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Marjorie Keller: "8mm films"

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“The current art of the film deranges its predecessors…It is in the work of women filmmakers of the avant-garde that the old forms are seen as if through an anamorphic lens.” – Marjorie Keller

We are extremely pleased to present a special screening of a selection of 8mm films by filmmaker Marjorie Keller (1950-1994) in collaboration with the Film-makers Cooperative. The program features six of the artist’s films and spans nearly a decade and a half, from 1969-1983.

“More than half of Marjorie Keller’s films were made with Regular 8mm or Super-8mm equipment, and these ‘small-gauge’ home-movie mediums provided an immediacy and fragility that were perfectly suited to her interests. While she later made more ambitious, 16mm poetic-essays […] she returned to the simplicity of 8mm throughout her career.” – Steve Anker

The night’s selection of dusted-off film cans from the vaults of the Film-makers Coop gives a sense of Keller’s uncompromising filmmaking, her spirit and playfulness as she records family, friends and events from her daily life. For example, in Film Notebook an error caused by her broken camera becomes a pretext to embark in a mesmerizing frame-by-frame editing sequence.

Keller believed that there was no contradiction in making a film that would be at once lyrical and socially engaged, and in proposing a form of personal, diaristic filmmaking from a feminist point of view — although she disagreed with the way feminism was defined in academic film studies at the time.

In her review of “Women and Film” by E. Ann Kaplan published in Millennium Film Journal (Issue No. 14/15, 1984-85) Keller writes: “It is true that Maya Deren was not a feminist. Yet her work has had more influence on women filmmakers and the entire avant-garde film than any other single oeuvre since the 1940s. […] Because of this initial erasure, the tradition that followed Deren is obscured. Carolee Schneemann, who pioneered the personal representation of heterosexual sex from the woman’s point of view, is not mentioned. The influential visual experimentations of Marie Menken are ignored. The conceptual cinema of Su Friedrich and Martha Haslanger, who combine images with written and spoken texts with far more sophistication and subtlety than McCall and Tyndall in Dora while dealing with the concept of “woman”, are excluded as well. The list could go on.”

Keller was also an activist and scholar who championed the work of female avant-garde filmmakers. She was the first woman President of the Board of Directors at the Film-makers’ Cooperative, in New York in the early 1990s — and instrumental to their having become a non-profit organization — and also served on the Board of the Collective for Living Cinema.

All works will be screened in their original format 8mm film.


General admission $8
Students & Members $6

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Marjorie Keller (1950-1994) was a filmmaker, activist, author, and scholar born in Yorktown, New York. She was expelled from Tufts University for participating in a protest in 1972, finishing her undergraduate coursework at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later pursuing a master’s degree and a doctorate in Cinema Studies at New York University. Keller’s dissertation, The Untutored Eye: Childhood in the Films of Cocteau, Cornell and Brakhage was published in 1986. Keller began making films in 1969, completing more than twenty-five films during her lifetime among which “Misconception” (1977), “Daughters of Chaos” (1980), “The Answering Furrow” (1985), and “Herein” (1991). She also produced a substantial body of writings on women’s experimental cinema. Keller taught at several institutions including the University of Rhode Island until her death in 1994.

Program:

Turtle
Regular 8mm, color, silent, 1969, 2 minutes 30 seconds
“A life-light guilt trip, tragicomic psychodrama in the film time. Made in the darkness of my year in a women’s dormitory. 1969, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.” – MK

Untitled
Regular 8mm, black and white, silent, 1971, 7 minutes 30 seconds
“A portrait: of Saul Levine, filmmaker and one-time Italian Ice Vendor. / Of the film surface & depth / so by the choice of image. / Of the inside & outside light in the summer and the shower.” – MK

Film Notebook: Part 1 
Regular 8mm, color, silent, 1975, 12 minutes
“A journal of change in pattern of living and seeing as determined by an often mis-functioning but faithful camera.” – MK

Film Notebook: 1969-1976, Part 2, Some of Us in the Mechanical Age
Regular 8mm, color, silent, 1977, 27 minutes
“A journal of change in pattern of living and seeing as determined by an often mis-functioning but faithful camera.” – MK

Lyrics
Super 8mm, color, sound, 1983, 5 minutes
“With Carmen, Susan, Marcus, and Joesph Vigil. Music by Dorothy and Eunice.” – MK

On the Verge of an Image of Christmas 
Regular 8mm, color, silent, 1978, 10 minutes 30 seconds
“A study of the patterns and gesture of family when ceremony no longer counts. Made to remember the occasion and place myself as a part of it. For my sister, Jackie.” – MK

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