Takeshi Murata and Christopher Rutledge, Larry (2023), frame enlargement. Courtesy the artists.


Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003


23 April 2024


7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

AFA Screening: MFJ 79 "Re:presentation"

Program Notes.

The act of representation, whether filming new material or reframing archival material, concurrently makes a subject both visible and abstract. And as a time-based medium, moving image works carry another dimension of representation, the context created by montage, of the images that come before and after, and the sum of all images in a single work. This plasticity of meaning on multiple interconnected levels means every artistic choice is also a political choice. What to represent, and how, are the core questions of any filmmaking endeavor, and experimental film in particular tends to not only provide unconventional answers, but also to rephrase the questions entirely.

The filmmakers and writers featured in this issue–highly aware, keenly political, exploring the boundaries between art and reality–rethink questions of representation in ways that are equally timeless and particularly vital to this moment.


–Vince Warne, MFJ 79 Introduction

Programmed by Millennium Film Journal senior editor Grahame Weinbren and editor-at-large Jonathan Ellis.
All film descriptions are excerpted from MFJ No. 79 “Re:presentation”.

Vincent Grenier TABULA RASA (Canada, 1993-2004, 7.5 min, digital)
One of my favorite works, Tabula Rasa (2004), a film shot in a Bronx high school, begins on blank walls. But such blank walls; scarred and summarily patched up, breaking apart when swing doors open and brightly clothed rowdy teenagers rush through. This is such loaded material, heavily marked by time and social place, the architecture evoking prison and damage, and yet as elegantly constructed filmically as shifting Japanese shoji panels. It is the voices of instructor and student, heard off screen, that pierce like a dagger and reverberate throughout the space ideas about power and reality. –Joanna Kiernan


Aria Dean ABATTOIR, U.S.A.! (U.S., 2023, 11 min, digital)
“A bright orange light pulsates expressionistically against a black background, abrupt and shocking. Then the play of light stops, and we are again ‘outside,’ in a harsh institutional light, as a door swings open, and the camera enters and pivots around a sterile room. There are no bodies in this space. There is only the surface of unctuous red fluid that covers the floor as a bloody remnant of an enduring past.” –Vera Dika


Kevin Jerome Everson AIR FORCE TWO (U.S., 2023, 5 min, digital)
In Air Force Two (2023), Everson uses erratic handheld camerawork to inspect prison cells used for the corresponding Hollywood film. The frantic pacing and jostling of the image contrasts with the deadpan voiceover reading the screenplay of the earlier film’s Moscow prison break scene. –Rachel Hutcheson NYFF 61 Currents


Marie Menken ARABESQUE FOR KENNETH ANGER (U.S., 1958-1961, 5 min, 16 mm)
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1961), made with Anger’s (literal) support, consists of controlled hand-held camera moves that follow repetitive patterns of ornamental ceramics and other geometric surfaces in the Alhambra’s Islamic architecture. The minor key flamenco-like guitar soundtrack by Teijo Ito is faultlessly in sync with the motion within the frame. The restraint of the music matches the film’s erotic visual rhythms without overdetermining or dominating them. –Grahame Weinbren


Suneil Sanzgiri AT HOME BUT NOT AT HOME (U.S., 2019, 11 min, digital)
Weaving together family history, local mythology, and colonial legacies as a continuous narrative, Sanzgiri’s body of work is an imbrication of archival footage and technical imaging that addresses the retrospective urgency of haunting. Be it Google Street View, 3D renderings, drone videography, photogrammetry, or lidar scanning, the act of imagination is equated with building in the realm of technical imaging. –Ally Luo


Kevin Jerome Everson BOYD V. DENTON (U.S., 2023, 3 min, digital)
Boyd v. Denton (2023) is titled after the court case mandating the closure of the prison in 1990. Here black and white visual imagery abstracts the prison into flickering mosaics while grainy walkie-talkie audio emits banalities—the sound could be a security guard in the prison, or a production assistant on a movie set. –Rachel Hutcheson NYFF 61 Currents


Kathryn Ramey FALL (U.S., 2006, 5 min, 35mm)
“When a heterosexual dude makes a film about his kids, that is very political. When a woman makes a film that engages with the act of being a parent, it’s often seen as less significant. That shows how political it is because even now, motherhood is a terrible double bind. When I was expecting my first child, I was told by more than one female filmmaker, ‘Forget it, you’re done, you’ll never make a film again.’” –Kathryn Ramey, in dialogue with Sarah Keller & Yangqiao Lu


Takeshi Murata & Christopher Rutledge LARRY (U.S., 2023, 4 min, digital)
To the rhythm of blaring electronic beats, the titular CGI canine emerges onto the street, haggard, from a stairwell doused in purple light (long night at the club?), leading a procession of doppelgangers. Larry sheds skins, liquifies like molten volcanic lava, attempts to dribble a basketball as his body collapses, swims, multiplies, is rendered in pixels and paint, frays at the edges, solidifies into plastic, becomes a 3D model, and finally adopts the form of other animals before dissolving into a Lynda Benglis-like pour of digital goo. –Rachel Valinsky NYFF 61 Currents


Wayne Koestenbaum STIGMA PUDDING (U.S., 2023, 6 min, digital)
Over the last five years, Wayne’s made more than 200 short films, but Stigma Pudding is the first which combines original painting with digital video. “Before I actually dared to apply paint or ink to celluloid, the relationship of paint to film was somewhat conceptual or abstract,” he told me. “I was as-if painting with film and with super-imposition.” By now that he’s at last put felt-tip to film-stock, he’s created something more opulent and vivid, remarkable for “the increasing vibrance of the color” and “the peculiarity and individuation of the marks.” –Nick Gamso


Steve Reinke SUNDOWN (Canada, 2023, 8 min, digital)
Drawing out, through a first-person narrative, a constellation of memories, observations, and more philosophical reflections on the ways that art processes inevitable death. Reinke ponders the strange feeling of seeing a retrospective of his own work installed in Vienna— retrospective, is, after all, one way of calling narrative to a close. –Rachel Valinsky NYFF 61 Currents


All excerpts from Millennium Film Journal No. 79 “Re:presentation”.
Works in this program were included in NYFF 61 (2023).

Total running time: ca. 70 min.

Anthology Film Archive Film Notes

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Copyright © 2023 by Millennium Film Workshop, Inc. ISSN 1064-5586
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This program is partially funded by NYSCA through the Millennium Film Workshop, publisher of the Millennium Film Journal.

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