Girls on Film Shorts Program 1
Director: Various dirs.
1958-2012 / TRT: 47 min
Part of ”CHICAGO FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS: LEADER LADIES“; Panel with CFS’s Rebecca Lyon & Julian Antos, FotoKem’s Andrew Oran, and MoMA‘s Katie Trainor, moderated by Genevieve Yue
Available through May 21
China girls, found footage, and sponsored films—all the stuff from the film room that might ordinarily be cast aside by a more traditional director (or more traditional programmer). In this program, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And what a treasure trove it is! Special thanks to Mark Toscano, Michelle Silva, the Prelinger Archives, and Skip Elsheimer.
Girls on Film (Julie Buck & Karin Segal, USA, 2006, 9 min) When CFS began our leader lady project in 2011, the only other substantial study of them that we could find was from a show that Julie and Karin had put together at the Harvard Film Archive in 2006. That show and this wonderful short subject they made from images in that collection definitely inspired us to make our own collection publicly accessible.
Murder on the Screen (USA, 1958, 22 min) This suspenseful whodunit commissioned by Eastman Kodak and produced by Kansas City’s sponsored film stalwarts the Calvin Company (where Robert Altman learned his trade) imparts an important message about proper film handling, which is the responsibility of everyone, from the lab technician to the projectionist. Featuring several cast members who also appear in Corn’s-A-Poppin’ (you can see the C-A-P trailer before our screening of Daddy Longlegs).
Cosmic Ray* (Bruce Conner, USA, 1961, 5 min) Thousands of frames flash before our eyes in Bruce Conner’s homage to musician Ray Charles, a rapid-fire collage of found footage, his own home movies, dancing girls, cartoons, and newsreels all set to Charles’s 1959 classic, “What I’d Say.”
To the Happy Few (Thomas Draschan & Stella Friedrichs, Austria/Germany, 2003, 5 min) Structured around the mystical idea of the mandala, with images cut in sync with an Indian Bollywood song enhancing their pseudo-psychedelic effects. The film material covers a very wide range of found footage from various sources and decades starting in the 1930s (invisible woman) until the end of the 1980s.
Releasing Human Energies (Mark Toscano, USA, 2012, 6 min) Even when you see them, leader ladies go by so fast (at 24 frames a second, a few frames are gone in the blink of an eye!), but in this short by filmmaker and preservationist Mark Toscano we get the luxury of watching a full five minutes of one in motion. From Toscano: “A film about control. A refinement of energy for purposes of conserving resources, materials, impetus, potential, so they might all be narrowly channeled toward an unquestioned goal of maximum profit with minimum waste. Capitalism, in this example, as a process of understanding how to make use of someone as efficiently as possible to get the most out of them that is desired. Instructions for keeping people on task.”
* Available one night only. Pictured, top to bottom: Releasing Human Energies, Cosmic Ray, and To the Happy Few.
Julian Antos is the executive director of the Chicago Film Society, technical director at the Music Box Theatre, and an independent film technician specializing in analog film.
Rebecca Lyon is a projectionist and programmer who works at the Music Box Theatre, The Block Museum of Art, and the Chicago Film Society. She oversees CFS’s Leader Ladies Project.
Andrew Oran works at FotoKem, where he oversees lab operations and sales for the facility’s film and digital services supporting new feature films, episodic television, and studio archival initiatives.
Katie Trainor is currently the manager of Films Collections at The Museum of Modern Art, NYC. She is a film archivist, projectionist, and co-founder of Center for Home Movies/Home Movie Day and was previously employed at IFC Center, Harvard Film Archive, George Eastman Museum, as well as many film festivals.
Genevieve Yue is an assistant professor of Culture and Media at the New School, where she also directs the Screen Studies Program. She’s also an author, critic, and fledgling filmmaker, whose latest book is Girl Head: Feminism and Film Materiality was published in November.