Punk's Not Dead: Worldwide Underground

MOFFOM's World Wide Underground holds some great surprises for film buffs

MOFFOM’s Worldwide Underground should be one of the more interesting side programs to this years festival. Works by Martha Colburn, Pascal Le Gras, and Bruce Conner have influenced a generation of filmmakers and animators. But for many, their works are unknown. Keith Arnold, the program’s curator, has assembled a rich selection of avant-garde and experimental film that traces the evolution of the music video, the images, editing and animation techniques that most of us have come to know through other work, but whose origins we are unfamiliar with.

“There is so much pressure on festivals to show new work.” Arnold says. “But for a lot of people, these films are premiers.” Videos such as Dan Reeves’ “Hey Joe”, an array of early analog video effects, would most likely seem pedestrian to any teenager reared on Bjork, or Tool, or the Gorillaz, but these filmmakers and animators can trace their roots back to the seminal work of film makers like Reeves.

“Pascal Le Gras’s three videos inspired by music from The Fall are examples of works that have never been shown in this format. “ Reeves points out.

“Films like Cosmic Ray, I mean Bruce Conner is, in my opinion, derivative of no one, his films are utterly unique.”

One of the films not to miss is Martha Colburn’s “Cosmetic Emergency”. Using paint- on glass aninimation techniques, montages of found footage, 8mm and 35mm film, Colburn creates a rich and hallucinatory experience with music by New Zealand's CoCo Solid, British radio artist Mick Hobbs, trombonist Hilary Jefferies, and Half Japanese founder Jad Fair.

Some of the films are the result of direct collaboration between the artists and the musicians such as Chris Kelsey’s haunting, stop-motion animation “Mausoleum” and some were developed independently like Le Gras’ “The Fall”. However, when asked about the criteria for choosing films, Arnold said “No music videos!” The films are examples of music and imagery “that become a language of their own.”

The program is an interesting blend of films when taken in a single sitting. “I want there to be some tension” Arnold says, “tension in one film and release in another… an emotional balance”.

There is a punk-rock sensibility in the selection as well with the Richard Kern video “Death Valley 69” done for Sonic Youth. “I like a little fist in the air” Arnold says with a smile.

Familiar war imagery, B52's carpet bombing villages, can be seen in a few of the films, ledning an air of protest to the program. This however, says Arnold, is unintentional. “There is no agenda for war imagery in the program, I think it’s just coming from a pervasive element in our culture.”

Arnold’s passion for these lesser known works is infectious. The strangely low amount of promotion this part of the program has gotten doesn’t bother him. He is happy that he can bring these films together in one festival, offering them to film goers in a new context, and illuminating some of the history of the images we’ve come to take for granted.


Friday, October 21st 8:00pm @ Ponrepo
Monday, October 24th 8:30pm @ Aero

Link to program http://www.moffom.org/en/detail.jsp?id=336
Link to MOFFOM home page http://www.moffom.org

Video on YouTube

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