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Independent Filmmaking

Ritual in Transfigured Time, 1946

A silent, textural, and hypnotic composition in movement and expression, the opening sequence of Ritual in Transfigured Time posits the innate duality of human nature as an animated, approachable female figure (Maya Deren) alternately framed in high contrast against a pair of interchangeable doorways, beckons a seemingly naïve young dancer (Rita Christiani) into a large… read more »

Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943

A large flower, the silhouette of a figure briskly walking away, a house key, a bread knife, a telephone receiver resting off the hook, and a spinning phonographic turntable define the shifting functional elements in Meshes of the Afternoon from which the film’s evolving, malleable construct – the fragile and tenuously interconnected mesh of actual… read more »

Seventeen, 1983

One of the highlights from Film Comment Selects this year was the screening of Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines’s underseen cinéma vérité film, Seventeen, a reverent and candid cross-cultural portrait of working class high school students from Muncie, Indiana that was once deemed objectionable for broadcast on PBS (the film had been commissioned as part… read more »

Demon Lover Diary, 1980

Inasmuch as Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines collaborative documentary, Seventeen provides an intimate and compassionate portrait of teenaged life in middle America, DeMott’s earlier film, Demon Lover Diary – a diary of Kreines’s reluctant involvement with the shooting of a schlock horror film called Demon Lover in suburban Michigan – proves to be its antithesis… read more »

On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time, 1959

The panning shot of an anonymous city street establishes the tensile, yet integral relationship between citizen and environment in Guy Debord’s dense and minimalist essay On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time, describing the rows of generic apartment buildings as places of refuge from the constant social immersion… read more »

Sink or Swim, 1990

Composed of twenty-six distinctive chapters, each thematic, one word title representing a letter of the alphabet in reverse order, Sink or Swim is, in some ways, an autobiographical corollary to Su Friedrich’s The Ties That Bind, a series of allusive, poetic, and insightful third person anecdotes that deconstruct the complicated relationship between a girl –… read more »

The Ties that Bind, 1985

In an interview with Scott MacDonald for A Critical Cinema 2, Su Friedrich comments that the inspiration for her first feature film arose from the idea of her mother’s seeming uprootedness despite having settled in the United States since after the war. This sentiment of an elusive home suffuses her mother, Lore Bucher Friedrich’s candid,… read more »

Program 7: Nina Fonoroff

The Accursed Mazurka, 1994 A series of stark, alienating, and desolate expressionistic images convey a sense of foreboding and dread as a scratched, narrative soundtrack (reminiscent of an early generation, low fidelity audio broadcast recording) presents an anonymous, paranoiac woman’s curious hypothesis that the onset of her psychological break from reality had been triggered by… read more »

Animated Passions: The Films of Ursula Ferrara

During the Q&A for the screening of Animated Passions: The Films of Ursula Ferrara, Ferrara commented that her body of work reflects the conventional progression of her formal art school training, graduating from monochrome to color, simple sketches to more complex forms. The theme of evolution and transformation is also integrally connected to the metaphorical… read more »

Go Go Tales, 2007

During the Q&A for Go Go Tales, native New Yorker Abel Ferrara indicated that although the film’s main setting, Ray Ruby’s Paradise Lounge looks like something straight out of the city’s seedier sections, the authentically gaudy look of the cabaret was actually inspired by an interchangeable array of fly-by-night strip clubs that used to operate… read more »

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