Found Footage Films by Arthur Lipsett and Stan Brakhage: Social Criticism and Personal Despair

Fred Camper will introduce and discuss five experimental films, including four by Arthur Lipsett—Very Nice, Very Nice (1961, 7 min.), 21-87 (1964, 9 min.), Free Fall (1964, 9 min.), and A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965, 12 min.)—and Stan Brakhage's Murder Psalm (1981, 17 min.). Camper has written that Lipsett, “a Canadian filmmaker most active during the 60s, is almost unknown in the U.S., but his films rank among the most powerful experimental work I've ever seen, documents of industrial dehumanization colored by a deepening sense of personal despair. In Free Fall rapidly edited footage of sun through trees is more fragmented than lyrical, nature filtered through some infernal machine. Faces on city streets, stripped of context and frighteningly disconnected from each other, become haunting fragments, and by matching and mismatching sound and image Lipsett creates hallucinatory voices, disembodied sentences offering weird commentary on what we're seeing. Most extraordinary is the way his editing mirrors the logic of depression, each new fact reinforcing one's despair. . . . A colleague viewing one of Lipsett's films told him, 'The world can't be that miserable,' but for Lipsett it must have been—he committed suicide in 1986.”

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