This program compiles a number of Bruce Baillie’s poetic and social documentaries created for Canyon Cinema venues, entitled The News. These little films provided a format for creating low-budget, urgent, and politically motivated works. They also demonstrated possibilities for a more immediate transition from production to exhibition.
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1961, 16mm, 3m
A very brief lyrical portrait of the eponymous Japanese gardener at work.
“A living saint projected onto the silver screen. Why did I make this film? I wanted to help my friend find a job in Berkeley. It was one of my first attempts to create film as both utilitarian and Art. Cinema must be meaningful and wonderful in a single stroke of camera and mind. Mr. Hayashi was my own, simple example, derived from an experience in a Zagreb city well, where water and daily gossip flowed freely.” – B.B.
Mass for the Dakota Sioux
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1964, 16mm, 21m
“For it isn’t man but the world that has become abnormal.” – Antonin Artaud
“No chance for me to live, Mother, you might as well mourn.” – Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux Chief
“Behold, a good nation walking in a sacred manner in a good land.” – Black Elk
A film mass, for the Dakota Sioux. The Ordinary Mass is traditionally a celebration of Life; thus perhaps there is a contradiction between the form of the Mass and the theme of death in any Requiem Mass (Mozart, etc.). The dedication is to the (religious) nation destroyed by a civilization that evolved from the Mass. Created during the winter of 1963-64, between Berkeley and Mendocino, after a trip into North and South Dakota, down through the junction of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, and back to the West Coast. The heroic aspect of this work is part of a personal chain of discovery for the author, including To Parsifal, Quixote, and Quick Billy.
Valentin de las Sierras
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1967, 16mm, 10m
“Filmed in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico. Titles in Spanish. Skin, eyes, knees, horses, hair, sun, earth. Old song of a Mexican hero, Valentin, sung by the blind Jose Santollo Nacido en Santa Cruz de la Soledad… The film emerges from the always painful, continuing impossibility of recording one’s own life! I remember that the strength of my daily impressions there was so severe that I really thought I couldn’t live through it… It led me… into an essential question about recording, filming itself. Whether it’s a distinct action from those actions you make according to just being, and not being a recorder of being, or the concern with creating another being. That is, I am talking about being an artist, a vehicle through which something flows: And all the particular pain from that flow was really at a peak when I was in Mexico… So, in Mexico, I began to shoot, using an extension tube with my Bolex and the three-inch lens—skin, the vibrations in the wooden paving bricks, and the ground, the sun coming up through the road, and the blood flowing down there in the earth. And the sun was so intense I would have thought that the images would be more overexposed. They were so heavy. I deliberately purchased Kodachrome reversal stock down there—contrasty and saturated.
…I kind of liked Valentin. I named my horse after that film, and I’m still stuck with a kind of primitive view of terrestrial-temporal existence—like horse, home, woman, man.” – B.B.
Here I Am
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1962, 16mm, 11m
“A film for the East Bay Activity Center in Oakland, a school for mentally disturbed children.” – B.B.
Bruce Baillie, USA, 1966, 16mm, 9m
“Filmed with a Nikon 100mm telephoto/Bolex, while living under canvas tarp in the woods of the Morning Star Commune north of San Francisco—where this young girl so delicately waved the passing cars by her home. There were also the spring plum blossoms of Sebastopol and the beautiful water bugs in a nearby creek. For years I had tried to attach the lovely Trois Gymnopédies by Erik Satie to the footage, but was only successful recently.” – B.B.