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Filmmaker Amy Ruhl curates a provocative program of Kinetic Cinema that examines how the female body, under the unique technology of cinema, has been the primary source of spectacle since the beginnings of film. Ruhl’s work engages with sources ranging from George Meliès’ “trick films,” to Nazimova’s “Salome” (Dance of the Seven Veils) to Vera Chytilova’s phantasmagoria scene in “Daisies,” one of the most lauded Czech new wave films. She will present examples of these influences and discuss how they have informed her latest short film, “How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body” which was made in part by collaging early film footage together with live action animation.
“How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body”, is an imaginary biography of a real historical figure: the erotic dancer and courtesan executed by firing squad for double espionage in World War I. Reinventing the archetypal femme fatale according to her corporeal afterlife- Hari was decapitated after her execution, her body donated to anatomical study and her head displayed at the Musee d'Anatomie- Ruhl imagines her as a striptease artist whose ability to remove her head takes Belle Époque Paris by storm. Using Oscar Wilde's Salome as a site for narrative and historical interaction, the film draws upon the cultural phenomenon of "Salomania" among largely lesbian and bisexual female performers in order to engage with an era when Orientalism sold, scandal became success, and deviant desires equaled a crime punishable by death.
The program will open with two shorts by contemporary experimental filmmakers, Kerrie Welsh and Amy Greenfield.
Kerrie Welsh’s Peter, Peter… is a dark retelling of the children's rhyme "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater," that illustrates the disparity between the narratives we construct and the realities they represent.
Amy Greenfield’s Wildfire is the final film in her acclaimed Club Midnight film cycle and depicts women “clothed” in electronically generated flaming colors, reincarnating Thomas Edison’s 1894 hand-tinted film, Annabelle Dances. For Kinetic Cinema, Greenfield will be in attendance and join the discussion.