Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA Presents
Avatar and Aether: Visionary Women and the Cinematic Occult
MOCA Grand Avenue, Ahmanson Auditorium
Thursday, January 8, 7 PM
To coincide with Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman, Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA presents a program of short films by visionary women that explore heightened states of observation and consciousness, transformation and transcendence, and the ecstasy of experience. Featuring a diverse array of works spanning nearly 60 years of filmmaking, the films in Avatar and Aether: Visionary Women and the Cinematic Occult are presented in their original 16 mm film format, perhaps the most appropriate medium for paying tribute to Cameron: full of texture, nuance, mystery, intimacy, and beauty, not to mention a modicum of obscurity. Filmforum and MOCA are honored to welcome two of the artists in person: Amy Halpern (Invocation, Elixir) and Betzy Bromberg (Az Iz).
Invocation (Amy Halpern, 1982, 16mm, color, silent 24fps, 2 min.)
Gesturing hands emerge from the darkness, readying us for the cinematic experience.
The Wormwood Star (Curtis Harrington, 1955-56, 16mm, color, sound, 10 min.)
Curtis Harrington's singular, mystical portrait of Cameron also functions as a rare document of numerous artworks subsequently destroyed by the artist not long after the making of the film.
My Name is Oona (Gunvor Nelson, 1967, 16mm, b/w, sound, 10 min.)
"My Name Is Oona captures in haunting, intensely lyrical images fragments of the coming to consciousness of a child girl. A series of extremely brief flashes of her moving through night-lit space or woods in sensuous negative, separated by rapid fades into blackness, burst upon us like a fairy-tale princess, with a late sun only partially outlining her and the animal in silvery filigree against the encroaching darkness... Throughout the entire film, the girl, compulsively and as if in awe, repeats her name, until it becomes a magic incantation of self-realization." —Amos Vogel, The Village Voice
Aether (Daina Krumins, 1972, 16mm, color, sound, 4.5 min.)
A sci-fi/occult/psychedelic performance film set to an original soundtrack by Rhys Chatham, Krumins establishes a haunting and unique visual vocabulary which blooms and unfolds in free association.
Roseblood (Sharon Couzin, 1974, 16mm, color, sound, 8 min.)
The dance of Carolyn Chave Kaplan; Music from Stockhausen’s "Hymnen" and "Mantra," Enesco’s "Sonata No. 3 in A Minor." "Images of a woman in dance, in flora, in picture, in eyes, in architecture, in sunshine, in color, in crystal, in space, in confusion, in danger, in disintegration, in her hand, in birth, in the Valley of Sorrow, in the sea, in repetition, in sculpture and in herself." —Sharon Couzin
Mujer de Milfuegos/Woman of a Thousand Fires (Chick Strand, 1976, 16mm, color, sound, 15 min.)
"A kind of heretic fantasy film. An expressionistic, surrealistic portrait of a Latin American woman. Not a personal portrait so much as an evocation of the consciousness of women in rural parts of such countries as Spain, Greece and Mexico; women who wear black from the age 15 and spend their entire lives giving birth, preparing food and tending to household and farm responsibilities. Mujer de Milfuegos depicts in poetic, almost abstract terms, their daily repetitive tasks as a form of obsessive ritual... The film uses dramatic action to express the thoughts and feelings of a woman living within this culture. As she becomes transformed, her isolation and desire, conveyed in symbolic activities, endows her with a universal quality. Through experiences of ecstasy and madness we are shown different aspects of the human personality. The final sequence presents her awareness of another level of knowledge." —Chick Strand
Elixir (Amy Halpern, 2012, 16mm, color, silent 24fps, 7 min.)
A silent ritual in which an alchemy of bodies, gestures, potions, and lactations intermingle in an intuitive, organic ceremony.
Az Iz (Betzy Bromberg, 1983, 16mm, color, sound, 37 min.)
Employing a kaleidscopic variety of 16mm film stocks, Betzy Bromberg vividly suggests an ever-shifting, fragmentary, first-person consciousness drawn in, bewitched, and ultimately transformed by a dessicated, alien landscape. The searching camera, arrhythmic cutting, and diverse textures create an intimate, mesmeric vision hovering between the impressionistic and expressionistic "A descent into a desert underworld. A macabre tale of life and lifelessness." —Betzy Bromberg
Thanks to the Academy Film Archive for preservation prints of Invocation, The Wormwood Star, and Aether. Additional thanks to Canyon Cinema and the filmmakers for their participation. Program and notes unless otherwise stated by Mark Toscano of the Academy Film Archive.
$12 general admission, $7 students with valid ID.
FREE for MOCA & Los Angeles Filmforum members;
must present current membership card to claim free tickets.
INFO 213/621-1745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.