Canyon Cinema Luminaries 2016: Chick Strand - Celebrations & Restorations
Introduction and post-screening discussion with Irina Leimbacher
Irina Leimbacher is a film scholar, curator and professor of film at Keene State College in New Hampshire. She is co-founder of kino21 and was the curator of the 2009 Flaherty Film Seminar.
Several of Chick Strand’s films have been recently restored by the Academy of Motion Pictures, including Soft Fiction that screened at last fall’s NYFF Projections program. Tonight I-House continues its Canyon Cinema Luminaries series with a celebration of Strand’s work and restorations. Co-founder of Canyon with Bruce Baillie in the early 1960s, Chick Strand (1931-2009) is most known for her exuberant experimental vision, her handheld moving 16mm camera, and her feminist engagement with women’s lives and experience. These screenings are in conjunction with Haverford College’s ‘Strange Truth’ screening of Chick Strand’s film ‘Soft Fiction’ on February 10, 2016) at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.
Strand's “ethnographic” works are sensuous, lyrical poems that, in her words, "celebrate the tenacity and uniqueness of the human spirit." Using the camera almost as if it were her moving hand, Strand combines intimate visual portraits with the voices and stories of the people –mainly women- she is portraying. Strand's gaze never objectifies, never romanticizes, and never fixes meaning as multiple and discordant perspectives emerge in her films. Mujer de Milfuegos (1976, 15 mins, color) is one of Strand’s Mexican films, and it broodingly evokes the consciousness of women and their repetitive tasks that take on the form of obsessive rituals. Mosori Monika (1970, 20 mins, color) portrays the acculturation process of the Warao Indians in Venezuela from the perspectives of a Franciscan nun and an old Indian woman. Anselmo and the Women (1986, 35 mins, color), one of Strand's most moving and resonant films, gently interweaves the poignant stories of Anselmo (already the subject of two earlier films), his wife Adela and his lover Cruz, while Fake Fruit (1986, 22 mins, color) is a portrait of the women who make papier maché fruit in a small factory in rural Mexico as they work, gossip, and play.
"Anselmo and the Women" preserved by the Academy Film Archive
Special thanks to Eric Strand (for permissions and rights), Mark Toscano (for overseeing the restorations), and Canyon Cinema and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Film Archives for providing us with the prints.