A seminal figure in the world of underground cinema, George Kuchar (1942-2011) made literally hundreds of hysterically heartfelt, ingenious, inventive, and impossible-to-pigeonhole works that continue to astound new audiences and create instant fans.
Kuchar’s hyper-dramatic films — passionate, overwrought, lush, garish and hilarious — inspired a generation of filmmakers, including David Lynch, Guy Maddin, John Waters and countless avant gardists.
Join us as Experimental Response Cinema pays tribute to Kuchar, who died one year ago this month, with a screening of three of his most hyperbolic and inventive 16mm films from three decades:
Hold Me While I’m Naked (1966), a mock autobiographical portrait of an underground filmmaker who directs all manner of erotic action but gets none himself;
I, An Actress (1977), one of Kuchar’s early San Francisco Art Institute class-made films featuring Kuchar himself as a fawning diva; and
Cattle Mutilations (1983), where “four people face a growing sense of panic and uncleanliness” against the background of a grisly mystery.
Plus, a rare screening of one of Kuchar’s last videos, Jamboree Journey (2009), partially shot in Austin!
George Kuchar and his twin brother Mike started making quasi-Hollywood 8mm films in the 1950s with titles such as The Wet Destruction of the Atlantic Empire (1954), The Naked and the Nude (1957), I Was a Teenaged Rumpot (1960) and Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof (1961). In the mid-1960s George separately began working in 16mm film and continued with a prolific career, including Pagan Rhapsody, Reason to Live, Unstrap Me, Color Me Shameless and his 1973 masterwork feature Devil’s Cleavage. In the 1980s he began working first in 8mm video – pioneering a new type of in-camera editing in the pre-digital era – and on into Hi-8, mini-DV and Digital 8 through the late 2000s, where he continued to use cheesy cinematic techniques to tell visually saturated tales and charming bios of friends and acquaintances, often narrated in his thick Bronx accent.
“No underground filmmaker ever used the film-language of Hollywood more knowingly or to more uproarious effect. His influence is pervasive. Not just John Waters and the punk and transgressive super-8 filmmakers of the 1980s, but more commercial types like Greg Araki and the Farrelly brothers and all purveyors of gross-out comedy followed the trail that George and Mike blazed. Few, however, could match their essential sweetness. Though it piled outrage on outrage, George Kuchar’s work maintained the obstreperous innocence of an unhousebroken pup.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice