Sunday, April 07, 2013

Luther Price in person at The Nightingale!

Last Sunday, White Light Cinema and The Nightingale presented Resurrections, Rare Super-8 Films and Handmade Slides by Luther Price including his very first film...well, I'm hesitant to even name it because while Resurrections was a retrospective, an evening of cinema more alive to the present could not be imagined.

Two aspects of the program drove home the here and now. Given the fragility of Price's films,  threatening to break or burn due to the vagaries of having been buried under ground, painted on, spliced to all hell, neglected, etc., programmer Patrick Friel rode the projector like a DJ maintaining a continuous beat. At so many turns, you could feel that a film was one frame away from slipping into oblivion which only deepened its intensity. But every flutter was righted by Friel's constant attention. An A+ performance!

And if the projection rendered a film irreparable, Luther Price wouldn't have indulged in any mourning as he implied in a rambling, charming, utterly disarming talk after the screening. From his trepidation about unearthing these films in the first place to his discussion of an injury resulting from a cat bite, everything he said underscored the impermanent nature of his cinema. He confessed that he didn't view himself as a filmmaker and that process was all to him. He just needs to keep at this and will continue to do so even if his arms fall off. The legs and feet will still be there to work with. And when those fall off, he can use his asscheeks to keep it going.

As someone whose archiving tendencies too often prevent a life lived in the present, I found Luther Price's presence before me Easter Sunday inspirational. So for once, I won't catalog the films I was fortunate enough to witness. But does even writing about a Luther Price film betray its significance? If a Criterion collection could even be conceived, would Patrick Friel have to accompany each copy to highlight and/or speed up digital rot?

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