DER Documentary

Screening Room with Jan Lenica

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From the Screening Room series
by Robert Gardner
color, 80 min, 1973/2005

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

In addition to being a celebrated experimental animator, Jan Lenica (1928-2001) was a multi-talented artist known for his poetic and surreal graphic art in many forms. Whether working with film, posters, book illustrations, or designs for theater costumes or postage stamps, Lenica expressed very forcefully his satirical ideas, dark humor, and profound skepticism about life. He was an important pioneer of modern independent animation, as well as one of the leading Polish poster artists of the last century. He worked and taught in Poland, Paris, America, and Germany, earning international acclaim and numerous awards.

Jan Lenica appeared on Screening Room in April, 1973. He screened and discussed excerpts from his films Fantorro, Monsieur Tete, A and Labyrinth.

“[Lenica's] brilliance did not reveal itself in technical innovation or inventiveness; on the contrary, it was demonstrated in (his) nonchalant approach to existing techniques and conventions... (His) films made no secret of the simplicity of means they utilized, camouflaged nothing, their movement and montage as simplified as possible. Just a few pieces of coloured paper, old photographs, junk objects, fragments of found drawings.” — Marcin Gizycki, Polish art historian, & former Editor-In-Chief for Animafilm magazine

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
Ed Emshwiller
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
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