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Maysles Cinema: Calendar / The Experiment  

Union Square Awards
Support provided in part by the Union Square Awards, a project of the Tides Center,


The New York State Council on the Arts,

Union Square Awards
and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
The Experiment

A quarterly series examining the common ground between documentary and experimental/avant-garde modes of cinema. Curated by Lorenzo Gattorna and Peter Buntaine.

The box office is open for advance ticket purchases Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday, 12 - 6 pm, and one hour before the start of all events until they end. If the door is locked during these hours, knock on the store front window. Ticket-holders arriving 15 minutes before showtime are guaranteed a seat inside the theater. Overflow seating available for sold out shows.
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Dec. 8th,
7:30 pm
  The Experiment: Serials Finale

For the finale of The Experiment: Serials, attention turns towards the programmers of the series as their own cinematic works with serial designs will be presented showcasing sentiments of familial estrangement and eventual resolve experienced across personal paths and generational divides.

Whistling Jim's Film
Peter Buntaine, 2012, 16mm/video, b/w & color, sound, 30m
'What began as an investigation into my family's oral history became a portrait of my grandmother recalling her deceased father, known as Whistling Jim, near the end of her own life. Whistling Jim was an author, poet, baseball announcer and most famously a street performer who lived in Little Rock at the turn of the century. He died there in 1912, beaten to death in a mental hospital, but not before self-publishing a book detailing his experiences in the asylum. This film alternates between present and remembered tenses, with moments of recollection with my grandmother interspersed with images of Whistling Jim in the asylum, embodied and as imagined by me, his great-grandson.' – Peter Buntaine

Falling Out
Lorenzo Gattorna, 2012, 16mm-to-video, b/w & color, silent (Part One), sound (Part Two), 20 min.
'Falling Out is an autobiographical, avant-garde film that captures the seamless distancing and ambiguous determination of a father and son over the course of several seasons. Part One sways between scenes of shared experiences and temporal passages revealing the fragility and fortitude of the relationship. The duality of natural destinations and personal belongings heightens biological and sentimental resonance residing in this familial portrait. Part One is presented as a diptych projection to further reflect the presence of a father and son, the mindsets affected by the conflicts endured.
   Part Two follows as the tranquil aftermath to the tumultuous atmosphere foregrounded in Part One. The characters take into account a landscape once adorned with private residences that now, due to drastic flooding, only provides views of a pastoral terrain. Superimposed over the stark contrasts of highlight and shade defining this abandoned area are scenes of the two traversing locales in southern Vermont recently subjected to severe storms. This confluence of conflict and camaraderie calls into question the demonstration of a familial revival. The bond amongst the father and son strays just as intensely as it returns home. Falling Out manifested out of a need for resolution and remains a therapeutic response to the turbulence and triumph of family.' – Lorenzo Gattorna

Q&A with filmmakers and curators Peter Buntaine and Lorenzo Gattorna.

The programmers of The Experiment are extremely grateful to all of the participating artists and attendees of the series in 2012.
Whistling Jim's Film

Falling Out: Part One
Falling Out: Part Two

Facebook Event
Past Screenings
January 2010
Jan. 9
7:30 pm

Politics of the Image
Co-presented by Union Docs >

In Order Not To Be Here
Dir. Deborah Stratman, 2002, 30 min.
"An uncompromising look at the ways privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine our environment. Shot entirely at night, the film confronts the hermetic nature of white-collar communities, dissecting the fear behind contemporary suburban design. An isolation-based fear (protect us from people not like us). A fear of irregularity (eat at McDonalds, you know what to expect). A fear of thought (turn on the television). A fear of self (don't stop moving)." - Deborah Stratman

Little Flags
Dir. Jem Cohen, 2000, 6 min.
"Cohen shot Little Flags in black and white on the streets of lower Manhattan during an early-'90s military ticker-tape parade and edited the footage years later. The crowd noises fade and Cohen shows the litter flooding the streets as the urban location looks progressively more ghostly and distant from the present. Everyone loves a parade—except for the dead." - Video Data Bank

NYC Weights and Measures
Dir. Jem Cohen, 2005, 5 min.
"My film is a simple gathering of New York City street footage. It was shot with a spring-wound 16mm Bolex on, above, and below the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and includes footage of the ticker tape parade for astronaut John Glenn." - Jem Cohen

Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue
Dir. Leslie Thornton, 1985, 20 min.
"Peggy And Fred In Hell is one of the strangest cinematic artifacts of the last 20 years, revealing the abuses of history and innocence in the face of catastrophe, as it chronicles two small children journeying through a post-apocalyptic landscape to create their own world. Breaking genre restrictions, Thornton uses improvisation, planted quotes, archival footage and formless timeframes to confront the viewer's preconceptions of cause and effect." - Video Data Bank

Leslie Thornton, Peggy and Fred in Kansas
Dir. Leslie Thornton, 1987, 11 min.
"Peggy and Fred, sole inhabitants of post-apocalyptic Earth, weather a prairie twister and scavenge for sense and sustenance amid the ruined devices of a ghosted culture. The improvised and playful dialogue of the children provides a key to understanding the tape; their distracted sense of make-believe floats between realities, between acting their parts and doing what they want—patching together identities that, like fidgeting children, refuse to stand still." - Video Data Bank

Discussion with filmmakers to follow screening.


In Order Not to be Here

NYC Weights and Measures

Peggy and

April 2010

April 3
7:30 pm




This month's 'The Experiment' features a diverse collection of films and videos, from both established and emerging artists, which explore the concept of portraiture in film. A two-floor event showcasing works both in a traditional theater setting as well as through gallery-style film and video installations.

In the Cinema:
Albert Maysles - Orson Welles, Ben Rivers - Origin of the Species, Naren Wilks - Bridgee Study, Kelly Spivey - Make Them Jump, Paolo Gioli - Filmmarylin, Stan Brackage - I ... Dreaming, Seth Fragomen - Seance, Robert Todd - Stable

On exhibition downstairs:
Seoungho Cho - W.S. 1-3, Marie Losier - Bird, Bath & Beyond, David Baker - AB OVO, Greg Vanderveer - Albert Maysles, Sean Berman - Self-Portrait, Peter Buntaine - Bushwick, Lorenzo Gattorna -Orkin, & more to be announced.

By-donation bar open the entire evening


The Experiment: Portraits


July 2010

July 23rd
7:30 pm


The Ethnographic Eye

On this night, curators Peter Buntaine and Lorenzo Gattorna reach the far corners the world through poetic eyes, where ethnographic and experimental film traditions converge.

Trypps #6 - Ben Russell
Aftermarks - Fern Silva
Path of Cessation - Robert Fulton
Failed States - Henry Hills
Phantoms of Nabua - Apichatpong Weerasethekul
Divine Horsemen - Maya Deren

By-donation bar open the entire evening

December 2010

Dec. 17th
7:30 pm


A Long Look Back

This year's final Experiment takes a much broader focus than previous screenings, and casts a long look at cinema history. When did these two genres emerge, and what is their relationship in the context of cinema history? Modern works will be shown along side these first films ever shot in this special one-night event.

  The Experiment
March 2011
Mar. 12th
7:00 pm

At Sea
Dir. Peter Hutton, 2004-07, 60 min.
"The momentum of more than forty thousand tons is as absolute as the darkness" (John McPhee, Looking for a Ship). Hutton's most recent film—a riveting and revelatory chronicle of the birth, life, and death of a colossal container ship—is unquestionably one of his most ambitious and profound. A haunting meditation on human progress, both physical and metaphorical, At Sea charts a three-year passage from twenty-first-century ship building in South Korea to primitive and dangerous ship breaking in Bangladesh, with an epic journey across the North Atlantic in between.

Melting Ground
Dirs. Richard Garet and Asher Thal-Nir, 2011, 16mm on video, b&w, sound, 40 min.
"...As if Erik Satie and Albert Pinkham Ryder had taken a helicopter ride in Alaska together in order that they might locate a cipher or secret alphabet in the clouds, the mist and the glacial moraine below. Aerial adumbrations of wilderness unfolding in time like a Chinese landscape painting from the Sixteenth Century. Topography as stand-in for the unconscious. With geology and waterfall as phantasm, a panorama of lost places flickering in the eidetic harbor of dream. Of what was and never will be again, as much in metaphor, in mind, in memory as in actual place. Who am I? Where am I going? What can I become?" - David Baker on 'Melting Ground'

Filmmakers Peter Hutton and Richard Garet in person for a Q&A's following the screenings and a reception sponsored by Sugar Hill Ale.



At Sea
At Sea

Melting Ground
Melting Ground



Sugar Hill Ale

July 2011
July 16th
7:30 pm

The Rare Short Works of Richard Sandler and Howard Guttenplan
This second screening of 2011 features work by two filmmakers who have been key figures in the New York independent film scene for the greater part of the last 40 years: Richard Sandler (director of underground masterpiece The Gods of Times Square) and Howard Guttenplan (owner and curator of the legendary Millennium Film Workshop). Please join us for a screening of rarely seen shorts, fragments and works-in-progress, followed by a reception and discussion, with drinks available at the bar.

Richard Sandler:
-'Forever and Sunsmell'
-'Aka Martha's Vineyard' (w.i.p.)
-and several other surprise shorts, untitled shorts and/or works-in-progress

Howard Guttenplan:
'New York Diary'
'San Francisco Diary'
'European Diary
'Haiti Diary'

  The Gods of Times Square
Film Stills - courtesy Richard Sandler

September 2011
Sept. 17th
7:30 pm
  American Falls
Philip Solomon, 2010, 55 min.
"American Falls is a single-channel triptych adaptation of a 55-minute, six-channel, 5.1-surround installation commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It was inspired by a trip that I took to the capital at the invitation of the Corcoran in 1999, where I first encountered Frederick Church's great painting Niagara; took note of a multichannel video installation being projected onto the walls of the Corcoran rotunda; and went on walking tours of various monuments to the "fallen" throughout the DC area. The architecture of the rotunda in the vicinity of Niagara invited me to muse on creating an all-enveloping, manmade "falls", re-imagined as a WPA/Diego Rivera cine-mural, where the mediated images of the American Dream that I had been absorbing since childhood would flow together into the river with the roaring turbulence of America's failures to sustain the myths and ideals so deeply embedded in the received iconography." - Philip Solomon
Reviews of American Falls:
Art Forum>
The Museum of the Moving Image - 'Moving Image Source'>

Hosted by Jessica Betz, former assistant of Philip Solomon who performed a great deal of the chemical, optical and installation work on American Falls. Jessica will also be present for a Q&A following the screening.


The Experiment
American Falls

December 2011
Dec. 10th
7:30 pm
  Season Two Finale – Laura Kraning and Fern Silva
The Experiment is pleased to present for its second season finale a selection of shorts by Laura Kraning and Fern Silva. The recurring thread of the series this year concentrates on a comparative cinema wherein particular pairs of filmmakers are gathered to celebrate commonalities and contrasts found in their cinematic aesthetics. The films and videos of The Experiment are a testament to the convergence of documentary and experimental tableaus that, as our featured filmmakers pronounce, "traverse the border between the objective and the subjective, the real and the imaginary," (Laura Kraning) and "reflect the tensions between mystification of the observational and experiential and the realization of moments in time as a form of unification." (Fern Silva)

Laura Kraning:
34° / -117°

2009, 16mm, color, 1m
An elevated embankment traverses the hazy orange glow of an industrial zone on the outskirts of Los Angeles where a flood control dam is envisioned as a futuristic ruin.

2009, DV, color, 5m
A journey across the ethers through portals attuned to shifting frequencies; trees like antennae, lines etched into a frozen landscape, searchlights and electric patterns vibrate in the night sky.

Devil's Gate
2011, Blu-ray, b/w, 20m
Devil's Gate explores the metaphysical undercurrents of a Southern California landscape scarred by fire. The film lyrically depicts the physical and mythological terrain of Devil's Gate Dam, located at the nexus of Pasadena's historical relationship with technology and the occult, and intertwining with its central figure, Jack Parsons, who some believe to have opened a dark portal in this place. The film merges an observational portrait of a landscape transformed by fire, ash and water with a fragmentary textual narrative, providing a view into man's obsession with controlling and transcending the forces of nature and spirit. It can be seen as unearthing a subconscious of the landscape, as the echoes of the past reverberate in the present and infect our perception and experience of place.

Laura Kraning's experimental documentaries are portraits of secret worlds hidden beneath the surface of the everyday that traverse the border between the objective and the subjective, the real and the imaginary. Her early work as an abstract painter infused her filmmaking process in which she makes visible the textural and symbolic layers inherent in landscapes filmed over time. Her work has screened widely at international festivals and venues including the New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Visions du Réel, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Athens International Film and Video Festival, Rencontres Internationales, and the National Gallery of Art. Her film VINELAND was awarded the City is Cinema Jury Award at the 2010 Ann Arbor Film Festival and she is a recipient of a 2010 Princess Grace Foundation John H. Johnson Film Award for her latest film, DEVIL'S GATE. Laura currently resides in Los Angeles.

Fern Silva:
Sahara Mosaic
2009, 16mm-to-video, color, 10m
An orientalist kaleidoscope that constitutes a geographically complex yet cinematic whole. From Egypt to Las Vegas: the old and the new world are reflected and doubled in this experimental travelogue.

Peril of the Antilles
2011, 16mm-to-video, color & b/w, 6m
Peril of the Antilles was filmed at the beginning of November 2010 while visiting a friend in Haiti. At this specific time, the cholera epidemic was on its way to Port-au-Prince, Hurricane Tomas was on the horizon, presidential elections were in a couple weeks and the first Gede (day of the dead) took place since the January quakes. Along the way I acquired a very curious copy of a music video of Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly (Haiti's newest president and once bad boy of Compas), from his early Nineties heyday… shot in a familiar location… rajé gain´ zoreille… – Fern Silva

Passage Upon the Plume
2011, 16mm, b/w, silent, 7m
"Those who go thither, they return not again."
Plumes dust the arid land, east to west, shape-shifting as they lift in ascension. Something lowers. An ark ran aground where revolution took root: ropes raise stones in baskets. Hearts heavier and lighter than the feather, permitted passage. Tethered or freed, resting from life or dawning anew. – Charity Coleman

Fern Silva (b. 1982, Hartford, CT) has created a body of film, video, and projection work that has been screened and performed at various festivals, galleries, museums and cinematheques including the Rotterdam, New York, Ann Arbor, and Images Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Wexner Center for the Arts, San Francisco Cinematheque, Roulette Gallery, LAXART, White Box Gallery and MOMA P.S.1. His work emerges out of travel, documenting movement through the world as a conduit into the realms of the personal and ephemeral, and the effects of geography, climate and environment on social relations, communication, and the metaphysical. He's drawn to subjects that defy a national identity or obscurity through myth, folklore, mysticism, or particular rituals. Rather than focusing on one aspect, he moves through moments to show commonality amongst beings and structures. In an effort to avoid conventional aspects of documentary, he reinforces imagination through embracing suggestions of possible narratives. Driven by curiosity and memory, his work reflects the tensions between mystification of the observational and experiential and the realization of moments in time as a form of unification. He was listed as one of the top 25 filmmakers for the 21st century in Film Comment magazine's avant-garde filmmakers poll and is the recipient of the Gus Van Sant Award from the 49th Ann Arbor Film Festival. He received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, MFA from Bard College and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.

The Experiment

WORKS BY LAURA KRANING: Laura Kraning 1Laura Kraning 2
34° / -117°


Sahara Mosaic

Peril of the Antilles Peril of the Antilles

Passage Upon A Plume Passage Upon A Plume



MARCH 2012
Mar. 10th,
  The Experiment: SERIALS   Let Each One Go Where He May
Let Each One Go Where He May
    The Experiment 2012 is dedicated to experimental documentaries that encompass a serial nature. The filmmakers selected explore recurrent thematic and audio-visual qualities through both singular works and successive chapters.

Let Each One Go Where He May
Ben Russell, 2009, 16mm, color, 135 min
Let Each One Go Where He May is Russell's stunning feature debut, a film that both partakes in and dismantles traditional ethnography, opts for mystery and natural beauty over annotation and artifice, and employs unconventional storytelling as a means toward historical remembrance. A rigorous, exquisite work with a structure at once defined and winding, the film traces the extensive journey of two unidentified brothers who venture from the outskirts of Paramaribo, Suriname over land and through rapids, past a Maroon village on the Upper Suriname River, in a rehearsal of the voyage undertaken by their ancestors who escaped from slavery at the hands of the Dutch 300 years prior. A path still traveled to this day, its changing topography bespeaks a diverse history of forced migration. Shot almost entirely with a 16mm Steadicam rig in thirteen extended shots of nearly ten minutes each, Let Each One Go is strangely taut as it absorbs the rhythms and sounds of life, landscape and legacy. The camera acts as a third character, observing but also engaging in a deft dance with the two young men, following one then the other, circling, pursuing, leading, pausing, with sometimes disarming intimacy.

Ben Russell
An itinerant media artist and curator whose films and performances have been presented in spaces ranging from 14th Century Belgina monasteries to 17th Century East India Trading Co. buildings, police station basements to outdoor punk squats, Japanese cinematheques to Parisian storefronts, and solo screenings at the Rotterdam Film Festival and the Museum of Modern Art. A 2008 Guggenheim award recipient, Ben began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island, and he currently teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
June 23rd,
7:30 pm
  The Experiment: SJ.Ramir – 'Journeys'

"The theme I explore in my video work is that of 'journeys' - both physical and metaphysical. These journeys are dramatized in my work by the movement of anonymous, silhouetted figures through isolated landscapes - alluding to both the isolation of the individual, and isolation of place. Visual distortion in the footage is created by the enhancement of pixels, through the use of custom-made lens filters that are used 'in camera' to produce hazy, distorted images - suggestive of emotional states connected with isolation. The journeys made by these silhouetted figures can represent many things; a search for personal identity, nationhood or community. Often structures or houses appear in the distance, and are used as metaphors to represent mankind/society (and the offerings of society; from collective philosophy, values, morals, through to religion) and memories and needs. The figures approach, explore, and ultimately depart these structures. The final act of the figures leaving the structures and walking away represents an absolute rejection of what is being offered by mankind/society. It is crucial in my video work that for these wandering figures, no destination or resolution is ever reached, as this reaffirms that the very act and motivation of journeys is about an un-sated longing/quest/desire/need." – SJ.Ramir

Man Alone
SJ.Ramir, 2006, 4 min.
A lone, shapeless figure sets out on a journey. The mysterious spectre travels through a series of distorted, impressionistic landscapes to an unspecified destination. A sense of bleakness and isolation underscores the narrative.

SJ.Ramir, 2007, 3 min.
In his short video piece Departure, SJ.Ramir explores both emotional and geographical landscapes of isolation. Using visual distortion as a tool, and accompanied by uneasy soundtracks, Ramir creates a world where emptiness and mystery permeate from each frame.

Our Voices Are Mute
SJ.Ramir, 2008, 5 min.
In Our Voices Are Mute, anonymous silhouettes move slowly through visually distorted landscapes, confronting symbolic images that challenge the viewer's idea of 'journeys'; what they are, and how they affect us.

SJ.Ramir, 2011, 8 min.
Disquiet follows the movement of an anonymous figure through remote and desolate geographical environments to examine metaphysical journeys that are made through landscapes within the mind.
*Produced with the funding from the Independent Filmmakers Fund, Creative New Zealand.

SJ.Ramir, 2012, 42 min
Remote, the latest film from SJ.Ramir, is a dialogue-free account of existential minimalism that follows the journey of an unnamed woman as she treks across the empty expanse of giant desert-like sand dunes towards a distant coastline. Comprising of numerous long takes, Remote offers a meditative vision - exploring the physical landscape as a metaphysical state, and drawing on the journey of the film's protagonist as a metaphor for spiritual journeys made across terrain within the human mind.
*Produced with the funding from Creative New Zealand

About the Filmmaker:
SJ.Ramir was born in Auckland, New Zealand, 1971 and currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. Originally trained as a photographer, SJ.Ramir later moved to digital video - shooting scenes of lone figures moving across remote and isolated geographical landscapes. His work is primarily concerned with exploring the concept of journeys - both physical and metaphysical. His video art has been exhibited at public and commercial galleries worldwide, including; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan, City Gallery Wellington, The Australian Centre of Photography, Sydney, Orexart Gallery, New Zealand, Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne, ASU Media Art Center, Arizona, USA, Alsager Gallery, United Kingdom. For two consecutive years (2008 and 2009) he was a recipient of the Screen Innovation Production Fund, New Zealand. His moving image work has also been screened at some of the world's most prestigious film festivals; including the Venice International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
  The Experiment
The Experiment
Man Alone
The Experiment
The Experiment
Our Voices Are Mute
The Experiment
The Experiment

Oct. 27th,
  Alan Berliner
Alan Berliner

Everywhere at Once

The Family Album

First Cousin Once Removed

Intimate Stranger

Myth in the Electric Age
Nobody's Business

Translating Edwin Honig: A Poet's Alzheimer's

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Facebook Event
  The Experiment, for its third installment of experimental documentary cinema encompassing a serial nature, is pleased to present a retrospective screening of works by NYC native, Alan Berliner. The filmmaker and media artist will be in attendance for an integrated platform of projection and discussion focusing on the profound impact of his innovative filmic essays and their acute attention towards familial affections and conflictions.

'My emphasis will be on showing the ways in which I've been reusing, recycling, and re-contextualizing a wide array of sounds, images, and formal strategies in my films, for over 30 years, and how this approach has, over time, allowed the films to cross-fertilize with one another, yielding additional layers of meaning; a continuity between all of my films, which can now be seen as a life-long "project," reaffirming the plasticity of cinematic storytelling.' – Alan Berliner

Alan Berliner's uncanny ability to combine experimental cinema, artistic purpose, and popular appeal in compelling film essays has made him one of America's most acclaimed independent filmmakers. The New York Times has described Berliner's work as "powerful, compelling and bittersweet... full of juicy conflict and contradiction, innovative in their cinematic technique, unpredictable in their structures..." Alan Berliner illustrates the power of fine art to transform life.

Featuring clips from the following films by Alan Berliner:
City Edition (1980)
Myth in the Electric Age (1981)
Everywhere at Once (1985)
The Family Album (1986)
Intimate Stranger (1991)
Nobody's Buisness (1996)
Wide Awake (2001)
Translating Edwin Honig: A Poet's Alzheimer's (2010)
First Cousin Once Removed

For more information on the films, please visit
The Maysles Cinema is located at:
343 Malcolm X Boulevard / Lenox Avenue (between 127th and 128th Streets)