Anthology Film Archives


August 19 – September 5

Filmmaker John Wilson’s invaluable cable/streaming series HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON is one of the most genuinely inspired, oddball, and sneakily affecting of contemporary TV shows, whose existence in the mainstream entertainment landscape is a small miracle. In common with a handful of other beloved television programs, HOW TO casts an eccentrically and comically anthropological eye on the pathos-filled absurdities of human behavior, the interrelationships, and the daily rituals of 21st-century urban life. But it’s almost alone in doing so with an admirable stylistic purity, without shoehorning itself into the familiar forms of narrative or even documentary television. Like his earlier short films that first garnered attention online and on the festival circuit, HOW TO is constructed from the mountains of footage that Wilson (and his crew) catch on the fly during their wanderings through (mostly) New York City. This footage then becomes a kind of raw material from which they sculpt each episode, finding themes, links, and patterns through inspired feats of editing, all of it woven together by Wilson’s inimitable, deadpan narration.

To celebrate the return of HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON – whose third and final season begins in July – we’ve invited Wilson to guest-curate a special two-part series. The departure point is a short-film program showcasing original work by crew members of HOW TO. Crucial to both the gathering of footage and the process of editing, these filmmakers – LJ Frezza, Leia Jospé, Nellie Kluz, Chris Maggio, Jess Pinkham, Nathan Truesdell, and Britni West – are all artists in their own right, whose work Wilson has long admired and who bring their distinctive styles and perspectives to the show. For Wilson’s Anthology program, he has invited each of them to present one or more recent short films.

This initial program comprises a group portrait of Wilson’s artistic community, and a kind of deconstruction of HOW TO. For the second part of the series, Wilson has selected a variety of films – from outside this community – that have influenced or inspired him. Encompassing rarely-screened films by Les Blank, Bruce Brown, George Kuchar, and others, the lineup he’s chosen is as singular as his own work, and as reflective of his hilariously skewed, disarmingly perceptive sensibility.

Special thanks to John Wilson and to all the filmmakers; as well as Dominic Baltazar (Lionsgate); Mitchell Block (Direct Cinema Ltd); Tom Colley & Emily Martin (Video Data Bank); Emily Duffy (Les Blank Films); Alex Mecl (Bruce Brown Films); and Elizabeth Sehring (Blowback Productions).

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