Congratulations to this year’s finalists!
Good Conversation Jenn Gomez (14:02, MA)
Petrichor Mireille Heidbreder (6:08, VA)
The Guide Shayne Hatfield (11:05, VA)
UNCLE'S CAR C. E. Dye (7:11, NM)
Here Lies Beatrice Katarina Docalovich (12:23, NY)
Story of the Dreaming Water, Chap. Two Brittany Gravely (3:00, MA)
By Any Other Name Peter Kimball (12:38, Wash., DC)
Tous Les Jours Nicholas Mullins (13:35, GA)
The Usual Route Cory Warner (11:00, CA)
The Bartender Travis Newsad (10:00, MA)
Stuck in Between Burcu Halacoglu (6:00, Turkey)
With Steve Shelley, SY archivist Aaron Mullan, and Tannis Root/Kung-Fu co-founder Bill Mooney in conversation.
Sonic Youth released their sixth album Daydream Nation in October of 1988 and performed the material live that year and through 1989. The album was an immediate critical success. Robert Palmer wrote in Rolling Stone that it “presents the definitive American guitar band of the Eighties at the height of its powers and prescience”. Time has not dimmed the album’s luster: It was selected to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2005, and in 2013 Consequence of Sound declared “the record simply rules.”
In celebration of the album’s 30th anniversary, Sonic Youth, in conjunction with SY archivist Aaron Mullan, will present a program of Daydream Nation-related films. The rarely-screened 1989 documentary Put Blood in the Music will be shown in a new restoration. Rare and unseen gems from the band’s archive, plus live footage of the band performing songs from the album in 2007/2008 will round out the bill.
Put Blood in the Music 1989 Dir. Charles Atlas (SY Edit): Charles Atlas’s first major recognition came for his work with Merce Cunningham as the company’s filmmaker-in-residence from 1978-1983.
Put Blood in the Music is a unique documentary on the downtown New York music scene. In a collage of music, performance, and commentary, Atlas captures the energy and pluralism that characterize this urban milieu. Reflecting the eclecticism of his subject, Atlas re-structures the conventional “talking head” format to allow a fragmented, fast-paced compendium of voices and sounds. Presented here is the Sonic Youth segment of the film, in a context which is less a documentary than a cultural document, a vivid time capsule of the late 80’s New York music scene.
Sonic Youth Archives: Steve Shelley: ”Through the years and as the times changed we recorded our live shows as often as we could afford to on cassettes, DATs, CDs and when possible on multi-track recorders and videotape. We collected fan-generated audience tapes, shady bootlegs and anything we could get our hands on. We now maintain an archive of hundreds of hours of Sonic Youth concerts and we’re starting to share some of our favorites (often from the best-uncirculated source possible).
As a Lithuanian WWII refugee, he landed in NY with brother Adolfus; neither spoke English. Jonas purchased a second-hand movie camera in a pawn shop and began filming the new world around him, an attempt to interact, to have a discourse, with a strange and exciting culture. In 1954 the brothers founded “Film Culture”, the film journal that would advocate for a new kind of cinema, a cinema that was “the art of light”, a cinema more akin to poetry and music than Hollywood narratives. Mekas would later co-found Filmmakers' Co-op, to distribute these new film poets' works, and also write for the “Village Voice”, in its day perhaps the best film journal in America.
Mekas shocked the critical establishment when in 1959 and 1960 he called John Cassavetes' “Shadows” and Leslie's and Frank's Beat manifesto,” Pull My Daisy”, the Best Films of the Year! Both were black and white, location-based, low-budget productions which contrasted to the big Technicolor productions of Hollywood. But they had sustenance—“we don't want rosy films, we want them the color of blood” he would exclaim. Films of raw poetry and passion, that was Mekas' creed, forget the polish, the so-called “high-production values”. He himself would make the ground-breaking “The Brig” (surreptitiously shot at night), and his long compilation-diary films “Walden” and “Lost, lost, lost”, and continued to be the spoke of America's underground film world for 60 plus years.
In 2002, through the diligence of James Parrish, Mekas visited Richmond, VA as a guest of the James River Film Festival. His films were screened at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts over several days and Mekas attended every other event as well. He was in fine form —garrulous, engaged—for an eighty-year-old! In fact, late on a Friday night, he was pouring tequila shots for a small band of admirers and calling out new toasts, new manifestos: “We are all raving maniacs of the cinema!” he exclaimed as we drank our shots with the alpha-maniac-filmer. Next morning Mekas was refreshed and ready for the next day's screenings, while most of us were dragging a bit. And that's what we'll miss— his energy and an unflagging life-long passion for a new American cinema, freed from the “Hollywoods of the world”.