metropolis controlled by an authoritarian industrialist and his collaborators who live in a paradise-like garden. His son rebels and goes to live with the workers in a subterranean world below the city, where he becomes fascinated with Maria, a beautiful and charismatic leader in the underground. In response, the industrialist hatches a scheme to crush the workers’ rebellious spirit. According to the original publicity, two million feet of film were exposed for the film and 36,000 extras used; the result is visually astonishing. Metropolis has been an inspiration to many filmmakers, including Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Terry Gilliam and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

In the summer of 2008 the curator of the Buenos Aires Museu del Cine found a negative of Metropolis that included 25 minutes of “lost” footage not seen since the Berlin debut. The negative provided preservationists with a map to the entire film, and for the first time in more than 80 years, the entire uncut movie can be seen. (Approximately 150 minutes.)

Sunday, Nov. 14: Alexander Olch, in person, with The Windmill Movie (2008)

When he died in 2001, all that remained of filmmaker Richard P. Rogers’ attempt to make his autobiography were 200 hours of footage, dusty boxes of film, a broken editing computer and several accomplished films. Then his student and protégé, Alexander Olch, began making a movie out of the pieces. Stepping into his teacher’s shoes and working with Rogers’ friend Wally Shawn and Rogers’ wife, acclaimed photographer Susan Meiselas, Olch made the film that Rogers didn’t make. The result is autobiography and biography, documentary and fiction—and a deeply engaging film about a filmmaker and filmmaking. The Windmill Movie was produced by David Grubin (Hamilton class of 1965) and premiered at the New York Film Festival last year.

Alexander Olch began directing Super-8 films in the fourth grade. By the tenth grade, his short Soaked (1992) was a finalist at the New York National High School Film Festival. His No Vladimir (2000), produced by Chantal Akerman and Ross McElwee at Harvard University, was named one of the top ten student films in the country by the Independent Film Project, was a BBC World Film Festival finalist, and played regularly on Bravo and the Independent Film Channel until 2004.

Sunday, Dec. 5: Hitoshi Toyoda presents NAZUNA (2004-2007)

As digital technologies have taken over from emulsion-based image-making, some filmmakers and photographers have chosen to make work that sings the accomplishment and potential of the disappearing technologies. Hitoshi Toyoda is a self-taught photographer who has worked exclusively in the medium of slideshows for the past ten years. These slideshows are silent and consist of 35mm photographic images taken in the course of Toyoda’s daily life. While the material is taken from the past, the presentation of one image after another appearing and disappearing places emphasis on the weight and value of the present moment. Toyoda’s slideshows evoke haiku because of the way they are able to encompass both the minutiae of daily life and the larger, unknowable forces that govern that life. “Nazuna” refers to a small, common white flower.
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