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Pat O’Neill: Where the Chocolate Mountains

Pat O’Neill: Where the Chocolate Mountains

Where the Chocolate Mountains

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Pat O’Neill: Where the Chocolate Mountains

Sunday, January 27, 2019, 7:30 pm

At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

George Lockwood, sound designer for Pat O'Neill, in person!

Filmforum is delighted to host a return screening of Pat O’Neill’s latest film, Where the Chocolate Mountains, which has only played once before in Los Angeles.  “A tour de force of digital art, Where the Chocolate Mountains (2015, 55 min.) is a major new opus from Pat O’Neill, one of the all-time guiding lights of the Los Angeles avant-garde, whose pioneering use of the optical printer marked a creative breakthrough in composite image-making in cinema. Continuing in the vein of his renowned 35mm epics Water and Power (1989), Trouble in the Image (1996) and Decay of Fiction (2002), the founding CalArts faculty member combines haunting cinematography of the Chocolate Mountains along the border between California and Arizona—long used as a bombing range by the military—with footage shot in L.A., Mexico and Prague, intimate self-portraits, and recurring graphic motifs to create irrepressible, stunningly detailed streams of multilayered sight and sound.” – Steve Anker, REDCAT

Tickets: $10 general; $6 for students/seniors; free for Filmforum members. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at or at the door.

For more information: or 323-377-7238.

Pat O’Neill has been deeply involved in Los Angeles culture since the late 1960s. A founding father of the city’s avant-garde film scene, an influential professor at CalArts and an optical effects pioneer, he is best known for his short works from the early 1960s onwards which are highly graphic, layered and reflexive assemblages based on a mastery of optical printing techniques. In O’Neill’s films boundaries fade, narrative collapses and layers of imagery draw the viewer simultaneously towards and away from linear meaning. O’Neill has combined found footage with experimental montage and compositing techniques to create a graphic language that deals with how different, often disparate elements assembled together in the frame relate to one another. His innovative optical techniques anticipated our digital landscape well before its time.  Several of his many avant-garde films produced between 1963 and 2006 are considered classics – especially 7362 (1967), Runs Good (1970), Saugus Series (1974), Water and Power (1989), Trouble in the Image (1996), and The Decay of Fiction (2002).

Water and Power, his first 35 mm. feature, which journeys through a California of imaginary intensity, was the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner in 1990 and hailed as a touchstone for filmmaking in the future. All his work from that decade on has been executed in 35 mm and relied upon the optical printer for principal production.  Throughout his career he has gained an international following with recent retrospectives shown at Art Basel, the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, and Les Abattoirs / Frac Midi-Pyrénées Toulouse, France).In addition, he has received the Maya Daren Award from AFI and the Persistence of Vision Award from the San Francisco Film Festival along with grants from the Guggenheim and the Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the California Community Fund and Creative Capital.

In 2004-06, 40 years of his static work and moving images was the subject of two major exhibitions, one at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the other at Cornerhouse in Manchester, England.  In 2008 at Rosamund Felsen’s Gallery, (Santa Monica, CA) he displayed his first prototypes for 3-d sculptural composites in an installation setting. His work has been featured in such important historic exhibitions as Electric Art (1969, University of California, Los Angeles) and 1991 Whitney Biennial of American Art (New York) and Los Angeles 1955-1985: The Birth of an Art Capital (2005, Centre Pompidou). Recent museum acquisitions include Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Hammer Museum, Walker Art Center, and Whitney Museum of American Art. O’Neill is represented by Philip Martin Gallery, who recently hosted an exhibition of The Decay of Fiction as an installation.


Los Angeles Filmforum screenings are supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.

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Where the Chocolate Mountains

Where the Chocolate Mountains

By Pat O’Neill  (2015, 55 min.)

The Chocolate Mountains lie along the border between South Eastern California and Arizona just North of the Mexico border. Much of the range is used for bombing practice by the U.S. military and its clients. It is off limits to everyone else. The mountains do not appear in the film, though their name is spoken, questioningly, by an actor transplanted from another movie.

The film is made up of wooden cones in rotary motion, human bodies, fire, smoke and bells.

Occasional interruptions and narrative are provided by a lame Irish Retriever.

There are some stories, as well.

(Pat O’Neill)