DER Documentary

Screening Room with Ed Emshwiller

From the Screening Room series
by Robert Gardner
color, 77 min, 1975/2005

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This DVD is also available as part of the Screening Room series Experimental Collection.

Ed Emshwiller started out as an abstract expressionist painter and an award-winning science fiction illustrator before becoming a major figure in avant-garde cinema and the experimental film movement of the 1960s and '70s. Eventually a highly respected video artist and dean at the School of Film/Videoo at the California Institute of the Arts, Emshwiller was always looking for ways to push the boundaries of film and video. He was a pioneer of computer-generated video and combining technology with art. Many of his films, including Relativity, Totem, Film with Three Dancers, and Thanatopsis received screenings and awards at New York, Cannes and other major film festivals worldwide.

Emshwiller appeared on Screening Room in July 1975 to screen and discuss the films:

  • Chrysalis (excerpt, 1:18)
  • George Dumpson's Place (full film, 7:45)
  • Carol Emshwiller (full film, 5:50)
  • Thanatopsis (full film, 5:12)
  • Film With Three Dancers (full film, 18:58)
  • Scape Mates (full film, 1:59)
  • Crossings and Meetings (excerpt, 2:03)

“Emshwiller is mad, truly mad. Only mediocre craftsmen are like everybody else. The truly great craftsmen are creatures with demons at their service. And thus the borders of art and craft disappear in the mystery of created and found reality.” — Jonas Mekas
“An artist like Ed whose work spanned from commercial illustration to the most rarified filmic experimentation is a mystery and a turbulence between an eye and a hand; everything that goes on there can be informative.” — Samuel Delaney, Intersecting Images: The Cinema of Ed Emshwiller

About the Screening Room series
In the early 1970s a group of idealistic artists, lawyers, doctors and teachers saw an opportunity to change commercial television in Boston and the surrounding area. It would require years of litigation up to and including the Supreme Court, but the case was won and the Channel 5 license was given to WCVB-TV. Screening Room was one of several programs offered in an effort to provide alternative television viewing. The idea behind Screening Room was to give independent filmmakers an opportunity to discuss their work and show it to a large urban audience. Nearly 100 ninety-minute programs were produced and aired between 1973 and 1980.

Screening Room was developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, who at the time, was Director of Harvard's Visual Arts Center and Chairman of its Visual and Environmental Studies Department. His own films include Dead Birds (1964), and Forest of Bliss (1986).

Other films from the Screening Room series
Bruce Baillie
Les Blank
Robert Breer
James Broughton
Emile de Antonio
Hollis Frampton
Robert Fulton
George Griffin
Hillary Harris
John & Faith Hubley
Peter Hutton
Derek Lamb
Standish Lawder & Stanley Cavell
Ricky Leacock
Caroline Leaf & Mary Beams
Jan Lenica
Alan Lomax
Jonas Mekas
Suzan Pitt
Yvonne Rainer
Richard P. Rogers
Jean Rouch
Michael Snow
John Whitney Sr.

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts