The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Peter Kubelka Day


‘A cold sort of ecstasy—that’s what he says his films are supposed to trigger. And they do. Anyone who’s ever seen the disturbingly immaculate works of Peter Kubelka in a theatrical setting will agree. In fact, that’s the only way you can see his films since there are no digital copies available, apart from those pirated YouTube clips, which don’t give you the faintest idea what Kubelka’s art is really about.

‘Now, at 78, Kubelka is about to conclude his cinematic career with a multi-faceted international project that’s ambitious even by his standards. A new work called Antiphon forms the center of this adventure. It comes as a surprise: the film, to be released this fall, will be only the eighth entry in the Kubelka filmography—all of them short but highly condensed. In almost six decades he has produced little more than an hour of cinema in total. He brought the bulk of his oeuvre into existence between 1955 and 1966. After that, filmmaking became a matter of decades: the body-art-farce Pause! (77) was unveiled 11 years after Unsere Afrikareise (66); and a full 26 years passed between Pause! and the found-footage-fantasy Poetry and Truth (03), a sarcastic study of TV-commercial banality. Kubelka has taken another nine years to generate Antiphon, which revisits the roots of his own creative history, harking back to one of the pillars of modernist cinema, Arnulf Rainer (60). That stroboscopic film reinvented the medium as sense-attacking, storyless, color- and image-free structuralism, pushing abstraction and minimalism into a paradoxically concrete maximalism. Arnulf Rainer essentially constitutes a rhythmical modulation of the four basic elements of cinema—light and darkness, sound and silence. For six minutes and 24 seconds the film, made out of transparent and black 35mm frames, deafening white noise and the relative silence of the untouched optical soundtrack, shreds the viewer’s nerves—dazzling, roaring, darkening, and hushing in ever-changing metrical variations.

‘The genesis of this drastic little film dates back to late 1958. Kubelka—a judoka, musician, and graduate of the Vienna and Rome film academies—had just invented his metrical cinema by releasing two frantic, radically compressed works, the 90-second Adebar (57) and the 60-second Schwechater (58). Both films were advertising commissions, for a Viennese nightclub and an Austrian beer brand respectively. Using hypnotic loops and syncopated variations in movement, both films proved too formally advanced for their baffled sponsors: Adebar presented rigorous repetitions of a dance scene in silhouette in rapid positive-negative alternations set to a fragment of ancient music from central Africa; the staccato images of Schwechater demonstrated how figurative film, abstract art, and material science could be conjoined. Kubelka rewrote cinema, enumerating all the possibilities of complicating audiovisual rhythms; he created prototypes for films made out of motion and stasis, synchronicity and arrythmia. His clients reacted with indignation for wasting their money, and the rest of the slow-burning art scene in late-Fifties Vienna had no idea what hit them when the lights went up.

‘Ridiculed and insulted, Kubelka quit Vienna, an impoverished 24-year-old artist, and moved to Stockholm where he continued working on his metrical trilogy by typing the black-and-white blueprint of Arnulf Rainer onto thin strips of paper that stood in for the film stock he couldn’t yet afford. Then and there he dreamed up the revolutionary film, hearing and seeing it in his head. In 1959 he came up with its title, an homage to his friend and sponsor, the painter Arnulf Rainer. When the film had its premiere in Vienna in May 1960, the 300-seat theater was packed. Six-and-a-half minutes later only a dozen people were left. “I lost most of my friends because of Arnulf Rainer,” Kubelka recalls.

‘But he never forgot the film’s profound impact—and three years ago he decided to produce a polar-opposite version of it. “I do not want to use digital imagery, which is always ‘enhanced,’ so that you have no choice but to contribute to a worldview in which everything glitters like a commercial. I want to conclude my life’s work with a monument to film.” And so Antiphon was born: all of Arnulf Rainer’s black frames would become white, and its white ones black; all its sections of sound would become silent, and in all its previously silent passages there would be noise.

‘“Antiphon” is a term used in church music to signify the response, the counter- chant, in a choral piece. It’s an appropriate title for a film that will mirror an older one, and it ties in nicely with Kubelka’s idea of cinema as an alternative form of liturgy. “In fact, the antiphon is older than human life,” Kubelka remarks. “Birds, frogs, and cicadas have been communicating that way for millions of years. And it’s also in our every-day communication, in our greeting verbiage, for example, in the repetition of ‘How do you do?’”

‘Something monumental this way comes: Antiphon is part of a larger work called Monument Film, which will be presented in two ways—as a double projection of Antiphon and Arnulf Rainer (side by side as well as superimposed) and as an installation, a sculptural exhibition of the film material. Kubelka considers this endeavor to be a culmination—the finale to his cinematic labors, going out in an appropriately Dionysian way.

‘Ever since word got out a few months ago that Kubelka was working on a new film, high-profile art and cinema institutions around the world have shown a keen interest in presenting Antiphon and Monument Film. It’s not just Antiphon and Arnulf Rainer and the installation that will be on display—Martina Kudlácek’s Fragments of Kubelka, a remarkable new four-hour documentary on the master’s life and visions, will also be exhibited. New York, Kubelka’s adoptive hometown in the Sixties, will be the first place to show the new work. There will in all likelihood also be a theatrical release of Kudlácek’s film at Anthology Film Archives where in 1970 Kubelka installed his Invisible Cinema theater, which today resides in the Austrian Film Museum.

‘Kubelka’s highly distinctive film art is strictly handmade. He no longer needs a camera, or even an editing table. At his home, a spacious old apartment in Vienna’s Innere Stadt (Inner City) crammed with thousands of ethnographic artifacts illustrating his etymology of objects—tiny sculptures, primitive musical instruments, work tools dating back to the early Stone Age—Kubelka explains his artistic formation: “The material itself taught me how to make films.” He’s sitting at his wooden kitchen table, tackling the 35mm film strips with scissors and glue, as if modern film technology had finally lost all its power, and the art of cinema had returned to the way Georges Méliès created his wondrous films. Kubelka proceeds image by image, patiently splicing together clusters of black or transparent frames, providing them with contrapuntal soundtracks of noise or silence, following his score with minute precision. Arnulf Rainer and Antiphon each consist of precisely 9,216 frames. Kubelka has to touch every single one of them. He doesn’t handle the material especially gently, but then he doesn’t have to: film is strong and withstands rough treatment. And in any case, Kubelka loves the traces that time and life leave on film, which ages and changes with each pass through the projector.

‘Not surprisingly, the filmmaker disapproves of the compromised way films are usually shown in theaters. To bring film to life, he says, “you need a setting that allows for total immersion”: no lights other than the screen itself and no plush interiors. And of course, only original versions: “In order to understand a film, even if it contains foreign-language dialogue, you can’t have subtitles. Ever.” Kubelka explains, without a trace of irony: “You can destroy a film in several ways: cut it up, burn it—or subtitle it.” In his ongoing crusade for the correct appreciation of the medium, Kubelka is a veritable film fundamentalist—one of the last of his kind.

‘Jonas Mekas has described Kubelka’s films as “crystalline”—as perfect as elemental matter. In fact, Kubelka sees nature and art as inseparable—as both biological and cosmic. In analog cinema that is based on the rapid alternation of light and dark “you have the break of dawn and nightfall 24 times in each second.” Kubelka follows the principle of maximum reduction, but he wholeheart-edly rejects terms like “experimental” or “avant-garde,” and insists he’s simply making “normal” films. “I never wanted to be radical, only consistent, like a scientist working toward his results. I am not intentionally radical.” Kubelka likes to compare film frames with musical notes; by composing images in series of 16, eight, six, and four he achieves regular harmonic rhythms that spectators can feel in their bones. “The atomos in Greek is the smallest unit, the indivisible—and cinema’s atomos is the single frame. My personal splitting the atom has been to perceive film not as motion but as a quick succession of static units. Arnulf Rainer developed out of a longing for the ‘now’-experience. The ecstasy it induces is the result of concentrating those now-moments.” Cycles and repetitions, he maintains, are the key to our existence. “Time doesn’t exist: we create it by breathing, walking, making love. As a filmmaker if you wish to create your own time, you need tools and machines: the film strip, scissors, and a projector.”

‘There’s an almost religious dimension to Kubelka’s devotion to film. Announcing his new project recently, he wrote: “Ad maiorem pelliculae gloriam in the year of death and resurrection.” In this formulation, cinema’s thin surface becomes God’s stand-in, alone in deserving greater honor. But Kubelka is also able to put things into words that are a little less exalted: his statement ends with a sarcastic declaration of intent to “fly in the face of the digital.” Because times are hard for analog film, Kubelka proclaims that “2012 is film history’s darkest year. The hostile takeover by digital imagery is finally complete. Even though everybody knows how short-lived digital archiving is. But short-term profit is more important. European film companies have even begun to force exhibitors to destroy their old projectors; in order to get digital projection equipment, they have to show proof that they have destroyed the old machinery. The industry wants to kill off the old medium, by any means. I see my Monument Film as a call for patient defiance.”

‘Kubelka’s decision never to make his films available in digital form is set in stone, by the way. He considers analog cinema simply untransferable. Just for the record, he stresses that he’s in no way averse to digital technology; he owns and uses all sorts of electronic devices from a notebook computer to an iPad, which he lovingly refers to as “my portable memory.” It’s just that when it comes to cinema, Kubelka says, the new medium cannot cope—or compete. “Here’s the digital dilemma: all those so-called eternal numbers [in data] still have to reside in matter, in machines. And those machines are short-lived—more so than ever, in fact. Now even Hollywood has started to preserve its productions on film again. There is a hard core to the photographic art that activates ideas and thoughts that no other medium can even remotely touch.”

‘So there is hope, Kubelka concludes with a characteristically dialectical turnaround toward pure optimism: “There is a new global avant-garde working exclusively with photographic film, there is a growing international lab movement backed by thousands of young film artists. The phoenix will rise from the ashes. I do not doubt that in the least.”’ — Stefan Grissemann, Film Comment





Peter Kubelka @ IMDb
‘The materiality of film: Peter Kubelka’
‘A Trip Through Peter Kubelka’s “Unsere Afrikareise”‘
‘I Built Then My Ecstasy: On Peter Kubelka’s Cinema’
‘Fragments Of Kubelka’
‘Cinema: “Food” for Thought’
PK interviewed @ Electric Sheep
Video: ‘Peter Kubelka and his iPad’, by Jonas Mekas
‘”In die Avantgarde ausgestoßen”‘
‘Inside Celluloid: Peter Kubelka at the Biennale’
‘Modernism’s mirror : Peter Kubelka, painting, and European avant-garde film’
‘Dystopian Ethnography: Peter Kubelka’s Unsere Afrikareise Revisited’
‘Sticking to the essentials: Peter Kubelka’
‘Cinema as Artifact and Event: Peter Kubelka as Curator, Archivist, and Media Theorist’
‘Kubelka & Mekas: master chef and godfather’



Peter Kubelka: Metaphoric Cinema

Peter Kubelka at Drawing Room, Saturday June 16, 2012

HfbK Symposium “Warum gestalten?” – Peter Kubelka

Masterclass Peter Kubelka

Peter Kubelka (1983) by Gérard Courant




Pamela Jahn: You once said that you’ve lost most of your friends because of your film Arnulf Rainer.

Peter Kubelka: To be honest, I love it when people enjoy my work, but I don’t really care if they leave the cinema. I never really had a relationship with the public. I work for myself. I strongly believe that if I do the best I can, according to my standards, then other people will understand my work. If some people leave when they see my films, whether it is Arnulf Rainer or Antiphon or Monument Film, that really gives me pleasure. It proves that they can provoke a reaction, unlike so-called “art” which has turned into something close to social entertainment, where people will accept anything. My intention when making films is not to entertain, I’m like a scientist who does his research. I made Arnulf Rainer without having a precise idea of what it would look like on the screen, because I couldn’t project it or look at it on an editing table. I was very poor back then and as with almost everything, when you are poor, you are more courageous because you have nothing to lose.

PJ: Your first films Adebar (1957) and Schwechater (1958) were originally commercial films that your clients – a Viennese bar and a brewery – rejected.

PK: I consider my position towards commercial cinema as that of a parasite. Again, it’s a very similar position to that of a scientist or explorer: in order to get where you want to be, you need to have some sort of a relationship with those who pay for the medium. The only way I thought I could do this was to become a criminal – I stole all my films. I accepted commissions, but then didn’t really execute them in the way that those who paid for them had anticipated. What gave me the moral assurance that I was right, was to believe that I gave them something much better than what they really wanted.

PJ: Were you sued by the brewery, Schwechater?

PK: Yes, I was sued and I had to leave the country. I went to Sweden and worked as a dish washer and God knows what else. It was the only way for me to survive. Schwechater was very influential, so I couldn’t stay and work in Vienna. Even the film lab would no longer do prints for me because Schwechater was their client. All in all I paid very dearly for my films, because I lost all my friends, I lost my social and work environment many times. I lived about 14 years of my life without a clue how to survive until I came to America and started teaching.

PJ: You have become a very well-respected lecturer around the world. What do you teach about filmmaking based on your own experience?

PK: What I do in my lectures is to try to help people to find a non-verbal entry into my work by leading them into my thinking. It’s practically impossible to translate the content of films like mine into another medium like language. For instance no one is able to fully explain a piece of music to people who haven’t heard it. For me, speaking is just another medium I use. So, in essence, my lectures are “talks”, which I have pleasure in exercising.

PJ: What was your main intention when making Arnulf Rainer and, subsequently, Antiphon?

PK: Arnulf Rainer is the logical consequence of my previous film travels, so to speak. It’s like when Schönberg started 12-tone music: he didn’t invent it as people always say, rather it was a logical consequence of musical history up to that moment. In the same way, Arnulf Rainer uses the most simple and essential elements that constitute the medium of cinema, namely light and the absence of light, sound and the absence of sound. These four elements are the bare essence of cinema, you cannot go beyond that. In a way you could say with Arnulf Rainer the pole of the cinematic universe has been reached, the point of its most simple form of existence. But it might not be as clear when you look at the film alone. Its counterpart, Antiphon, which I have now made, completes the work in that way. It’s comparable to the philosophy of yin and yang in that both films complement each other to create a whole. This is what I was trying to achieve with Monument Film.

PJ: Did you always intend to make Monument Film after Arnulf Rainer?

PK: The idea was already there in the very beginning, but it was an economic question at the time. All my metric films are only prototypes, where I realise only one phase that defines that kind of cinema. In Adebar, I already had the thought that light and darkness should be equal. I achieved this by showing all the elements in positive and negative for the same amount of time, so by the end of the film the screen has received the same amount of light in all its parts. This was my first metric film, an idea that I then followed up with Monument Film.

PJ: Can you expand on the role of symmetry in your work?

PK: We are celebrating symmetry every second of our life. We also have this concept of completion. The Asians show this phenomenon in yin and yang. Yin is a form, and yang completes it into a circle. In music it is the syncopation. When you project Antiphon after Arnulf Rainer, after some time into Antiphon, you start thinking of Arnulf Rainer; you start feeling that Antiphon is very intimate with Arnulf Rainer. If you project them both side by side – at the same time – you will always have one side dark and the other side light. So, in a way, there is light all the time in each film. In Monument Film, they are projected one on top of the other, and theoretically, there will be a continuous white light. But in practice it’s not, because in analogue cinema there aren’t two projectors alike, nor two sound speakers, so in its imperfection it expresses the materiality of the medium. With Monument Film, I wanted to create a memorial to cinema that explains the materiality of film.

PJ: You once said that you can destroy a film in several ways: cut it up, burn it – or subtitle it.

PK: Subtitling films is somewhat a poisoned medicine. The subtitles become the strongest visual element that appears on the screen and the film becomes a vague optical event in the background which you have to disregard in order to read the subtitles. In my view, subtitling a bad film doesn’t destroy much. But with a good film, everything on the screen is important and you have to use all your attention to concentrate on what you see and hear without getting distracted by the subtitles.

Of course when I watch Japanese or Chinese films without subtitles, I lose something, but on the other hand, I see the film. When you travel to China and you go to a restaurant and you look at the Chinese people sitting there, talking and eating, they don’t have subtitles. This is what life is. You lose something if you don’t understand the language, but you have a real message from another culture. I remember the first film I saw by Carl Theodore Dreyer was without subtitles, and I could not speak a word of Danish, so I decided I had to learn Danish in order to understand the film.

PJ: In 1964, you founded the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna together with Peter Konlechner. What kind of films did you want to collect and show?

PK: I was always in favour of those films which broadened human consciousness. This part of film history is not written by the industry, of course. Mainstream feature films today are exactly as they were in the 1930s, they are an imitation of 19th century melodrama. Actors, story, dialogue… and in the background music which is mood-making and tells you what to feel. This is so boring. That is the political side – or the economic side – of filmmaking, but it is not what film has achieved. It is the same in literature; James Joyce’s Ulysses was a bestseller, and it changed human thinking. There are also such works in cinema and these are the films I wanted to present in Vienna.

PJ: When you came to New York in the late 1960s you soon became friends with Jonas Mekas and got involved in the foundation of the Anthology Film Archives…

PK: Yes, Jonas and I became friends, because we lived in a similar situation. We were oppressed by Hollywood and the unions. In the middle of all this there was France, with the flourishing Nouvelle Vague, which we both despised because it is a bastard cinema: it pretends to be free, but in reality it is commercial. These filmmakers were brought up by liberal producers and distributors, who said, “Well Mr Godard, if you express those ideas, I don’t care, but let’s make it ninety minutes, let’s have a nice girl in the lead, and let’s have an exemplary, palatable form for the public.” So it is a tamed dog whose leash is a little longer than others.

PJ: You also designed Anthology’s screening space based on your concept of the “Invisible Cinema”.

PK: For me, the idea of a cinema is a machine, not a place of entertainment. It’s a machine that aims to bring the work of the author to the public with the fewest disturbances. The ideal cinema would be a black space in which you don’t even feel that there is a space. You should only feel that it’s black, and the only element of reference would be the screen and what happens on the screen.

PJ: Are you resigned to digital technology taking over cinema?

PK: Personally, I have vowed not to transfer my films to digital. But it is frustrating, as many people cannot see my films because the institutions have abandoned analogue projection. Many film archives should concentrate on preserving film reels but most believe that they have to preserve the content over the material.

When photography came, people thought painting would end. When film came, people thought theatre would end. Certain things are just not the most advanced medium any more, but they still go on. You only have to understand that cinema has a core, which cannot be supplanted by another medium; if you understand that cinema can do things that no other medium can, then it cannot be abandoned.

PJ: Do you want to make more films?

PK: I think Monument Film is the completion of what I wanted to achieve with the medium, I have no wish to go further than that. As I have said, I feel more like a scientist or an explorer than an entertainer; as an entertainer I could think of variations… but I have never entertained with my films. With Monument Film I feel this is a very complete and solid result. This is it.


6 of Peter Kubelka’s 9 films

Adebar (1957)
‘Kubelka’s achievement is that he has taken Soviet montage one step further. While Eisenstein used shots as his basic units and edited them together in a pattern to make meanings, Kubelka has gone back to the individual still frame as the essence of cinema. The fact that a projected film consists of 24 still images per second serves as the basis for his art. This idea has different materializations in different Kubelka films. In Adebar, only certain shot lengths are used — 13, 26 and 52 frames — and the image material in the film is combined according to certain rules. For instance, there is a consistent alternation between positive and negative. The film’s images are extremely high contrast black-and-white shots of dancing figures; the images are stripped down to their black-and-white essentials so that they can be used in an almost terrifyingly precise construct of image, motion, and repeated sound.’ — Fred Camper


Schwechater (1958)
‘In 1957, Peter Kubelka was hired to make a short commercial for Scwechater beer. The beer company undoubtedly thought they were commissioning a film that would help them sell their beers; Kubelka had other ideas. He shot his film with a camera that did not even have a viewer, simply pointing it in the general direction of the action. He then took many months to edit his footage, while the company fumed and demanded a finished product. Finally he submitted a film, 90 seconds long, that featured extremely rapid cutting (cutting at the limits of most viewers’ perception) between images washed out almost to the point of abstraction — in black-and-white positive and negative and with red tint — of dimly visible people drinking beer and of the froth of beer seen in a fully abstract pattern. This ‘commercial’ may not have sold any beer in the twenty years since it was made, but I (as someone who hates beer) have vowed that if I’m ever in Austria I’ll drink some Swechater, in tribute to what I consider one of the most intense, most pure, and most perfect minutes of cinema anyone has ever achieved.’ — Fred Camper


Arnulf Rainer (1960)
Arnulf Rainer’s images are the most ´reducedª of all — this is a film composed entirely of frames of solid black and solid white which Kubelka strings together in lengths as long as 24 seconds and as short as a single frame. When he alternates between single black and white frames, a rapid flicker effect is produced, which is as close as Kubelka can come to the somewhat more rapid flicker of motion-picture projection; during the long sections of darkness one waits in nervous anticipation for the flicker to return, without knowing precisely which form it will take. But Arnulf Rainer is not merely a study of film rhythm and flicker. In reducing the cinema to its essentials, Kubelka has not stripped it of meaning, but rather made an object which has qualities so general as to suggest a variety of possible meanings, each touching on some essential aspect of existence.’ — Fred Camper


Unsere Afrikareise (1966)
‘Kubelka’s most recent film before Pause! is Unsere Afrikareise, whose images are relatively conventional ´recordsª of a hunting-trip in Africa. The shooting records multiple ´systemsª — white hunters, natives, animals, natural objects, buildings — in a manner that preserves the individuality of each. At the same time, the editing of sound and image brings these systems into comparison and collision, producing a complex of multiple meanings, statements, ironies… I know of no other cinema like this. The ultimate precision, even fixity, that Kubelka’s films achieve frees them to become objects that have some of the complexity of nature itself — but they are films of a nature refined and defined, remade into a series of relationships. Those rare and miraculous moments in nature when the sun’s rays align themselves precisely with the edge of a rock or the space between two buildings, or when a pattern on sand or in clouds suddenly seems to take on some other aspect, animal or human, are parallelled in single events of a Kubelka film. The whole film is forged out of so many such precisions with an ecstatic compression possible only in cinema.’ — Fred Camper


Pause! (1977)
‘His triumph is really quadruple. First triumph: Pause! is an ecstatic work. Second triumph: With the perfection and intensity of his work he dissolved the audience’s swollen-up expectations which had grown out of normal proportions during the ten years of waiting. He enabled us to receive his new work in its newborn nakedness. Third triumph: His dissolving of Arnulf Rainer. Arnulf Rainer himself is an artist of unique originality and intensity. His face art, which constitutes the source of imagery in Pause!, is a chapter of modern art itself. I have a particular aversion to film-makers who use other artists and their art as materials of their films. These films never transcend their sources. During the first few images of Pause! I had an existential fear. Kubelka had to consume and to transcend not only Arnulf Rainer but also — and this constitutes his fourth triumph — to transcend the entire genre of contemporary art known as face art. A few more images, and my heart regained itself and jumped into excitement: Both Rainer and Art disintegrated and became molecules, frames of movements and expressions, material at the disposal of the Muse of Cinema. I am not saying this to diminish the person and art of Arnulf Rainer: His own greatness cannot be dissolved, in his art. But here we speak about the art of Peter Kubelka, and in a wokr of art, as in the heavens so on earth, there is only one God and Creator.’ — Jonas Mekas

part 1

part 2


Antiphon (2012)
‘It was meant to be the highlight of the London Film Festival´s Experimenta Weekend last October, but a broken projector prevented Austrian avant-gardist and experimental filmmaker Peter Kubelka from presenting his ambitious Monument Film project – a double projection of his works Antiphon (2012) and Arnulf Rainer (1960), back to back, side by side, as well as superimposed. Both works explore the four cinematographic elements – light and darkness, sound and silence – effectively stripping cinema down to its bare essentials as well as offering `a countermeasure to the dominating emotional motion picture´ (Jonas Mekas). What´s more, Antiphon literally presents the answer to Arnulf Rainer: what was white before is now black; where there was sound there is now silence. Monument Film is a response to what Kubelka describes as the `hostile takeover´ of analogue cinema technology by digital media, and hence might be best understood as a `last call to dogged resistance´. This month, Kubelka will be back in London to accomplish his endeavour, which he himself considers to be a culmination, the grand finale to his cinematic labors. Antiphon can only be screened in combination with Arnulf Rainer (= Monument Film).’ — Pamela Jahn

Peter Kubelka presenting Monument Film

PK documenting the installation component of the MONUMENT FILM




p.s. Hey. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! I’m happy you had a great time, although hopefully you’ve had great times galore since I last saw you. Thanks, yes, about the mystery project mess. I’ll know how much of a mess it is tomorrow. So, how have you been and what’s been happening? ** Steve Erickson, Hi. For me Plant has always been the weak link of Led Zeppelin, although accepting the inevitable is the only way to go. At this point, I just don’t see why a band would leave a good indie label for a major one. But I suppose there are behind the scenes perks. That BestDeaths site has a brother site called Film911, very similar, but with a bit more of a CPR, often failed CPR, focus. The premiere and the whole IFFR experience went extremely well. We couldn’t be happier. Great responses, big crowds, smart Q&As. The festival has an audience prize. When you see a film, they give you this form for you grade it from 5 down to 1. The festival has this continually updated ‘top ten most liked films’ digital display everywhere, and, for one day of the festival, ‘PGL’ was #3, which was pretty incredible for such a particular film. But then it got knocked down and off the list by the crowd pleasers like ‘The Insult’. ‘Florida Project’, ‘I, Tonya’, and the like. Excellent about your new page! Everyone, Here’s Mr. Erickson: ‘Here’s the launch of my “music favorites of 2018” page. I was able to find video/audio links for almost everything and included them. I plan to update this around the end of February.’ Yes, we saw a fair number of films at the festival. Let me think. My favourite film was a Bulgarian film, ‘3/4’ by Ilian Metev. It has played a number of festivals, so perhaps you’ve even seen it. Very good. ‘Windspiel’, a first film by Peyman Ghalambor had issues but was pretty impressive. The first 2/3 of this Thai documentary ‘Homogeneous, Empty Time’ by Thunska Pansittivorakul and Harit Srikhao was really good, but the final third was a letdown. Uh, I’m spacing on others. There were two films I really disliked: ‘Resurrection’ by Kristof Hoornaert and F.J. Ossang’s ‘Nine Fingers’, both just awful in every way. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Excellent thought on Peckinpah. It’s interesting that ‘Alfredo Garcia’ was considered a dud at the time but it does seem to have gradually become the thinking cool kid’s ‘Scarface’. When I was really, really young, I saw Brandon de Wilde in this late 50s teen potboiler film ‘Blue Denim’ and had a giant crush on him for years after. ** Bill, Hi, Bill! I personally don’t think ‘Osterman Weekend’ holds up, no. I am absolutely sure France would be willing to airlift a very decent portion of its overflow to SF were there a feasible way. ** Misanthrope, Hey. Ouch, ouch. Are you 100% orally fit now? ** Jamie, Hi, hi, Jamie! I think ‘PGL’ was received really well. Apparently there was much enthusiasm amongst festival programmers, etc. which is what we need. And people kept coming up to Zac and me over the three days and telling us they loved the film. So, yeah, I would say it was a big success, and our confidence in our very particular, strange film seems to have been justified. I did see a bunch of other movies. I listed some of them to Steve Erickson here somewhere. It is nice to be in Paris. I’m a little dazed from the intense three festival days, but yeah. Oh, man, sucks about the length thing. You didn’t consider enlarging the type to, like, 18 pt.? May your day be the opposite of Doom Room, which sounded fun in theory but instead only explained the phrase ‘dumb as hell’ to me. Clouded, roiling love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Super awesome about all the positive YnY developments that have occurred while I was indisposed. I’ll go check out that call-out. Everyone, Here’s _Black_Acrylic: ‘The very big news is that the Yuck ‘n Yum callout for our May show in Seattle is now online! It’s an open call so any artists/writers/poets/performers/whatever are all welcome. The theme is Interregnum and we’re looking for responses to our messed up times. Details are here.’ ** Qeton/Keat, Thanks, buddy boy. ‘Night Gallery’, tasty, tempting. According to one guy and his followers, the sphincter is a grave. How you been? ** Kyler, Thanks, K. And … happy birthday!!!!! The out-of-town trip is your birthday treat to yourself? I hope? I still have never read Bolaño, which is starting to get really bizarre, so I need to end that drought. Enjoy your big B day to utter max! Love, me. ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien! Cool to see you! Oh, I agree, and I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a whole lot of winking going on. I hope the hell of your busyness is the good kind. Catch me up when you get a breather. Take care, man. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn. Thank you, I will go check out that online exhibition today. And pass it on as well. Everyone, here’s the awesome Marilyn Roxie: ‘ … thought I’d let you know about an online exhibition I think you’d find interesting, EVERY BODY IS WATCHING – (re)claiming the queer archive curated by Håkon Traaseth Lillegraven, great exploration of queer youth/masculinity’. ** Ferdinand, Hi. Cool. Everyone, here’s Ferdinand: ‘Ive started bookblogging, any bibliophiles can follow me on twitter @booksleeper’. ** Count Reeshard, Hi, Count! Thank you, sir. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. It does seem like your dad would have known him, yeah. ** Nicholas Jason Rhoades, Hi, N! Good to see you bud! How re your new digs? ** Armando, Hey, man. Today, me? Recover from the festival and a big business meeting about a project later on. Thanks, yes, Benjamin Sulpice, who plays our main character ‘Roman’, is amazing in the film. That was much remarked upon at the festival, which made us happy. Yeah, I don’t feel much oomph to see ‘Three Billboards’. I hear you, and I’m so sorry you have those internal obstacles to getting work done. I just got super lucky to have my weird focus/obsessiveness and drive. I don’t know where it came from. Have a swell day! ** James Nulick, Hi, James. Rotterdam was great. The audiences seemed rapt and enthusiastic at the same time if that combination is possible. Our sales agents were busy networking for the film, and it seems there are a number of promising possibilities, but we will see. ** Amphibiouspeter, Hi, P. Rotterdam went really well, thank you. Congrats on the new flat and new mewing friends. What are your plans? What’s Liboa doing for you so far? ** Saintflit. Flit! I know right? In any number of ways. Love, me. ** Okay. We’re caught up on. I was sure I did a Peter Kubelka Day on my dead blog, but, if so, it has completely vanished into that blog’s general ruins, so I made a new one. Excellent filmmaker. Check it out. See you tomorrow.


  1. I have heard about the buzz for 3/4, but it hasn’t played NYC yet. It might pop up at the “New Directors/New Films” festival, which I hope to write about for Gay City News, in March. The other 2 films you recommended sound interesting. I’m happy PGL got such a positive reception – that sounds good for worldwide distribution.

    I’m thinking about doing a review of the forthcoming Titus Andronicus album on Medium. Even though I won’t be getting paid for it, this will justify continuing to get free downloads from Merge. The album isn’t that great, but it’s interesting. It sounds even more like ’70s Springsteen than he did at the time, if that makes any sense, but in a very meta and self-conscious way; for example, there’s an 8-minute cover of “Like A Rolling Stone” that re-writes the lyrics and ends with a call-out of every former and present member of the Rolling Stones. They seem acutely aware of the current culturally marginal position of rock music, and while their mix of indie and arena rock influences might be theoretically commercial, it really isn’t. The album contains 7 songs, and only three are less than 7 minutes long. And David Crosby, of all people, took to Twitter to declare the first single isn’t “real music.”

  2. David Ehrenstein

    February 1, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Kubelka is deeply strange. I Iike “Our Trip to Africa” but don’t much care for the others. I refer Tony Conrad’s “The Flicker” to “Arnulf Rainer.”

  3. David Ehrenstein

    February 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    The “Invisible Cinema” shows Kubelka is not merely indifferent to spectators — he’s actively hostile to them. As designed and operated in New York for a good number of years the “Invisible Cinema” cuts off a spectator’s sight lines and attacks his/her’s peripheral vision. It’s quite like a bit between a horses teeth, put there to make him stop and go at the rider’s will.

  4. Hi!

    Welcome back! I just read the whole p.s. and I’m so, so happy the festival went well! Congratulations!! It must feel amazing, it’s a huge thing! I can’t wait to watch ‘Permanent Green Light’ as soon as I can!

    I’m okay. I’ve translated the “test text” and will meet the lady next week to see whether I get the job or not. I had a free-style day with Anita (which was amazing, as always) and I’m making plans for the year’s first trans group which will be on the 17th. I think that’s about it, in a nutshell.
    It’s really nice to talk to you again!
    How was today on your end? Lots of “getting used to being home”, I guess? And a big meeting too, if I read it correctly! How did it go?

  5. Congrats on the film’s success at the festival. That has to be a very nice feeling. I love Kubelka’s work. I met him as a child, and what impressed me about him was/is that he’s a European. I didn’t know Europeans at the time, so that was my childhood take on Peter Kubelka. But his films are super fantastic.

  6. Hi Dennis, how have you been? I live under a rock and work all the time… just sent my hopefully completed book/corrections to publisher last week and is supposed to be out this autumn. World is upside-down but trudging through. You? Oh my friend and sorta past students is working on funding a project that you might be interested in? I think I’ve talked to you about his work in the past, but maybe have a look: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2098430776/the-male-gaze-adam-wilson-holmes-artist-residency

    I hope you are well!!!!

  7. I wildly disagree with Kubelka’s opinions about subtitles and the French New Wave, but as with Jean-Marie Straub, if you’re going to make films that uncompromising, they’re probably the product of extreme and very strongly held values about art.

  8. Here’s my review of the Brazilian documentary about the worldwide revolts in 1968, IN THE INTENSE NOW: http://gaycitynews.nyc/idiosyncratic-skewed-take-1968/
    And a much better film, Abbas Kiarostami’s posthumously completed and released 24 FRAMES: http://gaycitynews.nyc/kiarostamis-final-scene/

  9. Love this day, Dennis! Kubelka is one of my favorites. I still remember the first time I saw Schwechater. In a film class at SFAI. I was stunned. I asked if we could see it again. It was just so singular and tough and sharp. Still an influence on me, though I think I’ve gone weak and soft. But it’s always something to aspire to.


  10. @ DC, congratulations on the Rotterdam success! As for audience awards, I’m sure PGL is strictly for the cognoscenti. But it’s great the response was so positive, it surely augers well for the general public out there.

    It’s good to have the Yuck ‘n Yum callout done and online. Morgan has been busy contacting all the previous YNY contributors to get folk involved in this project. Some replies are pinging in already and I’m confident we can make a decent go of it.

    I’ve spent today sorting out my benefits, what with me now being a gentleman of leisure and all that. Got an interview on Monday morning about something called Universal Credit. This is all a fairly soul-destroying experience but hey, it has to be done I suppose.

  11. This post is way up my alley. Like all the way to the end where there’s an old chain link gate that just leads to blackberry bushes, but there’s a secret fort inside.

  12. Dennis! Welcome back! It sounds like the premiere went very well. No doubt! Saw a few photos of your team, and it looked nice! I hope you got some rest afterwards!
    (Great post today, by the way!)

  13. Nicholas Jason Rhoades

    February 2, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Kubelka seems right up my alley. I’ll have a good day diving into the post.

    Hey, D. Well, the pad has a few plusses (way cheaper rent), and minuses. Hamtramck was cool in the 90s, but not now. It’s either the armpit or buttcrack of Detroit. If we finally get decent weather, maybe I will walk around and get a different look at it.

    Danielle – very interesting writer – invited me to live here when those fuckers in Midtown increased rent way beyond what I even make per month.

    Then she took off on Christopher on xmas eve. And Christopher (Danielle took off yesterday. So, I’m grumpy. Costed a few thousand to put my stuff in storage. Grr.

    Better: I will learn how to write when furious.

    Anyway props to PGL.

    All love, Njr.

  14. Nicholas Jason Rhoades

    February 2, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Kubelka seems right up my alley. I’ll have a good day diving into the post.

    Hey, D. Well, the pad has a few plusses (way cheaper rent), and minuses. Hamtramck was cool in the 90s, but not now. It’s either the armpit or buttcrack of Detroit. If we finally get decent weather, maybe I will walk around and get a different look at it.

    Danielle – very interesting writer – invited me to live here when those fuckers in Midtown increased rent way beyond what I even make per month.

    Then she took off on Christopher on xmas eve. And Christopher is a mess. So, I’m grumpy. Costed a few thousand to put my stuff in storage. Grr.

    Better: I will learn how to write when furious.

    Anyway props to PGL.


  15. Sounds like PGL is a success! Congrats. Lol. That would have
    to be Bataille. I’m good, staying loaded on coffee and
    writing. You’ve got me thinking about film. I am not into
    it these days in a scopophilic way. I feel I never have any
    time. Obsessed always talking. I’m so whats the use about film.
    It’s funny to think how little I know of the art. Dreamed of
    riding a bus with Kenny Rogers last night, kept trying to get
    him to play songs but he kept playing to country boys and the
    songs they liked.

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