Film Series

February 11 - May 20, 2010
75 Years in the Dark: A Partial History of Film at SFMOMA

Phyllis Wattis Theater

In 1937, Grace McCann Morley set up a screen and some chairs in the rotunda of the War Memorial Veterans Building (SFMOMA's first home) and showed films: D. W. Griffith, Walt Disney, The Jazz Singer, All Quiet on the Western Front, and the first ever Movietone newsreel featuring George Bernard Shaw. She believed that film, the 20th century's very own visual art form, should have a place in a museum of modern art. From the beginning, it's been an eclectic and inclusive mix: high- and lowbrow; shorts and features; fiction and documentary; studio, independent, and artists' films; video and digital media.

For our anniversary, we invited three guest curators to explore film in the context of the history of modern visual arts and assemble programs from three successiveeras. In Programs 1, 2, and 3, Scott MacDonald, one of the country's foremost film historians, looks at 1937 through 1960. Steve Anker, dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts, covers 1960 to 1985 in Programs 4 through 6 (screening in March and April). Former SFMOMA Curator of Media Arts Benjamin Weil selects from 1985 to the present in Programs 7 through 9 (May).

Past

The Europeans: Creating a Context
Buy tickets The Europeans: Creating a Context

The Smiling Madame Beudet, Germaine Dulac, 1922, 35 min., 16mm
Study No. 7, Oskar Fischinger, 1931, 3 min., 16mm
Rain, Joris Ivens, 1929, 15 min., 35mm
Composition in Blue, Oskar Fischinger, 1935, 4 min., 35mm
Carmen, Lotte Reiniger, 1932, 11 min., 16mm
A Colour Box, Len Lye, 1935, 5 min., 35mm
The Vampire, Jean Painlevé, 1945, 9 min., 35mm with English subtitles
Swinging the Lambeth Walk, Len Lye, 1940, 3 min., 35mm
Curated by Scott MacDonald, film historian

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Some American Experiments
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Gertie the Dinosaur, Winsor McCay, 1914, 9 min., 16mm
Le retour à la raison, Man Ray, 1923, 5 min., 16mm
Steamboat Willie, Ub Iwerks/Disney Studio, 1928, 5 min., 16mm
The River, Pare Lorentz, 1937, 30 min., 16mm
Ritual in Transfigured Time, Maya Deren, 1946, 15 min., 16mm
Light Reflections, Jim Davis, 1949, 15 min., 16mm
The Bells of Atlantis, Ian Hugo, 1953, 9 min., 16mm
Zig Zag, Frank Stauffacher, 1948, 8 min., 16mm
Curated by Scott MacDonald, film historian

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The Bay Area Arrives
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Zig Zag, Frank Stauffacher, 1948, 8 min., 16mm
Mother's Day, James Broughton, 1948, 23 min., 16mm
No. 2 and No. 3, Harry Smith, 1947, 5 min., 16mm
Sausalito, Frank Stauffacher, 1949, 10 min., 16mm
Lead Shoes, Sidney Peterson, 1949, 17 min., 16mm
Notes on the Port of St. Francis, Frank Stauffacher, 1952, 20 min., 16mm
Mandala, Jordan Belson, 1953, 7 min., 16mm
Allures, Jordan Belson, 1961, 8 min., 16mm
Curated by Scott MacDonald, film historian

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On Film at SFMOMA: 75 Years in the Dark
On Film at SFMOMA: 75 Years in the Dark

Notes on the Port of St. Francis, Frank Stauffacher, 1952, 20 min., 16mm
Zig Zag, Frank Stauffacher, 1948, 8 min., 16mm

In 1937, SFMOMA's first director, Grace McCann Morley, set up a screen and some chairs in the rotunda of the War Memorial Veterans Building (the museum's first home) and showed…

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Material and Illusion
Buy tickets Material and Illusion

Arnulf Rainer, Peter Kubelka, 1958-60, 6.5 min., 16mm
Mothlight, Stan Brakhage, 1963, 4 min., 16mm
A Man And His Dog Out For Air, Robert Breer, 1957, 3 min., 16mm
Colour Flight, Len Lye, 1938, 4 min., 16mm
Surfacing On The Thames, David Rimmer, 1970, 8 min., 16mm
Reverberation, Ernie Gehr, 1969, 23 min., 16mm
Castro Street, Bruce Baillie, 1966, 10 min., 16mm
Saugus Series, Pat O'Neill, 1974, 18 min., 16mm
A Study In Choreography For Camera, Maya Deren, 1945, 3 min., 16mm
Take The 5:10 To Dreamland, Bruce Conner, 1977, 6 min., 16mm
Frame Line, Gunvor Nelson, 1984, 22 min., 16mm

Total running time: 107 min.

This survey primarily features non-local, avant-garde artists (Bay Area filmmakers will be the focus of a major Pacific Film Archive and S.F. Cinematheque series in fall 2010).…

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Bush Mama
Buy tickets Bush Mama

Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification, Barbara McCullough, 1979, 4 min., DVD
Bush Mama, Haile Gerima, 1976, 97 min., 16mm
Introduction by Billy Woodberry, filmmaker
Curated by Bérénice Reynaud and Irina Leimbacher

Ethiopian-born Haile Gerima was not yet 30 when he completed Bush Mama, an early manifesto of the "Los Angeles Rebellion" of black filmmakers who were influenced by…

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Poetry Meets Politics: The Essay — Chris Marker's Le joli mai
Buy tickets Poetry Meets Politics: The Essay — Chris Marker's Le joli mai

Le joli mai, Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme, 1963, 123 min., 16mm
Curated, presented and introduced by Irina Leimbacher

Presented at the museum in May 1976, Le joli mai is one of Chris Marker's great but lesser-known essay films. Mixing voice-over commentary with a series of interviews with Parisians…

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Portraits of Women Program 1
Buy tickets Portraits of Women Program 1

Zanan-e bedun-e mardan (Women without Men), Shirin Neshat, 2009, 95 min., 35mm
In Farsi with English subtitles.

Neshat's first feature film, derived from Shahrnush Parsipur's novel published immediately after the 1979 revolution in Iran, portrays the lives of three women who choose to seize…

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Portraits of Women Program 2
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Office Killer, Cindy Sherman, 1997, 82 min., 35mm

Sherman's photographic work is rooted in cinema: her careful staging of self-portraits that evoke stereotypical images of women also addresses issues of transformation, fantasy,…

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Portraits of Women, Program 3
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Pepperminta, Pipilotti Rist, 2009, 80 min., 35mm
In German with English subtitles.

Rist's first name is a conflation of her given name, Charlotte, and that of Pippi Longstocking, a feisty children's book character who has been a longtime inspiration for the…

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