Canyon Cinema travels to Berkeley this week for a special screening of pivotal works from its collection. As a part of Canyon Cinema 50, its celebration of half a century in continuous operation, and together with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s ongoing series Hippie Modernism: Cinema and the Counterculture, 1964-1974, the distributor will co-present Elegy To Ecstasy, an evening of films made by some of the most influential figures in the history of avant-garde cinema.
The event will take place on Thursday, May 11, at 7:00 PM at the Pacific Film Archive, and will be followed by a conversation between Canyon’s Director Antonella Bonfanti and former PFA director and Canyon Cinema manager Edith Kramer.
The program begins with Mass for the Dakota Sioux, a meditation on life and death by Bruce Baillie, who started projecting films in his backyard under the name Canyon Cinema in 1960. Chick Strand, who was also a part of the cooperative in its infancy, will be represented through her film poem Angel Blue Sweet Wings, as will Barbara Hammer, whose transgressive lesbian “commercial” Dyketactics is also on the bill. The night also includes Straight and Narrow, a visual and rhythmic study by arch-minimalist Tony Conrad, My Name is Oona, Gunvor Nelson’s lyrical portrait of her daughter, Amphetamine, by Warren Sonbert and Wendy Appel, and Incantations by Peter Rose. What these works share, according to BAMPFA associate film curator Kate MacKay, is their “celebration of bodies, film, and light.”
By focusing on the works of the organization’s founders and Canyon filmmakers adjacent to them, the programmers hope to emphasize the West Coast distributor’s outsize role in shaping and disseminating alternative, artist-made work, as well as highlight the ongoing vitality of its collection. Edith Kramer, the manager of Canyon Cinema from 1967 to 1970, will be in attendance to discuss the organization’s early years and pivotal place in the history of experimental cinema.
Since its formal incorporation in 1967, Canyon Cinema has successfully built an artist-centered distribution model organized around a collection of more than 3,200 works from across the world. The Canyon Cinema 50 project celebrates fifty years in operation with United States and international touring programs, a new website for filmmakers and scholars, and a year of events across the Bay Area. Local programming continues in June and July with screenings hosted by Dominic Angerame, Gordon Ball, and Ernie Gehr.
- Mass for the Dakota Sioux by Bruce Baillie (20 min, 16mm)
- Amphetamine by Warren Sonbert and Wendy Appel (10 min, 16mm)
- Incantations by Peter Rose (8.5min, 16mm)
- Dyketactics by Barbara Hammer (4min, 16mm)
- Angel Blue Sweet Wings by Chick Strand (3min, 16mm)
- My Name is Oona by Gunvor Nelson (10min, 16mm)
- Straight and Narrow by Tony Conrad (10min, 16mm)
Tickets to Elegy to Ecstasy are $7.00 for BAMPFA Members and $12.00 for the general public, and can be purchased online at bampfa.berkeley.edu.
Full information available here.