275 Capp Street
San Francisco, California 94110

Event: “Norman McLaren: Genius of Animation”. Guest curator Pete Gowdy and Oddball Films present an a tribute program to the great Scots-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren. A true innovator who utilized a broad range of techniques over his career and hailed as a genius by Picasso, Truffaut and others, McLaren was a giant in the field of filmmaking and animation. Films include: “The Eye Hears, The Ear Sees”, a documentary about and featuring McLaren; “Neighbors”, the Oscar-winning short- his most famous film; “Opening Speech”; “Begone Dull Care”; “A Chairy Tale”; “Blinkity Blank”; “Fiddle-de-dee”; “Boogie Doodle”; “A Phantasy”; plus a few surprises!
Date: Friday, June 19, 2009 at 8:30PM
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco 94110
Admission: $10.00 RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or [email protected]
Web: http://www.flarerecord.com

"Norman McLaren: Genius of Animation”
Screens at Oddball Films

On Friday, June 19, Guest Curator Pete Gowdy and Oddball Films present a tribute to the great Scottish-born Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren (b.1914 – d. 1987). Brought to Canada in 1941 by John Grierson, director of the newly form National Film Board, to head up their animation department, McLaren spent the next 40 years inventing new techniques, pushing the medium with great élan, humanism and humor. His films and the work he inspired and encouraged at the Film Board put Canada in a class by itself:

“Norman McLaren was one of the great polymaths of animation and filmmaking. Although many independent and experimental animators can, and do, work with a range of different techniques, few have explored the breadth of possibilities with such thoroughness and expertise as McLaren. Cel animation, animation with paper cutouts, pastels, paint, three-dimensional objects, "pixillated" human beings, the light board at Times Square, and even "animation without a camera" are just some of the methods he used in his nearly fifty-year-long career. In addition, he also painted and drew, wrote extensively about animation, collaborated with and inspired many other artists (including John Grierson, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson, Evelyn Lambert, Rene Jodoin, George Dunning, Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker, and Ravi Shankar, to name but a few), developed sophisticated optical printing techniques for live-action film, and is said to have invented the "traveling zoom" shot which inspired the "portal" sequence in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nonetheless, though his technical accomplishments and aesthetic achievements have profoundly influenced animators all over the world, he often maintained that his films' primary function was to convey his own feelings and to elicit an emotional response in his viewers. Towards the end of his life he said, "I just would like to be remembered for having made some films which have touched people greatly or melted them or moved them in some way or excited them." —Leslie Felperin Sharman

Showtime is 8:30PM and admission is $10.00. Seating is limited so RSVP is preferred to: [email protected] or 415-558-8117.

Films Include:

“The Eye Hears, The Ear Sees” (color, 1970, 58 mins.)
Career overview of McLaren up to 1970 with interviews and samples of his work. A fascinating study of his techniques, motivations and his observations on the nature of animation. Grant Munro, fellow NFB animator and actor in “Neighbours” is also featured. “I have tried to preserve in my relationship to the film the same closeness and intimacy that exists between a painter and his canvas.” –Norman McLaren

“Opening Speech” (b+w, 1961, 7 min.)
Featuring McLaren himself, he tries to master a recalcitrant microphone at the opening of the 1st Montreal International Film Festival.

“Begone Dull Care” (color, 1949, 8 min.) w/ Evelyn Lambert
Vibrant, abstract images drawn directly onto the film. “Begone Dull Care” shines with masterful use of scratching and painting on film stock. The film gives warmth and movement to compositions resembling a constantly morphing Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning painting, yet never fails to remind us of its very calculated aesthetics when it suddenly adapts to the score's slower movements and shifts from expressionistic and oversaturated explosions to minimalist vertical lines that vibrate accordingly to the score by the Oscar Peterson Trio. Won six international prizes between 1949 and 1954.

“A Chairy Tale” (b+w, 1957, 10 min.) w/ Claude Jutra
A modern fairy tale, told without words. A chair (animated by Evelyn Lambart) that declines to be sat upon and a young man perform a sort of pas de deux. The musical accompaniment is by Ravi Shankar and Chatur Lal.

“Blinkity Blank” (color, 1955, 6 min.)
Experiment in the use of intermittent animation and spasmodic imagery. McLaren plays with the laws relating to persistence of vision and after-image on the retina of the eye. He engraves pictures on blank film, with percussive effects added in the same way.

“Neighbors” (color, 1952, 9 min.)
Utilizing the new technique of animating live actors (fellow NFB animators Paul Ladouceur and Grant Munro), the Oscar-winning Neighbours is McLaren’s most famous and important film. A parable of aggression and war, two men sit peacefully in lawn chairs when a flower appears on the boundary of their properties. In the quarrel that ensues the flower is destroyed, and the men are killed.

“Fiddle-de-dee” (color, 1947, 4 min.)
A film fantasy of dancing music and dancing color. To "Listen to the Mocking Bird" played by an old-time fiddler, brilliant patterns ripple, flow, flicker and blend. Norman McLaren, painting on film, translates sound into sight.

“Boogie Doodle” (color, 1941, 4 min.)
Made without the use of a camera, in which "boogie" played by piano great Albert Ammons and "doodle" drawn by Norman McLaren combine to make a rhythmic, brightly colored film experiment.

“A Phantasy” (color, 1952, 8 min.)
Cut-out animation by Norman McLaren, and music for saxophones and synthetic sound by Maurice Blackburn. In a dream-like, meditative and surreal landscape drawn in pastel, inanimate objects come to life to disport themselves in grave dances and playful ritual.

PLUS a few non-McLaren surprises!

More on McLaren:

Curator Biography:
Pete Gowdy (aka DJ Chas Gaudi) is host of San Francisco’s Shellac Shack, a weekly 78 rpm listening party and a DJ specializing in vintage sounds: soul, jazz, country, punk and new wave. A graduate of the Vassar College Film Program, he is an associate producer of Marc Huestis Presents, the long-running movie legend tributes at the Castro Theatre.

Official Website: http://www.flarerecord.com/?p=222

Added by chasgaudi on June 8, 2009