DEAD BIRDS by Robert Gardner

Free Memorial Screening
Presented with Documentary Educational Resources, Studio7Arts, and UIC Daley Library

Bob70percent
(photograph by Akos Ostor)

July 21st at 8:00 pm, Free

“In Dead Birds my fondest hope was that my camera be a mirror for its viewers to see themselves.” -RG

The Nightingale Cinema is honored to present a FREE screening of Dead Birds (1964) to note the recent passing of legendary nonfiction filmmaker Robert Gardner. This commemorative screening of his most influential film, Dead Birds, is a 16mm print from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Daley Library. The print is being made available to the public with special permission from Gardner’s family, Studio7Arts and Documentary Educational Resources of Watertown, MA (DER.org).

There is a fable told by a mountain people living in the highlands of New Guinea about a race between a snake and bird. It tells of a contest which decided whether men would be like birds and die, or be like snakes which shed their skins and have eternal life. The bird won, and from that time all men, like birds, must die. 

-from the film Dead Birds

Screen shot 2014-07-02 at 1.22.42 PM

Gardner’s own synopsis of Dead Birds

Dead Birds is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Papua. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had a classic Neolithic culture. They were exceptional in the way they dedicated themselves to an elaborate system of ritual warfare. Neighboring groups, separated by uncultivated strips of no man’s land, engaged in frequent battles. When a warrior was killed in battle or died from a wound and even when a woman or a child lost their life in an enemy raid, the victors celebrated and the victims mourned. Because each death needed to be avenged, the balance was continually adjusted by taking life. There was no thought of wars ever ending, unless it rained or became dark. Wars were the best way they knew to keep a terrible harmony in a life that would be, without them, much drearier and unimaginable.

Dead Birds has a meaning that is both immediate and allegorical. In the Dani language the words refer to the weapons and ornaments recovered in battle. Their other more poetic meaning comes from the Dani belief that people, because they are like birds, must die.

Dead Birds was an attempt to film a people from within and to see, when the chosen fragments were assembled, if they could speak not only about the Dani but also about ourselves.

-from robertgardner.net

 

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Filed under: documentary, film, Free Screening!, Uncategorized

AVANT-GARDE AS KITSCH

YouTube and Avant-Garde Cinema
A Talk by Colin Beckett

technoviking

 Saturday, June 28th at 8:00 pm, $7-10

The vernacular video forms that have emerged on YouTube and other online services over the last eight years frequently bear striking resemblance to the non-narrative strategies that have constituted the history of avant-garde film and video.

While many critics and scholars have noted the resemblance, the implications for the cinematic avant-garde have gone largely unconsidered. As non-narrative internet videos begin to eclipse commercial cinema in viewership and cultural influence, the rise of YouTube might be seen, from one angle, as a covert triumph for the avant-garde. But if this is the case, these developments also initiate a crisis for experimental cinema, liquidating the relations that have structured it and calling into questions claims made on the behalf of its ideological force.

This lecture, illustrated with internet videos, asks how the new preeminence of non-narrative and fragmentary video forms recasts the history of avant-garde film and video and what sort of space it leaves for contemporary avant-garde moving image practice–particularly one geared toward an emancipatory politics. (CB)

Colin Beckett is a writer based in Brooklyn New York. His work has appeared in BOMBblog,The Brooklyn Rail, Cineaste, Moving Image Source, Idiom Magazine, The L Magazine, and wuxia.

Programmed by Christy LeMaster

 



Filed under: animation, artist in attendance, experimental, film, found footage, lecture, new media, Uncategorized, video

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