• Wed Mar 21

In this program celebrating the 50th anniversary of San Francisco-based experimental film distributor Canyon Cinema, films that demystify relationships of politics and power are paired with foundational works by key early Canyon filmmakers. The program includes work by venerable Canyon Cinema figures Will Windle and Lawrence Jordan, as well as filmmakers Naomi Uman, Jodie Mack, Cauleen Smith, Tom Palazzolo, and JoAnn Elam. Decodings is named after Michael Wallin’s found-footage masterpiece, “a profoundly moving, allegorical search for identity from the documents of collective memory” (Manohla Dargis).

The program begins with Duo Concertantes, a classic animation by one of Canyon’s earliest filmmakers, Lawrence Jordan, and Billabong, an underappreciated impressionistic documentary of a boys’ youth camp by another key Canyon figure, Will Hindle. Tom Palazzolo’s 1973 film, Love It/Leave It, offers a portrait of the USA that feels particularly relevant to our current political moment. Lie Back & Enjoy It, JoAnn Elam’s lucid examination of the representation of women in film; artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith’s 1992 Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron), an “exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers” (Scott MacDonald); and Naomi Uman’s classic 1999 found-footage film Removed, which deploys nail polish, bleach, and 1970s pornography to fashion a film where the female figure exists only as an empty, animated space.

  • Duo Concertantes Lawrence Jordan 8 mins 1964
  • Billabong Will Hindle 9 mins 1969
  • Love It / Leave It* Tom Palazzolo 15 mins 1973
  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron)* Cauleen Smith 6.5 mins 1992
  • Point de Gaze Jodie Mack 5 mins 2012
  • Removed* Naomi Uman 6 mins 1999
  • Encounters I May or May Not Have Had with Peter Berlin Mariah Garnett 14 mins 2012
  • Lie Back & Enjoy It JoAnn Elam 8 mins 1982
  • Decodings Michael Wallin 15 mins 1988
  • * = new prints

Cosponsored with the Dept. of Art. The Canyon Cinema 50 project is organized by the Canyon Cinema Foundation and supported in part by the George Lucas Family Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Owsley Brown III Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and The Fleishhacker Foundation.


16mm color
1 hour 27 minutes
release year/country