Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art - Program 1

The International Avant-Garde

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Comprised of films written about by Amos Vogel in "Film as a Subversive Art," this selection of shorts provides an international panorama of postwar international avant-garde cinema and an important precursor from the initial flowering of Surrealist cinema in the 1920s. Of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un Chien Andalou (which he calls “the most famous avant-garde film ever made”—Vogel says, “There is no “plot”—only innuendos; no logic except that of the nightmare; no reality except the inner universe of the subconscious.”

In describing Pontus Hultén & Hans Nordenström’s A Day in the City, Vogel connects the 1956 Swedish film back to the 1920s by calling it “Dadaist”. The anarchic faux-travelogue takes the viewer on a high-speed automobile ride through a fictional, incomprehensible city (shot in Stockholm and Paris) which is constantly interrupted by proto-Pop Art collage and primitive animation. Hultén would gain international renown as one of the most important curators of the 20th century as director of the Moderna Museet and later Centre Pompidou.

Yugoslav artist and filmmaker Vlado Kristl made Don Kihot, his free adaptation of Cervantes’ "Don Quixote" that he considered his magnum opus but was unfortunately blacklisted by censors. Vogel says “No still can convey the hallucinatory speed, insane rhythm, and cacophony of noise that accompany the strangely abstractified images of this historic animation.” The winner of the Main Prize at the 1962 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Kristl emigrated to Germany where he continued his playfully subversive animation practice over the next decades.

“Another taboo subject enters the cinema with this poetic and bitter glance at lepers, living in enforced idleness and imprisonment in a leprosarium.” Vogel describes The House is Black, the only film directed by modernist Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad before her untimely death in 1967.

One of San Francisco experimental animator Lawrence Jordan’s many alchemical masterpieces, Vogel calls Our Lady of the Sphere as “a rich, surreal fantasy” which he likens to “Max Ernst’s juxtapositions of old engravings and irrelevant objects or events.”

Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí, France, 1929, 16 min.)

A Day in the City (Pontus Hulten & Hans Nordenström, Sweden, 1956, 19 min.) In Swedish with English subtitles

Don Quixote (Vlado Kristl, Yugoslavia, 1961, 10 min.)

The House is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad, Iran, 1963, 20 min.) In Persian with English subtitles. Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir productions, in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan. Additional support was generously provided by Genoma Films and Mahrokh Eshaghian. Restoration work was carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2019.

Our Lady of the Sphere (Lawrence Jordan, USA, 1969, 10 min.)


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