The Celluloid Sins of George Kuchar (1942-2011)

 

Co-presented by Los Angeles Filmforum and Outfest

“George and Mike Kuchar’s films were my first inspiration.” — John Waters

 

 

Starting at the age of twelve on their parents’ Bronx rooftop, George Kuchar and his twin brother Mike created a series of absurd, homemade epics that became underground film classics, probably to the brothers’ own surprise. Made with their cast of misfits, drag queens, and overweight women — in other words, stars! — the Kuchar brothers employed an original lo-fi aesthetic that joyfully transformed every flaw into a charming detail, and wallowed cheerfully in their own cheapness. George’s love of trash, camp, and melodrama, infect every second of his crazed, unique films — more than two hundred of them at last count, before his recent passing on September 6th, 2011. Aside from John Waters, his influence can still be felt in filmmakers from Guy Maddin to David Lynch. We proudly present a three-day memorial tribute to this idiosyncratic and irrepressible titan of independent and experimental film, with programs of his short works made on both Coasts, plus the landmark ‘70s trash epic Thundercrack, and the career-spanning documentary It Came From Kuchar.

 

Los Angeles Filmforum and Outfest members receive a $4 ticket discount on all shows in this series!  To receive this member discount for online pre-sale tickets, you must purchase your tickets at full price, and you will be refunded at the box office in cash on the night of the show (when you display your proof of membership.)

Thundercrack!

Kuchar's 1970s gonzo sexploitation melodrama!
thundercrack_newsite
9/30/2011 - 11:59PM

“A true cult classic that has shocked, excited and amazed audiences worldwide! Witness if you dare, the world’s only underground kinky art porno horror film, complete with four men, three women and a gorilla. Ecstasy so great that all heaven and hell becomes just one big old Shangri-La!…Not recommended for those with tender sensibilities, Thundercrack! fully exposes itself with trash-noir lighting through which to peer at the pickles, the puke and the polymorphs.” — Frameline: The San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

As Elaine May’s Mikey & Nicky is to the work of Cassavetes, Kuchar disciple (and one-time lover) Curt McDowell’s Thundercrack! is to the brilliantly askew universe of George Kuchar. The initial framework of a “stormy night” gothic horror yarn, leading all of the silly characters in Kuchar’s deliberately overheated screenplay to seek shelter in a creaky old mansion, is exploited to maximum ridiculous effect, as the cast ends up coupled in a vast plethora of loony deck-shuffling sexual pairings. Punctuated at practically every turn by non-stop, deliriously over-the-top monologues that are as beautifully arch as our main heroine’s painted-on huge fake eyebrows, this truly outrageous one-of-a-kind epic is the summation of all Kuchar’s ambitions, desires and influences.
Dir. Curt McDowell, 1975, Beta SP, 147 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Thundercrack!”
YouTube Preview Image

Sins of the Fleshapoids + Corruption Of The Damned

Required viewing for all aspiring mutants!
sins_newsite
9/24/2011 - 8PM

Sins Of The Fleshapoids – 8:00pm
“George and Mike Kuchar’s films were my first inspiration. George’s Hold Me While I’m Naked, Mike’s Sins Of The Fleshapoids -– these were the pivotal films of my youth, bigger influences than Warhol, Kenneth Anger, even The Wizard of Oz.” – John Waters

Along with Anger’s Scorpio Rising and Warhol’s Chelsea Girls, Mike Kuchar’s Sins of the Fleshapoids remains one of the most influential films of the ’60s American Underground. Co-written by and co-starring George Kuchar, the film is set a million years in the future, after “The Great War” has scourged the planet. Mankind has forsaken science for self-indulgence in all the carnal pleasures afforded by art, food, and lust. Work is left to a race of enslaved androids. One rebellious male robot (Bob Cowan) tires of pampering his lazy masters, and joins the humans in sin. The future never seemed so ridiculous! Employing a hilariously campy and lurid style that lies somewhere between Ed Wood exploitation and Douglas Sirk melodrama, Sins is required viewing for all aspiring mutants, filmic or otherwise.
Dir. Mike Kuchar, 1965, 16mm, 43 min.

Corruption of the Damned – 9:00pm
George’s very first 16mm production, shot in the same year as Sins of the Fleshapoids! “The synopsis published in the American Film Institute’s 1961-1970 Catalog of Feature Films barely begins to cover the film’s thematic concerns: ‘a youth searches for his unfaithful lover and along the way encounters orgies and various forms of sexual depravity’. In the notorious junkyard scene, [the 'mother'] threatens to shoot her on-screen sons with a machine gun – George Kuchar is the one sporting earflaps – if they don’t come home for dinner, setting the scene for a quest towards self-actualisation and hard-won catharsis.” (Australian Centre For The Moving Image).
Dir. George Kuchar, 1965, 16mm, 50 min.

Watch an excrpt from “Sins of the Fleshapoids”!

Watch an excerpt from “Corruption of the Damned”!

George Kuchar's San Francisco Shorts

A slate of George's very best post-1960s output!
kucharinsf_newsite
9/24/2011 - 5PM

After George lost his job doing commercial art work in New York City, he accepted a position as an associate professor at the San Fransisco Art Institute. Now on the West Coast, he not only continued his own personal output, but began making films with his students, films that range from the insane to the mildly pornographic, and often both. Plus, they’re funny as hell. Included in this program is one of George’s most incredible works, and one of our favorites: I, An Actress. “A short film made as a kind of screen test for one of Kuchar’s acting students during a filmmaking workshop. The student, Barbara Lapsley, is given a page from a ludicrously melodramatic script, set opposite a dummy draped in a coat with a curly wig to represent her husband, and then set loose to read her lines. The whole thing quickly degenerates, however, as Kuchar himself steps into the frame as the director, instructing his actress in how to read her lines and how to act, constantly urging her further and further over the top. The whole thing quickly becomes less a screen test…and more a demonstration of the sheer joy of moviemaking, the hands-on fun of the director in dictating what happens on a movie set.” (Ed Howard, Only The Cinema)

Watch an excerpt from “I, An Actress”!

Watch an excerpt from “The Mongreloid”!

Watch an excerpt from “Wild Night In El Reno”!

George Kuchar's NYC Shorts

A memorial program of Kuchar's best work from the 1960s!
kucharinnyc_newsite
9/24/2011 - 2PM

Made during the heyday of the heady 1960s New York City filmmaking underground, these are the films that almost defined the term. And, they’re funny as hell; George’s Hold Me While I’m Naked is worth the price of admission alone. This fifteen-minute camp classic easily transcends the limitations that such a term as “camp classic” might impose, as it adds true poignancy and pathos into the mix amongst its garish color palate, playfully aggressive stylization, manic dialogue delivery and giggle-fit melodrama. “Described by Ken Kelman as ‘a perfect fusion of mock-Hollywood and mock-avant-garde styles’, Hold Me While I’m Naked is a virtual lexicon of camp characteristics that stands as George Kuchar’s most perfectly realised example of ‘the theatricalisation of experience’ that lies at the core of this sensibility.” (Deborah Allison, Senses of Cinema) Join us for a slate of George’s very best work from his fertile filmmaking post-adolesence!

Watch an excerpt from “Hold Me While I’m Naked”!

It Came From Kuchar + George Kuchar's San Francisco Shorts

The definitive portrait of an underground film legend!
itcamefromkuchar_sf_newsite
9/23/2011 - 7:30PM

It Came From Kuchar – 7:30pm
Underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar are finally the subjects of the loving, in-depth documentary portrait they deserve — one that serves to highlight their uniquely enchanting spirits. The definitive document on their careers, It Came From Kuchar traces George & Mike’s history from their childhood time in the 1950s spent compulsively copying Hollywood melodramas with their aunt’s 8mm home movie camera, to their time wowing the ‘60s underground film scene (and subsequently deeply influencing a young John Waters), and all the way to George’s forty-year legendary teaching/filmmaking stint at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he produced an endless ongoing array of crazed pieces with the aid of his yearly students. Alongside numerous clips from the Kuchars’ colorful filmography (including Hold Me While I’m Naked and Sins of the Fleshapoids) are revealing interviews with both filmmakers they’ve inspired, like John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Todd Haynes and Wayne Wang — and key on-screen participants, ranging from the earliest days in the Bronx through George’s SFAI films of the current day. “What emerges is a heartfelt valentine to filmmaking at any cost.” — Nathan Rabin, AV Club
Dir. Jennifer M. Kroot, 2009, digital presentation, 86 min.

George Kuchar’s San Francisco Shorts – 9:15pm
After George lost his job doing commercial art work in New York City, he accepted a position as an associate professor at the San Fransisco Art Instiitute. Now on the West Coast, he not only continued his own personal output, but began making films with his students, films that range from the insane to the mildly pornographic, and often both. Plus, they’re funny as hell. Included in this program is one of George’s most incredible works, and one of our favorites: I, An Actress. “A short film made as a kind of screen test for one of Kuchar’s acting students during a filmmaking workshop. The student, Barbara Lapsley, is given a page from a ludicrously melodramatic script, set opposite a dummy draped in a coat with a curly wig to represent her husband, and then set loose to read her lines. The whole thing quickly degenerates, however, as Kuchar himself steps into the frame as the director, instructing his actress in how to read her lines and how to act, constantly urging her further and further over the top. The whole thing quickly becomes less a screen test…and more a demonstration of the sheer joy of moviemaking, the hands-on fun of the director in dictating what happens on a movie set.” — Ed Howard, Only The Cinema

Watch the trailer for “It Came From Kuchar”!
YouTube Preview Image

Watch an excerpt from “I, An Actress”!

It Came From Kuchar + George Kuchar's NYC Shorts

The definitive portrait of an underground film legend!
itcamefromkuchar_nyc_newsite
9/22/2011 - 7:30PM

It Came From Kuchar – 7:30pm
Underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar are finally the subjects of the loving, in-depth documentary portrait they deserve — one that serves to highlight their uniquely enchanting spirits. The definitive document on their careers, It Came From Kuchar traces George & Mike’s history from their childhood time in the 1950s spent compulsively copying Hollywood melodramas with their aunt’s 8mm home movie camera, to their time wowing the ‘60s underground film scene (and subsequently deeply influencing a young John Waters), and all the way to George’s forty-year legendary teaching/filmmaking stint at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he produced an endless ongoing array of crazed pieces with the aid of his yearly students. Alongside numerous clips from the Kuchars’ colorful filmography (including Hold Me While I’m Naked and Sins of the Fleshapoids) are revealing interviews with both filmmakers they’ve inspired, like John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Todd Haynes and Wayne Wang — and key on-screen participants, ranging from the earliest days in the Bronx through George’s SFAI films of the current day. “What emerges is a heartfelt valentine to filmmaking at any cost.” — Nathan Rabin, AV Club
Dir. Jennifer M. Kroot, 2009, digital presentation, 86 min.

George Kuchar’s NYC Shorts – 9:15pm
Made during the heyday of the heady 1960s New York City filmmaking underground, these are the films that almost defined the term. And, they’re funny as hell; George’s Hold Me While I’m Naked is worth the price of admission alone. This fifteen-minute camp classic easily transcends the limitations that such a term as “camp classic” might impose, as it adds true poignancy and pathos into the mix amongst its garish color palate, playfully aggressive stylization, manic dialogue delivery and giggle-fit melodrama. “Described by Ken Kelman as ‘a perfect fusion of mock-Hollywood and mock-avant-garde styles’, Hold Me While I’m Naked is a virtual lexicon of camp characteristics that stands as George Kuchar’s most perfectly realised example of ‘the theatricalisation of experience’ that lies at the core of this sensibility.” (Deborah Allison, Senses of Cinema) Join us for a slate of George’s very best work from his fertile filmmaking post-adolesence!

Watch the trailer for “It Came From Kuchar”!
YouTube Preview Image

Watch an excerpt from “Hold Me While I’m Naked”!

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