Sunday, November 23, 2008

Scott MacDonald on the Spirit Of Canyon Cinema

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

The 1960s saw the emergence of a wide range of approaches to cinema that offered alternatives to Hollywood commercial filmmaking. By 1961, Bruce Baillie and Chick Strand had begun informal screenings in the Bay Area at a mobile venue they were calling “Canyon Cinema.” Soon, Canyon began publishing the Cinemanews and in 1966 became a distribution organization, emerging over the next forty years as the most dependable alternative film distributor in the country. The filmmakers who were part of Canyon and contributed to its success also created a remarkable body of films that were widely influential and continue to provide considerable pleasure. In celebration of his recent book,Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor, film historian Scott MacDonald presents a selection of significant films from its vibrant early years, including Abigail Child’s Ornamentals; Gunvor Nelson’s Kirsa Nicholina, My Name Is Oona and Take Off; Anne Severson and Shelby Kennedy’s Riverbody; Chick Strand’s Kristallnacht and Waterfall; and Diane Kitchen’s 2004 film Quick’s Thicket. Come early to peruse a selection of vintage Cinemanews and other artifacts from Cinematheque’s archive. (Scott MacDonald and Steve Polta)

NOTE: This program is the third of four Bay Area appearances by Scott MacDonald. The first two will be presented by Canyon Cinema itself on November 21 and 22. The fourth will be presented at Pacific Film Archive on November 25. Please see www.canyoncinema.com and www.bampfa.berkeley.edu for details.

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