I recall reading a quote from a filmmaker saying that even the most successful experimental films exist on the level of a rumor within a larger film culture, let alone the larger culture of the arts. (This quote has proven quite elusive and now, appropriately, seems to have become a rumor itself.) However, for a short window of time on Tuesday, February 26, some rumors will become fact in Columbus as curator Mark McElhatten brings a remarkable batch of avant-garde films and videos straight from his presentations at the New York and Rotterdam Film Festivals. Titled “Crooked Fireworks,” this program of films has been created uniquely for the Wexner Center and will likely be the only time this delicate collection of films will be shown together.
Many of the films that McElhatten will be presenting have ranked high on lists of the top ten films of 2007 in the Village Voice, Art Forum, and other such publications but, for most people, chances to see these films are rarer than a total lunar eclipse. (The program also sees another screening of my favorite video from 2007.)
It’s unlikely you’ll find a group of films as full of beauty and mystery as these – much of the program is refashioned from the most unlikely material possible, including music by Lightning Bolt and Cindi Lauper, footage from the videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the Jacques Tourneur classic Cat People. Anyone interested in the poetic possibilities of cinema and art will surely want to be present.
To supplement the program notes for that evening, McElhatten has produced some texts, images, and juxtapositions that augment the films. We’ll pass out color copies on the evening of the screening, but if you’d like a glimpse of the arcane delights in store Tuesday evening look for the pdf link at the bottom of the Crooked Fireworks page . And if you go to the program, come back to this blog entry and let us know what you think of the films.
Also of note is the program of films by the influential filmmaker Mark LaPore that McElhatten will be presenting the following night. The program consists of the three major works that LaPore released in (or just before) the 1990s. About the film A Depression in the Bay of Bengal, Tom Gunning – one of the finest film writers and scholars of our time – wrote in the pages of Film Comment, “The film opens with one of the most sublime images I have ever seen.” --Chris Stults, Film/Video Assistant Curator