Brooklyn-Based Microcinema Icon Spectacle Takes Over MAD's Summer Cinema Series
This summer, Brooklyn-based Spectacle takes over the Theater at MAD as part of the exhibition NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, presenting 11 unconventional programs that highlight the organization's cross-disciplinary approach and DIY ethos. A unique voice in the wave of micro-cinemas that have emerged in New York City in the past decade, Spectacle was established in 2010 with only 30 seats in its Williamsburg, Brooklyn home, and a staff made up entirely of volunteers.
For its MAD tenure, Spectacle extends its programming of rarely screened works, offbeat gems, and performance art to include internationally sourced 35mm prints that have not been shown in New York City in more than a decade, or in some cases, ever; the premieres of live film-score performances and original Spectacle "re-made/remodeled" work; as well as contemporary independent programming.
"Not only does Spectacle present an important breadth of cinema programs that is otherwise absent within the city, they support the development and creation of new and exciting works by local artists and filmmakers, and have become a truly vital voice within the NYC filmmaking community," says Jake Yuzna, MAD's Director of Public Programs and exhibition curator for NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial. "Not unlike the Cinémathèque Française's support and promotion of the French New Wave, Spectacle is fostering a renewed movement of cutting edge filmmaking in NYC that continues to ensure the medium's relevance today."
"Working with MAD means realizing our dream of bringing some of our favorite programming on 35mm prints to a beautiful screen," adds Spectacle's Jon Dieringer. "The Theater at MAD also offers a broader stage for some of our most ambitious in-house experiments and collaborations yet."
Beginning with a rare 35mm print of Czech director Vera Chytilová's Panelstory (1980) on Thursday, July 24, the series features the following highlights:
- A selection of foreign films, including Roland Klick's Deadlock, screening for the first time ever on 35mm in the U.S. and featuring a soundtrack by Krautrock legends Can; and a rare screening of Sally Potter's experimental feminist classic The Gold Diggers, starring Julie Christie.
- Original Spectacle "re-made/remodeled" works, including 'Nirvana Night', an experimental documentary collage accompanied by live performance, that tells the biographical story of Nirvana through YouTube-sourced media; and Strong-Thing, a meditative narrative exploration of Arnold Schwarzenegger's on-screen and biographical personae, constructed of material repurposed from the breadth of his filmography.
- An evening of live music and visuals with acclaimed songwriter and musician Zachary Cale, and the guitar/synthesizer duo MIL KDU DES.
- Independent programming including "The Future Weird," a selection of speculative and experimental film, including commercials, music videos, newsreels, and colonial archives; and "Kinetic Cinema," curated by invited guest artists whose selections reflect how the use of movement in film and media arts has influenced their own art.
Together these screenings and programs showcase the new model of cinema organization that has flattened the once-separate roles of maker, presenter, and venue into one unified practice. The model is helping to enrich the city's cinematic offerings as well provide a support structure for a new generation of makers who are creating the future of cinema in New York City.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Spectacle's MAD series is administered by Greg Eggebeen, feature films are programmed by Jon Dieringer and special events are organized by C. Spencer Yeh.
All programs $10, $5 for MAD Members and Students with Valid ID.
Tickets and more information are available by calling 1-800-838-3006 or visiting
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Vera Chytilová, 1980.
96 min. Czechoslovakia. 35mm.
In Czech with English subtitles.
With Lukás Bech, Antonín Vanha and Eva Kacírková
Imported 35mm print courtesy of The National Film Archive in Prague, Czech Republic. Special thanks to Daniel Vadocký and Irena Kovarova.
From Spectacle's inception, the late Vera Chytilová has been something of a patron saint, and Spectacle is pleased to honor her memory by beginning its repertory screening series with one of her best films: 1980's Panelstory, aka Panel Story or Prefab Story.
A pleasurable and provocative morality play set inside decaying, failed utopian housing projects in Communist Czechoslovakia, Panelstory bursts with Chytilová's unique stylistic flair and keenly attuned moral sensibility. Vérité-style camerawork roams amid the rubble and up and down the dysfunctional apartment blocks, checking in with an ensemble cast of characters going about their daily lives.
Few films from its time are so openly critical of state socialism, and it's a marvel that Panelstory managed to be made at all before it was banned. Subsequently, it has been very rarely shown internationally on 35mm, perhaps most recently in New York City at a 1997 retrospective held at Anthology Film Archives.
Friday, August 1, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Roland Klick, 1970.
88 min. West Germany. 35mm.
In its original English-language soundtrack.
With Marquard Bohm, Anthony Dawson, Mario Adorf and Mascha Rabben
Imported 35mm print courtesy of Filmgalerie 451, Berlin, Germany. Special thanks to Frieder Schlaich and Alex Jovanovic.
Roland Klick's flea-bitten contemporary acid Western concerns the maneuvers of three men and a suitcase full of cash in a decrepit mining town. The lexicon is straight-up Leone stripped to its essential gestures, iconography and set-ups, with a poetic sense of landscape recalling Terrence Malick and Zabriskie Point. Another way of framing it is El Topo with machine guns; Jodorowsky himself called Deadlock "fantastic-a bizarre, glowing film." Krautrock legends Can provide the soundtrack, and their pounding toms, searing Morricone-overdrive guitars and noirish tango are a major presence. Their score for Deadlock also represents the first appearances of vocalist Damo Suzuki, who was with the band for their classic albums Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days.
Initially achieving commercial success, Klick was not part of the Young German Cinema filmmakers so widely known and respected today, who all too effectively ostracized him from the international film community, essentially writing him out of film history and sending him into early retirement. German distributor Filmgalerie 451 has led a campaign to recirculate Klick's films, which are a staggering revelation to many who fail to understand how critics and programmers have overlooked them for so long. We are pleased to present what might the first-ever 35mm New York City screening of Deadlock (or any of Klick's films), in close proximity to the director's 75th birthday on July 4.
Jackie Raynal and Zanzibar
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Jackie Raynal, 1968.
65 min. France. 35mm.
In French with English subtitles.
With Jackie Raynal and Francisco Viader
Fun and Game(s) for Everyone
Dir. Serge Bard and Olivier Mosset, 1968.
55 min. France. 35mm.
In French with English subtitles.
With Salvador Dalí, Olivier Mosset, Amanda Lear and Michel Auder
Imported 35mm prints courtesy of La Cinémathèque de Toulouse, France. Special thanks to Jackie Raynal, Jake Perlin and Guillemette Laucoin.
This evening spotlights a pair of films made the same year by the Zanzibar Group, a loose collective of artists whose 13 features, made between 1968 and 1970, were financed by Sylvina Boissonnas, a left-wing oil heiress who asked no questions and granted total creative freedom. Representing a far more radical break with convention than their predecessors in the nouvelle vague, the Zanzibar filmmakers are often understood as a link between European revolutionary cinema and the American underground.
Jackie Raynal has bridged a number of these worlds, first as an editor of several of Eric Rohmer's features, and later as one of New York film culture's major programming voices behind the Bleecker Street and Carnegie Hall cinemas. Her first feature, Deux Fois, is not only perhaps the greatest of the Zanzibar films, but one of the masterpieces of French cinema. Shot in Barcelona, Deux Fois combines an earnest feel for experimentation with the assured confidence of an unshackled commercial editor, and the result is a playfully obtuse, plotless procession of obscure cinematic rhymes and games of repetition that tease viewers, inviting them to construct their own systems of meaning, much as one might make associations between fragments of dreams. Deux Fois is at once childlike, precocious and beguilingly complex: as Raynal herself states in direct address at the end of its first scene, "Tonight will be the end of all meaning. Ladies and gentlemen: Good evening."
Made the same year, Fun and Game(s) for Everyone is shot and processed in impossibly high-contrast black and white by the famed Henri Alekan (Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, Wender's Wings of Desire). The faces of attendees at an Olivier Mosset gallery opening dip in and out of recognition, from bright, milky forms to stark black silhouettes, accompanied by a swinging score from free-jazz pioneer Sunny Murray, part of Albert Ayler's trio, and Barney Wilen, who also composed scores for Roger Vadim and Philippe Garrel. It's a great portrait of comings and goings among the Zanzibar scene rendered in a characteristically unconventional style.
Thursday, August 14, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Leonardo Favio, 1969.
78 min. Argentina. 35mm.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
With Walter Vidarte, Garciela Borges and Nora Cullen
Imported 35mm print courtesy of Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Special thanks to Juan Crespo, 3C Films Group; Maria Nuñez, INCAA; Marcela Goglio, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Carlos Gutiérrez, Cinema Tropical.
El Dependiente is the third feature directed by Leonardo Favio, Argentina's own Gainsbourgian Renaissance man with the dual distinction of being a '60s and '70s pop icon and accomplished filmmaker. Whereas his first two features reflect the influence of his mentors, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson and Robert Bresson, El Dependiente is another beast entirely that can perhaps only be compared to Eraserhead (1977) in its suffocating portrayal of abject dread brutally punctuated with disturbing, absurdist humor.
Walter Vidarte plays the title clerk, who works in a hardware store in a desolate provincial town. By day, he finds himself indulging in guilty fantasies of the accidental death of his kind employer so that he one day might inherit the store. And each night on his way home he becomes transfixed by a gorgeous young woman lurking under the street light. He eventually approaches her, which leads to a string of muted nocturnal encounters in the girl's dilapidated courtyard that grow increasingly anxious under the auspices of her doting, manically overbearing mother.
Filmed in a stark chiaroscuro rife with vast, empty spaces, eerie ellipses and an almost palpable sense of the forlorn that curdles into brooding menace, El Dependiente is, despite its quite considerable humor and charm, one of the most suspenseful and astonishing cinematic discoveries you're likely to encounter.
The Gold Diggers
Thursday, August 21, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Sally Potter, 1983.
89 min. UK. 35mm.
With Julie Christie and Colette Laffont
Imported 35mm print courtesy of the BFI. Special thanks to James King and Fleur Buckley.
A singular film, Sally Potter's feature debut is a potent creative and intellectual stew of music, Marxism, performance, dance and the economies constructed around gendered imagery. Featuring Julie Christie and non-professional actress Colette Laffont, whose working class French-African background contrasts with Christie's Anglican movie-star image, the non-linear narrative blurs distinctions between the characters' fantasies and realities, proceeding with a freeform structure that resembles nothing in either avant-garde or mainstream film, riffing on the tropes of silent and classical Hollywood cinema while folding in the talents of an eclectic, international group of stage, musical and performance artists. The film was shot by an all-woman crew, and reflects on gender disparities and the surplus value of labor among working-class women and, particularly, those in cinema, giving the film the overall feel of essayistic narrative abstraction.
Largely met with perplexed, negative reactions at the time of its release, The Gold Diggers has steadily accrued cult-classic status for its brilliant and anomalous sensibility. It also represents a stunning array of collaborations, including appearances by dancer-director-choreographer Hilary Westlake and drummer Marilyn Mazur, an integral score by the late Lindsay Cooper (also co-author of the script), and cinematography by Babette Mangolte, who previously shot films with Chantal Akerman and Yvonne Rainer and is known for her photographs documenting experimental theater in the '70s and '80s. Especially noteworthy is the breathtaking 35mm location photography shot in Iceland with no small effort by a relatively inexperienced crew on a limited budget.
Even at the time of its initial release, Gold Diggers was rarely shown in 35mm, circulating primarily in 16mm that reduce the detail of Mangolte's photography. We are very pleased to be presenting this print from the archives of the British Film Institute.
The White Reindeer
Thursday, August 28, 2014, 7pm
Dir. Erik Blomberg, 1952.
74 min. Finland. 35mm.
In Finnish with English subtitles.
With Mirjami Kuosmanen and Kalervo Nissilä
35mm print courtesy of The Cohen Film Collection. Special thanks to Tim Lanza, The Cohen Film Collection, and Julian Antos, Chicago Northwest Film Society.
Steeped in local color and Sami myth, The White Reindeer is a beautiful Finnish horror film from 1952 shot on location amid the snowy expanses of Lapland. Mirjami Kuosmanen, co-writer and wife of director Erik Blomberg, stars as a sexually frustrated young woman who consults a Sami shaman for advice. Upon sacrificing a white reindeer, she's granted the power to become irresistible to any man she desires. In exchange, however, she must periodically transform into a reindeer herself, luring hunters into remote locations where she regains human form and feasts on their blood-much like a cross between siren, werewolf and vampire.
One of the most lyrical and unique works of its genre, The White Reindeer forgoes almost all horror tropes in favor of the poetic naturalism of documentary filmmakers like Robert Flaherty and Arne Sucksdorff. The film's stunning, snow-swept vistas beg to be seen on the big screen in 35mm.
Spectacle Premieres: The State of Emergence, Strong-Thing
Friday, July 25, 2014, 7pm
Spectacle and MAD are proud to present the New York City premieres of two works envisioned and executed by Spectacle-affiliated The Anti-Banality Union, H.A. Campbell and Jon Dieringer. These "re-made/remodeled" cinematic works not only reflect the multifaceted nature of the theater and its volunteer staff, but also the dialogue in and around moving-image culture and presentation.
The State of Emergence
Dir. The Anti-Banality Union, 2014.
USA. HD video.
The State of Emergence is a zombie movie without zombies.
Society asks: Who is the enemy? From where does he attack? How do we distinguish him from one of our own, and how do we immunize ourselves against him?
But it's too late for these questions. The illness that society feels victimized by has metastasized to an irreversible degree. It can't be cured with surgery, heavy medication, or even wholesale amputation. "Stability at all costs! No life-support machine is too expensive!" But the virus is becoming stronger than its host, and its hostility is irrepressible.
The Anti-Banality Union is an amorphous pack of movie critics. The movie they never tire of criticizing is the one we all live in, and if they ever write anything, it'll be its end credits.
The Anti-Banality Union is not a fixed collective. Everyone who has experienced enough narrative closure through Hollywood to know from the signs all around us that the story of Western Civilization is coming to an end is a member.
Dir. H.A. Campbell and Jon Dieringer, 2014.
USA. HD video. 45 min.
Strong-Thing is a mythic meditation on the biographical, on-screen and celebrity personae of Arnold Schwarzenegger that presents a master narrative built with material repurposed from the entire breadth of his pre-gubernatorial filmography. Hysterical, lucid, action-packed and elegiac, the journey of the Strong Thing from lab-engineered specimen in interplanetary exile, arrival on Earth, discovery of its means to success and rise through the ranks of celebrity and power mirrors the parallel allegorical threads running through virtually all of Schwarzenegger's filmography as well as his personal rise from Austrian immigrant to unlikely leading man and governor of California. Free of dialogue, Strong-Thing is a nimble work of uniquely character-driven cinematic détournement,cycling through incisive narrative drive and surreal interior interludes exploring the Strong Thing's feelings of ambition, loss, vindictive determination, alienation and fear. This eisegetical voyage is accompanied by sound design/composition by artist C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core).
H.A. Campbell (b. 1985) is a Chicago-based filmmaker and writer. He is currently finishing the "Starchild" film cycle, a series of mystical sci-fi essay-biographies of The Holy Trinity of pre-millennium American cinema: Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and Will Smith.
Jon Dieringer (b. 1985) is a Brooklyn-based media archivist, programmer, writer and filmmaker whose work has shown at Anthology Film Archives, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Eyebeam, Flux Factory and Spectacle Theater in New York, as well as The Nightingale Theater in Chicago. He is also an administrator, programmer and trailer editor at Spectacle, and edits and publishes Screen Slate, a daily listings resource for film and video screenings in New York City. Professionally, Dieringer oversees the preservation, archiving and access of moving-image artwork as the Technical Director of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). He has written about film for TIME Magazine's LightBox and INCITE Journal of Experimental Media.
Campbell and Dieringer have collaborated on a number of films, videos and screenplays dating back to their adolescence, when they met as Boy Scouts in North Canton, Ohio. Strong Thing is the result of a six-year process of research, story development and editing.
Spectacle Presents: Nirvana Night (with special musical guest TBA)
Thursday, July 31, 2014, 7pm
A heartfelt salute to the greatest band of all time, Nirvana Night presents an original Spectacle "re-made/remodeled" work alongside a special Nirvana-related live performance.
I Hate Myself and I Want to Die
Dir. Greg Eggebeen and Ben Shapiro, 2012-2014.
USA. Video. 65 min.
The biographical story of Nirvana told through the YouTube-sourced media detritus left in Kurt Cobain's wake, I Hate Myself and I Want To Die was born out of the desire to do a music documentary without any consideration for major-label record companies and royalty fees.
IHMAIWTD is more than a clip show: it is an alternative, cost-effective model of documentary, collating ephemera to tell a linear story through the outside gaze of home video, lost practice footage, local news broadcasts, stoned TV interviews, insensitive true-crime shows, crushing live performances and more. These collected lenses reflect the lovers and leeches circling the bizarre and spectacular voyage of the unlikeliest band in the world.
Spectacle Live Scores: Zachary Cale and MIL KDU DES
Friday, August 8, 2014, 7pm
An evening of live music and visuals with acclaimed songwriter and musician Zachary Cale, and the guitar/synthesizer duo MIL KDU DES. Spectacle-affiliated editors Louis Piquette and C. Spencer Yeh will collaborate with the musicians on creating custom edits of the accompanying visuals. Taking advantage of the MAD stage, the artists will stretch out with expanded musical lineups and presentations.
Zachary Cale is a songwriter originally hailing from the small town of Enon, Louisiana. His music ranges from lyrically driven acoustic balladry and American primitive-inspired guitar instrumentals to a wide range of popular song forms.
Over the span of eight years he has released five full-length albums, Outlander Sessions (2005), Walking Papers (2008), a full band rock record See-Saw (2008) under the name Illuminations, Noise of Welcome (2011) and most recently the critically acclaimed Blue Rider (2013). He has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and in Europe, often performing alone with only an acoustic guitar, but has also been known to perform with a revolving cast of musicians.
MIL KDU DES (aka Mark Freado Jr and Steve Pellegrino), having previously live-scored The Sound Stage Massacre (based on the cult Italian horror gem Stage Fright: Aquarius) and Universe: I See No God Up Here, will tackle Shrinkman, a melancholic re-imagining of The Incredible Shrinking Man.
Spectacle Programs: The Future Weird
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 3pm
The Future Weird is a series dedicated to speculative, experimental and weird film by directors from Africa and the Global South. Each thematically organized screening draws on a range of materials, including commercials, music videos, newsreels and colonial archives to frame films which imagine the future from black and brown perspectives. We invite physical and digital communities into a cinematic laboratory to disturb science fiction clichés and think collectively about queer space, brown futures and the black fantastic. The series is curated by Derica Shields and Megan Eardley.
Spectacle Programs: Kinetic Cinema
Friday, August 22, 2014, 7pm
Kinetic Cinema is a regular screening series of Pentacle's Movement Media, curated by invited guest artists who create evenings of films and videos that have been influential to their own work as artists. When artists are asked to reflect on how the use of movement in film and media arts has influenced their own art, a plethora of new ideas, materials and avenues of exploration emerge. From cutting-edge motion capture animation to Michael Jackson music videos, from Gene Kelly musicals to Kenneth Anger films, Kinetic Cinema is dedicated to the recognition and appreciation of "moving" pictures. Spectacle has presented these evenings at Collective: Unconscious, Chez Bushwick, IRT, Launchpad, Green Space, Uniondocs, CRS, 3rd Ward, Fort Useless and The Tank in New York City, as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
Kinetic Cinema is coordinated on the Spectacle Theater side by Dana Reinoos.
Open since fall 2010, Spectacle is a screening space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, established and staffed entirely by volunteers. With daily programming that encompasses overlooked and rarely screened works, offbeat gems, contemporary art, radical polemics, and more, Spectacle has become an important voice in the field of cinema in NYC. A unique model in the microcinema movement, with only 30 seats in its Brooklyn home, Spectacle also focuses on collaborative practice and produces hundreds of custom-made posters and trailers for films that either never had such material or that were lost to the ravages of time. Through this multiform practice, Spectacle provides a vital support structure for a new generation of makers who are creating the future of cinema in NYC.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) champions contemporary makers across creative fields, presenting artists, designers, and artisans who apply the highest level of ingenuity and skill to their work. Since the Museum's founding in 1956 by philanthropist and visionary Aileen Osborn Webb, MAD has celebrated all facets of making and the creative processes by which materials are transformed, from traditional techniques to cutting-edge technologies. Today, the Museum's curatorial program builds upon a rich history of exhibitions that emphasize a cross-disciplinary approach to art and design, and reveals the workmanship behind the objects and environments that shape our everyday lives. MAD provides an international platform for practitioners who are influencing the direction of cultural production and driving 21st-century innovation, fostering a participatory setting for visitors to have direct encounters with skilled making and compelling works of art and design.