Monthly Archives: June 2019

Shirley Clarke’s Rule-Breaking Biodoc Ornette: Made in America Screens June 30 at the Logan Center in 35mm

Logan Center for the Arts Screening Room – 915 E. 60th St.
Free Admission

Sunday, June 30 @ Noon
Directed by Shirley Clarke • 1985
No musician has had a career quite like jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, so it would only follow that no other musical documentary would trace the sort of freewheeling, sidewinding path that Ornette: Made in America takes. Framed around Coleman’s return to his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, for a performance of his seminal orchestral piece Skies of America, Ornette: Made in America moves through Coleman’s life achronologically, touching on the innumerable transformations his music has undertaken and incorporating footage shot for an earlier abandoned Coleman documentary, Coleman’s forays into the burgeoning music video field, and dramatic reenactments of scenes from Coleman’s childhood. Pioneering independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke (Portrait of Jason), who would soon after find filmmaking impossible due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, closes out her career on a high note, with a film that matches the restlessness of Coleman’s music with a go-for-broke formal approach that eschews hagiography or verite austerity in favor of rewriting the documentary rulebook. (A bizarre video art digression involving a musical commission from NASA is something you would never see in a Maysles film.) An inveterate collaborator, Coleman for his part proves a game subject and a mirror to Clarke’s own filmmaking practice, as open to the beauty and chaos alike wrought by total artistic freedom.
85 min • Caravan of Dreams Productions • 35mm from Milestone Films

Short: “Bridges-Go-Round” (Shirley Clarke, 1958) – 8 min – New 16mm print from Canyon Cinema — Made using rejected footage of New York City bridges intended for a series of film loops at the Brussels World Fair, Bridges-Go-Round breaks New York down to a city that appears almost extraterrestrial. In this preserved version of Bridges-Go-Round, the film is shown twice — first accompanied with music by Teo Macero, then with the original electronic score composed by Louis and Bebe Barro, which was originally unreleased due to copyright.

Presented with the Jazz Institute of Chicago as part of JIC’s 50th Anniversary

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, July 3 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Doris Wishman • 1961
Nearly a decade before Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the lunar surface, Miami rocket scientist Dr. Jeff (Lester Brown) embarked on a secret, self-funded mission to the moon, where deep within a remote crater he made perhaps the greatest discovery mankind has to date stumbled upon: a colony of buxom alien nudists! An exploitation dynamo and one of the most prolific female feature directors ever, Doris Wishman pumped out a cycle of achingly wholesome nudist pictures during the first half of the ‘60s; she prided herself on bringing invention and a certain lowbrow wit to a genre where traditional cinematic concerns were more often than not cast aside in favor of haphazardly shot prurience. Nude on the Moon would prove to be the most enduring of these films, a blissfully stupid lunar reverie where seemingly half the runtime is dedicated to cataloging the games and leisure activities of topless “moon nymphs” in a space utopia that suspiciously resembles Miami’s iconic Coral Castle. Too often sloughed off as “the female Ed Wood,” Wishman would prove to be massively influential in the world of avant-garde filmmaking, where her poverty-driven style and slapdash innovations would inspire filmmakers like George Kuchar and Peggy Ahwesh to pick up a camera, heedless of money or technical resources, and start filming their friends naked. (CW)
83 min • Moon Productions • 35mm from American Genre Film Archive

Short: “Hold Me While I’m Naked” (George Kuchar, 1966) – 17 min – 16mm from The Film-Makers’ Cooperative — An array of scattered moments in the lives of a few characters, circling the basic premise of one man failing to make a low budget exploitation film. Rich with playfulness and diversions, from a fake bird sitting in a tree to flashing spots caused by holes in the film, Hold Me While I’m Naked is a prurient delight from start to finish.

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