Spectacle is a tiny new nonprofit art theatre run by a collective of filmmakers, artists, editors, and performers. Their goal is to create new experiences through movies, and to rescue amazing film art from the wastelands of time. Their programming is eclectic and extremely unique, and their ethos is DIY everything; they make their own custom film posters, design their own fliers and calendars, put together their own film trailers, and set their own schedules and series. And they’re always looking for new contributors to help out: email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved!
I went over the weekend to see Baron Munchausen—nope, not the Terry Gilliam one. This one is actually called Baron Prásil, and is an animated masterpiece by forgotten Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman.
This is part of a Zeman retrospective that Spectacle has in the works. In March they’ll be showing On the Comet, and in April, Deadly Invention. Akiva, a member of the Spectacle collective, told me that he considers Zeman to be “the most unsung and brilliant animator from the pre-computer era.”
Spectacle showcases “lost” movies that are not available on Netflix or DVD, like pre–Production Code films from Hollywood—including The Story of Temple Drake, starring Miriam Hopkins, and City Streets, written by Dashiell Hammett and starring Gary Cooper and Sylvia Sydney; midnight cult films (Tales of Ordinary Madness, The Sinful Dwarf); and a wide variety of international fare, like Kin Dza Dza, a bizarre steampunk fable shot in the deserts of Russia, and The Ruined Map, surrealist noir from Japan.
Spectacle also works with musicians to write new scores to old silent films, and they’re experimenting with “remixing” films—Tron was remixed and scored by DUBKNOWDUB; the entire Mad Max series will be spliced and condensed into forty minutes, and scored live.
Yet another series is the “Ethnographic Vid WWWorld”—live, themed events showcasing different areas of the world. They’ve done one on the Himalayas, which included a documentary about the lavish rituals of Magar healers, narrated by William Burroughs. Next up is the WWWorld of Mardi Gras, which will have footage of Carnaval throughout the years, along with live feeds from New Orleans today. After that is the WWWorld of Arabia: Revolt in the Desert, with five hours of footage from the recent riots and live accompaniment by an Arabic orchestra. (The proceeds from this last one will go to human rights organizations.)
Akiva says that Spectacle is interested in “turning collectors into curators.” In an age where we’re all sitting around showing each other YouTube clips on the kitchen table, Spectacle strives to create a forum to “explore the way that this brave new world of the Internet can allow you to make, say, a documentary about Indonesia without leaving the comfort of your own computer.”