Filmforum Around the City

Starting in January 2009, the screening schedule for Filmforum, LA's experimental film organization, has suddenly expanded. I asked Filmforum's director Adam Hyman what's up, and he attributes some of the changes to several new board members with strong archival interests. "They have been proposing more shows that have archival elements, and I'm interested in that, so we have added them," he says. "I've also consciously decided to increase the documentaries and animated shows this year, due to my own interests, which means actually that we might have fewer traditional experimental films this year. But we're having a few good ones, starting with Marilyn Brakhage presenting works by Stan on January 11. That was a sell out. We're doing a show of classics in conjunction with the release of Treasures From American Film Archives IV. And there will be some others." Filmforum generally screens its own programs at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, but is now working closely with several other venues, including the Silent Movie Theater, the Echo Park Film Center, along with REDCAT, which has been a frequent collaborator in the past, to host co-presentations. Why?

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"I've become fine with co-presenting shows that Filmforum didn't organize," explains Adam, "in order to help raise our profile and also, I think more importantly, to increase the community interested in alternative work, and make them aware of the array of venues." Adam also notes that co-presenting shows allows Filmforum to maintain a stronger profile, and offer more benefits to its members.

Upcoming shows reflect Filmforum's collaborative efforts. Filmforum will return to KAOS Network in Leimert Park on February 11 for a screening of Kelly Parker's documentary South Main, about three women faced with imposed relocation after their apartment building in South Central LA was closed; KAOS and Filmforum worked together closely for several years, but haven't co-hosted an event in a long time.

The show of work by the great filmmaker Bruce Conner, who died last summer, is another collaborative effort. In this case, Adam was interested in showing Conner's work, as was was Tim Wilkins at UCLA and Steve Anker at REDCAT. "It became clear that the Conner shows would be too big just for Filmforum," explains Adam. "We rapidly decided that REDCAT and UCLA would have the screenings, and Steve Anker and Timoleon Wilkins ended up doing most of the work, so Filmforum is just publicizing." The Conner shows begin February 28.

For the upcoming retrospective of work by the Japanese experimental filmmaker Takahiko Iimura, which will take place across 10 days and seven venues, Adam wrote the application for a grant to the Japan Foundation, which generously funded the series. "I contacted the various programmers around town to see who might be interested in having shows so that we could have more of a retrospective," he explains. The series begins February 27.

As it becomes easier to find experimental media online, how significant are screening venues? I think they are more important than ever. The general exposure to media has grown, but places to talk about and share work in person remain limited. The venues noted above, as well as the Velaslavasay Panaorama (which will present a great show of new live cinema work on Friday, February 6, in a show organized by Mark Toscano), seem more vibrant and engaged, with activities expanding beyond screenings to include workshops and more experimental projection and live events.