The Virginia Film Society Spring 2007 Season Focuses on "Artists on Film"

January 30, 2007

Jan. 30, 2007 -- The Virginia Film Society will devote its spring 2007 season to the exploration of  “Artists on Film” — films by and about cutting edge artists.

“We’re featuring biographical portraits of artists who have been rebellious pioneers, a step ahead of their times,” Virginia Film Festival Director Richard Herskowitz said. “In addition we are showing works by experimental artists who are pushing cinema in new directions.”

In collaboration with this series, the U.Va. Art Museum’s new media gallery will present month-long video exhibitions that expand on five of the Film Society programs.

The season kicks off on Feb. 13 with “Jack Smith & the Destruction of Atlantis,” a feature-length documentary homage to the legendary artist, filmmaker and provocateur Jack Smith. In her feature-length debut, director Mary Jordan presents layered insights into one of America’s most significant and mythical artists, an inspiration to Andy Warhol, John Zorn and many others. The film prominently features Smith’s rare artworks — his photographs, films and performances — intercut with interviews with art luminaries, critics and Smith’s friends and enemies. Launching from Smith’s controversial views on capitalism, critics and institutional-art “gatekeepers,” the film smashes head-on into the politics intersecting creativity, capitalism and meaning in contemporary art. Jordan will be on hand to present the film and participate in a Q&A after the screening. A sensation at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film will open in theaters in New York in April.

The second offering in the series features the work of two artists who are stretching the definition of cinema. “Perf.Form,” which will be presented Feb. 20, is a projection performance in three parts, which includes live manipulation of projector light by experimental artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recorder. A selection of their “Light Works” will also be on view at the U.Va Art Museum from Feb. 20-March 19.

The contemporary art superstar and creator of the “Cremaster” cycle Matthew Barney is the highlight of two events: “No Restraint: Matthew Barney,” presented on March 13 by the Film Society, sheds light on the creative process of this artist as he films his latest production, “Drawing Restraint 9,” costarring his partner, Bjork. Then in conjunction with OFFScreen, “Drawing Restraint 9” will be screened on March 18 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. in Newcomb Hall Theater
The photographer and musician John Cohen will be on hand March 20 to introduce “The High Lonesome Sound” and “Dancing with the Incas.” In “The High Lonesome Sound” Cohen explores how the music of eastern Kentucky church-goers, miners and farmers expresses the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor. “Dancing with the Incas” documents the lives of three Huayno musicians torn between the military and the Shining Path guerrillas in contemporary Peru.

John Columbus returns to the Film Society and Charlottesville for the 13th year on April 10 with a selection of short experimental, animated and documentary award-winning films from the Black Maria Film and Video Festival.

In conjunction with Charlottesville’s Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, the April 26 screening of “Remembering Arthur,” offers a portrait of filmmaker Arthur Lipsett and his keen understanding of the power created by the relationship between sound and image.

Richmond’s acclaimed independent filmmaker David Williams will present his latest film “Bad Girls” on May 1. This documentary portrait of Richmond artist Keithley Pierce shows her at work in her studio and discussing the personal sources of her art as well as the building of her successful company, Bad Girl Art.

The spring schedule concludes on June 9 with “What Remains,” filmmaker Steven Cantor’s feature-length film about the nationally prominent and controversial photographer Sally Mann. Mann will be a guest at the screening, which is cosponsored by Charlottesville’s new Festival of the Photo (June 7-9).

The events are cosponsored by Virginia Film Society and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Screenings feature special guest speakers and are held at the Vinegar Hill Theatre at 7 p.m. except “Remembering Arthur,” which will be held at The Bridge on April 26 at 8 p.m. and “What Remains” at Vinegar Hill Theatre on June 9 at 1 p.m. Admission to individual screenings is $8 for the general public (“Remembering Arthur is $4) and is free to Film Society members.  
Spring membership for the Virginia Film Society is $30 ($25 for students and seniors).
 Membership benefits include admission to the eight spring season screenings, a free pass to Regal Cinemas, $2 off Mondays at Sneak Reviews (non-new releases only) and $6 Tuesday movies at Vinegar Hill. Film Society memberships and individual admission tickets can be purchased 30 minutes before the screening at the venue box office. Memberships can also be purchased by mail using the membership order form available online at
For more information on membership in the Virginia Film Society, or to view the full spring season schedule, visit

The Virginia Film Society Spring 2007 Series
Cosponsored by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

“Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis”
With guest filmmaker Mary Jordan
Tuesday, Feb. 13 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.

Underground filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith was a central figure of New York underground culture from the 1960’s until his death in 1989. Smith’s resistance to commercial acceptance kept him from achieving the popular recognition of many of the artists he inspired, including Andy Warhol and John Zorn. Replete with an assemblage of photographs, film clips and audio recordings of Smith's own voice, Jordan’s film argues for the seminal importance of Smith to avant-garde film, theater and art since the 1960’s and underscores the heroic nature of Smith’s lifestyle and art during a time of political and social repression.

Perf.Form  (A Double-Projection Feature in Three Parts)
Performed by Sandra Gibson + Luis Recoder
Sponsored by Brown College
Tuesday, Feb. 20 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.

“Both individually and in collaboration, Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder are creating some of the most innovative and engaging light works of the present time. I hesitate to say “films”, since their work, though it is grounded in an understanding and application of celluloid, goes beyond a general understanding of what film is, taking into consideration the architecture and circumstances of the performance/viewing situation and the physical and emotional presence of light itself. From the inventive ways that they create images on the film strip to the use of multiple projection that often incorporates live performance, Luis and Sandra are two of the most vital young artists working in the field of ‘expanded cinema.’”– Mark Webber, The Times BFI London Film Festival

No Restraint: Matthew Barney”
Tuesday, March 13 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
Cosponsored with OFFScreen, which is showing Matthew Barney’s “Drawing Restraint 9” on Sunday, March 18 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. in Newcomb Hall Theater

Matthew Barney is a contemporary art superstar whose exhibitions in Europe and the United States have drawn record crowds and whose “Cremaster” cycle took the film world by storm. Director Alison Chernick gives us a rare glimpse at Matthew Barney’s creative process as he plows the waters off the coast of Japan aboard a whaling ship to film his most ambitious project yet, “Drawing Restraint 9,” starring himself and his partner, Björk. Chernick also charts the rise of Matthew in the art world with interviews with Barney, Björk, New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman and gallerist Barbara Gladstone, among many others. Chernick not only gives us a fascinating portrait of a brilliant career but answers a lot of questions about the nature of Barney’s work.

“The High Lonesome Sound” and “Dancing With the Incas”
With guest artist John Cohen
Tuesday, March 20 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.
Cosponsored with the McIntire Department of Art

John Cohen, the photographer (“Young Bob: John Cohen’s Early Photographs of Bob Dylan”) and musician (The New Lost City Ramblers), started to make films in 1962. Filmmaking provided a way to present traditional musicians in their home setting, to reveal the environment in which music happens, and suggest how music functions within its community. Tonight, Cohen will exhibit his first and last films: “The High Lonesome Sound” (1963, 30 min.) explores how the music of church-goers, miners and farmers of eastern Kentucky express the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor; “Dancing with the Incas” (1992, 58 min.) documents the most popular music of the Andes — Huayno music — and explores the lives of three Huayno musicians in a contemporary Peru torn between the military and the Shining Path guerrillas.

Black Maria Film and Video Festival
With John Columbus
Tuesday, April 10 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.

John Columbus returns to Charlottesville for the 13th year with another dazzling selection of short experimental, animation and documentary award winners from this year’s Black Maria Festival.

“Remembering Arthur”
Thursday, April 26 @ The Bridge, 8 p.m. ($4)
Sponsored by the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative

“Remembering Arthur” is an intimate portrait of a visionary collage filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, his body of work and the troubled last years of his life. George Lucas has said: “In terms of understanding the power of sound and picture relationships, there’s no one better than Arthur Lipsett.” The honesty and access of the film is a result of director Martin Lavut’s friendship with Lipsett and those of his inner circle, including National Film Board of Canada producers Colin Low and Donald Brittain.

“Bad Girls”
With David Williams and Keithley Pierce
Tues., May 1 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 7 p.m.

David Williams, Richmond’s most acclaimed independent filmmaker (“Thirteen,” “Lillian”) presents his latest film, a documentary portrait of Richmond artist Keithley Pierce. The film shows Pierce at work in her studio and discussing the personal sources of her art. It also shows her building a surprisingly successful company, Bad Girl Art, with fellow artists Georgia Terry. The company’s rude, funny, feminist products (magnets, bookmarks, flasks, pill boxes and more) have become popular items at boutiques, galleries and gift shops around the world.

“What Remains”
With guest photographer Sally Mann
Sat., June 9 @ Vinegar Hill Theatre, 1 p.m.
Cosponsored with the Festival of the Photo

Photographer Sally Mann, a featured guest of Charlottesville’s new Festival of the Photo (June 7-9), was the subject of filmmaker Steven Cantor’s award-winning 1994 short film, “Blood Ties,” which centered on the series of photographs, “Immediate Family,” that catapulted her to national prominence and controversy. Twelve years later, Cantor has returned with a feature-length film on Mann’s new seminal work, “What Remains,” a photo series revolving around various aspects of death and decay. Shown at home on her farm in Virginia, surrounded by her husband and grown children, Mann talks openly about her artistic process and the personal feelings about life and death that inform her stunning work. 

U.Va. Art Museum’s new Video Gallery
Presented in conjunction with the Virginia Film Society.

The programs run continuously in the gallery during regular museum hours, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

•  “Lights Works” by Luis Recoder and Sandra Gibson, Feb. 20 – March 19
•  John Cohen’s “Q’Eros The Shape of Survival,” March 20 – April 9
•  Selections from the Black Maria Film Festival, April 10 – May 7
•  “Bad Girls: Videos” by Miranda July, Sadie Benning and Cheryl Dunye, May 8 – June 5
•  “Videos by Photographers,” June 6 – July 2