Jonas Mekas, along with Ken and Flo Jacobs, was arrested for screening Flaming Creatures in 1964, and the obscenity case that followed would become a central episode of the New American Cinema. The film’s images, idiosyncratically framed and etherealized by the outdated stock they were shot on, feature the extravagantly costumed voluptuaries of the title as they dance, preen, and, most strikingly, take part in a pansexual mock orgy. “Flaming Creatures is that rare modern work of art: it is about joy and innocence,” wrote Susan Sontag. “To be sure, this joyousness, this innocence is composed out of themes which are—by ordinary standards—perverse, decadent, at the least highly theatrical and artificial. But this, I think, is precisely how the film comes by its beauty and its modernity.” Also showing is the unjustly overlooked Lupe by Jose Rodriguez-Soltero, a lushly lo-fi biopic of actress Lupe Vélez starring drag legend Mario Montez.

Flaming Creatures
Jack Smith, USA, 1963, 16mm, 45m

Jose Rodriguez-Soltero, USA, 1966, 16mm, 49m