Nearly five years in the making and clocking in at 508 pages, Craig Baldwin: Avant to Live! documents the life and work of acclaimed filmmaker and curator CRAIG BALDWIN (b. Oakland CA, 1952), an inspiring and influential figure in contemporary media arts. Meticulously detailed, with contributions from over 50 writers, artists, illustrators and ideologues, AVANT TO LIVE! is the first critical text to examine the artist’s films analytically as a coherent and meaningful body of work and critical artist’s statement while also examining the cultural impact of Baldwin’s Other Cinema curatorial project.

From the Intro: For nearly 50 years, the Bay Area filmmaker and curator Craig Baldwin has been an inspiring figure in contemporary media arts. His acerbic, densely-packed found footage films have traveled the globe, encouraging scores of nascent collage-essayists, culture jammers, and mockumentarians to action. A welcoming presence and steadfast fixture of San Francisco’s Mission District, Baldwin has been holding it down at 992 Valencia Street for decades, in defiance of sweeping gentrification, presenting his Other Cinema microcinema screenings in its street-level storefront theater while maintaining his legendary film archive/hoarder cave/work studio in the building’s basement. Ever seeking to revise and hybridize existing modes and genres, and invent and name new ones, Baldwin’s filmmaking amalgamates cinephilic literacy and voraciousness, a sharp understanding of political and cultural history, and a sly critical polemics. His films are further energized by an encyclopedic knowledge of his own sprawling collection of cast-off educational films and B-grade features and a perverse proclivity for sourcing surreally sublime moments from industrial film effluvia. Informed by left politics, cult cinemas, agit-prop activism, structural film, the Situationists, the Yippies, Arte Povera, media archeology, compilation documentary, and other found footage forms, Baldwin’s praxis is bound by a dual commitment to materiality and aesthetics on the one hand, and disruptive action and fervent, antagonal rhetoric on the other; all the while articulating a contrarian (and at times utopian) sense of apocalyptic historiography. (Brett Kashmere & Steve Polta: Introduction: Craig Baldwin: Avant Savant

AS A FILMMAKER, Baldwin’s works represent a radical fusion of form and content. Formally, his films are constructed largely from audiovisual material appropriated from pre-existing films. In this, they represent a radical stance toward media culture as a participatory field. As an artist, Baldwin engages with mainstream media as an adversary, using its languages in ironic opposition. In this way he talks back to corporately produced media and creates inspiring, wildly imaginative works which profoundly challenge the nature of one-way media consumption.

AS A FILM CURATOR, Baldwin is known for Other Cinema, an extensive and hugely influential series of film/video programs he has personally organized in San Francisco on a schedule of 36 programs per year since the late 1980s. Like his films, Baldwin’s Other Cinema represents a radically expanded approach to film exhibition, media consumption and cultural engagement in which ephemeral forms of film history coexist alongside expanded cinema performance, underground/experimental film screenings, speculative lecture presentations, in-person artists and more.

Meticulously detailed, with contributions from over 50 writers, artists, illustrators and ideologues, AVANT TO LIVE! will be the first critical text to examine the artist’s films analytically as a coherent and meaningful body of work and critical artist’s statement while also examining the cultural impact of Baldwin’s Other Cinema curatorial project. CRAIG BALDWIN: AVANT TO LIVE! is a collaborative project of San Francisco Cinematheque and INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media and is projected to hit the streets in 2023. The launch and will be accompanied by a full filmmaker retrospective.


Jesse Drew: Untitled [photograph]

Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta: Introduction: Craig Baldwin: Avant Savant

Writings and Interviews
Joan d’Arc: Filmmaker Craig Baldwin: Alien Anomaly? (1993)
Craig Baldwin: The Collage Essay: Message in a Bottle (1993)
Craig Baldwin: Acceptance Speech for The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (1997)
Irene Borger: Interview with Craig Baldwin (1998)
Craig Baldwin: Artist Statement (2002)
Steve Polta: Masochism of the Margins: An Interview with Craig Baldwin (2008)
Craig Baldwin: Statement of Plans for Invisible Insurrection (2010)
Craig Baldwin: Orphan Morphin’ Manifesto (2016)

The Films
Craig Baldwin: Locating FlickSkin
Sam Green: Don’t Make Such a Big Deal About Stolen Movie!
Tom Day: Pop Collage and the Pop Underground: Craig Baldwin’s Wild Gunman
Kathleen Tyner: Pushing the Envelope with RocketKitKongoKit
Liz Kotz: On the Edge of Documentary: Films by Amos Gitai, Trinh Minh-ha, and Craig Baldwin
Jeffrey Skoller: Tribulation 100!
Catherine Russell: Archival Apocalypse: Found Footage as Ethnography (excerpt)
Jeffrey Skoller: Shards: Allegory as Historical Procedure (excerpt)
Michael Zryd: Found Footage Film as Discursive Metahistory: Craig Baldwin’s Tribulation 99
Federico Windhausen: Movies for the Millenarians: Returning to Baldwin’s Tribulation 99
Jeffrey Skoller: San Francisco Film Society Essential SF Filmmaker Award 2015
Luisela Alvaray: ¡O No Coronado!: Found Footage for a Fresh Past
Jesse Lerner: ¡O No Coronado!: A Post-Colonial Critique from Baldwin’s Cinematic Scrapyard
Chris Chang: Property is Theft
Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa: Living Room Laboratories: Exploding Popular Science Television in Spectres of the Spectrum
Joanna Byrne: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun: BooBoo’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable
Manohla Dargis: Star Log: Trippy Sci-Fi Mash-Up Alert!
Keivan Khademi Shamami: Async Sound: Mock Up On Mu
Stephen Broomer: Stationary Targets: Craig Baldwin’s Bulletin
Scott MacKenzie: The Craig Baldwin Educational Film Catalog
Kristin Cato: Beauty in the Mix: Craig Baldwin Expanded

Other Cinema
Craig Baldwin: Other Cinema Possible Names
Bill Daniel: Other Cinema/ATA [photos]
Max Goldberg: Time After Time: Craig Baldwin’s Other Cinema Calendars
Craig Baldwin: Selected Other Cinema Calendars
Dolissa Medina: Artists’ Television Access Digs In
Bill Brown: Adventures in Music
Peggy Nelson: Other Cinema as a Third Place
Molly Hankwitz: Why I Love Other Cinema and Other Feminist Stories
Bryan Boyce: N.E.W. A.T.A. & Other Basement [digital images]
David Albert Cox: Deep Memory in the Archive Bunker: The Beat Film School
Joshua Leon Harper: Be Sure Your Eyes are Right
Adam Dziesinski: Projecting with Craig [comic]

Personal Responses
Jeffrey Skoller: Tales of the Urban Rats
Soda_Jerk: SURF NOT SERF [digital image]
Bill Daniel: This Cannot Be Done: Making Films with Craig Baldwin
Gerry Fialka: Craig Baldwin’s Touch: Is It Love or Confusion? Or Glorious Not Knowing?
Vanessa Renwick: Radical Generosity
Mike Hoolboom: Craig’s List
Lynne Sachs: Blissfully Out of Context: A Collection of Letters from Craig Baldwin, 1996–2019
Chip Lord: Craig Baldwin: Into the Ether
Anthony Buchanan: Mission Reusable: Craig Baldwin, Street Scavenging, and an Assemblage De La Raza
Alex Johnston: On Homburgs and Radical Curiosity
Jesse Malmed: Baldwin Notes, Baldwin Nodes
Valerie Soe: More Than This: Craig Baldwin and Me
Patrick Macias: Godzilla vs. Other Cinema
Caroline Koebel: Craig Baldwin Collage [collage]
Bradley Eros: Oysters of the Id: My Experience with Collage
Bradley Eros: dv8 mystery = (deep velvet octopus)  [collage]
Kelly Gallagher: Your Fan
Kelly Gallagher: Otherworldly Cinema  [collage]
Rick Prelinger: Other Archives

Reference Material
Adrianne Finelli: Craig Baldwin: Biographical Timeline
Brett Kashmere: Craig Baldwin: Filmography
Kristin Cato: Craig Baldwin: Expanded Cinema Works
Brett Kashmere: Craig Baldwin: Bibliography
Brett Kashmere: Index of OtherZine
Brett Kashmere: Other Cinema DVD (OCD) Releases
Jesse Drew: Untitled [photograph]
Multiples/Avant to Live! expanded edition
Craig Baldwin: Copyright Infringement is Your Best Entertainment Value [sticker]
Craig Baldwin: Orphan Morphin’ 3-D postcard (with glasses!)
Craig Baldwin: Selected sportswriting (1967–69) from The Carmichael Courier [newspaper]
Craig Baldwin: Stolen Movie (1976) [DVD]
Craig Baldwin/Bill Daniel: Here are some things that I think you’ll like! [zine]
John Klacsmann: A Brief History of “Finger in Ear Man” [print]
Jeremy Rourke: Craig Baldwin: the films are ours [flipbook]
Underground Cinema 12 Film Society: Replica Membership Card [card]

PLUS: Ephemera from the Archive hand-selected by Craig Baldwin!


Editors: Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta
Project Archivists: Courtney Fellion and Megan Needels
Series Coordinator: India Nemer
Designer: Vivian Sming, Sming Sming Books
Project Contributors: Luisela Alvaray, Craig Baldwin, Irene Borger, Bryan Boyce, Stephen Broomer, Bill Brown, Anthony Buchanan, Joanna Byrne, Kristin Cato, Chris Chang, David Cox, Bill Daniel, Joan d’Arc, Manohla Dargis, Tom Day, Jesse Drew, Adam Dziesinski, Bradley Eros, Gerry Fialka, Adrianne Finelli, Kelly Gallagher, Max Goldberg, Sam Green, Molly Hankwitz, Joshua Leon Harper, Mike Hoolboom, Alex Johnston, John Klacsmann, Caroline Koebel, Liz Kotz, Jesse Lerner, Chip Lord, Patrick Macias, Scott MacKenzie, Jesse Malmed, Dolissa Medina, Peggy Nelson, Rick Prelinger, Vanessa Renwick, Jeremy Rourke, Catherine Russell, Lynne Sachs, Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa, Keivan Khademi Shamami, Jeffrey Skoller, Soda_Jerk, Valerie Soe, Kathleen Tyner, Federico Windhausen, Michael Zryd

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AVANT TO LIVE Book Launch Celebration

Documentation of Avant to Live! launch at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater May 28, 2023.  Presentation by Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta. This video contains readings by Jeffrey Skoller and Rick Prelinger along with Craig Baldwin in conversation with Lynne Sachs. Readings by Gerry Fialka, Scott MacKenzie, Rankin Renwick were also part of the event, but were not recorded. Video includes footage of You’re Not Listening by Jeremy Rourke. Footage captured by David Coxedited by Mary Rose McClain.