Mad Stork Cinema is excited to present an evening of films by Mark LaPore, along with pieces by Phil Solomon and Michelangelo Antonioni! “Mark LaPore was an experimental ethnographic filmmaker who made several films in the Sudan, India and Sri Lanka, as well as various parts of the U.S. over a period of nearly thirty years. A dedicated iconoclast and personal artist, LaPore strove to document and portray the cultures with which he connected in ways that were true to his experiences as a traveler as well as being honest reflections of people and scenes that he was witnessing. LaPore worked against conventions of ethnographic narrative, using cinema at its most fundamental level as an objective tool that could also be harnessed for personal response and expression. He was also an influential teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art, and many of his students have gone on to become significant filmmakers in their own right. LaPore’s tragic and premature death on October 11, 2005, robbed American independent cinema of one of its most original and dedicated talents.” (Steve Anker)
Netezza Urbana: N.U. by Michelangelo Antonioni
9min / 16mm / sound / 1948
Antonioni’s second film, an essay on Roman Street sweepers, much of it photographed at dawn and dusk, using the visual methods that appear in his later feature films. From the narration: Apparently we don’t care who these sweepers are or how they live, these quiet and humble workers who no one deems worthy of a word or even a stare. Street sweepers are a apart of the city to the same degree as inanimate objects. And yet, no one more than they takes part in the life of the city — Robert A. Haller
Crossroad by Phil Solomon (with Mark LaPore)
5min / digital video / sound / 2005
Prelude to In Memoriam, Mark LaPore, a series of videos made from the imagery from the video game Grand Theft Auto. “Mark and I made this film for our friend David Gatten, as a prayer, an offering, a “get well soon” card… for all three of us. It was made on the last night that I saw Mark, my best friend of 32 years.”– Phil Solomon
The Sleepers by Mark LaPore
16min / 16mm / sound / 1989
Memory, as well as the residue of information in text and film from Sudan, led me to make THE SLEEPERS in order to resolve the impression that the third world is present in the first world as an idea and a condition. THE SLEEPERS is a film about how notions of culture are often defined by information received indirectly – information that frequently violates the particulars of people and place and makes questionable one’s ability to portray specific individuals as representatives of culture. THE SLEEPERS concludes with a description of an African girl cleaning up after a meal being read over the image of a red storefront in New York’s Chinatown. Time and space contradict, then collapse to suggest a new third world city; a city of the imagination, where rural Sudan, China and Manhattan exist simultaneously.
A Depression in the Bay of Bengal by Mark LaPore
28min / 16mm / sound / 1996
A DEPRESSION IN THE BAY OF BENGAL is a 28-minute color film shot while on a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to Sri Lanka in 1993-1994. I went to Sri Lanka with the idea that I would remake Basil Wright’s and John Grierson’s 1934 documentary Song of Ceylon. After spending three months there I realized just how impossible that would be. Wright’s film was formally innovative and visually brilliant but his experience was not to be revisited. Each of the places he filmed still exist, but thirteen years of ethnic war have colored the way in which those places can be portrayed. I have made a film about travelling and living in a distant place which looks at aspects of daily life and where the war shadows the quotidian with a dark and rumbling step.
This film is both diaristic and metaphorical, both on account of my observations of everyday life as well as an indirect record of the war and of the tense atmosphere which permeates life there. The overwhelming sensation in the film is that of both physical and metaphorical distance: the distance between the traveler and Sri Lankans, the miles traveled as indicated by the persistent sound of trains, the distance between the camera and the subject, time as distance as evoked both by the historical footage and the notion of trains as a nineteenth century mode of transport, and by the black leader at the close of the film over which an article about an explosion in Sri Lanka is read. Past experience, whether local or far away, exists only in the mind and for the duration of the last three minutes of the film, mental images are the ones that play on the screen.
Exhibition: Between Heaven and Earth, SF Cinematheque, 1994*; Conspiracies, NY, 1994*; Context, NY, 1996*; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, 1996; Cineprobe, Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1996; SF Cinematheque, 1997; University of Colorado, Boulder, 1997.
The Glass System by Mark LaPore
20min / 16mm / sound / 2000
THE GLASS SYSTEM, made from images shot in New York and Calcutta, looks at life as it is played out in the streets. Every corner turned reveals activities both simple and unfamiliar: a knife sharpener on a bicycle; a tiny tightrope walker; a man selling watches in front of a department store on Fifth Avenue; a hauntingly slow portrait of the darting eyes of schoolgirls on their way home; the uncompleted activities of a young contortionist. The sound in the film (which is from a Bengali primer written by British missionaries) is a meditation on how the English language teaches ideas about culture which are often incongruous. The disjunction between what you hear and what you see evokes reflections about the impact of globalization and the hegemony of Western-style capitalism.