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THURSDAY 2 - Blow Up My Video: Movies Shot on Video, Shown on Film

Programmed by: Zachary Vanes and Brian McKendry

At the beginning of the new millennium, the most daring (and certainly the thriftiest) independent filmmakers opted to shoot their features and shorts on video. The movies of this era blended the rigorous aesthetics of Dogme95 with Hollywood genres, reality TV, and observational documentary. While approaching untouchable subjects, filmmakers used video to create moments of comedy, horror, and beauty that were overwhelming in their rawness and veracity. However, when they appeared in theaters they did so in a hybrid format—not-quite-film and not-quite-video.

Despite being shot on DV tape, three-quarter inch, and other standard definition formats, the movies included in this series were created with the expectation that they would be distributed and shown on celluloid film. The video to film or “film-out” transfer process was accomplished by a variety of technologies, the most common being the CRT recorder, which essentially involved a camera pointed at a television display monitor. Video projectors certainly existed, but movie theaters remained committed to celluloid exhibition (and unable or unwilling to invest in a completely new system).

While all this sounds strange in an era when movies are regularly shot on film and transferred to digital formats in order to have widespread distribution, this series intends to provide a window into that not-so-long-ago moment when the existing infrastructure demanded the opposite. It also offers a chance to appreciate some of the most influential films of the past twenty-five years in their original transmedia context.

9:30PM Thursday, January 5th

The Blair Witch Project (1999) still

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez · 81m · 35mm

In October of 1994, three student filmmakers set out to make a documentary about a local legend, but find something far more sinister in the Black Hills of Maryland. Nearly a decade before the box office success of Paranormal Activity (2007) and Cloverfield (2008), The Blair Witch Project defined found footage horror. Blending video and 16mm footage, writer/directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez create a deeply tense and realistic atmosphere.

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, January 12th

Bamboozled (2000) still

Bamboozled (2000)

Spike Lee · 135m · 35mm

In Spike Lee’s fierce satire of mass media, Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans), an Ivy-educated network television writer, creates a modern-day minstrel show complete with African American actors donning blackface. Though commercially unsuccessful upon its release, Bamboozled has become a cult favorite within the director’s oeuvre, with critic Ashley Clark calling it “the central film in Lee’s canon—the house on fire to which all roads lead.”

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, January 19th

The Forest for the Trees (2003) still

The Forest for the Trees (2003)

Maren Ade · 81m · 35mm

Long before writer/director Maren Ade rocketed to international acclaim with the comedy Toni Erdmann, she showed a talent for finding humor and psychological depth in the drudgery of everyday life. Her directorial debut The Forest for the Trees focuses on the struggles of an awkward young teacher (Eva Löbau) starting over in a new town. The distinctly lo-fi video aesthetic highlights the growing desperation within Löbrau’s subtle performance.

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, February 2nd

Boardinghouse (1982) still

Boardinghouse (1982)

John Wintergate · 88m · 35mm

There’s normal 80s horror shlock, and then there’s Boardinghouse. Even its die-hard fans, like Cameron Worden of the Chicago Film Society, call it a “particularly crude labor of love.” Recognized as the first horror film shot on video but shown on film, Johnima and Kallassu Wintergate’s slasher film supplements the usual sex and gore with a healthy dose of telekinesis, a dash of new age sprituality, and a whole lot of the Wintergates’ band Lightstorm.

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, February 9th

Dancer in the Dark (2000) still

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Lars von Trier · 140m · 35mm

Selma (Björk), a young Czechoslovakian mother, immigrates with her son to a factory town in rural Washington state during the 1960s in this Dogme 95-style musical. Winner of the Palme d’Or and best actress prizes at Cannes Film Festival in 2000, Dancer in the Dark features original music written and performed by Icelandic popstar Björk and observational yet distinctive digital camerawork from acclaimed Paris, Texas cinematographer Robby Müller.

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, February 16th

28 Days Later (2002) still

28 Days Later (2002)

Danny Boyle · 113m · 35mm

When bike messenger Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma, he finds that London has been ravaged by a mysterious “rage” virus. Following the massive box office success of Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle The Beach, Danny Boyle directed this smaller-budget horror film set in a post-apocalyptic England. 28 Days Later… kickstarted the 2000s zombie revival with its gritty video cinematography and a crackling script from future A24 auteur Alex Garland.

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, February 23rd

Jackass: The Movie (2002) still

Jackass: The Movie (2002)

Jeff Tremaine · 85m · 35mm

Snorting wasabi, joyriding in golf carts, and playing with live alligators are just some of the hellish delights on display in this prank show on a Hollywood budget. After three glorious seasons on MTV, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, and the gang roared into theaters and started a surprisingly durable comedy franchise. Village Voice critic Ed Halter called Jackass: The Movie “ruthlessly efficient: no plot, no characters, no sets, and no downtime.”

Tickets can be bought here.

9:30PM Thursday, March 2nd

Trash Humpers (2009) still

Trash Humpers (2009)

Harmony Korine · 78m · 35mm

Winner of the DOX Award at the 2009 Copenhagen International Documentary Festival, Trash Humpers follows a group of depraved elderly misfits on their nocturnal ramblings. Arthouse provocateur Harmony Korine’s stark imagery on worn home video tape gives the story a bizarre, scary sense of humor. Critic Amy Taubin called the movie “a throwback to the nursery, where the id reigns without social inhibition, and pleasure is focused on the present moment.”

Tickets can be bought here.