Lutz Mommartz

Tango Durch Deutschland (1980)

Click here to watch.

3 Glaeser (1968)

Haircut (1974)

Soziale Plastik (1969)

Lutz Mommartz is a singular presence in the history of cinema, even if his remarkable body of work is virtually unknown in the US. A brilliant maverick director, as conceptually rigorous as he is touching and humorous, Mommartz has continued to make films of both poetic and intellectual complexity---including studies, abstract pieces, features, and documentaries--since the 1960s.

Tango Durch Deutschland is an ironic, full-length drama that plays on the b-movie stardom of American actor Eddie Constantine, less known for his starring roles in 50s film noir than his parody of them in Godard's "Alphaville." In Mommartz's aleatory film, Constantine, playing himself, is plagued by his own typecast alterego, Lemmy Caution.

In 3 Glaeser, three men meet and communicate only with the edge of glasses.

Soziale Plastik is a 1969 film by the sseldorf filmmaker, comprised of an eleven minute close up of the face of Joseph Beuys.

Abigail Child

Perils (1985-1987)

Abigail Child's long-standing focus on gender and popular culture, as well as her masterful use of found footage, is evident in "Perils", a playful silent film parody with a chaotic, layered soundtrack, and ironic use of film cliches. Click here for more info.

Paul and Marlene Kos

Lightning (1977)

Paul and Marlene Kos turn the "If a tree falls in the woods..." conundrum on its head in this seminal tape filmed inside a car.

Structured by a repetitive mantra---"When I look for the lightning, it never strikes. When I look away, it does"---the piece places the viewer in the privileged position that defines the visual logic of cinema, in a literal circumscribing of the act of seeing. Click here to watch.

Hollis Frampton

Nostalgia (1971)

Hollis Frampton's 1971 short film, (nostalgia), is not only one of his best and most focused films, but a masterwork of the genre, exemplary in its rupture of conventional narrative and in the formal juxtaposition of word and image (much like in his masterpiece "Zorns Lemma"). The film revolves around twelve still images, each accompanied by voice-over commentary, though sound and image are continually out of sync. As part of an autobiographical account of his transformation from photographer to filmmaker, Frampton burns photographs on a hot-plate, each shot lasting as long as it takes the image to burn.

Lemon (1969)

Frampton's "Lemon", with commentary by Frampton and Robert Gardner.

Click here for an excerpt from "Zorns Lemma".

Joseph Beuys

Sonne Statt Reagan (1982)

Joseph Beuys attacks Ronald Reagan's arms policy in this 1982 music video for his 'pop' single, "Sonne Statt Reagan."

Ed Emshwiller

Sunstone (1979)

Ed Emshwiller's "Sunstone" is a pioneering, three-minute 3-D computer animation from 1979.

Viking Eggeling

Symphonie Diagonale (1924)

From early work with Hans Richter, Swedish filmmaker Viking Eggeling began developing a musical-cubist style of cinema in the summer of 1923, when he making the paper cut-outs and then tin foil figures that make up Symphonie Diagonale; he died sixteen days after it's public premiere in Berlin two years later.

Charles and Ray Eames

SX-70 (1972)

Ostensibly a commercial for Polaroid, SX-70 transcends its intended use through the unique aesthetic acuity of Charles and Ray Eames.

Georges Schwizgebel

Le Vol d'Icare (1974)

Schwizgebel's pioneering animation looks more at home today than it ever did in the early 1970s.

Peter Kubelka

Adebar (1957)

Adebar is the first of Peter Kubelka's 'metric films', in which every element of the composition is precisely ordered and in relation to the gestalt. The film is made up of single units---13, 26 and 52 frames long---which are subjected to a complex rule-system, including a strict use of positive and negative space, that determines their structure within the film.

Norman McLaren

Scherzo (A non-objective study)

Hand drawn onto 35mm film, this early study in color hints at McLaren's coming work in animation, and his poignant, classic films like Neighbors (1952), Blinkity Blank (1955), A Chairy Tale (1957) and La Merle (1958).

A Chairy Tale (1957)

Other McLaren films:
Stars and Stripes (1940)
Neighbors (1952)
Blinkity Blank (1955)
Synchromy (1971)

Groupe Medvedkine

Nouvelle Société No. 5 (1969)

The Medvedkine group united young workers with filmmakers in the spirit of the post-’68 era, in an attempt to document the condition of workers at factories like Rhodia in Besançon, the Peugeot facility in Sochaux, and Kelton-Timex watch factory. The « Nouvelle Société » series captures the group's attempt to develop the revolutionary potential of cinema---with a logic akin to that of television.

"Medvedkin was a Russian filmmaker who, in 1936 and with the means that were proper to his time (35mm film, editing table, and film lab installed in the train), essentially invented television: shoot during the day, print and edit at night, show it the next day to the people you filmed (and who often participated in the editing). I think that it’s this fabled and long forgotten bit of history (Medvedkin isn’t even mentioned in Georges Sadoul’s book, considered in its day the Soviet Cinema bible) that underlies a large part of my work - in the end, perhaps, the only coherent part. To try to give the power of speech to people who don’t have it, and, when it’s possible, to help them find their own means of expression. The workers I filmed in 1967 in Rhodesia, just like the Kosovars I filmed in 2000, had never been heard on television: everyone was speaking on their behalf, but once you no longer saw them on the road, bloody and sobbing, people lost interest in them. To my great surprise, I once found myself explaining the editing of Battleship Potemkin to a group of aspiring filmmakers in Guinea-Bissau, using an old print on rusty reels; now those filmmakers are having their films selected for competition in Venice...."

Chris Marker

Marie Menken

Glimpse of the Garden (1957)

Marie Menken's noted but rarely seen five minute film is a classic of experimental cinema. In contrast to the avant-gardist gestures of many of her contemporaries, Menken offers a simple yet expressionistic view of a garden accompanied by the sound of birdsongs.

Raul Ruiz

Colloque de Chiens (1977)

Chilean expatriate director Raul Ruiz weaves a lurid, circular tale of murder and fate in this 20 minute film, comprised mostly of still photos.

Taking its title from the series of barking dogs interspersed throughout the film, the narrative centers on Monique, a woman who descends into a world of exploitation, betrayal, and eventually, murder. Told through a combination of voice-over narration, still images, and passages of 35mm film, it makes deft use of repetition, humor, deadpan narration, and visual economy to create a sense of fatal recurrence in this tabloid-inspired melodrama.

Martin Arnold

Cinemnesis (1989-1998)

Collecting Martin Arnold's seminal distortions of popular cinema, Cinemnesis includes Piece touchee (1989), Passage a l'acte (1993) and Alone: Life wastes Andy Hardy (1997). Throughout the three, the Austrian filmmaker explores part of what Benjamin called the 'optical unconscious', revealing the repressed violence underneath the world portrayed by Hollywood cinema (and like the Ruiz film, the emphasis is also on repetition and circularity.)

Toshio Matsumoto

Phantom (1975)

Originally trained as a painter, Toshio Mastsumoto is a pioneer of avant-garde documentary, experimental film, multimedia, and video art, and his work has been influential across several disciplines and media.

Walerian Borowczyk

Les Astronautes (1959)
Dir. Walerian Borowczyk [co-directed by Chris Marker]

Renowned Polish animator and erotic film director Walerian Borowczyk--a key influence on directors like Terry Gilliam--is at his best in this Chris Marker co-directed short about an eager inventor and his homemade spaceship. Click here to watch (AVI file).

Click here for a critical essay on Borowczyk.