Films by Luther Price


March 20th, 2011

One of the key experimental film artists of the last 25 years, Luther Price gained notoriety for his late 80s and early 90s Super-8mm films, works that pushed the boundaries of good taste with their deliberately crude construction (mostly from found footage) and their often troubling imagery (extreme gay porn, surgical footage, etc.).

Over the past decade or so he has switched to 16mm and if his source material is tamer, the intensity of his films is not. Price continues to create a raw, visceral cinema full of uneasy tensions and heartbreak.

Tonight’s program features one of his most ambitious films of recent years, KITTENS GROW UP, in which Price intercuts two found films, one about kittens and one about an alcoholic husband and father, finding strange connections and shared themes. It is an unexpectedly moving and resonant film about innocents.

Also showing are two films from the extended “Biscuit” series. Price utilizes multiple prints about elder care, disassembling and reassembling them in fragmented, staccato form to find a strange musicality and beauty in the unexceptional documentary footage. Price does not resort to irony or ill attempts at humor. Instead the elders in the films are presented with remarkable grace and humaneness, accentuated by Price’s editing.

The final films on the program are examples of Price’s recent practice of either handpainting directly on found film (the Inkblot films), finding visual rhythms and textures very different from Stan Brakhage’s handpainted works, or burying films in the ground to destabilize the emulsion, which sloughs off in random patches to beautiful effect.

“In the near future, perhaps “a Luther Price film” will consist of getting a speck of dust in your eye in some dark alley. Late at night. Far from home. That’s a compliment.” (Michael Sicinski, 2007)

KITTENS GROW UP (2007, 30 mins., 16mm)
THE BISCUIT DAY (2007, 12 mins., 16mm)
SUFFERING BISCUITS (2007, 20 mins., 16mm)
THE BISCUIT SONG (INKBLOT #11) (2008, approx. 8 mins., 16mm)
SAL MINEO AT SEA (INKBLOT #19) (2008, approx. 8 mins., 16mm)
AFTER THE GARDEN OF EADEN (2007, approx. 8 mins., 16mm)
DUSTY RICKETS (2007, approx. 8 mins., 16mm)

This program is drawn from two screenings in the Walking Picture Palace series, programmed by Mark McElhatten and presented at Anthology Film Archives in 2010. Special thanks to Mark McElhatten, Steve Polta (San Francisco Cinematheque), and Luther Price.

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