July 23, 2007 -- Through Sept. 30, the University of Virginia Art Museum will present a New Media Gallery presentation, “The Films of Peter Whitehead,” four works by British filmmaker Peter Whitehead that explore the counterculture of London and New York during the 1960s. According to Dave Calhoun, writing in Time Out magazine, “Whitehead was the greatest avant-garde British filmmaker of the ’60s. His films stand together as an unrivaled record of that decade’s counter-culture.”
"Wholly Communion" (1965, 33 minutes)
Whitehead's breakthrough film documents the Albert Hall Festival in 1965 with performances by Allen Ginsberg, Alec Trocchi and Adrian Mitchell. The film sheds light on the culmination of beatnik dreams and the beginning of the hippie era. Audience members become part of the film with their own sense of spirit and chaos. This film won the Gold Medal at the prestigious Mannheim Documentary Film Festival in 1966. “Wholly Communion” will be screened at the U.Va. Art Museum the weeks of July 31, Aug. 28 and Sept. 25.
"Tonite Let's All Make Love in London" (1967, 70 minutes)
This film explores "Swinging London" through a variety of psychedelic performances by such groups as Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. There are also a number of interviews with artists, including John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Vanessa Redgrave, Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, Julie Christie and Michael Caine. Throughout this rockumentary, images of the discotheques, clubs, drugs and protests dazzle the screen and encapsulate the mood of the ’60s. This archetypal time capsule will show at the U.Va. Art Museum the weeks of Aug. 7 and Sept. 4.
"Benefit of the Doubt" (1967, 65 minutes)
In this award-winning color documentary, Whitehead films Peter Brook, Glenda Jackson, Michael Kustow, Michael Williams and the cast of The Royal Shakespeare Company during their preparation and actual performance of the anti-Vietnam protest play "US," one of the first acts of experimental theater in England. In this film no one is left undocumented; behind the scenes or on stage, everyone is exposed regardless of their role in the production. It will be screened at the U.Va. Art Museum the weeks of Aug. 14, and Sept. 11.
"Charlie is My Darling" (1967, 60 minutes)
In this film, Whitehead depicts the mania surrounding the up-and-coming rock’n’roll band, The Rolling Stones, around the time of the release of their first big single in America, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction.” The documentary was filmed over the course of three days in Dublin and Belfast, and features interviews with the band members, often catching them at their most vulnerable, and as Whitehead said, "in all their pristine and unspoilt pagan energy and satanic glory.” This film was never released in the United States. It will be shown at the U.Va Art Museum the weeks of July 24, Aug. 21 and Sept. 18.
The focus on Whitehead, whose films have been rediscovered and showcased all over the world during the past year, will culminate with a special screening of his epic feature, “The Fall,” as part of the Virginia Film Society’s fall season (date to be announced at www.vafilm.com).
The U.Va. Art Museum’s New Media Gallery is sponsored by Crutchfield and The Virginia Film Festival, and is programmed by Festival Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz.
The museum is open to the public without charge Tuesday through Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Parking is available along Bayly Drive, off Rugby Road.