Filmforum: 2 Nights of Videos With Mike Kuchar


Filmforum pays tribute to the late great George Kuchar with an evening of his video work.  While his decades of films are most often screened, George played and made remarkable works on video for many years, most notably his Weather Diary series, but also much more. This program was curated by Abina Manning of Video Data Bank, which distributes videos by the Kuchar Brothers.  Quite a few are probably Los Angeles premieres!

Los Angeles Filmforum partners with the Free Form Film Festival this weekend to present Mike Kuchar in person for both evenings, appearing with Tom Colley,  from VDB, who has been overseeing the preservation work on the videos.

We’ll be screening new works by Mike Kuchar on Sunday night with Mike in person!

All title descriptions written by George Kuchar.  Total running time 76 minutes.   All from video, 4:3.
Point ‘n Shoot (1989, 5:08)
A lavish home is visited, shutters click, bottoms are exposed, water splashes and a welcome wetness stains an area unquenched for so long. A jacuzzi bubbles to life in a bedroom community that floats to sleep on aqua-filled rubber.
Route 666 (1994, 7:51)
The strings of fate manipulate the living and the dead against a landscape of water vapor and watercolors which make more palatable the unacceptable and the undigestable.
Season of Sorrow (1996, 12:23)
Ice falls from the sky as tears plip-plop onto wall-to-wall carpeting. No degree of renovation can enliven the dead that we mourn in our hearts as the storm of the centuries assails our heads with memories of the passing parade that got rained on. A weather diary of May-time misery.
Uncle Evil (1996, 7:02)
The young and the innocent at the mercy of a palpable presence oozing menace and scarlet-stained goodness as a strawberry sundae melts under the glare of future hell-firestorms in search of kindling.
Honey Bunnies On Ice (2001, 7:00)
A winter chill sets in making the furry residents of various dwelling places a center of affection and reflection… Only the lure of mammalian fur promises a few precious moments of centigrade comfort in this zone of zero zoology.
Burnout (2003, 19:47)
A metropolis awash in electrical overdrive crashes in the heat of summer and sends a Bronxite into the clutches of a waterworld further north. It is there that we witness the cooling fogs and diving mammals of maritime yore and sail free in winds of a nautical nature.
HotSpell (2011, 25:55)
George’s final video.  Los Angeles premiere.
A weather diary that travels through some rough inner and outer domains.  Social interactions blend more smoothly than the clash of air masses which threaten to clobber a prairie town in a vortex of violence.  Flashbacks and flashpoints flare-up along with thunderheads that loom and boom with vibrations of doom, their every move charted with vivid vibrancy on videographic maps which detail developing devastation. Desire and death are in the air along with some aromatic wisps of ethnic edibles, so be sure to sniff it all.
George Kuchar (1942-2011) ranks as one of the most exciting and prolific American independent film- and videomakers. With his homemade Super 8 and 16mm potboilers and melodramas of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, he became legendary as a distinctive and outrageous underground filmmaker whose work influenced many other artists including Andy Warhol, John Waters and David Lynch. After his 1980s transition to the video medium, he remained a master of genre manipulation and subversion, creating hundreds of brilliantly edited, hilarious, observant, often diaristic videos with an 8mm camcorder, dime-store props, not-so-special effects, and using friends as actors and the “pageant that is life” as his studio.
In 1984 Kuchar received the Los Angeles Film Critics Award in the Experimental/Independent category. In 1992, he received the prestigious Maya Deren Award for Independent Film and Video Artists from the American Film Institute. In 1996 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.  He taught at the San Francisco Art Institute for forty years, where he made many videos in collaboration with his students.

Starbound – New Videos by Mike Kuchar ( Sunday April 14, 7:30 pm)
With Mike Kuchar, Free Form Film Festival Curator Ryan Wylie, and Video Data Bank Collection Manager Tom Colley in person!

The second of two nights of videos by the Kuchars!

Mike Kuchar returns to Filmforum with new video works.  Mixing the romantic yearnings of poetic souls, strapping young men, and the eloquent and peculiar fascination that he has for aliens and architecture, Mike Kuchar continues to produce his own unique brand of video art.  Join us for a very special evening, which will probably include a couple of Mike’s actors as well.
Screening (subject to change):
Total running time 97 minutes.  

Echo’s Garden (2010, DV video, color, stereo, 4:3, 11 min.)
“Great woods, you frighten me like some cathedral’s gloom, and awaken pastoral pipes on pagan heights.” — Mike Kuchar

Dumped (2009, DV video, Color,Stereo, 4:3, 10:20 min.)
Life staggers on… and the horrors in one’s existence continue.

Animal (2009, DV video, color, stereo, 4:30, 16:38 min.)
Masked men prowling in the bushes and not touching anything but satin, dandelions and flesh.
The Stone Boy (2011, DV Video, color, stereo, 16:9, 6 min)
Filmed in Los Angeles, featuring Huckleberry Lain
He hears the whispers of gargoyles in a hall of heavy stone. — Mike Kuchar
Midnight Suite (2011, DV video, color, stereo, 16:9, 6 min)
Featuring Monica Angrand.
Run, unholy woman; your passions deceive you!– Mike Kuchar
Starbound (2012, DV Video, Color, Stereo, 16:9, 47 min.)
At the ‘Institute for Metaphysical Research and Spiritual Wellness’, crackpots, perverts and guitar strumming UFO abductees struggle with the supernatural and their own carnal needs. — Mike Kuchar
“A story of galactic pollination and entropic aloneness with a caricaturesque, cosmogasmic, orchestral ensemble of hints and hits and carbon glittered glints of unbound chemical incontinence.” – Ryan Wylie
Mike Kuchar, cinematographer, painter and writer and brother of George Kuchar, was born in New York City. He began making 8mm movies in the 1950’s, switching over to 16mm film production in 1960, and continues now, producing short motion pictures in the video and digital formats.  Mike and George Kuchar were the co-recipients of the “Vanguard Director Award” at the 11th CineVegas Film Festival, 2009, and the 2009 “Frameline Award” at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

“Film purists,” says Mike, “tend to snub the digital medium–but as far as I’m concerned, if it allows the image to move and make noise, I’ll gladly use it… and the format fits perfectly into my budgets too!”

Mike Kuchar, cinematographer, painter and writer and brother of George Kuchar, was born in New York City. He began making 8mm movies in the 1950’s, switching over to 16mm film production in 1960, and continues now, producing short motion pictures in the video and digital formats.  Mike and George Kuchar were the co-recipients of the “Vanguard Director Award” at the 11th CineVegas Film Festival, 2009, and the 2009 “Frameline Award” at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.
Ryan Wylie has crafted documentaries about reproductive healthcare in the Peruvian Andes, the death penalty, the Sanctuary movement, Amazonian spiritual herbalism, indigenous land entitlement in Mexico, and many other topics of social importance.

 His efforts as a filmmaker/activist have led to the reversal of two Missouri Supreme Court precedents and the release of an innocent man from death row. His works have been screened for diverse audiences, from the UN Human Rights Council to the Montreal Ethnographic Film Festival.

 In addition to his work as a maker and teacher, Wylie is also co-founder/curator of the Free Form Film Festival, where he has traveled as a curator and video performer, organizing over 120 public art events since 2003.
The Free Form Film Festival has curated/organized over 120 public art events, bringing experimental media, documentary, and mixed media performances to small and large communities alike.  In addition to a screening/lecture/performance series in Salt Lake City and Denver, FFFF has peppered the SF bay area with independent experimental presentations since our festival premiere in 2003. Most recently, FFFF guest curated for the LIMITED ACCESS IV festival in Tehran and the annual event, Night Light, at SomArts Cultural Center in San Francisco.
Tom Colley, Collection Manager, Video Data Bank
Tom manages technical services at the Video Data Bank, and is responsible for everything archival in nature.  His main activities involve preserving and digitizing the collection.  In addition, Tom collaborates in running the ButcherShop, an artist run studio space. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Anthropology from Oberlin College, and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois. He is also an active member of AMIA, the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

Tickets: $10 general, $6 students/seniors; free for Filmforum members.  Available by credit card in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door. 

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About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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