To celebrate 10 years of covering unusual films and filmmakers, Cinemad magazine presents a compilation of short films that defy simple categorization. An accompanying 60 page booklet includes interviews with each filmmaker.
Includes films by:
Catalog Number: MC-953
Type: Shorts Compilation
Genre: Art / Artist
Length: 77 minutes
DVD Region: 0
TV System: NTSC
Label: Aurora Picture Show
Notes: Includes a 60 page booklet with interviews. This is a Microcinema Exclusive title.
Program MC-953 is available for wholesale from Microcinema DVD. Contact info[at]microcinema.com or call at +1-415-447-9750
Microcinema is not authorized to represent this title for exhibition. Write us for this contact information.
Films In Compilation
Edge-TV With Animal Charm directed by
Art / Artist,
Above Below directed by
Art / Artist,
Letters, Notes directed by
Art / Artist,
Valse Triste directed by
Art / Artist,
Pictures from Dorothy directed by
Art / Artist,
Sun, The directed by
Art / Artist,
Lot 63, Grave C directed by
Art / Artist,
War (trailer) directed by
Art / Artist,
Wellness (trailer) directed by
Art / Artist,
Motion Studies #3: Gravity directed by
Art / Artist,
Light is Calling directed by
Art / Artist,
Viscera directed by
Art / Artist,
Time We Killed, The directed by
Art / Artist,
How Among the Frozen Words directed by
Art / Artist,
It Will Die Out in the Mind directed by
Art / Artist,
Magician's House, The directed by
Art / Artist,
2009-10-26Media Reviews Online By Oksana Dykyj
A year after Bruce Conner’s death, an anthology of films by 11 filmmakers who could essentially be Conner’s artistic progeny, finds its way into a compilation produced by Cinemad, the film zine, for its tenth anniversary. The compilation also includes a film by Conner himself. The 60-page booklet with essays and interviews along with the 16-film/video DVD are dedicated to the memory of Conner, one of the foremost experimental filmmakers and artists of the 20th century.
Started in 1998 as a photocopy zine, Cinemad covered experimental, avant-garde, underground, cult, independent films and filmmakers. It has released yearly anthologies and many of its interviews are found at www.IBLAMESOCIETY.com.
All the films presented on the DVD exhibit an astute curatorial eye and among them, the following are worth noting in more detail: Bruce Conner’s Valse Triste (1978), Sam Green’s lot 63, grave C (2006), and Bill Morrison’s Light is Calling (2004). Upon rewatching Conner’s Valse Triste, one is still awed by the selection of the found footage he uses. His sources for the footage reveal beautifully shot images whether documentary or fiction and whose quality emanates from pristine prints. He typically sets his films to music and the effect can be anything from hilarious to heart-wrenching. There is a reason Bruce Conner continues to be recognized for his groundbreaking experimental work: it is impossible to not be impressed with the compelling imagery and sound in his films even after numerous viewings. Valse Triste is just one of the many films made by Conner that absolutely need to become available to wider audiences. A compilation Bruce Conner DVD would be my choice as a top priority project for a distributor of experimental films.
The discovery of a wonderful little gem in a compilation is always thrilling. The little gem on Cinemad Almanac 2009 is Sam Green’s lot 63, grave C a 10-minute video documentary about the young man who was stabbed by the Hell’s Angels during the Rolling Stones Altamont concert in 1969. The documentary uses archival footage along with original footage that is cleverly put together and edited to produce a film with a definite look and a distinctive style. All this is packed into ten minutes. This film could be used as a template in teaching documentary filmmaking to students. It is an excellent example of the way to make an original, innovative, yet very personal film generated by a single idea. Finally, Bill Morrison’s Light is Calling is a capsule of his earlier longer opus Decasia. It shows the beauty of decaying nitrate film stock which, when it decomposes, creates bubbles and layers of textured emulsion that move and evolve in a beautiful rhythm with projection. The film in question is The Bells (1926) a film inspired by Poe and starring Boris Karloff and Lionel Barrymore. The decomposition adds additional layers to the images edited together for this film and stirs emotions of loss and remembrance of the 90% of silent films that are now lost. The Bells, however, is luckily not one of the casualties.
Cinemad Almanac 2009 is very highly recommended for its choice of films and its producers are encouraged to continue putting out such yearly compilations.
2009-09-24Bad Lit By Mike Everleth
It’s arguable who on this planet loves short films the most. What isn’t debatable, though, is who the hardest-working man promoting the advancement of the short film format is. That man is Mike Plante.
Plante’s been a busy guy promoting short films and their makers ever since he launched Cinemad as a photocopied zine out of Tucson in 1998. Like many zines from that era, Plante has taken Cinemad online and writes regularly for other online publications, like Filmmaker Magazine. In the festival world, he’s been a short film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival — which he says entails watching 2,000 short films in three months — and was just recently promoted to Director of Programming for CineVegas. Plus, he’s run the innovative Lunchfilm series in which he helps finance short film projects by buying directors a hearty meal.
To celebrate 10 years of Cinemad — ok, 11 now — Plante has put together the Almanac 2009 short film DVD compilation featuring the work of a dozen filmmakers. Nowhere on the DVD does Plante explain why he chose these particular 12 filmmakers, other than he likes them it can be reasonably assumed. Nor does he say if there was an overarching theme to connecting these particular short films. But, whether intentional or not, a theme does seem to emerge.
The films do all fall under the rubric of “underground” film, or “experimental,” or “avant-garde,” or whichever artsy film term one prefers. But, even more precise than that, all the films appear to be meditations on memory, either personal or collective.
Interestingly, the DVD begins with the promise of dynamic action when the first short film, the found footage compilation exercise Edge TV With Animal Charm by Animal Charm, comes blasting out with a glaringly neon title credit sequence and a wailing rockin’ ’80s theme song. But that quickly gives way to scenes pulled from the 1993 Disney film Homeward Bound, the type of film one might remember fondly from one’s childhood. Thus, the grating opening credit sequence provides an ironic counterweight to the fact that there’s nothing “edgy” or rockin’ in the rest of the film. This also sets up the theme for the rest of the DVD that perhaps our memories that we think define us are creating the wrong definition, e.g. a beloved childhood film that moved us as a kid is viewed as an adult as a piece of tepid, manipulative crap.
Edge TV is followed immediately by the more lyrical above below by Cam Archer in which the voice of an obviously middle-aged woman reminiscing about her former true love is played over the slow-motion images of a pre-teen boy riding his bike through a suburban neighborhood. The overly passionate voiceover meshed with the innocence of the boy’s face forges an odd incongruity. It feels implied that the woman is placing an exaggerated over-importance on what must have been simply a childhood crush.
The moody, lyrical nature of above below — both in the voiceover and the images — is carried throughout the rest of the short film selections giving the DVD an overall meditative quality. For example, in the silent letters, notes, Stephanie Barber types out personal missives over faded old photographs. As the letters are slowly typed out, we have the time to contemplate what the images behind them might refer to and become more involved in these personal stories one letter at a time.
In the equally silent The Sun by James Fotopoulos, the camera lingers over a female subject, allowing us to fix our penetrating gaze on her and contemplate her features. Kevin Jerome Everson’s verité Pictures From Dorothy isn’t silent, but also fixes its camera’s gaze on the residents of a small town as they perform chores and go to city council meetings, giving us some insight into what life there might be like. While both these films have captured immediate, modern moments, it also appears as if each director have filmed their subjects with an eye towards their history with them.
The idea of collective memory and history is explored in Bruce Connor’s Valse Triste, a sepia-toned found footage film. The movie opens with what appears to be a film from the ’50s. A young boy wearing pajamas crawls into bed and falls asleep, with the rest of the film assumed to be his dream. But, his dreams are not concerned with young boy things. Instead he dreams of the history of America from an agrarian society to an industrial one, with a slowly moving locomotive marking the progress of time.
Sam Green’s contribution, lot 63, grave c, is the one true documentary on the DVD. Everyone knows the story about the ’60s Rolling Stones concert at Altamont where the Hell’s Angels stomped a poor guy to death. But who really knows who that poor guy was? Green goes to find out and discovers a man who has not only been largely ignored by history, but ignored even by his own family. He lies in a cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Combining documentary and fiction, Jake Mahaffy combines the live radio communication caught during the death of a cosmonaut during a mission with the images of a man testing a tree branch’s strength before hanging himself.
A tragic memory is also explored in an excerpt from Jennifer Reeves‘ B&W experimental feature The Time We Killed. A woman’s enigmatic voiceover leads us to believe that someone, probably a live-in lover, has died while scenes of a happy woman building an art installation are intertwined with completely abstract shots, shots of the Manhattan skyline and close-ups of various people around the city. It’s as if the memory of the death is so painful, the mind is desperately trying to think of anything else but that lover.
Both Bill Morrison’s Light Is Calling and Leighton Pierce’s Viscera have a very dreamlike quality to them. Morrison achieves this by projecting decaying and bubbling film of an old silent movie set during a war: Two soldiers on horseback ride along until they come upon a woman rolling around in a field, while the soundtrack is a haunting, original classical music score. Meanwhile, Pierce achieves a dreamy haze by slowing down and blurring everyday shots of motion: Sneakers run up the stairs, a bright read skirt swirls while feet dance underneath, a child swings on a swing. Pierce’s images blur their way across the screen the way images of the past sweep across our memories.
The DVD concludes with three films by Deborah Stratman, collective titled “The Paranormal Trilogy.” How Among the Frozen Words is just a few seconds long featuring a stormy horizon and a bloodcurdling scream while It Will Die Out in the Mind is just written text on the screen that calmly derides any belief in the supernatural, yet being absolutely clear that whoever is communicating that text is just severely disappointed she hasn’t experienced any phenomenon herself. Lastly, The Magician’s House provides different angles of both inside and outside a small suburban ranch home. We don’t know who lives there or why the building is being filmed. There are footsteps creaking on hardwood floors, but we don’t see anybody in the home, the way one remembers a familiar place while consciously blocking out the memory of anything that actually happened there.
Since this video Almanac is in honor of a print and Internet zine, the DVD comes packaged with a 60-page booklet of interviews with each filmmaker. Plante is truly a gifted and amazing interviewer. He seems to know exactly what simple question to ask, then sit back and let the filmmaker espouse on their history, philosophy and working processes. The booklet is so insightful and fascinating that it could have been sold as a separate full book, yet comes with the price of the disc.
Short films usually get short shrift in this world of ours, but Cinemad: Almanac 2009 is a short film lover’s dream. But the real dream is for the DVD to convert new lovers over to the form. Mike Plante has collected such an amazing array of beautiful work here that finding those converts shouldn’t be too hard.
2009-08-25DVD Talk By Chris Neilson
Mike Plante's Xeroxed film zine Cinemad, devoted to interviews with filmmakers on the fringe, began popping up on the racks of independent bookstores in 1998. Late to a field that was already going bust or transitioning to glossy mags or the internet, Plante abandoned the printed zine in 2001 and has since published online intermittently at iblamesociety.com, as well as for other publishers. In commemoration of the tenth (or eleventh) anniversary of Cinemad's founding, Microcinema is releasing Cinemad: Almanac 2009, a DVD anthology of shorts from filmmakers featured in Cinemad, along with a 60-page booklet of reprinted interviews.
Cinemad: Almanac 2009 features sixteen segments from thirteen filmmakers. It's an eclectic mix of shorts and excerpts in 16mm, 35mm, and video formats, in color, b&w, and sepia, sometimes silent, created between 1978 and 2008, ranging from 44 seconds to eleven minutes, comprising and sometimes blurring fiction and non-fiction. Other than being from filmmakers that appeared in Cinemad there's no professed commonality in the programming, yet an elegiac note does run through it. This underlying tone appears in the works of non-fiction through meditations on death and memory (Lot 63, Grave C by Sam Green), the final words of a doomed Cosmonaut (Motion Studies #3: Gravity by Jake Mahaffy), the juxtaposition of abandoned photos and correspondence (Letters, Notes by Stephanie Barber), decayed nitrate films of silent-screen actors long dead (Light is Calling by Bill Morrison), sepia-toned reels of lost small-town life (Valse Triste by Bruce Conner), forlorn meditations on environment, social isolation, emptiness and irrationality (Edge-TV with Animal Charm by Animal Charm, Pictures from Dorothy by Kevin Jerome Everson, and three shorts by Deborah Stratman); and in fiction through several segments on love lost, unfulfilled, or enigmatic (Above Below by Cam Archer, The Sun by James Fotopoulos, and The Time We Killed by Jennifer Reeves, and Viscera by Leighton Pierce), snake-oil Ponzi-schemers (Wellness by Jake Mahaffy), and a coming apocalypse
Cinemad Almanac 2009 further underlines Microcinema's commitment to experimental cinema with this DVD almanac, courtesy of Cinemad Magazine. Dazzling experimental shorts from filmmakers like James Fotopoulos, Stephanie Barber and Leighton Pierce constitute a kind of mini-festival that honors the best of experimental film over the past ten years. Also included is a great booklet with filmmaker interviews... just in case the movies prove a bit... impenetrable.
2020-09-08Art Forum By Ed Halter
A DECADE AGO, Cinemad was one of a small handful of publications chronicling new directions in visionary filmmaking—defined in the broadest sense by that staple-bound Xerox zine as anything on the fringes of independent cinema that struck the fancy of intrepid editor and writer Mike Plante. He espoused an unruly blend of sensibilities, equally indebted to the avant-garde and to the VCR-era cult, using little more justification than his own tastes to frame generously chatty interviews with artists and off-the-cuff videotape reviews. A few years back, Cinemad shed its paper identity, transmuting into a website and then a blog, while Plante became a programmer for Sundance.
Now, Plante has released what one hopes to be the first in a series of DVD compilations, Cinemad: Almanac 2009, which comes with a thick booklet of director chats reprinted from the original journal. Almanac includes works from years past by some Cinemad favorites, like Stephanie Barber’s 16-mm letters, notes (2000), a collage of lost communications told in found texts and photos; Kevin Jerome Everson’s Midwest tornado interlude Pictures from Dorothy (2003); James Fotopoulos’s distressed Brakhage-cum-Romero enigma The Sun (2000); and an excerpt from Jennifer Reeves’s penetrating post-9/11 interior drama The Time We Killed (2004). Deborah Stratman contributes something of a triptych: two atmospheric found-footage videos and a discerningly shot study of a fellow filmmaker’s home, The Magician’s House (2007); Stratman’s works are situated on the other end of the emotional spectrum from quasi-inappropriate appropriators Animal Charm’s Edge-TV with Animal Charm (2008), a montage of ’90s video wrongness punctuated by a tragically absurd segment from the talking-animal drama Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1992). Though the DVD era has recently been a boon to those engaged in reviving classic experimental fare, the Almanac instead focuses on exhibiting some of the most compelling contemporary artists—a welcome curatorial project that continues where Cinemad left off.
2009-07-01Houston Culture Wire
Houston, TX - Aurora Picture Show announced the release the fourth DVD from their Aurora Video Label this week, titled Cinemad: Almanac 2009. Curated by the founder of Cinemad Magazine, Associate Director of Programming for CineVegas and Programming Consultant for Sundance Film Festival Mike Plante, Cinemad celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the unique magazine. The DVD includes a compilation of short works from a diverse group of award-winning filmmakers who have been featured in the magazine over the last decade, such as Cam Archer, Stephanie Barber, Bruce Conner, Kevin Everson, James Fotopoulos, Sam Green, Jake Mahaffy, Bill Morrison, Leighton Pierce, Jennifer Reeves and Deborah Stratman. Cinemad is currently available for sale at www.microcinema.com for .95, and will be widely distributed by Microcinema International DVD with a release date of June 30, 2009.
Curator Mike Plante explains, "When I first saw these films, I had no expectations. I simply watched them and they kicked ass. They all have great atmosphere and each one made me feel something, whether happy or sad, funny or creepy. I hope this DVD will help new crowds find these films and experience the same rush that I did. People who have always heard about these filmmakers to finally get to see some of their work."
About Cinemad: Almanac 2009
To celebrate 10 years of covering unusual films and filmmakers, Cinemad Magazine presents a compilation of short films that defy simple categorization. An accompanying 60-page booklet includes interviews with each filmmaker. Curated by Mike Plante and produced by Andrea Grover. Totaling 77 minutes in content, the DVD includes the following titles and filmmakers:
· Edge-TV with Animal Charm by Animal Charm, 2008, 3 min. A teaser for potential Animal Charm TV show, if you have ever dreamed of slapstick psychedelic prog-television. You have, haven't you?
· above below by Cam Archer, 2008, 4 min. Part one of Cam Archer's 'dead letter' series, 'above below' re-examines a lost friendship.
· letters, notes by Stephanie Barber, 2000, 4 min. Found photographs and letters are brought together to create new mini narratives; death and disease are set blithely beside, and given equal importance as, the sighting of a skunk or lovesick scribblings.
· Valse Triste by Bruce Conner, 1978, 5 min. "Nostalgic recreation of dreamland Kansas 1947 in Toto. Theme music from I Love a Mystery radio programs (Jack, Doc, and Reggie confront the enigmatic lines of railroad trains, sheep, black cars, women exercising in an open field, grandma at the farm...) Meanwhile, 13-year-old boy confronts reality. Sibelius grows old in Finland and becomes a national monument."--Bruce Conner
· Pictures from Dorothy by Kevin Jerome Everson, 2003, 6 min. A 35mm film relating to the Wizard of Oz.
· The Sun by James Fotopoulos, 2000, 3 min. Youth, beauty and then suddenly -death.
· lot 63, grave c by Sam Green, 2006, 10 minutes. Altamont Free Concert, 1969. Meredith Hunter is killed at this infamous event; his death becomes an icon for the end of the Summer of Love. Now, he lies forgotten, buried in an unmarked and unvisited grave.
· Motion Studies #3: Gravity by Jake Mahaffy, 2004, 3 minutes. Gravity was shot on a quiet fall afternoon and provides empirical evidence of the instantaneous propagation of gravity and our world's drag on foreign bodies. Set against the tragic transmissions of Soviet cosmonauts, it's a short study of humanity's persistent self-sacrifice for the sake of scientific progress.
· Light is Calling by Bill Morrison, 2004, 8 minutes. "A contrastingly ecstatic film, in which bodies and movements dissolve in swirling waves of golden light, the film's decay radiating as a glorious self- immolation." - Senses of Cinema.
· Viscera by Leighton Pierce, 2004-2005, 11 minutes. Constructed in three parts, this flowing video explores absence and how absence transforms and influences perception, memory, and imagination.
· The Time We Killed (excerpt) by Jennifer Reeves, 2004, 6:20 minutes. A poetic section from Reeves' feature, a lush black & white experimental feature that portrays the life and imaginings of a writer unable to leave her New York City apartment.
The Paranormal Trilogy
Three short films by Deborah Stratman
· How Among the Frozen Words by Deborah Stratman, 2005, 44 seconds. Inspired by a chapter in Francois Rabelais' 1653 epic novel "Gargantua & Pantagruel," wherein Pantagruel finds that the explosions, cries and other sounds generated from a battle that had occurred the year before have been frozen into discernable shapes - and that the sounds can be released upon the breaking or melting of the frozen forms.
· It Will Die Out in the Mind by Deborah Stratman, 2006, 3:50 minutes. A short meditation on the possibility of spiritual existence and the paranormal in our information age. Texts are lifted from Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker in which the Stalker's daughter redeems his otherwise doomed spiritual journey. She offers him something more expansive and less explicable than logic or technology as the conceptual pillar of the human spirit.
· The Magician's House by Deborah Stratman, 2007, 5:45 minutes. Sometimes the supernatural lingers plainly in the most ordinary places, secret only in so much as its trace goes unnoticed. Both a letter to a cancer stricken alchemist-filmmaker friend, and a quiet tribute to the vanishing art of celluloid, The Magician's House is full of ghosts.