Flaming Creatures & Blonde Cobra

Date: 31 March 2007 | Season: London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2007 | Tags: ,

Saturday 31 March 2007, at 6.10pm
London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival at BFI Southbank

Jack Smith, Flaming Creatures, USA, 1963, 16mm, black and white, sound, 42 min
Ken Jacobs, Blonde Cobra, USA, 1959-63, 16mm, black and white & colour, sound, 33 min

Two gloriously primitive flicks which define and transcend the idea of “underground” film. Flaming Creatures, Smith’s impoverished, epic fantasy of Babylonian proportions, is a decadent celebration of the joy and torment of existence. This bleached-out orgiastic rite, all limp penises and shaking breasts, is populated by a blonde vampire, exotic Spanish dancers and androgynous bohemian poseurs. Blonde Cobra, as close to an authentic portrait of Smith that we have, is propelled by a delirious monologue (witness the scurrilous tale of Madame Nescience and Mother Superior) and was shot amongst the rubble of his apartment. The two films were premiered together in April 1963, and remain fresh, provocative and startlingly original over 40 years later. (Mark Webber)


Two Wrenching Departures

Date: 3 April 2007 | Season: London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2007 | Tags: , ,

Tuesday 3 April 2007, at 8pm
London Roxy Bar and Screen

Secret Cinema presents a free screening of a major new work by Ken Jacobs.

In his amazing live performances, Ken Jacobs breathed new life into archival film footage, teasing frozen frames into impossible depth and perpetual motion with two 16mm analytic projectors. Now aged 74, the artist explores new ways of documenting and developing his innovative Nervous System techniques in the digital realm.

Two Wrenching Departures, featuring the legendary Jack Smith (both clownish and devilishly handsome circa 1957), extends five minutes of material into a ninety-minute opus of eight movements. In and out of junk heap costume, Smith cavorts through the streets of New York (much consternation from the normals) and performs an impossible, traffic island ballet.

His improvised actions are transformed into perceptual games as Jacobs’ interrogates his footage, using repetition and pulsating flicker to open up new dimensions and temporal twists: The infinite ecstasy of little things.  In commemorating two dear departed friends, with whom he collaborated on Blonde Cobra and other works, he propels their image into everlasting motion. These mindbending visions are juxtaposed with the soundtrack of The Barbarian, a 1933 Arabian fantasy starring Ramon Navarro and Myrna Loy, and music by Carl Orff.

Ken Jacobs, USA, 2006, video, b/w, sound, 90 min
“In October 1989, estranged friends Bob Fleischner and Jack Smith died within a week of each other. Ken Jacobs met Smith through Fleischner in 1955 at CUNY night school, where the three were studying camera techniques. This feature-length work, first performed in 1989 as a live Nervous System piece is a ‘luminous threnody’ (Mark McElhatten) made in response to the loss of Jacobs’ friends.”

Ken Jacobs (born 1933) is one of the key figures of post-war cinema, whose films include Little Stabs at Happiness (1958-60), Blonde Cobra (1959-63), Tom Tom the Piper’s Son (1969-71), The Doctor’s Dream (1978), Perfect Film (1986) and Disorient Express (1995).  He has also presented live cine-theatre (2D and 3D shadow plays) and developed the Nervous System and Nervous Magic Lantern projection techniques.  Since 1999, Jacobs has primarily used electronic media, both in preserving his live performances and creating new digital works in a variety of styles. His 7-hour epic Star Spangled To Death (1957-2004) is now available on DVD from Big Commotion Pictures.

Free admission. No reservation necessary, but arrive early to avoid disappointment.Please note that this screening is not suitable for those susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy due to the extensive use of flickering and throbbing light.

Related Events

Ken Jacobs’ 1963 film Blonde Cobra will screen with Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures in the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on Saturday 31st March 2007 at 6.10pm.

Mary Jordan’s documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis also shows in the festival in the same day.

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