Recent Found-Footage Films

Leslie Thornton's (Dung Smoke Enters the Palace), a film/video piece, the concluding (or is it?) episode of Peggy and Fred in Hell, incorporates found footage and sounds with original footage of the children Peggy and Fred. Like the fan-shaped images of the ocean which reappear throughout the episode, Thornton opens up new possibilities of viewing, even constructing, society, technology, and the history of both. Beginning with early Edison footage of a foundry, and ending with NASA footage of the moon, Thornton interrupts this progress/ion with the children's play. When Fred instructs Peggy to talk slower, like him, so people can understand her, she doesn't answer. Perhaps, like the film, she sees little to value in such clarity. In Decodings, local filmmaker Michael Wallin has collaged found images to create a film which has autobiographical overtones, but which reveals the disturbing undertones of society. Like the narration, which takes us on tangents without seeming to have digressed, the images-from educational and scientific films, newsreels and documentaries-are unsettling; an ordinary gesture or action, buttoning a jacket, eating cereal, diverges from the expected. The expected is then restructured in a decidedly unexpected way. In Caroline Avery's Simulated Experience, images from television are cut up and boldly collaged into new, orchestrated encounters. Local filmmaker Craig Baldwin's RocketKitKongoKit begins as an experimental documentary on the recent history of the Congo. But as the pace quickens and it becomes difficult to absorb the material one begins to doubt first the visuals, and then perhaps the voice. In our compulsion to gather and absorb information-much as the filmmaker has collected news, cartoon documentary and narrative images-we are caught on a trajectory which moves from fact to fancy, with no way to differentiate the two. Phil Solomon's The Secret Garden is constructed from optically manipulated images from the silent Secret Garden and brief scenes from The Wizard of Oz. As the images shatter into dazzling light and color, our childhood, constructed from just such stories, breaks open. "(T)he film becomes an amazing garden where layers of meaning are revealed by masked images the way the surface of a dream masks the latent dream content. Through a reversed excavation, The Secret Garden explores the wonders and terrors of being lost in the garden, searching behind the curtain to expose the myth of the Great Father" (Canyon Cinema catalog). --Kathy Geritz (Dung Smoke Enters the Palace) by Leslie Thornton (1989, 16 mins, B&W, 16mm and 3/4" video, From Drift Distribution). Decodings by Michael Wallin (1988, 15 mins, B&W). Simulated Experience by Caroline Avery (1989, 1 min, B&W/Color). RocketKitKongoKit by Craig Baldwin (1986, 30 mins, Color, Sound, Print from Filmmaker). The Secret Garden by Phil Solomon (1986, 23 mins, Silent, Color)

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