Winter/Spring 2005

All films shown in 16mm unless otherwise noted.

Bless Their Little Hearts / When It Rains

January 7, 2005 - 7:30PM
Portland Community College, Cascade Campus

Co-presented by Cascade Festival of African Films & Lighthouse Cinema

(1984, black & white, 80 mins)
An unemployed father cannot accept that his wife supports the household. Dragging on in an attempt to find a hypothetical job, weariness and disillusion end up by forging everyday life, transforming it into a nightmare. It is in the strength of his spouse that the husband will find his courage.

Article about the film:

Human Rights Watch Festival archive listing:

Billy Woodberry’s BLESS THEIR LITTLE HEARTS, a powerful drama dealing with an African American family in crisis, is one of the classics of the “L.A. School” of black independent film that also includes Charles Burnett’s KILLER OF SHEEP. “[W]hat matters to Woodberry is not the images of urban misery, but the physical presence of human beings: how, for example, sweetness, anger or fatigue are inscribed in the man’s powerful body. What matters is how time passes in the act of filming itself and the intensity brought by the way small moments accumulate within the space of a shot. In the crispness of its b/w images, and the loving, respectful and sensitive gaze it casts on the protagonists, Woodberry’s film is as beautiful as the blues music that permeates its soundtrack.”

(Cahiers du Cinéma)

WHEN IT RAINS by Charles Burnett
(1995, color, 13 mins)
Watts, 1960s. On a mission to save a mother and her children from eviction by the landlord, the main character’s quest for money turns into a superbly comical, outrageous expedition through the lives and attitudes of various characters. A parable on the value of community.

(Milestone Film & Video)

Film Comment editor Armond White on Burnett (Jan/Feb 1997):

Film & Video Work by Babette Mangolte

January 20-22, 2005

Co-presented by Northwest Film Center & Lighthouse Cinema

Babette Mangolte is well known today as the cinematographer for a number of major avant-garde and art films, including LIVES OF PERFORMERS (Yvonne Rainer, 1972) and JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES (Chantal Akerman, 1975)*. But her own films have received, with few exceptions, little critical attention since the late 1970s. This is perhaps because they eschew the forms of American avant-garde film dominant in the 1970s and 1980s, even while they engage with and respond to many of the same concerns as these forms. For scholars and artists interested in finding distinct, original alternatives to the prevailing types of avant-garde filmmaking of this period, Mangolte’s films constitute a compelling candidate.

(Malcolm Turvey, FRAMEWORK, Spring 2004)

*Mangolte has also worked as cinematographers on films by Jackie Raynal, Anthony McCall, Michael Snow, Richard Foreman, Sally Potter, and Jean Pierre Gorin.

1982, 78 mins, 16mm, color
The film explores the landscape of the American West as if we were looking at it from the perspective of the first emigrants discovering an unknown territory. The landscape is not seen in its postcardish grandeur as captured in the photographs of Ansel Adams, nor through its shapes as in paintings by Cezanne or Constable, but rather the film captures the mood of the landscape as in a Turner painting. The film attempts to construct a geography of the land from North to South, East to West and season to season through colors instead of maps.

(Babette Mangolte)

Program takes place at Lighthouse Cinema January 20

2003, 89 mins, BETA SP 16:9
During a chance encounter at a party, Mangolte recognizes a face she has known most of her life yet never met: that of genetics researcher Pierre Leymarie. As a young man he played a lead role in Robert Bresson’s 1959 film PICKPOCKET. Based on this encounter, Mangolte begins to track down the three lead “models” of Bresson’s film, none of who were professional actors at the time. In discussing their experience as actors for Bresson, it becomes clear that their encounter and work with Bresson during the Summer of 1959 had an impact on their lives far beyond what one might have suspected. A deceptively simple film, it belongs to that rare class of “cineaste” films that take on a subject much larger than cinema: the role of art in people’s lives. It is not about the auteur, but about the effect of the experience on the other people involved. Despite its basis in interviews, THE MODELS OF PICKPOCKET is a very pleasurable film full of tactile impressions and genuine emotion. When Mangolte enters Mexico and finally meets Martin Lassalle, it seems one of cinema’s great discoveries. “The most beautiful of her works I’m familiar with, one that deserves to be called a poetic personal essay as well as a documentary... Mangolte seems to imply that it’s possible to confuse Bresson’s films with life because they’re made up of its very substance.”

(Jonathan Rosenbaum)

Program takes place at Northwest Film Center January 21

A workshop with BABETTE MANGOLTE
Saturday, January 22, 10am-4pm
Northwest Film Center’s School of Film (1139 SW 11th)
The Film Center welcomes respected cinematographer, experimental filmmaker and photographer Babette Mangolte for this workshop about the art of conceptualizing and capturing moving images on film or video. Referencing her work as cinematographer for Chantal Akerman, Yvonne Rainer, Michael Snow, Richard Foreman, Trisha Brown and Robert Rauschenberg, among others, as well as her many own works, she will discuss composition and lighting techniques which apply to the many forms of shooting: exterior, interior, on location, as well as documenting stage performance. Drawing on her decades of experience working with others to record their work on film, she will also discuss: the ability of good composition to transcend genre and create a sense of intimacy for the viewer, lighting design and background as lyrical interpretations of the subject, being simultaneously unobtrusive and attentive while shooting, working with existing theatrical lighting design while filming a performance, and establishing trust and gaining access with collaborators. Appropriate for the producer seeking to improve the overall quality of their shooting as well as the enthusiast interested in creative documentation of events and performances.

Lo Fi Landscapes: Pictures From the New World

June 14, 2005
425 SE 3rd

Filmmakers Thomas Comerford and Bill Brown follow-up their 2002 Lo Fi Landscapes Tour with a new program of films about the space of history and the history of spaces. These films explore how historical text becomes physical texture, and how filmmaking itself is memory recovered from landscape’s amnesia.

16mm color, sound, 22 mins
Brown’s MOUNTAIN STATE is a brief history of the westward expansion of the United States as told by 25 roadside historical markers in the state of West Virginia. History is a ghost, and every historical marker tells a ghost story.

16mm B&W/color, sound, 23 mins
Comerford’s LAND MARKED is a series of four landscape films, each examining a specific place in Chicago. These places are connected in their relationship to 17th-century exploration of the Chicago area by Europeans, in particular, the highly-celebrated French Jesuit missionary, Jacques Marquette.Rather than attempt to tell Marquette’s story or offer history, the films examine the monuments to Marquette--the "stories" the monuments tell--and the relationship of the monuments to their surroundings.

CHICAGO DETROIT SPLIT by Thomas Comerford & Bill Brown
Unslit double 8mm, 10 mins
CHICAGO DETROIT SPLIT is currently in production. Surveying their current cities-in-residence, Detroit and Chicago, Brown and Comerford find the common ground of shared street names, yet they employ the unslit 8mm format to juxtapose these like-named tracts of land--the juxtapositions allowing for chance encounters across time and space between these two midwestern cities.

Thursday, June 16, 2005
1139 SW 11th Ave - Northwest Film Center’s School of Film

In 2002, experimental filmmakers Bill Brown and Thomas Comerford asked themselves an important question: why should rock stars have all the fun? What resulted-- 28 consecutive screenings in 28 separate crities -- is an important statement about Do It Yourself distribution and alternative means of getting your work and the work of others before receptive audiences. Tonight, the filmmakers share their experiences and advise participants on choosing, booking and promoting venues, including which venues work and which ones don’t, and why. Handouts include contact information for DIY programmers, promoters and press people across the US and beyond.

THOMAS COMERFORD is a media artist, musician and educator who resides in Chicago. He currently teaches film production at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has screened at festivals and venues which include the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, San Francisco Cinematheque and the London Film Festival. He has received grants from the City of Chicago and the Illinois Arts Council to complete his films.

"Comerford’s images revisit film’s novelty and the marvel of sound and image captured in a box and unspooled from another. Their resemblance to the grainy images of early cinema is therefore no accident... Comerford’s images have been called ’post-technological’ and they do feel like artifacts of some previous time, ironically nostalgic for the world still around us, and also bitterly aware of how things have changed."

—Felicia Feaster, Creative Loafing

BILL BROWN has been making films and zines for a long time. Currently, he teaches film production in Detroit. In November 2003, the Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective of his work.

"There’s a humor and a wisdom underlying his work that you find in Mark Twain and E.B. White ... [Brown’s work] explores the ties that bind us and the lines that divide us as Americans. It’s about the past as it’s been misrepresented and the present as it’s unfolding."

—Josh Siegel, Museum of Modern Art

View more programs in the Exhibition Program Archive