Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pratt's 16mm Film Rarities

Some Reels Are Still a Big Deal

I work in the A/V Dept. of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, which boasts an extraordinary 16mm film collection. According to my unofficial research, I believe it may be the biggest public library collection in the state, with some 2,139 titles; the next largest collections would be Washington D.C.'s MLK Jr. Public Library with 1,825 films and the Hyattsville branch of the Prince Georges County Public Library with 1,817 titles. (I may be wrong on my count of these other library systems' holdings; my filmmaker friend Jeff Krulik claims P.G. County's tally is closer to 3,000 titles, at least according to his YouTube video tribute to Kent Moore, head of the P.G. County's A/V Department based in Hyattsville, MD. Krulik's video is called The House That Kent Built. Let's just say the Pratt collection is considerable.)

Of those 2,139 films in our collection, many are obscure and hard-to-find titles that are not readily available in other media formats. While I've seen only a scant hundred or so, a fellow cineaste co-worker claims to have seen them all (back in the pre-video '70s and '80s when 16mm was the only medium in town) - an amazing (almost unbelievable) feat. In 2005, I posted a listing of what I considered to be the Top 10 16mm film rarities in the Pratt Library collection. But that list has grown smaller as more and more previously rare films have come out as either DVD reissues or uploaded video clips on YouTube.

For example, Suzan Pitt's surreal animated short Asparagus - for years one of Pratt's reel treasures and a staple of local animation screenings - is now available on an official DVD from First Run Pictures, as well as an unauthorized YouTube viral video. Speaking of unauthorized viral videos on YouTube, Chuck Workman's Precious Images - another hitherto hard-to-find Pratt film short - has now been uploaded there as well, along with Workman's later triumph 100 years at the Movies. And just the other day I spotted that rarest of rare film prints, Yukio Mishima's 1966 seppuku how-to short The Rite of Love and Death (aka Yukoku and Patriotism), which was based on his short story "Patriotism" - and eerily anticipated his real-life death in 1970 - on a slick-looking Criterion Collection DVD on the shelves at Video Americain; retitled Patriotism, the release is tied-in with Criterion's DVD reissue of Paul Schrader's 1985 biopic Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Before that, I would have called this Pratt's rarest 16mm film; word has it that director Paul Schrader requested it on interlibrary loan decades ago while researching his Mishima film.


Suzan Pitt's ASPARAGUS and Mishima's PATRIOTISM are now on DVD

That said, here's an updated assessment of what's left that I consider fairly rare - not including all our experimental, independent and animated shorts (including Baltimore Film Festival award-winning shorts), which are truly rare and too numerous to mention here. And of those rare "experimental" films, many - including previously hard-to-find prints by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Leger and Hans Richter - have already been digitally remastered and released on DVD collections such as Kino's Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and 30s and Avant-Garde 2, not to mention all the Norman McLaren shorts that finally came out in 2006 on Homevision's definitive Norman McLaren: The Masters Edition DVD collection. Needless to say, I'm sure I skipped over many other entries worthy of mention, but you have to draw the line somewhere - and a fine line it is!

To see if any of the films listed below are currently available for loan at Pratt Library, click on the catalog link appearing below each title.

MEDIUM: RARE - 16MM FILM HIGHLIGHTS



Actua-Tilt (1960)
dir. Jean Herman

This experimental short combines live action and animation to capture the emptiness, violence, and depersonalized sexuality of much of modern life by focusing on a group of men in a Parisian bistro. As they wander aimlessly from one pinball machine to another - yawning, drinking, never speaking or looking at each other - the men reveal their boredom, callousness and desire for something – anything - to relieve the tedium of their lives. The director intercuts footage of women in cheesecake poses, violence, and war indicate the men's longings, their fantasies, their idea of "something to do." In French with English subtitles. "Jean Herman" is the pseudonymn of French writer Jean Vautrin. (Jean Herman, 1960, b&w, 12 minutes, 16mm).
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Aquarium, A Different Documentary (1982)
dir. Steve Yeager

Before he achieved national acclaim with his award-winning documentary about John Waters, Divine Trash (Filmmakers Trophy, Sundance Film Festival, 1998), Baltimore native Steve Yeager made this behind-the-scenes look at the daily operations of the then-new National Aquarium in Baltimore, including maintenance of the exhibits and the aquatic animals. (Steve Yeager, 1982, 10 minutes, 16mm)
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Braverman's Condensed Cream of Beatles (1973)
dir. Charles Braverman

An award-winning history of the Beatles and the 1960's from the flip, exuberant, youthful days to the sober, socially conscious end of the decade is seen in a fast moving collage of still pictures, films clips, works of art, and album covers accompanied by the innovative music of the British quartet. Excerpts from their films are also effectively intercut, presenting the spirit of the Beatles, the spirit of the times and the lasting imprint of life and culture made by this remarkable group of musicians. Awards: Atlanta Film Festival, Academy Award (Oscar).(Charles Braverman, 1973, 17 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Broken Strings (1940)
dir. Bernard B. Ray

Baltimore's own Clarence Muse stars as a musician who, because of an injury, can no longer play the violin. This is an example of a non-Hollywood production made with a black cast for black theater circuits in the days of segregation. (L.C. Borden, 1940, 57 minutes, 16mm)
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Daybreak Express (1953)
dir. D. A. Pennebaker

This is the first film made by cinema verite documentarian D. A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back). Set to the music of Duke Ellington's "Daybreak Express," it records a ride on New York City's 3rd Avenue elevated railway. Pennebaker described the experience of making his first film as follows:
I wanted to make a film about this filthy, noisy train and it’s packed-in passengers that would look beautiful, like the New York City paintings of John Sloan, and I wanted it to go with one of my Duke Ellington records, “Daybreak Express.” I didn’t know much about film editing, or in fact about shooting, so I bought a couple of rolls of Kodachrome at the drugstore, and figured that since the record was about three minutes long, by shooting carefully I could fit the whole thing onto one roll of film. Of course that didn’t work since I couldn’t start and stop my hand-wound camera that easily so I ended up shooting both rolls and even a few more before I was through. It took about three days to film, and then sat in a closet for several years until I figured out how to edit it and make a print that I could show on a projector.
This short played prior to the British comedy film The Horse's Mouth (1958) during its theatrical run and is included on the Criterion Collection DVD of that film. (D.A. Pennebaker, 1953, 5 minutes, 16mm)
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De Duva (The Dove) (1968)
dir. George Coe & Anthony Lover

Nominated for an Oscar (Best Short Subject - Live Action) in 1969, this short parodies three of Ingmar Bergman's films - Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, and The Silence. It also marked the first film role of Madeline Kahn. Speaking in mock Swedish, with English subtitles, a retired physicist with a hernia recalls, while sitting in an outhouse, a garden party he attended as a youth. In a game of badminton rather than chess, Death loses his intended victim because of a hilarious obstacle - a dirty pigeon. Director George Coe was one of the original cast members on the first three episodes of Saturday Night Live. And script writer Sid Davis, who also plays the role of Death, is perhaps best known as a director/producer of educational safety films; he was also a long-time body double for John Wayne. (George Coe and Anthony Lover, 1968, 15 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Deafula (1975)
dir. Peter Weschberg

Deafula was the world's only movie filmed entirely in "Sign-Scope." Director Peter Weschberg stars as Count Dracula in this film made for the deaf and hearing-impaired that is told entirely through sign-language. Long out-of-print, it is available for rental in 16mm film format through Enoch Pratt Free Library's Audio-Visual Department.

See Mike White's review and interview with producer Gary Holstrom in Cashiers du Cinemart. See also Albert Walker's Deafula Recap and Bryan White's review "In Transylvania, No One Hears You Scream." (Peter Weschberg, 1975, 95 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight) (1965)
dir. Orson Welles

Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff) is a 1965 Spanish-French-Swiss co-production directed by Orson Welles that is based on the Shakespeare character Sir John Falstaff. The script contains text from five Shakespeare plays: primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The film's narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Holinshed. The cast includes Welles himself as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Hal, Sir John Gielgud as Henry IV, Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet, and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly.

Along with The Trial, Welles considered this his best work, saying "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I'd offer up." Many critics, including Peter Bogdanovich and Jonathan Rosenbaum, consider it Welles's finest work and one of the best-ever Shakespeare film adaptations. The gory Battle of Shrewsbury scene in particular has been widely admired, serving as inspiration for movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. But due to complications concerning the film's ownership, Welles' classic remains unavailable in the United States; it is currently available only as an import DVD from Brazil. Locally, Welles fans can head to Video Americain, where an out-of-print VHS copy holds a place of honor on its shelves (thank God for VA - what would we do without these film fanatics?)

Awards: In 1966, Welles was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival and won that festival's 20th Anniversary Prize and the Technical Grand Prize. In Spain, the film won the 1966 Citizens Writers Circle Award for Best Film and in 1968 Welles was nominated for the UK's BAFTA film award as Best Foreign Actor. (Orson Welles, 1965, Spain-France-Switzerland, 115 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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FILM (1965)
dir. Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett's only foray into the medium of cinema is this 20-minute, almost totally silent film (no dialogue or music one 'shhh!') in which Buster Keaton attempts to evade observation by an all-seeing eye. But, as the film is based around Bishop Berkeley's principle 'esse est percipi' (to be is to be perceived), Keaton's very existence conspires against his efforts. (Samuel Beckett, 1965, 20 minutes, 16mm)
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Four Films by Emile Cohl, 1857-1938
dir. Emile Cohl

Short films utilizing technical innovations that greatly extended the resources of animation: Fantasmagorie (1908); Le Ratelier (The Dentures) (1909); Mobelier fidele (Automatic moving company) (1910); Professor Bonehead is Dead (1912).
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Frank Film (1973)
dir. Frank and Caroline Mouris

Esteemed as "probably the most celebrated American short," Frank Film is a collection of 11,592 collages sequenced to illustrate the chronology of filmmaker Frank Mouris’ life. Accompanied by two continuous narrative sound tracks played simultaneously, it provide a witty comment by a young filmmaker on his growing up in middle-class American society. Spanning the years of 1945-1973, this short film goes beyond the story of one man's existence to become a collective autobiography of our time. 1974 Academy Award winner (Best Short Subject - Animated Films). If you must own it, a VHS copy is available from Direct Cinema - but it's pricey ($95). (Frank and Caroline Mouris, 1973, 9 minutes, color)
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Help! My Snowman's Melting Down (1964)
dir. Carson Davidson

In this Oscar-nominated satire on avant-garde surrealistic films (1965, Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects), a beatnik in a homburg hat sits in a bathtub on a New York pier, typing on toilet paper and later fishing by casting his ring-baited line down the bath drain. When a female hand emerges from the drain, he paints one fingernail and it disappears. When he opens a medicine cabinet, he finds another guy shaving on the other side. Eventually his bathtub sets sail in the harbour, only to encounter a toy sub in the film’s climax. Pratt also owns another Oscar-nominated short by Carson Davidson, 3rd Ave. El. (Carson Davidson, 1964, 10 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Honeymoon Hotel (1971)
dir. Tony Ganz and Rhody Streeter

This humorous short film, originally broadcast on The Great American Dream Machine television program, features interviews with newlyweds staying in an outrageously furnished hotel in America's honeymoon resort capital, The Poconos. The young married couples reveal their sense of values as they extol the gauche pleasures of the hotel - complete with red velvet walls and heart-shaped bathtubs - as a realization of their material fantasies. Not to be confused with 1934 Warner Brothers animated short of the same title. (Tony Ganz and Rhody Streeter, 1971, 4 minutes, 16mm)
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The Hour of the Furnaces (La Hora de los Hornos) (1968)
dir. Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino

This monumental three-part documentary comes on three separate reels totaling 260 minutes and is in Spanish with English subtitles. It uses Argentina as a model to describe the anti-colonialist struggles in Latin America. Part I: Neo-Colonialism and Violence (95 minutes) contains historic, geographic, and economic background presented in a prologue and in thirteen separate film essays. Part II: An Act for Liberation (120 minutes) includes two presentations: Chronicle of Peronism, which uses newsreel and historical footage to study the political career of Juan Peron from 1945 to 1955, and Chronicle of Resistance, which follows the Peronist movement after Peron's fall from power. Part III: Violence and Liberation (45 minutes) contains an analysis of violence in mass revolutionary movements in Argentina and presents a call for participation in the national liberation effort there. According to allmovie.com reviewer Brian Whitener, "Long withheld from American audiences, this biting Argentine documentary and founding text of the New Latin American Cinema movement examines and attacks the neo-colonialism of Europe and the United States from a Latin American perspective. It is one of the single most important films from the 1960s and the tradition of critical cinema." Awards: Interfilm Award, Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival, 1968. (Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Argentina, 1968, 260 minutes, 16mm)
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Jazz Hoofer (1981)
dir. William Hancock

This documentary film short contains the only known footage of legendary black tap dancer and Baltimore native Baby Lawrence (born Laurence Jackson), including sequences shot in New York just before he died in 1974. In addition to performances of his unique style, the film provides a history of tap with demonstrations of the steps used by other great tap dancers (including King Rastus Brown, Bill Robinson and John Bubbles), as well as rare film clips of Charlie Parker and Art Tatum playing the music that inspired Lawrence's tap-dancing style. (William Hancock, 1981, 30 minutes, 16mm)
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The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough (1981)
dir. Peter Rose

Experimental filmmaker Peter Rose (brother of animator Kathy Rose) uses literary, structural, autobiographical, and performance metaphors to construct a series of tableaux that evoke the act of vision, the limits of perception, and the rapture of space. According to the filmmaker's website (www.peterrosepicture.com), this film features "spectacular moving multiple images; a physical, almost choreographic sense of camera movement; and massive, resonant sound have inspired critics to call it 'stunning' and 'hallucinatory.' The film ranges in subject from a solar eclipse shot off the coast of Africa to a hand-held filmed ascent of the Golden Gate Bridge, and moves, in spirit, from the deeply personal to the mythic." The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough has won awards at numerous festivals, including the Oberhausen, Edinburgh, American, and Sydney Film Festivals, and is in collections at Centre Pompidou in Paris and at Image Forum in Tokyo. Pratt also owns Rose's Secondary Currents (1983, 19 minutes), an imageless film that looks at the nature of language. (Peter Rose, 1981, 33 minutes, 16mm)
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Marine Boy: The Mini Micro Wave (1968 or 1969)
In this rare episode of the late '60s animated TV series, a wacky professor invents a dangerous microwave that makes everything very small. Marine Boy goes to get that wave but is captured by the professor. Finally, some friends - a mermaid, a dolphine, a little boy - rescue him and all of them together destroy the professor and his invention. Marine Boy was known as Kaitei Shonen Marien (Marine The Sea Bottom Boy) in Japan. 78 episodes were produced by Minoru Adachi through K Fujita Associates Inc and released by Japan Tele Cartoons between 1966-1967and Seven Arts Television world-wide between 1968-1969. Marine Boy’s voice was by Corrine Orr, also know for her work on Speed Racer as the voice of Trixie, Spritle and all females on that show. She is also the voice of Snuggle, the fabric softener bear. Peter Fernandez (the voice of Speed and Racer X on Speed Racer) played Marine Boy’s father, as well as many villains on the show. He also wrote the words to the classic theme song “Go, Speed Racer,Go!") (1968 or 1969, 23 minutes, 16mm)
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Music! (1968)
dir. James Archibald

Great Britain’s National Music Council produced this 1968 film as a documentary record of their nation's music and it was later broadcast on American television in 1970 as part of NBC-TV's short-lived Experiment in Televsion series that was aimed at youth culture. It uses quick-cut montage techniques to survey the many and varied roles of the music maker in Britain, including opera singer, street musician, school and military band, electronic musician, jug band, folk singer. But the film is most famous for six minutes of rare footage showing The Beatles rehearsing "Hey Jude" at Abbey Road Studios. The take is preceded by an odd 24-second clip of a printer spewing out a list of Lennon/McCartney song titles. Paul McCartney is first seen scat-singing some Little Richard lyrics with John throwing in a refrain from “Drive My Car," before Paul announces “‘Jude’ in A minor”. Partway through the take, the scene cuts to George Harrison in the booth discussing various forms of music with George Martin. Further takes ensue, with Ringo complaining that he caught his pants in his bass drum pedal and John sarcastically suggesting that Ringo solve the problem by removing them! (James Archibald, 1968, 50 minutes, color, 16mm)
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New Architect In Town (1972)
dir. George Gipe and George Udel

This is an extremely rare film by two Baltimore film legends, George Gipe and George Udel. George Gipe (1933-1986) was a screenwriter most famous for co-writing the Steve Martin comedies Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) and The Man with Two Brains (1983). George Udel (1916-1999) was active in the Baltimore film community, founding the Baltimore Film Forum as well as the "Cinema Sundays" series at the Charles Theatre, where his portrait hangs in the theatre lobby. (You can read his obit in the 11/24/1999 issue of the Baltimore City Paper.) Catalog description of New Architect In Town: "A fresco of sights and sounds recalls the city as it was meant to be - a friendly and attractive place for commerce and social life. This is shattered with scenes of lawlessness and violence and the city's architecture becomes a fortress. Final scenes of forgotten and neglected structures suggest a possible apocalyptic future." (George Gipe and George Udel, 1972, 8 minutes, 16mm)
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Precious Images(1986)
dir. Chuck Workman

In this Academy Award-winning film (Best Short Film, Live Action, 1986), director Chuck Workman presents the greatest scenes from 50 years of film - from Citizen Kane to Star Wars – in six breakneck minutes of skillful editing. The incredible short cuts of roughly a second each push the audience into a kind of trance and take them on a journey into their individual memories of great films of half a century. Workman's annual montages are often the visual highlight of each year's Academy Awards telecast. Precious Images went on to become the most widely-viewed short appearing in schools, museums, film festivals and movie theaters worldwide. Precious Images is one of five Workman films in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. (Chuck Workman, 1986, 6 minutes, b&w and color, 16mm)
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Rendezvous (1976)
dir. Claude Lelouche

Few films are as steeped in myth as this 9-minute adrenalin-fueled speed race by Claude Lelouche (Un Homme et Une Femme). Mounting a point-of-view camera on the front of the car, Lelouche takes viewers on a wild high-speed drive through the streets of Paris - all filmed without special effects, sped-up film or blocked-off streets. A favorite of the editors of Car & Driver magazine (“better than any chase ever filmed, because it’s real”). Also known as C'etait un Rendez-vous. This film only recently became available on DVD, but at $29.95 is rather pricey for a 9-minute film; you can also watch it for free on YouTube. (Claude Lelouche, 1976, 9 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Replay (1970)
dir. Robert Deugel

This film by Robert Duebel makes the point that history repeats itself and that change is often merely a "replay" of past events. As middle-aged speakers berate the current trends in fashion, dance and entertainment, Duebel uses archival film and photographs of 1920s dance marathons, flapper fashions, early suffragettes, and Pre-Code silent screen stars to point out that the styles and attitudes of yesteryear were just as outlandish and that the Generation Gap may actually be a Generation Link. But what makes this film most memorable is the title song "Replay"; composer Charles Strouse re-used the melody with new lyrics 12 years later as "Tomorrow" in the musical Annie (1982). (Robert Duebel, 1970, 8 minutes, 16mm)
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Report, 1964-1965 (1967)
dir. Bruce Conner

In a work of memory, affection, and grief, filmmaker Bruce Conner uses experimental techniques, such as stop-action newsreel footage, numbered leader, television commercials, and a scene from Frankenstein, to record the assassination of President Kennedy, and to protest the exploitation of his death and the violence of the times in which he lived. Between 1963 and 1967, this film went through seven transformations (Pratt's print is a version from 1967), and in 2005 Conner transferred the film to digital for yet another version.(Bruce Conner, 1965, 13 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
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About Bruce Conner:
Conner passed away July 7, 2008. The New York Times printed an excellent obit as well as Manohla Dargis' appreciation article "An Artist of the Cutting-Room Floor."

During the 1960s Conner became an active force in the San Francisco counterculture as a collaborator in light shows for the legendary Family Dog at the Avalon ballroom, and through his intricate black-and-white mandala drawings and elaborate collages made from scraps of 19th-century engravings, all of which remain icons of the period's sensory-based spirituality. In the 70s, he started photographing SF punk bands for Search & Destroy magazine after seeing Devo play there (on a tip from his pal Antonia Christina Basiloti - better known as Tony Basil - who years earlier he filmed dancing naked in 1966's Breakaway). A rarely seen Bruce Conner video for "Mongoloid" appears on the Rhino DVD Devo - The Complete Truth About De-Evolution. Another music video, “America Is Waiting” - a three-minute film he made in collaboration with David Byrne and Brian Eno in 1982 - is one of several Conner films that can be seen on YouTube.com.


Stan VanDerBeek Films
Columbia, Maryland-native Stan VanDerBeek was an American experimental filmmaker who ran the University of Maryland Baltimore County'sVisual Arts program until his death in 1984. His early works featured cut-up collage animation techniques that evoked the spirit of surrealism and dadaism, but with an ironic sense of humor more akin to the Beat Generation (they were also a major influence on Terry Gilliam's work with the British comedy troupe Monty Python). By the end of the 1960s, he branched into exploring computer animated films and holographic experiments. VanDerBeek's films are very hard to find. Pratt owns four VanDerBeek films on 16mm.
Breathdeath (1964)
The filmmaker, an early experimenter with collage-animation, cuts up photos and newsreel footage to produce an image that is "a mixture of unexplainable fact ... with inexpicable act. Dedicated to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton." He has created a surrealistic fantasy based on the 15th century woodcuts of the dance of the dead. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1964, 15 minutes, 16mm)
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Euclidean Illusions (1979)
This animated film, made on a computer at the NASA Space Center in Houston, is an abstract exercise in which various geometric shapes turn in space. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1979, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Mirrored Reason (1983)
A study in paranoia about a woman's vision of herself being replaced by another woman. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1983, 9 minutes, 16mm)
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Science Friction (1959)
In this social satire on rockets, scientists, and the competive mania between nations in the modern world, the filmmaker experiments with animation of cut-out collage figures and objects, and an abstract sound track. You can watch it on YouTube. (Stan VanDerBeek, 1959, 10 minutes, 16mm)
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The Star-Spangled City: Our Baltimore (1978)
dir. Vincent Dantini

This labor of love was directed, produced and narrated by hometown history buff and magician Vincent Dantini (his business card said "Dantini - He Knew Houdini!"), who passed away in 1979. It was the Fells Point resident's fourth and final film and Dantini rented out the 13,500-seat Baltimore Civic Center (what today is the 1st Mariner Arena) for its 1978 premiere. Besides featuring guest appearances by Blaze Starr, City Councilman Mimi DiPietro, and Mayor William Donald Schaefer, it also offered a look at one of the earliest Baltimore City Fairs. There are two print versions in Pratt's archives - a 27-minute one-reeler and an hour-length two-reeler print, the latter managing to capture a fire in the background while Dantini is touring the Inner Harbor! Pratt also has a film about Dantini - whose real name was Vincent Cierkes - Chris Buchman's Dantini the Magnificent (1968); described as a "film poem," the 17-minute film documents a day in the life of the magician as he walks around Fells Point. (Dantini Films, 1978, 27 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Stoned: An Anti-Drug Film (edited version) (1980)
dir. Jack Herzfeld

Scott Baio (Chachi of Happy Days and Charles of Charles In Charge) stars as Jack Melon, a bespectacled, pocket protector-toting high school misfit who is too shy to form any meaningful relationships with his peers in this edited version of the 1980 ABC Afterschool Special. Living in the shadow of his popular jock brother, “Melonhead” Jack starts smoking pot and suddenly turns into a confident alter ego he dubs “Super Jack.” It takes a terrifying brush with tragedy for Super Jack to see the dangers of smoking marijuana. (Jack Herzfeld, 1980, 30 minutes, 16mm film)
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Study in Wet (1964)
dir. Homer Groening

This is a film by Homer Groening, father of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Unlike the dim-witted Homer depicted in The Simpsons, Matt Groening's real father was a multifaceted artist and filmmaker who specialized in surfing movies. Everything in this film is literally wet, as Groening captures the sounds and pictures of water at rare moments, including views of gigantic waves, Monet-like reflections, a crying girl's tears, goldfish trapped in a diving mask, and of divers and surfers flying into the water. The music, by Maurice Engleman, is made entirely of water sounds from a dripping faucet. Like his famous son, Homer Groening was also a cartoonist, as well as an advertising pioneer, museum founder, filmmaker and war hero. He passed away in March 1995. (Homer Groening, 1964, 7 minutes, color, 16mm)
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Super Artist, Andy Warhol (1967)
dir. Juan Drago & Bruce Torbet

This short documentary - filmed at The Factory at the height of Warhol's popularity - is virtually unknown and rarely seen, though footage from it appears in Ric Burns' 2006 documentary feature film Andy Warhol. Directors Drago and Torbet follow a surprisingly relaxed and open Andy Warhol, at the peak of his powers in 1965 and 1966, around his bustling original "Factory" in midtown Manhattan. Warhol experiments with an early videotape machine, recording Edie Sedgwick - his "superstar" of the moment - for the video portion of Outer and Inner Space, his filmed record of the "live" Sedgwick juxtaposed against her video image on an adjacent monitor. Also captured is a Warhol show at the Leo Castelli gallery, including the famous Mylar "Clouds," as various unnamed art dealers and critics muse in voiceover about the meaning and significance of Warhol's work. Also known as Superartist. (Juan Drago & Bruce Torbet, 1965, 22 minutes, 16mm)
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Time Piece (1965)
dir. Jim Henson

Not available in any other format (VHS, DVD) but this 16mm print. This early live-action film produced by and starring Jim Hensen (of Muppets fame) documents a day in the live of one man in the urban rat race. While he is in a hospital bed, the typical day of a young executive flashes before his eyes. Realistic scenes cut to wild dream sequences that comment on the reality they interpret. Nominated for an Oscar (Best Short Subject – Live Action) in 1966. Produced by Jim Henson, photographed by Ted Nemeth with music by Don Sebesky. (Jim Hensen, 1965, 9 minutes, color, 16mm)
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3 Comments:

Anonymous Eric said...

Where can you buy 16mm films in Maryland? I've heard flea markets and used bookstores recommended, but I've checked all the used bookstores I can find and I have no idea how to find out about the flea markets.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous John Heyn said...

Great blog entry! Hey, I'm breaking out my 16mm projector for a backyard screening over Labor Day weekend. Video projectors have become too common. Let's go 'old school' this time. You should stop by.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Used Films for Sale
http://userpages.bright.net/~sschuler/film/index.html

7:12 PM  

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