In 1980, Gordon Ball adopted a phrase from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, "technical sincerity," as a touchstone for his first-person filmmaking. In the next iteration of our regular Salon series, the filmmaker will arrive in San Francisco to show and discuss six films from his body of work that exemplify this mode. This event follows a reading Ball will be doing at the legendary City Lights bookstore from his collection On Tokyo's Edge on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00 PM.
- Georgia (4min, color, silent, 8mm)
- Sitting (2min, color, silent, 16mm)
- Father Movie (10min, color, silent, 8mm)
- Enthusiasm (13min, color + B&W, sound 16mm)
- Mexican Jail Footage (18min, color, sound, 16mm)
- Millbrook (9min, color, sound, 16mm)
“Yesterday, a friend who had asked to use a film of mine in a program, said to me “Of course, as I’ve said before, the technique of the film (Father Movie) is nothing to write home about.” I answered, “Well yes but I think that’s what gives it its power—in other words, it doesn’t conform to any textbook standards, but instead to the heart, the experience of the event and my feelings toward it as I filmed.” And he agreed. For “Father Movie” is a film made (except for prelude) at my father’s death; long sequences of it were shot literally weeping & driving (one hand on camera, one on wheel) through town by old places he’d lived in. For such a mode or “technique,” so much the opposite of anything planned, I recall a prose line from Yeats: “When heroism returns to the age, its first sign shall be technical sincerity.” I’ve never entirely understood what Yeats meant, but as time’s passed the line’s last words have come to represent a kind of personal touchstone for art. Not for heroism—which I don’t understand—but to distinguish internal soul from external formula. Surely this is applicable in film, where almost any Hollywood or other “theatrical” movie works from the latter & those of our most masterful contemporaries—say Brakhage and Kubelka—invariably bear the stamp of the former. Fine or rough, heavy or ethereal, there is always at base an unregretful uncompromising heart & consciousness. It is negligent of all but its own earnest rhythmic awareness: and that, after all, may be what we were looking for—what one person and no other can give us.” -Gordon Ball (September 28, 1980, Chapel Hill)