Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cult of the Kuchars: 8mm Films by George and Mike Kuchar

Co-presented with Pacific Film Archive

Pacific Film Archive

Preservation Prints

Screening followed by George and Mike Kuchar in conversation with Gene Youngblood

Twins Mike and George Kuchar spent their preteen years devouring movies in their Bronx neighborhood theaters, Mike soaking in the melodramatic colors and music, George zeroing in on the dramatic possibilities. When, at age twelve, their mother gave them an 8mm camera, they enlisted friends and neighbors to flesh out their own miniature narratives, which unspooled in an excess of luscious color and lurid lighting, with artful camera angles and framing, imaginative storylines, and unforgettable titles. Eventually they screened their films at amateur movie clubs, and then in Ken and Flo Jacobs’s loft. The rest is history. In their earliest surviving film, The Naked and the Nude, a full-scale war is staged (“Big . . . Rousing . . . Memorable!”— George Kuchar). Sylvia’s Promise and Anita Needs Me focus on relationships in jeopardy; George promises, “Your emotions will be squeezed.” He describes Mike’s Born of the Wind as “a tender and realistic story of a scientist who falls in love with a mummy he has restored to life . . . 2,000 years as a mummy couldn’t quench her thirst for love!”

The Naked and the Nude (George, Mike Kuchar, 1957, 36 mins, sound on CD). Sylvia’s Promise (George, Mike Kuchar, c. 1962, 9 mins). Anita Needs Me (George Kuchar, 1963, 16 mins). Born of the Wind (Mike Kuchar, 1962, 24 mins)

—Kathy Geritz

(Total running time: 85 mins, Color, 8mm-to-16mm blowup, Preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation)