Friday, May 20, 2011

Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta, Film Love presents Mondo Cinema

still image from Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964) courtesy Anthology Film Archives

Saturday May 29th in Atlanta, Film Love presents a series of rarely-seen films about how ritual and performance are used to transform the human body in film. The showings are part of the five-day Mondo Homo event being held Memorial Day weekend.

Venturing far beyond the Hollywood conventions of make-up and melodrama, the Mondo Cinema series presents the individual visions of filmmakers (and some underground lifestyles) that are sometimes a shock, sometimes funny, and equally as intriguing. And then there's the force of nature known as Liberace, who in his career as television personality and flamboyant cultural ambassador was often all of these at the same time, and more.

Jean Rouch’s ground-breaking 1954 Les Maitres Fous (The Mad Masters) documents a subversive possession ritual in colonial-era Africa. Ron Rice's gorgeous color film Chumlum features performance artist/director Jack Smith (who became infamous for his 1963 film Flaming Creatures), and documents a psychedelicized theatrical ritual in 1964 New York City.

Also featured: Jollies, one of a legendary series of diary videos Sadie Benning made as a teenager, working entirely alone in her bedroom and using only a Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera. George Kuchar's hysterical I, An Actress is a classic film about filmmaking and the way performance transforms body and soul.

still image from I, an Actress, with George Kuchar and Barbara Lapsley

In a funny and poignant video, transgender performance artist Zackary Drucker undergoes an intimate ritual of bodily transformation in The Inability to be Looked At ... using nothing more than tweezers and guided meditation. Finally, there is a spectacular Mother's Day performance by Mr. Wladziu Valentino Liberace, a performer famously known only by his last name –- a man who charmed and changed the world without ever coming out of the closet.

The program begins at 7 p.m. The films presented are:

Les Maitres Fous (The Mad Masters) (Jean Rouch, 1954) 16mm, 30 minutes

Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964) 16mm, 23 minutes

I, An Actress (George Kuchar, 1977) 16mm, 8 minutes

Jollies (Sadie Benning, 1990) video, 11 minutes

The Inability to Be Looked At and the Horror of Nothing to See (Zackary Drucker, 2009) video, 17 minutes

The Liberace Show: Tribute to Mothers (Duke Goldstone, 1955) video, 30 minutes

The showings will be at My Sister's Room (1271 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta). For directions and more information about the venue call 678-705-4585.

MONDO CINEMA 2011 is co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies at Emory University. A five-day pass can be purchased at Mondo Homo online and full details about the films can be found at the Frequent Small Meals website.

The Film Love series provides access to rare but important films and seeks to increase awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde film. The series is curated and hosted by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals. Archives of the series may be found at

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