Anthology Film Archives


February 28 – March 4

The concept of motion is, by most estimates, one of the foundational elements in any definition of the cinema, the quality that fundamentally distinguishes it from photography, the medium out of which it was born. “Motion pictures”, “movies”: the idea of motion as intrinsic to the medium is inscribed even within the names by which it’s most popularly known. But this conviction that motion is a sine qua non of the “motion picture” has often been challenged by filmmakers, especially within the realm of avant-garde or experimental cinema. In fact, “experimental films” most fully live up to their name when systematically testing the limits of the medium, searching for the cinema’s essence by stripping away some of its most apparently indispensible qualities. And one of the most radical ways filmmakers have tested these limits is by making films using, or even constructed entirely from, still images.

Culling a host of films that investigate the cinematic use of still images, this series demonstrates the remarkably multifarious ways they can be appropriated by cinema – including feature narratives from sci-fi to comedy, essay films, collage works, structuralist experiments, and radical newsreels – and shows how paradoxically cinematic the results can be. Or perhaps not so paradoxically: calling attention to the fact that all movies are, after all, nothing more than a collection of still images, the films in this series unmask the hidden stillness underlying the cinematic illusion of motion.

At once questioning conventional ideas about filmmaking and exploring the rich and complex relationship between the mediums of photography and cinema, these exhilaratingly original, often witty, and ceaselessly inventive works are wondrous demonstrations of the cinema’s ever-surprising versatility.

Special thanks to James Benning, Steve Cossman, Robert Downey Sr., Ken Jacobs, Peter Bo Rappmund, Lucy Raven, Brian Belovarac (Janus Films), Rebecca Cleman (Electronic Arts Intermix), Jonathan Howell (New Yorker), Denah Johnston (Canyon Cinema), Elena Rossi-Snook (New York Public Library), Regina Schlagnitweit & Markus Wessolowski (Austrian Film Museum), MM Serra (Film-Makers’ Coop), Mark Toscano (Academy Film Archive), George Watson (BFI), and Travis Wilkerson.

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