March 1 2018


March 2 2018


March 2 2018 5PM

Canyon Cinema 50: Cosmic Rays

Guest-curated and introduced by David Dinnell

RT: 76:00 minutes

A program of films from Canyon Cinema, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with touring programs throughout 2018. This special program for Cosmic Rays is presented in conjunction with Sabine Gruffat and Anna Bardone-Cone’s “Visualizing Women’s Lives and Experiences” seminar at UNC. With thanks to Antonella Bonfanti and Sabine Gruffat. David Dinnell is the curator of the CC50 series of 16mm film programs celebrating Canyon Cinema’s 50th year. He is currently Visiting Faculty at the California Institute of the Arts.


Canyon Cinema is a nonprofit film and media arts organization that serves as one of the world’s preeminent sources for artist-made moving image work. 2017 marked its 50th anniversary. The organization celebrates this milestone through the Canyon Cinema 50 project, which includes a screening series in the San Francisco Bay Area, US and international touring programs showcasing newly created prints and digital copies, and an educational website including new essays, ephemera, and interviews with filmmakers and other witnesses to Canyon’s 50-year history.
Lie Back and Enjoy It

Lie Back & Enjoy It

(JoAnn Elam, 1982, 8 minutes, B&W, sound)

JoAnn Elam’s Lie Back & Enjoy It is an absorbing eight-minute dialectical film about the politics of representation. More specifically, it examines the politics of filmic representation of women under patriarchy...The film is endowed with remarkable structural and rhetorical lucidity...Everyone who watches movies with women in them ought to see it. (Claudia Gorbman)
Too Young

Too Young

(Elizabeth Sher, 1982, 3 minutes, color, sound)

Taking off where Brooke Shields left us in her Calvins, this film takes a hard, humorous look at the pressures and frustrations young people (women) (girls) feel as they rush out to explore their sexuality with all the taboos and fears that entails. (Elizabeth Sher)


(Naomi Uman, 1999, 6 minutes, color, sound)

Using a piece of found European porn from the 1970s, nail polish and bleach, this film creates a new pornography, one in which the woman exists only as a hole, an empty, animated space. (Naomi Uman)
Ciao Bella or Fuck Me Dead

Ciao Bella or Fuck Me Dead

(Betzy Bromberg, 1978, 9 minutes, color, sound)

Ciao Bella is a summer-in-the-city travelogue that mixes verité of Lower East Side Bikers, Times Square topless dancers, and Coney Island crowds to achieve a highly charged atmosphere of manic exhibitionism and sexual raunch. (J. Hoberman)
 Mujer de Milfuegos

Mujer de Milfuegos

(Chick Strand, 1976, 15 minutes, color, sound)

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. (Chick Strand


(Barbara Hammer, 1974, 4 minutes, color, sound)

A popular lesbian “commercial,” 110 images of sensual touching montages in A, B, C, D rolls of “kinaesthetic” editing. (Barbara Hammer)
My Name is Oona

My Name is Oona

(Gunvor Nelson, 1969, 10 minutes, B&W, sound)

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; one of the most perfect recent examples of poetic cinema. 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)
Encounters I May or May Not Have Had with Peter Berlin

Encounters I May or May Not Have Had with Peter Berlin

(Mariah Garnett, 2014, 14 minutes, color, sound)

Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin deals primarily with monumentality, narcissism and the ways in which our heroes are embedded into our identities, and manifested through the body. Through a variety of gestures, the pervasiveness of this practice is highlighted alongside its ultimate, inevitable failure. The viewer moves through various stages of anxiety, idolization and actual touchdown with 70s gay sex icon Peter Berlin himself, capturing both the apparent and the hidden. The film guides the viewer through the process of making contact with a figure who exists only in his own photographs.
The film is structured in three parts, which were made chronologically. In the first part the filmmaker appropriates Peter Berlin’s outfits and poses, playfully attempting to embody Peter Berlin’s artistic persona. Each frame of the original 16mm film was then hand-painted to distort the image, producing an animated effect that prevents the viewer from seeing the full performing body. In the second part, a voice over relates a story riddled with anxiety about a potential meeting with Peter Berlin that is paired with images of mansions and window displays. The third and final section is an interview with Peter Berlin in his apartment, describing a moment of exchange that crosses lines of gender and generation, a moment where the identities of two filmmakers briefly coalesce.
Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron)

Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron)

(Cauleen Smith, 1992, 6.5 minutes, color, sound)

Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) is less a depiction of “reality” than an exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers. Using her alter ego, Kelly Gabron, Smith fabricates a personal history of her emergence as an artist from white-male dominated American history (and American film history). (Scott MacDonald)
Cauleen Smith’s rapid-fire Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) likewise concerns the multiplication of personae. With dueling narrators, scrolling text, and collaged photographs, Smith blends autobiography with fantasy, fashioning a character based on the artist who nonetheless seems to exist across centuries, from the Middle Passage to surf-punk California. Even though the film is repeated twice in its entirety, the experience still overwhelms—there’s so much to see, to hear, to unravel, to feel—raising questions which animate the entire screening: When charting your course through a totalizing matrix of oppressive representation, what should you pay attention to? How do you craft your own identity when systems like Hollywood, urban planning, or the art world attempt to define you on their own terms—not yours? And if you’re forced to live a double life, why not use that shifting selfhood as a tactic? (program notes for “Why Couldn’t She Have Two Lives?”, Light Industry, August, 2015)