Between Two Cinemas: American Avant-Garde. Part 1

The programme entitled Between Two Cinemas revolves around the same-name essay film by Ross Lipman, a filmmaker and archivist from the United States. He reflects his thirty-year tortuous path through the endless space between two traditions: European art film and American avant-garde cinema.
This two-part autobiographical collage includes Lipman's restored experimental films of the past years and, as a result, features an experience of a kind of self-archiving. At the same time, it contains many references to films that influenced his creative style, and unique archival material, which tells, for instance, about the quarrel between Brakhage and Tarkovsky. This year we have decided to focus only on one of the poles designated by Lipman — the North American one: each part of his digital video essay will be preceded by a short retrospective of Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow and Bruce Baillie's classic films on 16 mm. But the binary logic of the programme, thus, will be reflected in another dimension — the technological one: in the space between digital and analogue cinema.

Between Two Cinemas. Part one

USA | 2018 | 51 min
Ross Lipman
Russian Premiere
Each film of the retrospective is somehow connected to the Ross Lipman's introspection. He talks in the first part of his autobiography about his acquaintance with the history of experimental cinema, and how the European avant-garde of the 20s was revived in post-war America. He talks about the influence of Maya Deren, whose film Meshes of the Afternoon marked the beginning of the original genre of psychodrama, or trance-film. Stan Brakhage's early films, such as The Way to Shadow Garden, were created in the same style. It is characterised by the attempts of the authorial reflection through the use of mythical themes and images; as well as the positioning of the author's figure into the centre of the elliptical narrative. Other distinctive features of many American avant-garde films that had an impact on Lipman were extreme intimacy in relation to the subject matter, naturalism, and challenging social and cultural taboos. An example of such a movie is Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving, depicting the birth of the director's first child. Nevertheless, it was the form of the film with which avant-garde filmmakers conducted their most significant experiments, sometimes forgoing the sound or even the shooting process itself, as in the case of Mothlight.

Meshes of the Afternoon

USA | 1943 | 15 min | 16mm
Maya Deren
Meshes of the Afternoon's dream-like mise-en-scne, illogical narrative trajectory, fluid movement and ambient soundtrack invite a type of contemplative, perhaps even transcendental, involvement for the spectator. The film is constructed from a myriad of eyeline matches and mismatches. The use of extreme angles to imply one character looking down on the dreamer, a type of spider's point of view, foreshadows the dreamer's death.

The Way to Shadow Garden

USA | 1954 | 11 min | 16mm
Stan Brakhage
Russian Premiere
«Experimental sound by Brakhage. Blinding himself, a young man escapes his frightening room to enter the even more terrifying beauty of shadow garden. '… creates a tormented claustrophobic world… this wild study of a tortured youth has astonishing moments of brilliance.» – Film No 12.

Window Water Baby Moving

USA | 1959 | 12 min | 16mm
Stan Brakhage
Russian Premiere
«Brakhage's treatment of the birth of his daughter. Here he unleashes the full power of his technique, so apt to become abstractly unintelligible when left to his own devices, on a specific subject. The result is a picture so forthright, so full of primitive wonder and love, so far beyond civilisation in its acceptance that it becomes an experience like few in the history of the movies.» – Archer Winston, NY Post.


USA | 1963 | 3 min | 16mm
Stan Brakhage
Russian Premiere
"Brakhage made Mothlight without a camera. He just pasted mothwings and flowers on a clear strip of film and ran it through the printing machine." – Jonas Mekas.

Ross Lipman

Ross Lipman (b. 1963) is an independent filmmaker, essayist, and archivist. Formerly Senior Film Restorationist at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, his many restorations include Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep, Kent Mackenzie's The Exiles, the Academy Award- winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, and works by Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Shirley Clarke, Kenneth Anger, Barbara Loden, Robert Altman, Bruce Conner and John Cassavetes. He is a three-time winner of the National Society of Film Critics' Heritage Award, and a 2008 recipient of Anthology Film Archives' Preservation Honors. Lipman's films have screened internationally and been collected by museums and institutions including the Oberhausen Kurzfilm Archive, Budapest's Balazs Bela Studios, Munich's Sammlung Goetz, The Academy Film Archive, Anthology Film Archives, and Northeast Historic Film. Lipman's writings on film history, technology, and aesthetics have been published in Artforum, Sight and Sound, and numerous academic books and journals. His documentary feature, Notfilm, premiered at the London International Film Festival in 2015 and was named one of the 10 best films of the year in numerous publications.
July 11
Buy Ticket