Anyone: Avant-garde films

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jun-Dai Bates, Aug 21, 2001.

  1. Jun-Dai Bates

    Jun-Dai Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    There are an enormous number of films that will probably never see the light of dvd, in the world of Avant-Garde filmmaking. I'd like to take a moment to champion them. I, for one, would love to be able to see them repeatedly (especially because many are quite short), and thus it would be nice to have them on dvd. Also, if they were released on dvd, particularly by a company like Criterion, or some major studio, it would give the films some exposure, which would be nice. In particular I am thinking of such films as Maya Deren's Meshes in the Afternoon, or Stan Brakhage's Mothlight, Leger's Ballet Mecanique, or Christopher MacLaine's The End, to name a few more well-known examples.
    I am by no means well-informed about avant-garde films, but I have been exposed to a small selection of such films, and I know what I like.
    Here are some filmmaker's whose works would it would be a delight to see on dvd:
    Maya Deren
    Stan Brakhage
    Peter Hutton
    Kenneth Anger
    Peggy Ahwesh
    Bruce Baillie
    Christopher MacLaine
    George Kuchar
    Michael Snow
     
  2. DonaldB

    DonaldB Supporting Actor

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    It's sad, but the prospects of these filmmakers having anything released do seem bleak. Even more established names like Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu are either under-represented on the medium or have nothing out at all.
    Criterion does have an extensive catalogue of films in their possession that I'm sure will eventually be released on DVD, but the rights to too many gems reside with companies that have no interest in releasing them at all, or only in slipshod fashion, using any old print that's available, thereby showing nothing but contempt for the artistry of the work, its creators, and us.
    Now I'm depressed. I'm going to go watch a VHS copy of Mouchette to cheer myself up.
     
  3. Jun-Dai Bates

    Jun-Dai Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    You're absolutely right about Ozu and Bresson (though by avant-garde, I really meant non-narrative, non-documentary cinema). I plan on bothering Criterion on the 11th (if I'm around), and adding Visconti, Renoir, Rossellini, Ophuls, Mizoguchi, and Jean Vigo to that list. None of them have more than one film out on DVD (though Renoir's Rules of the Game has been announced), and that upsets me.
    I recall reading that Criterion doesn't actually own the rights to any films, just temporary licenses and the rights to the extra features, which means that many of the titles in their laserdisc catalogue will never be Criterion DVDs. This is unfortunate. We should keep tabs on the studios that are good enough to cooperate with Criterion (like Disney), and those that are not (Warner, I believe), so that we can better predict whether we will see Ozu's films on DVD any time soon, and if Criterion will be behind the release (is Criterion on good terms with New Yorker?). What I would really like to see is a list of all the Criterion DVD's, and the companies that they licensed the films from. Of course Janus would make up most of the list.
    Since no one owns distribution rights (to my knowledge) to most avant-garde films, it seems like it would be relatively easy for Criterion to pick up films like Maya Deren's Meshes in the Afternoon (or even easier if the filmmaker is alive). Of course I could be wrong and Fox might own them (or some smaller company, which is more likely).
     
  4. Jun-Dai Bates

    Jun-Dai Bates Stunt Coordinator

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    Satyajit Ray is another director with no films on DVD. I forget to mention him. We should bother Columbia.
     
  5. DonaldB

    DonaldB Supporting Actor

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