I have to write about this great series because after all, I am a Los Angelina myself!
Los Angeles Filmforum was started in 1975 by Terry Cannon. Adam Hyman became director in 2003 as an act of love for films which would not reach the light of day without his work. That MOCA is supporting him in this series is also important and it shows that Los Angeles has a sense of itself and finds the sense in preserving what film history has created.
Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA is supported through both organizations by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and at MOCA by Catherine Opie.
Additional support of Filmforum’s screening series comes from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Additional support to Filmforum generously provided by American Cinematheque. They also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.
Los Angeles is perhaps the most photographed, yet least understood city in the world. For all of the countless images, it is as though few people have actually seen the city well enough to depict it. Coinciding with A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California, Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA presents a program of recent films that break this mold, and in so doing document the changing landscape of the city in the 21st century. Thom Andersen, Alexandra Cuesta, and Clay Dean use poignant and at times even poetic images of buildings, immigrant neighborhoods, deteriorating signage, and readymade still lifes to give us a sense of place as well as the uncanny. Serving as an elegiac prologue to this recent efflorescence of observational cinema is Kent MacKenzie’s heartbreaking Bunker Hill 1956, a rich documentary memorializing the site whose destruction preceded downtown’s current incarnation as a corporate office block (and home to MOCA).
In person: Thom Anderson and Clay Dean
What: Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA Presents: This is the City
When: Thursday, July 11, 2013 – 7pm
Where: MOCA Grand Avenue, Ahmanson Auditorium, 250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012
Tickets: $12 general admission; $7 students with valid ID
Tickets available at moca.org
FREE for MOCA and Los Angeles Filmforum members; must present current membership card to claim free tickets
INFO 213/621-1745 or education[a]moca.org
“Get Out [of the Car]” began as an outgrowth of “Los Angeles Plays Itself,” inspired by a peeling billboard. The film became a 30-minute symphony devoted to the remnants of a vanished Los Angeles of neighborhood farms and demolished concert halls. —Saul Austerlitz, New York Times
“Although Los Angeles has appeared in more films than any other city, I believe that it has not been well served by these films. San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo have all left more indelible impressions. It happens that many film-makers working in Los Angeles don’t appreciate the city, and very few of them understand much about it, but their failures in depicting it may have more profound causes.
“In Los Angeles Plays Itself, I claimed that the city is not cinematogenic. ‘It’s just beyond the reach of an image.’ Now I’m not so sure. In any case, I became gradually obsessed with making a proper Los Angeles city symphony film.” —Thom Andersen, “Get Out of the Car: A Commentary”
Kent MacKenzie, Bunker Hill 1956
1956, 16mm, black and white, sound; 18min.
Print courtesy of USC.
Before making his landmark feature The Exiles, Kent MacKenzie produced this intelligent and sensitive portrait of the Bunker Hill neighborhood, which was already in 1956 under very serious threat of total redevelopment and eradication. The film focuses in particular on the single, elderly pensioners who lived in the neighborhood, and proposes that far from being a slum, Bunker Hill was a very defined and beloved community. —Mark Toscano
Alexandra Cuesta, Despedida (Farewell)
2013; 16mm, color, sound; 10 min.
Shot in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, this transitory neighborhood resonates with the poetry of local resident Mapkaulu Roger Nduku. Verses about endings, looking and passing through open up the space projected. A string of tableaus gather a portrait of a place and compose a goodbye letter to an ephemeral home. —AC
Clay Dean, Not West of Western
2011; 16mm, black and white, sound; 13.5 min.
Walking within parameters that define the heart of Los Angeles, Not West of Western explores the cross section of still photography and cinema while at the same time calling attention to the unique cross-cultural landscape of the city. —CD
Thom Andersen, Get Out of the Car
2010; 16mm, color, sound; 35 min.
Direction: Thom Andersen; camera: Madison Brookshire, Adam R. Levine; editing: Adam R. Levine; sound: Craig Smith
Get Out of the Car is a city symphony film in 16mm composed from advertising signs, building facades, fragments of music and conversation, and unmarked sites of vanished cultural landmarks (including El Monte Legion Stadium and the Barrelhouse in Watts). The musical fragments compose an impressionistic survey of popular music made in Los Angeles (and a few other places) from 1941 to 1999, with an emphasis on rhythm’n’blues and jazz from the 1950s and corridos from the 1990s. The music of Richard Berry, Johnny Otis, Leiber and Stoller, and Los Tigres del Norte is featured prominently. —TA
Total Running Time: 76.5 min.
Programmed by Madison Brookshire
Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA furthers MOCA’s mission to be the defining museum of contemporary art by adding a bimonthly series of film and video screenings organized and co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum—the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, video art, and experimental animation.