Program 8: Merce Cunningham + The Brig
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Jackie Raynal, 1962, 13m
Jonas Mekas, 1964, 16mm, 68m
Jonas Mekas looked to the stage for his second feature, an adaptation of Kenneth H. Brown’s play of the same name, which had been produced off-Broadway at the Living Theatre by Judith Malina and Julian Beck. A harrowing, suffocating portrait of brutality and dehumanization within a Marine Corps prison, the film chronicles the abuses and indignities suffered by 10 prisoners at the hands of a few sadistic guards across a single day. At once a distinctive translation of experimental theater and a fierce polemic against the conjoined carceral and military apparatuses, the film is marked by “a nightmare air that suggests Kafka with a Kodak,” as a Time write-up at the time of its premiere put it. A selection of the 1964 New York Film Festival. Screens with Jackie Raynal’s Merce Cunningham, her film portrait of the choreographer as he collaborates with Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage, providing a contrasting view of performance in New York from the same period.