Wallace Berman's Underground (Toni Basil, Tosh Berman, Russ Tamblyn & George Herms in person!)

NOTE: Filmforum members also get free admission to all Alternative Projections shows. Students/seniors – $6 admission. To receive your free or discounted rate for online pre-sales, you must purchase your ticket(s) online ahead of time, and you will receive your discount back in cash at the box office before the show.

In the mid-1960s, underground wunderkind and collage art luminary Wallace Berman became the true nerve center of a brilliant kind of social assemblage, inspiring and communing with a close-knit circle of actors and artists who screened their underground films domestically among a group of Topanga Canyon bohemians. These films (made by folks with their ears to the ground of the L.A. scene like Bruce Conner, Dean Stockwell and Russ Tamblyn) were influenced by Berman’s spiritualist and radically amateur concepts of art, in which sculpting out of woodscraps later gave way to pioneering photocopy works and the now-legendary mail art publication Semina. Tonight’s program features the world premiere of Bruce Conner’s edit of Dean Stockwell’s film Pas De Trois, and visits with Berman’s friends and collaborators to explore the fascinating intersection among art, Hollywood, and the institutions of the semi-commercial underground! Show curated by Rani Singh and David E. James. Schedules permitting, Toni Basil, Tosh Berman, Russ Tamblyn and George Herms will all be at the Cinefamily in person to help celebrate Wallace Berman’s legacy and influence!

FILMS (program subject to change):
- Aleph: “This film took a decade to make and is the only true envisionment of the sixties I know.” – Stan Brakhage. (Wallace Berman, 1956-66, 16mm, color, silent, 6 min.)
- A Dance Film inspired by Jim Morrison: Perhaps the first film to combine classical dance with dancing of “the street.” (Toni Basil, 1968, 16mm, color, sound, 2 min.)
- Breakaway: A dance film viewed twice (once forward, once backward) in five minutes, featuring Toni Basil. (Bruce Conner, 1966, 16mm, color, sound, 5 min.)
- Pas de Trois: World Premiere of Bruce Conner’s edit (courtesy of the Conner Family Trust, Dean Stockwell, and Toni Basil.) The only film showing Bruce Conner at work, making Breakaway. This never-before-screened utterly unique document is perhaps the only film of Dean Stockwell’s to survive. (Dean Stockwell, 1964, 16mm B&W transferred to video, 8 min.)
- First Film: A fast–paced view of the times and activities of Russ Tamblyn, largely edited in camera. (Russ Tamblyn, c. 1966, ~8 min. Restored print from the Academy Film Archive)
- Rio Reel: Similar in style to First Film; Tamblyn films a journey to Rio. (Russ Tamblyn, 1968, 6 min. Restored print from the Academy Film Archive)
- Selections from Topanga Rose: This selection of ethereal home movies, shot in and around Topanga Canyon paints a rich portrait of Los Angeles as it once was. Feat. footage of the Birds of Chaos sculpture, Neil Young’s wedding, and a protest at the construction of a trailer park. (George Herms, 1960s, film transferred to video, color, 22 min.)

Watch an excerpt of Wallace Berman’s “Aleph”!