Going Inward Is Not Withdrawing is a 16mm-film program that includes five independently produced films from 1960s: Ed Emshwiller’s “Totem,” Stan VanDerBeek’s “Spherical Space no. 1,” Takahiko Iimura’s “Anma / The Masseur,” Mark Sadan’s “Rosebud,” and David Bienstock’s “Nothing Happened This Morning.”
Ed Emshwiller’s “Totem” (1963, 16 min) features shocking color footage from Alwin Nikolais Company’s dance production “Totem.” Alwin Nikolais was the director of dance at the LES’s Henry Street Playhouse, where he not only gained an international reputation as a pioneer in modern dance but also became known for his original electronic compositions and stage and light treatments. Ed Emshwiller was known for his experimental techniques with film and his interest in dance choreography (which could be considered early electromedia events). This film was part of a rare program at The Gate Theater that gave a solo screening program to Ed Emshwiller, whose work was featured throughout most of February 1968. (To circle back around, Kuchar-star Donna Kerness trained with Nikolais’s Company, and both the Kuchar brothers and Bob Cowen’s soundtracks were influenced by Nikolais’s electronic compositions.)
Stan VanDerBeek’s “Spherical Space no. 1” (1967, 5 min) is a color film featuring the dancer Elaine Summers moving within a forest landscape, shot through a special spherical lens. Stan VanDerBeek and the intermedia-arts pioneer Elaine Summers worked on many films together, some of which were developed specifically for display in the expanded-cinema environment created by his Movie-Drome.
Takahiko Iimura’s “Anma / The Masseur” (1965, 13 min) is a black and white film that was presented as part of the Japanese Erotica program at The Gate Theater in March 1967. It was filmed during a dance recital with Butoh originators Tatsumi Hijikata and his Black-Dance Troupe. The title and intertitles refer to methods of enhancing blood circulation that are “usually practiced by the blind.”
Mark Sadan’s “Rosebud” (1966, 5min) is a gorgeous silent black and white film that conveys a lingering portrait of a young woman peacefully resting at home in the days preceding her daughter’s birth.
David Bienstock’s “Nothing Happened This Morning” (1965, 21 min) is a black and white film spliced with color that depicts a young man’s life during the first moments after waking up. The filmmaker described it as a juxtaposition of three different realms of reality and an exploration of a universal experience. Yet rather than being mundane, this film is absolutely heart-wrenching.
Going Inward Is Not Withdrawing 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.