Focus Group: Screening Room featuring Suzan Pitt

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 7:00pm9:00pm

Art Building, Room 1.102

Free and Open to the Public

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Still from Screening Room with Suzan Pitt, 1975

Focus Group is a screening series centered on experimental film in its various formats, including but not limited to 16mm, 8mm, and digital video. Focusing on seminal filmmakers from the past and their contemporary counterparts, the screenings are introduced by artists, filmmakers, critics, and curators who additionally present discussion topics ranging from innovative approaches to the medium to issues in contemporary film culture. Through this exposure to unique and often rare films, as well as the critical dialogue surrounding them, Focus Group enables a broader understanding of the possibilities of cinema.

Screening Room, a 1970s television series that aired in Boston, invited independent filmmakers to screen and discuss their work on a commercial affiliate station (ABC-TV). The unique program, developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, gave equal exposure to animation, documentary, and experimental film by artists such as Jean Rouch, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton, Yvonne Rainer, and Michael Snow. Each episode featured conversations with filmmakers about their work, as well as excerpts, and often full-length films. The filmmakers that were presented on the show are now considered among the most influential contributors to their respective genres. Produced and released by Studio7Arts, an organization founded by Robert Gardner to support nonfiction media, the rarely seen Screening Room episodes are still invaluable today to creative thinkers, regardless of what medium they work in.

This spring, as part of the newly branded series, Focus Group, the VAC presents a different episode of Screening Room each month, providing a wide range of anecdotes, explanations, and methodologies from pioneers in film. Videos and films hand-picked by members of Experimental Response Cinema precede each screening. 

For March’s edition, the VAC presents the July 1975 episode of Screening Room with Suzan Pitt. An animator and painter whose surreal films have gained her worldwide acclaim, Pitt pushes the boundaries of the animated form, sometimes working with live actors or using animation in operatic stagings. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York, and the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam, and she currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. In this episode of Screening Room, Pitt screens and discusses the films Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game, Crocus, Cels, Whitney Promo, and Jefferson Circus Songs. Preceding the episode, Experimental Response Cinema representative Rachel Stuckey will do a presentation on women animators and showcase films by Janie Geiser, Daina Krumins and Gunvor Nelson. All films will be on 16mm. For further program information, visit ERC's website.

Rachel Stuckey is a moving image artist and native Austinite who works primarily with video, film, and across media in live-action and animation to make exploratory, non-narrative films. She holds a BFA in Experimental Filmmaking from the University of Colorado at Boulder and will begin her graduate studies in Transmedia at The University of Texas this fall.

Special thanks to The University of Texas at Austin Fine Arts Library and its staff for supporting the educational mission of the Visual Arts Center through acquisitions of works like Screening Room

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Experimental Response Cinema is an Austin-based collective of avant-garde film and video artists, devoted to bringing local, national, and international experimental films to Austin screens. They strive to show all media (16mm and 8mm film, digital video, and others) in its original format, under the best possible screening conditions.