In Memoriam: Wieland/Kren/Lee | Chicago Reader

In Memoriam: Wieland/Kren/Lee

A tribute to three veteran avant-garde filmmakers, all of whom died in June 1998. Canadian Joyce Wieland made short films as well as two features; at once fancifully humorous and quietly poetic, her work uses imagery to build a loose, open sense of space. In Catfood (1968) a cat consumes several dead fish while “natural” wave sounds suggest the fishes' former habitat and ironically parallel the cat's rhythmic munching. Hand Tinting (1967) shows a group of women seen mostly against bare walls; Wieland's editing and tinting transform them into free-floating, larger-than-life figures. American Francis Lee was an early experimental animator; in 1941, made the same year, broken lightbulbs represent bombed ships in an effectively indirect re-creation of Pearl Harbor, but Le Bijou (1946) is overly precious and spatially inept in portraying a jewel's journey across a miniature landscape. I've seen only a few of the Kurt Kren films on the program, but those combine predetermined patterns with a gentle lyricism that renders the imagery airy and elusive.

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