3 offbeat films you won’t want to miss at UWM Union Theatre this winter
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The release of the UWM Union Theatre schedule marks the beginning of three months of more exciting cinema than one person could possibly see. The Spring 2013 season, beginning January 23, is no exception. On top of the usual slate of series that highlight the best in classic and contemporary film and video, Milwaukee’s most manic theater has added DocuFiction to the list. If a quick look at the schedule suggests a certain restlessness, a further reading reveals an appreciation of film so deep that the disparate genres meld into a singular argument for film as an art form.
To top it off, most programs are free and open to the public, eliminating one more excuse to not see everything. The following are highlights of some of the esoteric yet accessible programs the UWM Union Theatre will be offering over the next academic semester.
An Evening with Pip Chodorov (February 5); Free Radicals: A History Of Experimental Film (February 6)
Pip Chodorov is not only an experimental filmmaker and a tireless champion of his form, he’s also a student of cognitive science and semiotics. During his visit, he may be able to shed some light on the research and theory behind his two recent 16mm films, Faux Movement and Charlemagne 2: Piltzer, which draw on the structural film theory of 1960s avant-garde. But don’t worry, Chodorov is also an accomplished image maker: These and other films in his show promise to be exhilarating visual experiences as much as they are dense studies of their medium. The second night of Chodorov’s stay features his love letter to his experimental forefathers, Free Radicals: A History Of Experimental Film. Expect an intimate voice-over paired with the films and interviews of Michael Snow, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage.
Tchoupitoulas (February 7)
In the newly minted DocuFiction series, this feature-length documentary draws on the long but narrow history of the “city symphony” genre. A dizzying portrait of New Orleans set in the nightlife of the eponymous street, Tchoupitoulas follows three brothers on a journey that spirals and dances through the images, sounds, and characters that populate this special place. The excitement of the movie bumps into the limitations of the video medium, approximating but never replicating the experience of a youth culture that can’t express itself beyond simply existing.
Portrait Of Jason (April 4)
Shirley Clarke’s seminal documentary recently received the full restoration treatment and is presented here in its sterling black and white original form. Portrait Of Jason follows a single subject, Jason Holliday, on a rambling, confessional journey through the many layers of his personhood—and a bottle of liquor. Holliday was a black queer/would-be-diva who developed a series of personas to deal with life as a prostitute and nightclub oddity. The film watches as Clarke and her team, safely behind the camera, peel away those levees of personal safety and denial from Holliday, who is brutally exploited and intimately revealed during his night-long monologue.