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March 30, 2023 : Issue #39
WONDERCABINET : Lawrence Weschler’s Fortnightly Compendium of the Miscellaneous Diverse
By way of MAIN EVENT, a link to my piece on Vermeer’s Daughter that the Atlantic posted online last week. And then, in the INDEX SPLENDORUM, one of the great independent lyrically-engaged filmmaker Amy Halpern’s final short films—completed just before her sudden passing last year—and, heartrendingly, one of her most sly and delightful efforts.
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THE MAIN EVENT
Last week the Atlantic online posted a piece of mine on the insurgent theory of a highly credentialed (though studiously ignored) art historian to the effect, among other things, that the model for Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl was most likely the master’s daughter and that she herself had gone on to paint fully a fifth of the paintings conventionally ascribed to him, including some of the most beloved. The piece is behind a paywall, but I did want to share it with all of you fellow Cabineteers, so you can find a freely accessible version here.
Amy Halpern’s Hula (2022)
Born and raised in New York, Amy Halpern trained as a dancer but presently left that field to devote herself entirely to cinema, and especially experimental film, though of a particularly embodied sort, steeped in the musicality of image. Based in Los Angeles for much of her subsequent career, she became a great collaborationist, working as cinematographer, and lighting designer, and all-around creative partner with the likes of Ken Jacobs, Charles Burnett, Ramon Menendez, Pat O’Neil, and her own husband David Lebrun. (Cabineteers will perhaps recall the ecstatic Indian Temple elephant animation from their Transfigurations project which we featured in the Index at the end of our Issue #5). She was a champion and programmer of the work of other independent colleagues across a series of cooperatives she helped to found and helm. And all the while she was producing an increasingly vivid and distinctive series of films all her own. At the time of a sudden terminal illness last year, she had, in the words of the British Film Institute’s obituary, “only recently started receiving international recognition for her extraordinary body of work. At an artist retrospective at the International Peripheral Film Festival in A Coruña in 2022, she premiered a suite of 13 shorts, many of them fresh out of the lab and brought in a suitcase from LA.”
One of those was Hula, a goofy swinging ode to the palms of LA, whose web premiere we are especially honored to be offering here at the Cabinet. Watch and just try to keep from smiling—smiling and aching and smiling all the while.
As it happens, the very day we are going to press with this issue, March 30, marks the beginning of a month-long series of celebratory Halpern retrospective screenings in venues scattered up and down the Western US, starting tonight in San Francisco. If you happen to find yourselves in the neighborhood, do yourselves a favor and partake!
On March 30 the Light Field collective’s annual film series in SAN FRANCISCO will open with two programs of Amy’s films, at 7 and 9 PM. All screenings take place at The Lab, 2958 16th St, San Francisco CA 94103. For details on the programs go to http://www.lightfieldfilm.org/2023-program. For information on The Lab go to https://www.thelab.org/info.
During the month of April a retrospective of Amy’s films will take place at three venues in LOS ANGELES. Each program is approximately 75 minutes long, each program is different, and each will include several Los Angeles premieres.
On Sunday April 2 at 7:30 PM the first LA program, sponsored by LA Filmforum, will take place at 2220 Arts and Archives, 2220 Beverly Blvd, just west of downtown LA. This program will include 14 short films. For information and tickets go to https://www.lafilmforum.org/schedule/winter-2023/amy-halpern/.
On Sunday April 16 at 7:00 p.m. the second LA program, sponsored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, will take place at the Billy Wilder Theatre at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. This program will include 4 short films and the feature film Falling Lessons. Details are at https://www.cinema.ucla.edu/events/2023/04/16/the-films-of-amy-halpern. Admission is free on a first come, first served basis; no advance reservations.
On Thursday April 20 at 7:30 p.m. the final LA program will take place at the Ted Mann Theatre at the Academy Museum on Wilshire Blvd, as part of Mark Toscano’s ongoing series Available Space. The program will include 16 short films. For information and tickets go to https://www.academymuseum.org/en/programs/detail/amy-halpern-unowned-luxuries-01859912-4200-0607-ed5e-b8dcb2932789.
On April 22 a program of Amy’s work, including two short films and the feature Falling Lessons, will close the Experiments in Cinema festival in ALBUQUERQUE. Details of the festival have not yet been posted, but will be available at amyhalpern.com/screenings.
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Cartoons by David Stanford
The Animal Mitchell archive .
Not sure yet, we’ve got all sorts of things cooking, just a question of which will come barrelling out of the kitchen first…
Meanwhile, we too have our own palms out!