"Roughly two years after her passing, the first of filmmaker Chick Strand's unfinished films, Señora con flores (Woman with Flowers, 1995/2011), will come to light on Monday at REDCAT (co-presented with Los Angeles Filmforum), anchoring a program of classic Strand shorts that have been newly restored by the Pacific Film Archive and the Academy Film Archive." Kevin McGarry for Artforum: "Technically the screening is a 'precursor' to Los Angeles Filmforum's year-long series tracking midcentury Southern California experimental film for Pacific Standard Time, and it's fitting that the cinema arm of the chronophilic behemoth should dawn with Strand. For one, she was a cofounder of the vital Bay Area distributor Canyon Cinema. For another, she was an artist who clung enduringly to the present — an inclination that fills her work with halcyon poignance."
Karina Longworth in the LA Weekly: "Shot in Mexico in the 80s (on one of the many trips Strand took there with her husband, painter Neon Park), and edited in 1995, [Señora con flores is] a portrait of the titular woman, a flower seller who testifies in Spanish to constant abuse at the hands of her unfaithful, alcoholic husband. Like many of Strand's films, Señora is shot primarily in close-up, with the lens fully zoomed in, rendering the image shaky and unstable, the actual subject coming into focus or dissolving into a field of color as it moves…. It's the story of a real woman's life, told in her own words, but given a near-surrealistic quality by Strand's abstraction."
Brecht Andersch introduces an interview with another co-founder of Canyon Cinema: "Bruce Baillie's odyssey in the 1960's is arguably the central legend of American film art of our nation's most convulsive decade in living memory." In the early 60s, "Bruce began a series of Kerouac-ian criss-cross treks across the North American continent. Often living out of a Volkswagen bug, he produced an astonishing series of visionary film masterworks." Mid-decade, he settled for a while at the Morningstar Ranch, an experiment in "idyllic hippie-period utopian" communal living, "but it all came crashing down when hepatitis spread through the Ranch, causing several deaths. Bruce's own severe bout with the disease would soon lead to an unending battle with the then unknown and unnamed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. During his recovery, Bruce began shooting the hour-long, four-reel Quick Billy, an autobiographical rendering of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, in which a soul's passage through the stages of death and the afterlife is explored in visionary form for the first three reels, then reworked and burlesqued as a silent movie western in the last. Quick Billy evinces the ethos of a Mad Medicine Man which characterizes all of Bruce's work, but with an added dose of poignancy occasioned by its maker's sojourn with death. As always with Bruce, impoverishment of means is melded with technical virtuosity."
SFMOMA will be screening Quick Billy on Thursday evening.
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