LA Film Forum Logo

Canyon Cinema at 50: Decodings / Continuum

Canyon Cinema at 50: Decodings / Continuum

Decodings, by Michael Wallin

Saturday July 14, 2018, 7:30pm

UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program, and Los Angeles Filmforum present

Canyon Cinema at 50: Decodings / Continuum

At the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024. Courtyard Level, Hammer Museum

In-person:  David Dinnell, curator Antonella Bonfanti, director of Canyon Cinema, filmmakers Janie Geiser and Cauleen Smith

Los Angeles Filmforum members receive free admission at the box office! 

Bay Area-based non-profit film and media arts organization Canyon Cinema has, for 50 years, served as a bastion of “artist-made moving image work” not just as an archive, but as a distributor and champion of experimental, avant-garde, alternative and otherwise underserviced filmmaking voices. Curated by David Dinnell, visiting faculty at California Institute of the Arts and former Program Director at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, UCLA Film & Television Archive is proud to serve as the Los Angeles home for four 16mm programs that draw exclusively from Canyon’s vast collection. Deriving titles from lesser-known Canyon films, these programs span seven decades, and include work by Saul Levine, Barbara Hammer, Curt McDowell and Canyon founders Bruce Baillie and Chick Strand, which together offer a vital roadmap for artist-made cinema.

The Canyon Cinema 50 project is organized by the Canyon Cinema Foundation and supported in part by the George Lucas Family Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Owsley Brown III Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and The Fleishhacker Foundation.

Special thanks: Antonella Bonfanti, David Dinnell, Mark Toscano.

Tickets: $10 general in advance; $9 general at the door; $8 for seniors/non-UCLA students; free for Filmforum members and UCLA students. Available in advance at or at the door.

For more information: 


Program Three: Decodings (16mm, b/w and color, 87 min.)

Program Three is named after Michael Wallin’s found-footage masterpiece, “a profoundly moving, allegorical search for identity from the documents of collective memory” (Manohla Dargis). The program begins with Duo Concertantes, a classic animation by one of Canyon’s earliest filmmakers, Lawrence Jordan, and Billabong, an underappreciated impressionistic documentary of a boys’ youth camp by another key Canyon figure, Will Hindle. Tom Palazzolo’s 1973 film, Love It/Leave It, offers a portrait of the USA that feels particularly relevant to our current political moment. Other works include Lie Back & Enjoy It, JoAnn Elam’s lucid examination of the representation of women in film; artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith’s 1992 Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron), an “exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers” (Scott MacDonald); and Naomi Uman’s classic 1999 found-footage film Removed, which deploys nail polish, bleach and 1970s pornography to fashion a film where the female figure exists only as an empty, animated space.

Program Four: Continuum (16mm, b/w and color, 85 min.)

Program Four is named for Dominic Angerame’s silent and exquisitely filmed black and white 1987 city portrait. The program also features Bay Area filmmaker Karen Holmes’ underappreciated late 1970s landscape and performance film, Saving the Proof; Los Angeles effects artist and filmmaker Pat O’Neill’s 1973 masterpiece Down Wind; Gunvor Nelson’s My Name is Oona, one of the canonical works of the American avant-garde; and two works from the mid-2000s: Tomonari Nishikawa’s frenetic single-frame city portrait, Market Street, and animator Janie Geiser’s Terrace 49. The program is bookended with Valentin De Las Sierras and Mujer De Milfuegos, films by Canyon Cinema founders Bruce Baillie and Chick Strand that continue to resonate as vital, adventurous film art.