Classic Films with a Live Soundtrack by Fushigi Kenkyukai
The evening consists of three films by legendary filmmakers Jean Cocteau, Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapi, with an improvised live score provided by the Bay Area group Fushigi Kenkyukai.
Since the founding of Clubfoot Orchestra in 1983, San Francisco has been a leader in pairing film classics with composed or improvised scores. Now a rich new crop of ensembles for film + sound have created a second wave of Bay Area shadow play for the 21st century. Fushigi Kenkykai is one of these new wave groups.
The name Fushigi Kenkykai () means "Paranormal Research Society". The truth is out there beyond normal reality.
The program uses a French surrealist film classic and an experimental American short full of masks and shadows to find it.
Beth Custer (bass & other clarinets | vocals)
Thomas Dimuzio (electronics)
Tom Djll (surrealist prepared trumpet | electronics)
Joe Lasqo (piano | laptop | objects)
David Michalak (skatchbox | lap-steel guitar | film curator)
& special guest from Sweden Biggi Vinkeloe (sax | flute)
Part 1: Orphée, by Jean Cocteau, a high peak of post-WW2 cinema.
As Roger Ebert summarizes, Orpheus is a Greek myth about a musician who descends into the underworld to reclaim his dead wife, and so enchants the gods with the music of his lyre that they permit her to return to the land of the livingon the condition that he never look at her. Jean Cocteau set his 1949 film of the story in modern-day Paris, and added twists that would have startled the Greeks, especially a romantic triangle with Death as the third partner
The story in Cocteaus hands becomes unexpectedly complex; we see that it is not simply about love, death and jealousy, but also about how art can seduce the artist away from ordinary human concerns, so that after Orpheus astonishingly returns from the land of death, he is more concerned with the nonsensical radio transmissions [;from Death's car radio]; than with his wife who loves him.
Part 2:The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra, by Robert Florey & Slavko Vorkapi
A film miracle that was made in in 1928 for $96 (almost $1,350 in todays dollars), the nothing budget forced the film-makers into radical effects experiments based on shadow-puppetry and popsicle sticks. The sets were made of toys and cardboard buildings that were projected like shadows. Paper cut outs and spare film stock litter the background to create a thriving metropolis (Nathanael Hood).
An aspiring actor with stars in his eyes comes to Hollywood for a meeting with the Producer, Mr. Almighty, who brushes aside his letter of introduction to scrawl the number 9143 on his forehead.
With support from actors like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks who knew first hand of the world depicted int he film, it attained unexpectedly wide distribution and success in its day.
Note: The versions of the films shown will be the public domain ones.
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San Francisco, CA 94117
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