Monday October 19, 7:30pm
“Falling Lessons” and “By Halves”
Two 16mm films by Amy Halpern
Amy Halpern in person! – introduced by Grahame Weinbren

Falling Lessons

Amy Halpern in “Falling Lessons” (Amy Halpern, 1992) – image courtesy of the artist

We are extremely pleased to welcome to the gallery LA-based filmmaker Amy Halpern to present her 1992 influential and rarely screened feature film Falling Lessons followed by the East Coast premiere of her new short film By Halves.

Halpern, who was born and raised in New York City and was a founding member of the Collective for Living Cinema, moved to LA in 1974 where she co-founded the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis, an organization devoted to the presentation of experimental and independent films. The artist, who is currently a member of the classic West Coast light show Single Wing Turquoise Bird, has been an active filmmaker for more than 40 years completing 20 films to date.

Falling Lessons – described by Chick Strand as “the strangest film I’ve ever seen” and by Ornette Coleman as “a healing film…all the people in the film seem naked” – combines an approach reminiscent of structuralist film with the form of a narrative feature, showing a free fall of almost 200 torsos and faces of friends, filmmakers, and acquaintances through repeated upward camera movements. At times the camera detours to include views of the city, animals, and artworks cumulating in an encounter between a rock band and the police. Film historian David James has recognized references in the film to other avant-garde landmarks such as Gregory Markopoulos’ Galaxie, Standish Lawder’s Necrology, and Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

Halpern’s 2012 By Halves uses appropriate footage from rejected 35mm prints that were cut in half and readjusted to be used as spacers for 16mm to sync sound tracks on film, and not meant to be projected.

The night will be introduced by New York based filmmaker and editor of Millennium Film Journal Grahame Weinbren, who was also a co-founder of the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis along with Halpern.

$7 – general admission

$5 – students 29 & under and seniors 65 & over w/ valid ID

AMY HALPERN is a filmmaker who has been working with light, camera and movement for more than 40 years. Born and raised in New York City, Halpern studied and performed in modern dance with Lynda Gudde and Anna Sokolow, worked in the early 1970s in 3-D shadow-play with Ken & Flo Jacobs’ New York “Apparition Theatre” and in 1973 she was one of the founders of New York City’s “Collective For Living Cinema”. Halpern moved to Los Angeles in 1974, where she completed a graduate degree in film at UCLA. She has worked on many Hollywood and independent feature films as gaffer and/or cinematographer, including Charles Burnett’s My Brother’s Wedding, Pat O’Neill’s Decay of Fiction and David Lebrun’s Breaking the Maya Code. Halpern also appears in several of Chick Strand’s films, such as Soft FictionKrystalnachtCartoon Le Moose, and Fever Dream. In 1975 she was one of the founders of the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis, devoted to the presentation of avant-garde film work, and she is currently member of the classic West Coast light show Single Wing Turquoise Bird, founded in LA in 1968. Amy Halpern lives and works in LA.


Falling Lessons
16mm film, color, sound, 1992, 64 minutes
Musicians: Sam Claiborne, Marilyn Donadt, Tony Dumas, David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, Billy Higgins, Tito Lariva, Toni Marcus, Chalo Quintana, Lakshmi Shankar, Sandman Sims, and others. Mix: Richard Portman. Camera, editing, music and sound design: Amy Halpern. With: Shirley Clarke, Pat O’Neill, Michael Snow, Chick Strand, among others.

“Amy Halpern’s 64-minute Falling Lessons is a stunningly sensual, life-affirming experience from a major experimental film artist that is open to myriad meanings. The film is a rhythmic montage of almost 200 faces, human and animals, that Halpern pans vertically, creating a cascade of visages suggesting that while individuals express a range of emotions they remain ultimately enigmas.

The glimpses of life going on around all these faces have an unsettling, even apocalyptic quality, and the film forces you to consider living beings and their value collectively rather than selectively. Halpern’s rich, inspired mix of sounds, words and music complements her images perfectly.”- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

By Halves
16mm film, color, silent, 2012, 7 minutes

“This silent film is derived from material found in pic fill made for sound editing. Pic fill is an industrial product made from rejected 35 mm film prints. For 16mm use the prints have been split, re-perforated and sold in bulk reels as spacer for sync film tracks. The films often have huge scratches deliberately made down their whole length to make sure that they will not be projected. The movement of the performer is slowed because a halved 35mm film, perforated to 16mm, has twice the number of frames per shot, i.e. is twice as long when projected at speed. One sees first the top and then the bottom of each frame in quick succession. Surprises result.”- AH

By Halves

Still from “By Halves” (Amy Halpern, 2012) – image courtesy of the artist

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