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SFMOMA To Host san Francisco Cinematheque: Four Decades Of Film And Video Premieres Series Of Five Programs To Showcase Independent, Experimental Film And Video

Released: February 15, 2002 ·

San Francisco Cinematheque celebrated its 40th anniversary last July as one of the country’s foremost exhibitors of and advocates for independent, experimental film and video. Devoted to the art of the moving image as personal expression, Cinematheque has produced thousands of original programs and premiered scores of significant, provocative works, championing emerging artists who became key voices of their generations.


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) salutes the continued vitality of this small, venerable Bay Area institution with the following five programs. Organized by Cinematheque Director Steve Anker, they highlight some of the notable films and videos screened by Cinematheque in its four decades of activity.

Program 1

San Francisco Cinematheque 40th Anniversary Tribute: Recent Bay Area Film and Video
Thursday, March 14 • 7 p.m. • Phyllis Wattis Theater

$15 General; $12 SFMOMA and San Francisco Film Society members, students with ID and seniors.
A reception in The Schwab Room follows the screening.

The series begins with a program of films and videos completed during the past two years that suggest the range of rich work currently being made by Bay Area experimental moving image artists. Followed by a discussion with film curator and San Francisco Cinematheque director Steve Anker, this program is a part of The Seventh Art: New Dimensions in Cinema, a collaboration between SFMOMA and the San Francisco Film Society.

Films and videos include Estuary #1 (Constant Passage) by Steve Polta, Flight by Greta Snider and Pieces of a River Shore by silt. Installations include Animated Glasses by Michael Rudnick and Photons in Paris: Image Encoding by Lynn Marie Kirby. Total time: 90 minutes.

Program 2

1961–1971: Canyon Cinema Years
Saturday, March 16 – 1:30 p.m. – Phyllis Wattis Theater
Free with Museum admission.

In the early 1960’s Bruce Baillie, Chick Strand and other Cinematheque founders organized screenings of experimental, documentary and narrative films in East Bay backyards and community centers. Acting in response to a lack of public venues for independent movies, they were part of a wider explosion in American avant-garde film. The era was one of social idealism and communal energy, and the films they showcased boldly embraced purely cinematic visual expression and cultural critique.

Films include Here I Am by Bruce Baillie, Angel Blue Sweet Wings by Chick Strand and The White Rose by Bruce Conner. Total time: 94 minutes.

Program 3

1971–1981: Outside Influences and Local Masters
Saturday, March 16 – 4 p.m. – Phyllis Wattis Theater
Free with Museum admission.

In its second decade of operation Cinematheque shifted its focus to incorporate the national and international as well as the local, presenting work and hosting appearances by filmmakers from across the United States and around the world. Cinematheque screenings featured most of the renowned figures in the world avant-garde cinema, then at the peak of their careers, whose work and teachings had a profound impact on younger filmmakers. Many of these artists were inclined to forego overtly narrative concerns in favor of more directly visual or formal exploration, and overall, the films they produced are condensed and expressively spare.

Films include The Riddle of Lumen by Stan Brakhage, Shift by Ernie Gehr, Night Movie #1 (Self Portrait) by Diana Barrie and Flight of Shadows by Michael Mideke. Total time: 91 minutes.

Program 4

1981–1991: Generation Shifts
Sunday, March 17 – 1:30 p.m. – Phyllis Wattis Theater
Free with Museum admission.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were times of uncertainty and turmoil for most established venues devoted to experimental cinema in the United States. Cinematheque experienced a changing of the guard, both in artistic leadership and with a young new group of filmmakers—including more women and people of color making films—beginning to finish major work. Cinematheque screenings began to include videos, installations, and film performances.

Films and videos include Measures of Distance by Mona Hatoum, Migration of the Blubberoids by George Kuchar and Martina’s Playhouse by Peggy Ahwesh. Total time: 95 minutes.

Program 5

1991–2001: Cinema in Reflection
Sunday, March 17 – Screening: 4 p.m. – Phyllis Wattis Theater
Program free with Museum admission.

The centennial decade of the birth of cinema inspired countless films and books on the history of the medium. Experimental filmmakers produced some of the most original and compelling explorations on the nature of the medium—examining both how and at what we look. The filmmakers in this final program appropriated pre-existing material or used recorded images to create deeply reflective works on particularities of cinematic space.

Films include Georgetown Loop by Ken Jacobs, passage à l’acte by Martin Arnold and Tuning the Sleeping Machine by David Sherman. Total time: 98 minutes.

Tickets for Program 1, San Francisco Cinematheque 40th Anniversary Tribute: Recent Bay Area Film and Video, are available for advance purchase at the SFMOMA admissions desk for $15 general admission; $12 SFMOMA and San Francisco Film Society members, students with current ID and seniors 62 and over. Call the SFMOMA at 415/357-4000 for advance purchase information. Tickets are also available at Ticketweb.com.

Programs 2 – 5 are free with Museum admission.

Jill Lynch 415.357.4172 jilynch@sfmoma.org
Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org
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