Los Angeles Filmforum is thrilled to present the feature-length first entry in George Kuchar’s monumental Weather Diary series, which eventually spanned six parts and a slew of related supplementary works. Like much of Kuchar’s diaristic work, Weather Diary 1 is an utterly characteristic and deeply entertaining mix of the observational, the naked, the poetic, the uncomfortable, and the hilarious. Shot almost entirely in camera on Kuchar’s visit to Oklahoma in search of dramatic weather phenomenon, the video ultimately functions as a probing, idiosyncratic document of the humor, morbidity, and humanity of a “Bronx boy’s friendly, if somewhat freaky, foray into Americana”. Los Angeles Filmforum presents George Kuchar’s Weather Diary 1 Sunday, June 1, 2014 – 7:30 pm Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028
Show Details: Weather Diary 1 (George Kuchar, 1986, SD video, color, sound, 81min.) “The tape ultimately addresses all the big questions – death, origin and family, religion – as well as the small discomforts of the body, only to reverse their order of importance.” (Margaret Morse, Framework (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) “This (just about) feature length documentary attempts to capture the feel of the Oklahoma experience as I lived it for about three or four weeks in May at a motel/trailer park. It was entirely edited in camera and shot in a start to finish manner with the time being manipulated and expanded upon by in-camera inserts. You get sneak peaks of the occupants of the facility and glimpses of their lives interspersed with threats of turbulent weather both above our heads and squeezed into a TV tube. There are also four legged mammals hanging around and some bugs here and there. I do my best to connect with them all, socially. “This first video in the series sets the gastric tone of all future visits to Oklahoma and delves into a menu of gassy goodies and gooey deposits. This motel (and the owners) no longer exist as death and the bulldozer have wiped them out. But they live on in this electronic format, which has always seemed to shock and outrage viewers on many occasions and has been assigned the dubious distinction of a ‘dangerous live wire, so beware’! These sentiments (warnings) were issued by Scott MacDonald as his screening of the video to his class created an horrendous uproar of disgust. It also shed a new and very unflattering light on the Flaherty Film Seminar in upstate New York as the audience, totally repelled by this white man spending time in Indian territory and exposing his greasy secrets, skin and imperfect teeth was too much to bear for politically correct academia. Since the other documentaries in that venue stressed racial confrontations and territorial hatreds, the fact that they had to endure sitting through this exposition of a Bronx boy’s friendly, if somewhat freaky, foray into Americana was too much to tolerate. The prestigious showcase turned into the Jerry Springer Show, and the animosity this video revealed from behind the cloak of academic respectability was truly awesome! I hope you enjoy it.” (George Kuchar)
CRITICS NOTE: Trained as a commercial artist, George Kuchar’s first job was drawing weather maps for a local New York news show. While making his well-known 8mm movies with Mike, he created an enormous cache of video diaries, sprinkled with philosophical asides about food, sensuality, relationships, the weather and the process of film. His work evolved alongside the progress of digital technology.
George Kuchar’s highly original cinematic voice continued to channel the individualist creativity and liberating energy of the early 60’s through the ensuing decades. From the hilarious early, erotic tinged collaborations with brother Mike, brilliant neo-melodramas suffused with Iconic Hollywood tropes and appropriated music, to the obsessional weatherlogues, George Kuchar remains a “Mr. Wizard” of the underground spirit. Five decades of teaching with Mike at the San Francisco Art Institute has left a huge legacy of collaborative films, cast with friends and students, and generations of future filmmakers. HAIL GEORGE KUCHAR!
The complete work can be consulted here:
George Kuchar was born in Manhattan on Aug. 31, 1942 (an hour after his brother Mike), and grew up in the Bronx. His father, also George, was a truck driver whose taste for pornographic films triggered an initial interest in what the younger George called “the sordidness of adults” and the power of film to “suddenly make it so alive.”
Their mother, Stella, bought the brothers their camera.
After graduating from the School of Industrial Art (now the High School of Art and Design) in Manhattan, Mr. Kuchar worked briefly drawing weather maps for the New York television meteorologist Dr. Frank Field; then tried drawing comics. He settled on being a full-time filmmaker after The Village Voice and The New York Herald Tribune wrote glowing articles about some of his early work. (A reviewer in Newsweek called the brothers “the holy innocents of the underground.”)
In 1971 he was invited to teach filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he remained on the faculty until his death in 2011. His influence is incalculable, having inspired generations of artists, filmmakers, students, curators, and movie lovers through his teaching, appearances, and above all his massive, unparalleled body of work, which essentially constitutes a pioneering genre in itself. (biography partly adapted from George’s NY Times obituary, printed 9/8/2011)
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