August 20 2016 – Short Films of Lewis Klahr at CIAFF

This August in Beijing, Crows & Sparrows presents a program of films by the American collage filmmaker Lewis Klahr in partnership with the 5th China Independent Animation Film Forum (CIAFF) and with the filmmaker in person for discussion.  

While many have viewed Lewis Klahr’s work within the realm of animation, Klahr resists being called an animator, and instead refers to himself as a collage filmmaker. Originally working on 16mm and Super 8 before transitioning to digital video, Klahr applies experimental, narrative, and autobiographical film techniques to a trove of found materials and personal archives. Old pop music is often a central element within the cut-and-paste worlds of Klahr’s creation, and the songs imbue his films with the emotional highs and lows of heartache, longing, and the uneasy delirium of lost time.  Programmed by Genevieve Carmel, Crows & Sparrows.

This will be a special pre-Forum program of Lewis Klahr’s short films, many from the ongoing series “Prolix Satori”, which also encompasses his newest feature-length collage film SIXTY SIX (2002-2015). Crows & Sparrows presents SIXTY SIX at OCAT Shanghai on the following evening with the filmmaker in person, and during the official 5th CIAFF in Beijing this October.

Presented in Beijing as a program of the 5th China Independent Animation Film Forum
Lewis Klahr will be present for a discussion after the films
Time: Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 2:30pm
Venue: Frontier Center, 751 D-Park, 798 Art District, Beijing
Program Length: 89 minutes

Films in this program:

Prolix Satori series by Lewis Klahr

“I have often worked in series before—“Picture Books For Adults”, “Tales of the Forgotten Future”, “Engram Sepals”, “The Two Minutes to Zero Trilogy—but never quite like this. The main difference is that “Prolix Satori” is both open ended and ongoing with a variety of thematic focuses instead of a single, centralized one. As the series title suggests, it will include films that are very very short (under a minute) and films that are feature length. “Prolix Satori” will also contain various sub-series: this program offers selections mostly from “The Couplets” which generally, organize themselves around the pairing of various pop songs and as in the song’s lyrics, the theme of romantic love.” – Lewis Klahr

april snow

APRIL SNOW, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2010, 10:00, digital video, sound, color

“I thought up the juxtapostion of these two pop songs while creating a mix-tape back in 1988 but never thought I’d work with them as a film soundtrack. Back then the taboo in experimental film circles about using music was so strong it seemed permanent.” – Lewis Klahr

a thousand julys

A THOUSAND JULYS, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2010, 6:30, digital video, sound, color

“This film explores the two sided-ness of the comic book page. Although I’d been wanting to work in this style for many years, I couldn’t resolve the technical challenges with 16mm. However, Digital Video’s sensitivity to low light allowed me to use a lightbox to harvest the superimpositions created when the two sides of a comic book page are backlit.” – Lewis Klahr

Nimbus Seeds

The Nimbus Trilogy

NIMBUS SMILE, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2009, 8:30, digital video, sound, color

NIMBUS SEEDS, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2009, 8:30, digital video, sound, color

CUMULONIMBUS, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2010, 9:30, digital video, sound, color

“Three romantic entanglements play out in the three ‘Nimbus’ videos, which extend Klahr’s interest in constructing almost legible narratives—but doing so in formalist terms that complicate and enhance the traditional pleasures of stories. The trilogy’s closer, Cumulonimbus, is a movingly mature account of grief with a puckish sting in its tail.” – Chris Stults, Film Comment

Well Then There Now

WELL THEN THERE NOW, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2011, 13:24, digital video, sound, color

“An unfaithful interpretation of John Zorn’s early 80’s film script, ‘A Treatment For A Film in 15 Scenes’. I consider WELL THEN THERE NOW a ‘list’ film since Zorn’s text is really a shot list. An exploration of the singularity of the image but, a playful one.” – Lewis Klahr

Script and Music: John Zorn
Text Lifts: Soupalt, Robbe Grillet
Narration: Slater Klahr

Hi-fi Cadets

HI-FI CADETS, Lewis Klahr, USA, 1989, 11:16, Super 8 to digital video, sound, color

“Hi-Fi Cadets is part of my 12 film, feature length, Super 8 series Tales of the Forgotten Future. It was recently restored by the Academy Film Archive which made this state of the art film to digital transfer possible.” – Lewis Klahr

“Hi-Fi Cadets (1989), a small classic… boldly appropriates John F. Kennedy– providing his image with a strange form of afterlife.” – J. Hoberman, Premier Magazine

Music: Josh Rosen
Actors: Charley Golden, Peter Herwitz and Cyndy Katz

Wednesday Morning Two A.M.

WEDNESDAY MORNING TWO A.M., Lewis Klahr, USA, 2009, 6:30, digital video, sound, color

“Deep night– what the mind refuses to grasp the body understands.” – Lewis Klahr

“WEDNESDAY MORNING TWO A.M. has been enthusiastically received, perhaps not only because it’s among [Klahr’s] most visually ravishing works but also because it’s one of the most hopeful.” – Chris Stults, Film Comment

Tiger Award winner for Short Film at the 2010 International Film Festival at Rotterdam.

False Aging

FALSE AGING, Lewis Klahr, USA, 2008, 14:45, digital video, sound, color

“It’s hard to believe that False Aging is less than 15 minutes long, given how powerfully it evokes passing decades punctuated by muffled explosions of longing and regret. A button revolves around a clock–and the world moves with it. Klahr shares Joseph Cornell’s alchemical genius, but his collaged reveries cast deeper shadows and offer little magical protection from death and disappointment. The soundtrack draws on The Valley of the Dolls, Jefferson Airplane, and Lou Reed and John Cale’s Songs for Drella. As Cale channels Warhol, recounting a nightmare involving a snowy park under the stairs and anxieties about troubles real and imagined, a blond man peers at cityscapes, a skeletal hand snatches a fortune, and no-longer- redeemable trading stamps flutter by.” – Kristin M. Jones, Film Comment Magazine, January/February 2009, Terra Incognita: Unknown Pleasures From Around the World (a roundup of the best films of 2008).

“False Aging expresses a sense of lost time, of not moving in step with the rest of the world. In one sequence Jefferson Airplane’s “Lather” asks the question, “Is it true I’m no longer young?” Time makes us prisoners locked in ourselves, like the small yellow bird who slips behind the back of a playing card, then comes back out in front of it. In rapid alternation, they make a kind of thaumatrope, that spinning parlor trick that suggests a sense of movement in the flapping wings of a caged bird. Here the birdcage has been replaced by chance, underscoring the momentary illusion that the bird is free.” – Genevieve Yue, excerpt from her review of the 2008 NY Film Festivals Views of the Avante Garde in Reverse Shot

“Eden vanished when we blew out the candles when we took the first step out the front door. (A little bird told me.) Time is untruthful and mirrors prick the eye. Timelessness weighs lightly, duration is hard to endure. Still the living are younger than the dead. The departed seem to speak from a calm remove with an elephant’s memory, more irksome and with greater feeling than we can command, Sometimes they miss being lost in these limited moments with us, smoking a cigarette, touching the earth, being short changed and anxious. Being. Fretting on the stage. It is then their remnants, their daily trivia and their questions haunt the air like a September song. And because we are breathing still, we think it is our breath and our song , and because we are breathing, it is.” – Mark McElhatten, Curator, Views From the Avante Garde, 2008 NY Film Festival

“False Aging” was selected by Film Comment as one of the best films of 2008.