Free Event

Wed, March 26, 12:30pm

Juror Presentation: Steve Anker

Michigan Theater (Screening Room)

Big As Life, 8mm Experimental film in the U.S.: 
The Boston Underground, 1976–1992

Big As Life was a 76 program series held at The Museum of Modern Art from 1998 to 2000. Co-curated by MoMA curator Jytte Jensen and myself, the series included Regular and Super 8 works by over a hundred filmmakers, and all of the films were shown in their original gauge. The series was a testament to a great and defiant body of groundbreaking art that ranged from the deeply personal and poetic to radical forms of documentary and dramatic narrative. Most prints hadn't been shown in many years, and dozens of these films have doubtless perished or deteriorated since the series was presented. Tonight's program of rare Super 8mm prints focuses on Boston as one of the capitals of small-gauge filmmaking, a metropolitan area that produced several important artists who were drawn to 8mm largely through the art and teaching of Saul Levine. An active 8mm filmmaker who has been working in 8mm for more than forty-five years, Levine inspired Marjorie Keller, Phil Solomon, Mark LaPore, Luther Price, Anne Charlotte Robertson, Pelle Lowe, Peter Herwitz, Caroline Avery and Nina Fonoroff, among others, to produced great work in this modest, home movie medium.

Experimental filmmaking has always been an especially fugitive pursuit in Boston, given the stifling control of powerhouse academic institutions as Harvard, M.I.T., and Boston University, and the conservative Boston Brahmin culture. Few major filmmakers, such as Daniel Barnett, have emerged during the past five decades. In retrospect, it makes sense that 8mm films made by renegade personalities would thrive in the underworld of Boston culture, and they have an urgency and intensity that matches the greatest avant-garde and experimental films. –Steve Anker

Films Showing:

Mysterious Barricades

(Peter Herwitz, 1987) 8 min

A highly concentrated, ravishingly hand-manipulated film that evokes states of the sublime as well as loneliness and emotional turmoil. Made by Herwitz while he was a graduate student at the...

Notes of An Early Fall, Part One

(Saul Levine, 1976) 33 min

A major work that portrays the beauty and sadness of isolation in a desolate landscape. Triumphing over this physical reality and his own emotional landscape, Levine uses the formal properties...


(Anne Charlotte Robertson, 1990) 17 min

Apologies is possibly this late, great film-diarist’s only film that survives in its original unadulterated form. With savage irony and wit, and with shockingly brutal honesty, Robertson lists all of...

Earthly Possessions (The Looking Glass Trilogy, Part III)

(Pelle Lowe, 1992) 23 min

A haunting, trance-like evocation of trans-gender longing. Amidst gothic backgrounds and expressionistic gestures, Lowe’s characters enact a ritualistic, internalized drama....


(Luther Price, 1989) 17 min

Sodom uses found footage gay porn and physical carvings into the small 8mm material itself, to create a horrifying glimpse into a particular imaginary hell. Price’s sensational imagery is both...