Anthology Film Archives


September 24 – September 29


Existing as it does in opposition to mainstream culture, kneejerk aesthetic conventions, and commercial imperatives, experimental cinema is a realm that’s largely practiced by and shared among small, interconnected communities of like-minded artists and devotees. Though strong connections exist between experimental artists, curators, and scholars in different countries, these communities tend to be notably local – a deeper grasp of the details of each country’s avant-garde traditions, and of the cast of characters that comprises each one, often falls away at the border, even in our increasingly inter-connected world. David Wharry is a case in point: an important figure in the history of French experimental cinema, both for his own films and for his work on behalf of avant-garde film as a curator and proselytizer, Wharry is still virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic, even to committed students of global experimental cinema who might be aware of French filmmakers of the period such as Yann Beauvais, Maurice Lemaître, or Christian Lebrat.

Born and raised in the UK, Wharry trained initially as a painter in London, but pivoted to filmmaking soon after relocating to France in 1972. He organized several key film programs in the 1970s devoted to avant-garde and expanded cinema, and was an early member of the Coopérative des Cinéastes – the short-lived group that eventually led to the formation of Light Cone, which today remains one of the preeminent distributors of avant-garde cinema in Europe. His own film work, produced from the late-1970s to the present day, is remarkable for its formal rigor, its intellectual and aesthetic playfulness, and its range of influences. His films invoke not only filmmakers from the experimental tradition as diverse as René Clair, Maurice Lemaître, Hollis Frampton, and Owen Land, but also musical comedies, low-budget sci-fi, masters of melodrama like Louis Feuillade and Douglas Sirk, and more.

Identifying almost the entirety of his body of work as a part of his ongoing “General Picture” series (which, at 18 “episodes” and counting, itself alludes to the structure of the silent serial), Wharry’s films deconstruct the codes and conventions of narrative cinema in a wide variety of ways. Whether isolating out particular elements (several of his films feature only subtitles, descriptive texts, or spoken narration, and will therefore be screening simultaneously as part of Anthology’s “Imageless Films” series), recreating the tropes and acting styles of silent melodrama, or calling attention to the phenomenon of film projection, Wharry’s films demonstrate an abiding fascination with the techniques and rituals of filmmaking and filmgoing. Anthology is delighted to introduce New York audiences to Wharry’s work, with the first full presentation of the “General Picture” series to take place in the U.S.

“[W]hen I began ‘General Picture’ that was the idea: to be completely free, to not be limited by any style, to be able to work in different genres, to do whatever I wanted. I had a certain idea of the cinematic experience and I wanted to explore its different aspects, and that these explorations could all be part of one, ongoing work. I saw this as a series whose episodes could be shown separately, together, or in any order. I incorporated narrative links between the films from the very beginning. There are a number of things that reappear, a kind of narrative construction, especially in the first films.” –David Wharry

David Wharry will be here to present the programs in person!

This series is presented with generous support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Special thanks to David Wharry; Valérie Mouroux & Sandrine Neveux (Cultural Services of the French Embassy); and Miguel Armas (Light Cone).

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