LA Filmforum: A tribute to Chick Strand

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September 13, 7:30 pm at the Egyptian Theater

Los Angeles Filmforum presents A Tribute to Chick Strand

Chick Strand, photo by Neon Park, from Canyon Cinema

Chick Strand, photo by Neon Park, from Canyon Cinema

At the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. at Las Palmas, Los Angeles, 90028  $10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members

Filmmaker, artist, teacher, joyful marvel, force of life… Chick Strand passed away on July 11, and our city and our lives won’t be the same. For those of you who knew her, and those of you who didn’t, Chick was a marvelous and inspirational filmmaker and person, the artful person whom one was always delighted to see, an essential person who made the world a better place.

“With her camera, Strand does not “document” her subjects–she creates lyrical representations. She is not afraid to look through her lens as a person; questioning, admiring, and honoring what she sees. Just as she brings poeticism and the personal into ethnography, she infuses an integrity, honesty, and selflessness into her works that few people can manage.” – Pablo de Ocampo

“…For most of her filmmaking career, the integrity of Strand’s vision lay aslant of prevailing fashions, so that only belatedly did the full significance of her radically pioneering work in ethnographic, documentary, feminist, and compilation filmmaking – and above all, in the innovation of a unique film language created across these modes – become clear.  Though feminism and other currents of her times are woven through her films and though her powerful teaching presence sustained the ideals of underground film in several film schools in the city, hers was essentially a school-of-one.” – David James, in The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (University of  California Press, 2005) p. 358.

Appreciation by Holly Willis:

Article by Pablo de Ocampo in the Portland Mercury from 2001:

Paintings by Chick Strand:

There is an extensive discussion of Strand and her films in David James’s The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (University of  California Press, 2005), pp. 357-367.

Tonight we’ll be running a wide range of the glorious gamut of her work, and one treat from her husband.  Curated by filmmaker Amy Halpern.  Prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive, by arrangement with Canyon Cinema.

ANGEL BLUE SWEET WINGS (1966, 3 min., 16mm)

An experimental film poem in celebration of life and visions. Techniques include live action, animation, montage and found images.

GUACAMOLE (1976, 18 min., 16mm)

Poetic surrealism. Approach is experimental in relationship of image and sound. A film about the loss of innocence and the search for the essence of the human spirit.

CARTOON LE MOUSSE (1979, 15 min., 16mm)

“Chick Strand is a prolific and prodigiously gifted film artist who seems to break new ground with each new work. Her recent “found footage” works such as CARTOON LE MOUSSE, are extraordinarily beautiful, moving, visionary pieces that push this genre into previously unexplored territory. If poetry is the art of making evocative connections between otherwise dissimilar phenomena, then Chick Strand is a great poet, for these films transcend their material to create a surreal and sublime universe beyond reason.” – Gene Youngblood

WAR ZONE by Marty Muller, aka Neon Park (1971, 3 min.)

Made with Chickie nearby.

BY THE LAKE (1986, 9,5 min., 16mm)

A collage film made from Third World images and found sound from a 1940s radio show (”I Love a Mystery”), live recordings of an operation on a horse, and a 1970s church service, all taken out of context and reconstructed into new relationships and meanings. An Anglo woman’s interpretation of magic realism.

WATERFALL (1967, 3 min., 16mm)

A film poem using found film and stock footage altered by printing, home development and solarization. It is a film using visual relationships to invoke a feeling of flow and movement. Japanese Koto music.

KRISTALLNACHT (1979, 7 min., 16mm)

Dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, and the tenacity of the human spirit.



ELASTICITY (1976, 25 min., 16mm)

Impressionistic surrealism in three acts. The approach is literary experimental with optical effects. There are three mental states that are interesting: amnesia, euphoria and ecstasy. Amnesia is not knowing who you are and wanting desperately to know. I call this the White Night. Euphoria is not knowing who you are and not caring. This is the Dream of Meditation. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who you are and still not caring. I call this the Memory of the Future.  This is an autobiographical film funded by the American Film Institute.

After graduating from Berkeley with a degree in anthropology, Strand threw herself into the cultural ferment of the Bay Area in the 1960s, especially Canyon Cinema, where she was one of its founders and instigators, with Bruce Baillie.  After four years she moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA and joined the newly formed Ethnographic Film Program.  Meeting Pat O’Neill, who was at that time beginning his experiments with the optical printer, she made Waterfall (1967), a film that solarized and otherwise re-worked both live-action and found footage in the vein of contemporary West Coast psychedelia.  This overall aesthetic continued to inform Strand’s work, but it was sharpened and made more serious by her encounter with what seemed an entirely contrary idiom, that of documentary ethnography.  She did not get involved with the Hollywood film industry, but taught film for twenty years at Occidental College.  She also painted extensively.  Her second husband was Marty Muller, known more widely as the artist Neon Park, and she had one son, Eric Strand, a film editor. – Largely drawn from The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2005), pp. 358

“Her passing comes to me and others at Canyon Cinema with great sadness….Chick was one of the founders of Canyon Cinema and the Cinematheque. She always supported Canyon in all of the endeavors that have been done in the past. Personally she and I became close over the years and I could always count on her for advice in matters of Canyon and also on a very personal level.
I will miss her greatly and her passing is a loss to the entire community. The experimental film community has lost a great human being. Her absence will be felt for some time.” – Dominic Angerame, Executive Director, Canyon Cinema

Chick Strand changed my life. A great teacher, a great filmmaker, a great human being. I am so grateful to have met her and learned from her. I would not be who I am today had I not met her. I was just one of so many students, but she was and will forever be a gigantic presence in my soul. – Brook Hinton, filmmaker

This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles.