Don’t Look Now, There’s a Camera Behind You is a 16mm-film program that includes three independently produced films from 1960s: Robert Downey’s “Chafed Elbows,” Paul Bartel’s “The Secret Cinema,” and Stan Brakhage’s “Blue Moses.”
Robert Downey’s “Chafed Elbows” (1966, 57 min, digital) had its world premiere at The Gate Theater in January 1967, where it ran for two months and then returned throughout 1967 and 1968. A mix of black and white 35mm photography and film, this comedy follows the lead character through two annual breakdowns, recollections of his hysterectomy, a therapy session where he brags about his affair with his own mom, and an episode where a street artist paints on him and escorts him to a gallery to sell. New York Times’ Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote that “there is in ‘Chafed Elbows’ a promising modicum of lively, acid wit.”
Paul Bartel’s “The Secret Cinema” (1966, 27.3 min) is a black and white film that opened at The Gate Theater in May 1968 and continued screening until midnight at The Black Gate Theater throughout the end of the month. Paul Bartel wrote, “It’s really a paranoid fantasy about a girl who thinks that all her friends are putting her on and filming her life with hidden cameras for exhibition in a secret theater. (They are, of course.)”
Stan Brakhage’s “Blue Moses” (1952, 10.5 min) is an early theatrical drama by Stan Brakhage that was featured in The Gate Theater’s New Visions Festival. Shot in the mountains, this black and white film features a diabolical actor who delivers a monologue to the audience members beyond the camera about the epistemology of film and the innate manipulations prevalent within the format.
Don’t Look Now, There’s a Camera Behind You is part of THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019, a week-long, 16mm-film festival that is taking place Tuesday, September 24, through Monday, September 30, from 7 to 9 pm at filmfront.
FILMFRONT is a community-based cine-club founded in July 2015 by Malia Haines-Stewart and Alan Medina. Dedicated to collaboration and open dialogue, filmfront—like The Gate Theater—is a place where audience members are not expected to have any previous education in, nor even exposure to, institutionalized fine arts.
THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019 is presented by curator and writer AMELIA ISHMAEL, as a tendril from her book manuscript The Black Gate Theater: Aldo Tambellini, Independent Film and Intermedia Performance in New York City’s Lower East Side 1965-1968; A Historic Revaluation of Experimental Arts Venues, Including The Bridge Theater and The Gate Theater.
THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019 is partially supported by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Projection and 16mm equipment supplied by Chicago Film Society. Archival film prints are from the Film-makers’ Coop, Harvard Film Archives, and Janus Films.
Advance reservations accepted at filmfront, Sunday 1-4 pm and Monday 1-8 pm. Individual tickets are available for $10; Festival passes are $45. At the door, suggested sliding-scale admission will be $5-10.