Thursday, September 24, 2009
Czech filmmaker Vera Chytilová is considered the pioneer of Czech New Wave cinema. She didn’t use conventional cinematic devices; she used cinéma vérité-style filmmaking, often incorporating superimposed images and backward filming to create trippy images laced with feminist ideals and political strife.
Inspired by Chytilová, Fruit of Paradise: An Evening of Surrealist Women and Feminine Psychedelia at Henry Miller Library celebrates Chytilova’s work with several short films, a sunset show by mystical band Warpaint and music by Carlos Niño. Maximilla Lukacs, an experimental filmmaker and co-curator of the event, put it together in two weeks.
“There aren’t many female filmmakers; women are not usually encouraged to take the role of director,” she says. “The very nature of being a director makes you summon masculine energy; it’s like being a general in an army.”
But Lukacs has directed several successful music videos and shorts over the past few years. In 2007, Lukacs made The Entrance Band’s “Grim Reaper Blues” video: a grainy, surreal patchwork that deftly resembles Maya Deren’s 1943 avant-garde classic, Meshes of the Afternoon.
Lukacs says the video – which includes séance scenes and apparitions – was inspired by the spirit photography movement of the late 1800s, which centered on the belief that ghosts can manifest themselves through photos. The video was shot over two days in New York on a shoestring budget.
“We had one roll of Super 8 film for each person, so we had to do it all in one take,” Lukacs says.
Entrance’s second video, “Look Out,” premieres at tonight’s screening.
“All I can say about it is: There are a lot of eyeballs,” Lukacs says.
She is also showing Spell, a short film about five girls possessed by a witch, which she made with filmmaker/trapeze artist Sarah Sophie Flicker.
Other featured filmmakers include Melissa Auf der Maur, who is known foremost as a musician: She’s played bass in bands including Hole and Smashing Pumpkins. But she may soon become known for film: What began as a concept for her second solo album became OOOM (Out Of Our Minds), a 28-minute epic about a parallel universe conceived, produced and scored by Auf der Maur, who also stars.
At 23, Ashley Conner is the youngest filmmaker involved; How She Makes It was her thesis project at Ithaca College. Lukacs describes the film as an “abstract, feminist poem.”
It’s only appropriate that Lukacs is also showing an excerpt from Chytilová’s most renowned picture and probably one of the most important experimental films ever made, Daisies. Released in 1966, Daisies follows two girls who have decided that, since the world already sucks, they can do whatever they want, to excess. In it, Chytilová uses a laundry list of trick effects including image fragmentation and color saturation.
Hopefully the groundbreaking work of women like Chytilová will continue to inspire other women to bust into the men’s club known as filmmaking.
FRUIT OF PARADISE begins at 7pm Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Henry Miller Library, Highway 1, Big Sur. $8. 667-2574.