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CHICK STRAND: WISH YOU WERE HERE @ Third Man Records (The Light & Sound Machine)

A co-presentation of The Belcourt Theatre and Third Man Records.

Dir. Chick Strand, USA, 1966-1986, 120 min., NR, 16mm.

Following Light and Sound’s recent tributes to Bruce Baillie and Canyon Cinema, the obvious next stop is to highlight the sublime work of Chick Strand, Baillie's co-conspirator in the formation of Canyon. Strand's films infuse avant-garde techniques into the documentary form, often reshaping the tendencies of traditional ethnographic cinema and challenging the way First World documentaries approach their exoticised subjects. This career-spanning program sheds light on three decades of rarely-screened work, celebrating her monumental contribution to the American underground.

ANSELMO (1967) - 3min - Color
With Anselmo Aguascalientes and Balsamo the Magician. Music by La Banda Aguascalientes. An experimental documentary in the sense that it is a symbolic reenactment of a real event. I asked a Mexican Indian friend what he would like most in the world. His answer was, "A double E flat tuba." I thought it would be easy to find one at the Goodwill very cheap. This wasn't so, but a sympathetic man in a music store found a cheap but beautiful brass wrap-around tuba. I bought it, smuggled it into Mexico and gave it to my friend in the desert. The film is a poetic interpretation of this event in celebration of wishes and tubas.

MUJER DE MILFUEGOS (1976) - 15m - Color
A kind of heretic fantasy film. An expressionistic, surrealistic portrait of a Latin American woman. Not a personal portrait so much as an evocation of the consciousness of women in rural parts of such countries as Spain, Greece and Mexico; women who wear black from the age 15 and spend their entire lives giving birth, preparing food and tending to household and farm responsibilities. MUJER DE MILFUEGOS depicts in poetic, almost abstract terms, their daily repetitive tasks as a form of obsessive ritual.
The film uses dramatic action to express the thoughts and feelings of a woman living within this culture. As she becomes transformed, her isolation and desire, conveyed in symbolic activities, endows her with a universal quality. Through experiences of ecstasy and madness we are shown different aspects of the human personality. The final sequence presents her awareness of another level of knowledge.

FEVER DREAM (1979) - 7m - B&W
A wet hot dream about sensuality.

COSAS DE MI VIDA (1976) - 25m
Expressive documentary in an ethnographic approach about Anselmo, a Mexican Indian. It is a film about his struggle for survival in the Third World. Orphaned at age 7, he was the sole support of himself and his baby sister, who eventually starved and died in his arms. The film continues with Anselmo's struggle to live and to do something with his life other than a docile acceptance of poverty. Totally uneducated in a formal way, he taught himself how to play a horn and when he became a man he started his own street band. The film was started in 1965 and finished in 1975. During the 10 years, I saw the physical change in Anselmo's life in terms of things he could buy to make his family at first able to survive, and during the last years, to make them more comfortable. I felt a change in his spirit from a proud, individualistic and graceful man into one obsessed with possessions and role playing in order to get ahead and stay on top, but one cannot help but admire his energy and determination to succeed, to drag himself and is family out of the hopelessness and sameness of poverty to give them a future. Anselmo tells his own story in English although he does not speak the language. After he told me of his life in Spanish, I translated it into English and taught him how to say it.

CARTOON LE MOUSSE (1979) - 15m - B&W 
"Chick Strand is a prolific and prodigiously gifted film artist who seems to break new ground with each new work. Her recent "found footage" works such as CARTOON LE MOUSSE, are extraordinarily beautiful, moving, visionary pieces that push this genre into previously unexplored territory. If poetry is the art of making evocative connections between otherwise dissimilar phenomena, then Chick Strand is a great poet, for these films transcend their material to create a surreal and sublime universe beyond reason." - Gene Youngblood

WATERFALL (1967) - 3m - B&W

ANSELMO AND THE WOMAN (1986) - 35min
Continuing the life of Anselmo, a Mexican street musician, and his life-long struggle to make a good life for his children. This film focuses on his relationship with his wife Adela and his mistress, Cruz, and theirs with him. In a society where traditional gender roles are separate and sharply defined, the number of children defines male identity and keeps the women at home and dependent. Poverty makes daily survival a desperate struggle. Both men and women must cooperate, the men to provide food and shelter and the women to raise and care for the large family. However, the cooperation is often superficial, with very little communication in terms of inner emotional needs. Relationships become economic in essence in which both men and women perceive themselves living in an emotional desert. The film is about lives in conflict from three points of view as told by the people involved. It explores the division between the real and ideal.

THURSDAY, JULY 17 at 7:00 pm at Third Man Records. Tickets are $10.

All films presented on 16mm, courtesy of Canyon Cinema.

Every Third Thursday of the Month at Third Man Records
623 7th Ave S – Nashville, TN 37203