Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Martha Colburn cuts out the boring parts

Martha Colburn, erstwhile Baltimore auteur

Baltimore has been associated with a number of talented filmmakers, but none more talented and creative than Skizz Cyzyk and Martha Colburn. Martha may have left town a few years back to relocate to New Amsterdam (Queens, NY actually) and ye olde Amsterdam, but her legacy lives on! Here's a recent profile of her by New York Close Up that the good folks at Art 21 alerted me to.

Watch "Martha Colburn cuts out the boring parts."

Martha Colburn Cuts the Boring Parts Out | "New York Close Up" | Art21 from Art21 on Vimeo.

In this film, artist Martha Colburn traces the evolution of her work, from her first found-footage films to subsequent hand-painted and stop-motion animations.

Anne Hornaday once described Colburn's work as "visually brilliant, politically trenchant, always imaginative and usually provocative." Speaking of politically trenchant, Martha Colburn recently created an experimental live action documentary short about the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Watch Martha's film "Occupy Wall Street."

Here's Bad Lit's Mike Everleth describing the new work:
Mostly known for her animated films, Martha Colburn returns to live action with a short experimental documentary on the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been going on since mid-September. The above embedded video is actually two short films that should play one right after another. Rather than get into the goals and message of the protestors, Colburn simply documents the scene, displaying the same kind of frenetic montage that her animated films have.

What’s particularly appealing about this short doc is that it also displays a heavy ’60s underground film vibe. While Colburn leaves her shots a little longer than the then-popular “single-frame” shooting technique, the effect is essentially the same, creating a disorienting, kaleidoscope documentary vision. The film is not unlike classic undergrounds like Marie Menken’s Go! Go! Go! and Shirley Clarke’s Bridges-Go-Round.

Also, the “single-frame” technique is particularly appropriate here, centering the action right in the middle of the mad crush of protestors and policemen so that the viewer can get a feel of being a participant and not just a spectator.

The music in the documentary is by Tom Carter, a frequent collaborator with Colburn, especially with performing live scores to her films.

The comparison to Marie Mencken's Go! Go! Go! and Shirley Clarke's Bridges-Go-Round (available on the DVD Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986) is spot on.

Apropos of nothing, below is one of my favorite photos (taken from a video screen grab) of George Figgs cavorting with Martha at the 1999 Maryland Film Festival.

"Martha, I vant to bite your neck!" George Figgs amuses Martha Colburn at the 1999 Maryland Film Festival; George screened Martha's shorts at his Orpheum Theater

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