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November 17, 2014

Starz Denver Film Festival 2014 - An Evening with Lawrence Jordan

lawrence jordan.jpg

"Larry Jordan is a determined explorer who has changed the direction of his film work a number of times. Starting with psychodramas, he has gone through very personal family-oriented films and on to highly accomplished animated collages, notably Duo Concertantes"
Sheldon Renan - from An Introduction to the American Underground Film (1967)

And maybe I'm alone on this, but I wish that the program of Jordan's films, presented last night at the Sie Film Center, had offered a broader scope of his work. The only break from the animated collages was the inclusion of Water Light, made from three rolls of 16mm Kodachrome shot during Jordan's time in the Merchant Marines, around 1953, of his ship following a storm.

Jordan and Stan Brakhage were friends from their time at Denver's South High School. It was fitting that Jordan be a recipient of the Starz Film Festival "Stan Brakhage Vision Award".

The films, including a restored version of Our Lady of the Sphere showed something of an evolution of Jordan's work. Basically using a visual non sequitur of a rolling ball, or circus artistes appearing in seemingly at random in Victorian era engravings, Jordan would take some of the same visual ideas and use them in a variety of artwork, Persian or Indian, and add more cut outs, with ever increasing complexity.

A light Q & A session followed the screening, with Jordan mentioning the visual influences of Max Ernst and Georges Melies, and the pride of having Our Lady of the Sphere added to the National Film Registry in 2010. Jordan also mentioned that even with recurring visual motifs, there was no intended meaning, and everything was up to the viewer's interpretation.

Most of the films shown were made after Renan's brief portrait of Jordan was published. One might write things off to a colder than normal November here in Denver, but it struck me that at the time Renan's book was published, there was a much more active interest in non-narrative films almost fifty years ago, even from a casual audience. The last time I saw any of these films was essentially in a classroom in New York City, almost forty years ago. I liked the idea of seeing this work on a bigger screen with more comfortable seating, especially the complete Solar Sight trilogy.

Posted by peter at November 17, 2014 06:15 AM