Lecturer: Fred Camper
From August 30 through December 10, we offer a series of fourteen programs entitled Viewing Positions, with weekly Tuesday lectures by Fred Camper, artist and longtime art and film critic for the Chicago Reader and many other publications. The series is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Fred Camper's lecture. Admission to all Viewing Positions programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
This series will use a wide variety of films to demonstrate the different relationships that films establish with the viewer, and the thematic, cultural, and ideological implications of those differences. One opposition observed will be between classical Hollywood films that try to involve the viewer in the world of the story without calling attention to their style, and a film such as MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, which exposes the secrets of how a film is constructed, becoming, in effect, the story of its own making. Other models include the tangled emotionalism of Yvonne Rainer’s feminism, the voyeurism of Andy Warhol, and the transhuman view of the Robert Bresson film whose protagonist is a donkey.
1970, Hollis Frampton, USA, 60 min.
- Tue, Nov 12th 6:00pm
"A major poetic work."—Ernie Gehr
Privileging pattern over image, and mind over eye, the Structural Film movement arose in the late 1960s as an alternative to the subjective lyricism that had previously dominated American avant-garde cinema. Flanked by readings voiced over a black screen and a snowy white landscape, the silent central section of Frampton's participatory tour de force is a series of alphabetical sequences in which words—captured in ever-varying locations on signs, marquees, labels, etc. —are gradually replaced by recurring images that form a new, non-verbal "alphabet." 16mm.
Also on the program: SONGS 1-7 (1964, Stan Brakhage, USA, 25 min. These early entries in Brakhage's celebrated 25-film cycle, originally filmed in 8mm, are distilled poetic visions of subjects ranging from a dying moth to the city of San Francisco to three girls playing with a red ball. 16mm. (MR)
The Holy Girl
La niña santa
2004, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 106 min.
With Mercedes Morán, Carlos Bell
“Takes a potentially explosive subject and does it subtly and perceptively.”—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Subtitled “The Temptation of Good and the Evil It Causes,” this perverse, provocatively ambivalent fable is set in the same torpid backwater as Martel's celebrated debut LA CIÉNAGA. When impressionable 14-year-old Amalia is groped by a doctor on a crowded street, she takes it as a divine signal to save his soul. In town for a medical convention, he happens to be staying at the hotel run by her mother, where this nemesis nymphet relentlessly stalks her molester to his salvation...or his doom. In Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
2005, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France, 135 min.
With Shu Qi, Chang Chen
“A masterpiece. This is why cinema exists.”—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Taiwanese master Hou's most romantic and accessible film, THREE TIMES presents three pairs of lovers from different eras, played each time by the same actors. The first episode, set in 1966, is a lovely, relaxed romance between an itinerant pool-hall hostess and an army inductee. Set in an elegant brothel and rendering all dialogue through silent-film intertitles, the second episode takes place in 1911, during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The third episode, set in present-day Taipei, centers on a fragile songstress who betrays her lesbian lover for a biker/photographer. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
Daughter of the Nile
Ni luo he nyu er / 尼羅河的女兒
1987, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan, 93 min.
With Lin Yang, Jack Kao.
"Now perfectly restored, it’s a quintessential modern family tragedy...It’s hard to imagine a more necessary screening experience this fall."--Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
"Moving and memorable...DAUGHTER OF THE NILE has an emotional heft and impact lacking in even Hou's best films." — Shlomo Schwartzberg, Critics at Large
A neglected and long hard-to-see film by the Taiwanese master, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE, with its shift to urban settings and a female protagonist, marks a key turning point in Hou's career. Bidding for a wider audience, Hou cast pop star Lin Yang in the lead and made one of his most accessible, emotionally direct films, although its elliptical, reflective storytelling is still far from conventional. The story centers on 19-year-old Hsiao-yang (Yang), who works days in a KFC, attends night school, and becomes involved in the Taipei underworld through her gangster brother Hsiao-fang (Kao) and his reckless buddy Ah-Sang, whom she has a crush on. Neon lights, fireworks, pop songs, and manga comic books add flavor to this portrait of anomic urban youth, whose gorgeous, layered compositions are rendered in an excellent 4K restoration. In Mandarin with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
The Blood of Jesus
1941, Spencer Williams, USA, 57 min.
With Cathryn Caviness, Spencer Williams
"One of the most visionary movies ever produced in America."—J. Hoberman, The New York Times
Though better known as an actor (TV's Amos 'n' Andy), Spencer Williams was second only to Oscar Micheaux as an auteur of "race movies"—low-budget films aimed at African American audiences as an alternative to racist Hollywood product. Widely considered Williams's greatest achievement, THE BLOOD OF JESUS was the first race movie selected for the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, and in 2008 it was named by Time magazine as one the Top 25 Important Movies on Race. In this deeply felt religious fable set in the rural South, devout Martha Jackson (Caviness) is accidentally shot by her non-believing, hog-thieving husband (Williams). As she lies in a coma, her soul embarks on a journey that takes her from the temptation of a big-city juke joint to a climactic struggle at the crossroads of Hell and Zion. The storybook directness of the images is counterpointed by a rich soundtrack of nearly non-stop music, ranging from hymns to blues to jazz. DCP digital. (MR)