George Kuchar portrait. 1960s. Image courtesy of Photofest

A Celebration of George Kuchar: Rambunctious Rarities, Moody Masterpieces

Presented by Trisha Donnelly and Bruce Hainley

Thursday, November 17, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2

This year’s edition of To Save and Project ends on a bittersweet note—but a hilarious and tender one nonetheless: we remember the American filmmaking legend George Kuchar (1942–2011) with a special presentation of five recently preserved films and one video work that span his half-century career—many of them made with his students at the San Francisco Art Institute. The artist Trisha Donnelly and the writer Bruce Hainley, who knew George well, will discuss his life and work (November 17 only). The program concludes by honoring George’s brilliantly talented twin brother and lifelong collaborator, Mike Kuchar, with a screening of his own outrageous, sexy 1996 video work Statue in the Park.
Mosholu Holiday. 1966. USA. “A special guest appearance by Canadian TV star Bill Ronald along with the massive presence of ‘Mrs. Bronx’ herself, Frances Leibowitz, and her girlfriend Iris, make this film a must-see for travel enthusiasts and horror fans” (Kuchar). Courtesy the Austrian Film Museum. 8 min.
Asphalt Ribbon. 1977. USA. “Adapted from a pamphlet of ‘sentimental essays.’ This film uses original text from the book, cuts it with sex, violence, rock n' roll, an actor driving a fake truck, and footage of actual trucks. The story is an ode to American truck drivers. This film has original music by the students” (Kuchar). Courtesy Harvard Film Archive. 19 min.
I, an Actress. 1977. USA. “This film was shot in 10 minutes with four or five students of mine at the San Francisco Art Institute. It was to be a screen test for a girl in the class. She wanted something to show producers of theatrical productions, as the girl was interested in an acting career. By the time all the heavy equipment was set up the class was just about over; all we had was 10 minutes. Since 400 feet of film takes 10 minutes to run through the camera ... that was the answer: Just start it and don't stop till it runs out. I had to get into the act to speed things up so, in a way, this film gives an insight into my directing techniques while under pressure” (Kuchar). Courtesy Pacific Film Archive. 9 min.
Wild Night in El Reno. 1977. USA. “This film documents a thunderstorm as it rages in full fury above a motel in May on the southern plains. There's sun, wind, clouds, rain and electrical pyrotechnics…with perhaps a glimpse of a fleeting human figure. But only a glimpse” (Kuchar). Courtesy Harvard Film Archive. 6 min.
Motel Capri. 1986. “Mother Superior commits murder to save a soul from eternal damnation. Motel Capri was original material improvised as we went along. Scenes were concocted to suit the individual members of the class and my Catholic upbringing, plus immersion in horror movies, helped mold the plot. The class also was populated by students interested in splatter and macho cycle gear. Joyce Wieland, the Canadian artist and filmmaker is featured here as the mother superior. She was reading her lines in the Marlon Brando technique (they were pasted onto the face of her student co-star)” (Kuchar). Courtesy Harvard Film Archive. 18 min.
Statue in the Park. 1996. USA. Written and directed by Mike Kuchar. “Two strippers decide a walk in the park might lift their spirits, which do get a big boost when they contemplate a park monument dedicated to sailors in this audacious, ‘beefy’ romp” (Mike Kuchar). Courtesy Video Data Bank. 18 min.
Temple of Torment. 2006. USA. “There is so much to absorb: the wetness from the sky. The hooded figure in the box. A big plate of pasta, and that chair on wheels. Messages of moral guidance clash with actions that are on a collision course with dilapidation. And through it all the water runs, the fridge is full and hearts yearn for that which mellows the melody of God’s glockenspiel. For the winds of change rattle the bones of the grim reaper as he swings his scythe in rhythm to a cacophony of corruption intrinsic to this orchestra pit of purgatorial preludes and egg laying swan song" (Kuchar). Courtesy Video Data Bank. 18 min.

In the Film exhibition To Save and Project: The Ninth MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation

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