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Beth Block: Successive Approximations to the Goal
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Los Angeles, CA
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Beth Block: Successive Approximations to the Goal
Sunday July 12, 2015, 7:30 pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
Beth Block: Successive Approximations to the Goal
At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028

Beth Block in person! One World and one West Coast premiere!

Filmforum welcomes back the filmmaker (and our former board president) Beth Block with a smashing set of recent digital works.  Her recent work, including THE 108 MOVEMENTS (2013) and SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATIONS TO THE GOAL (2015) exploit the ability of digital technology to be re-photographed multiple times without generational loss, enabling her to more fully explore her fascination with capturing motion depicted over time.  The resulting pieces are hypnotic, beautiful, personal, political, smart  works to dive into and float in for a while.

For more event information: www.lafilmforum.org, or 323-377-7238

Tickets: $10 general, $6 students/seniors; free for Filmforum members.  Available by credit card in advance from Brown Paper Tickets or at the door.

Successive Approximations to the Goal  (2015, 1080p digital, 14 min.)
World premiere!
Successive Approximations to the Goal is a term that is used in applied behavior analysis.   It refers to the series of slight behavioral changes or subsets that are reinforced because they are increasingly more similar to the ultimate objective.  
For many years I have been driven by the desire to spatially portray the passage of time, in a perpetually disappointing search for a way to counteract the injustice of being able to perceive time only in singular fleeting moments.
In this experiment, I wanted to film many people interacting with each other in a confined space.  I filmed an LA Galaxy/Vancouver Waves soccer game and then combined the images to portray the motion over time of the players, the refs and the ball.  
As the different pieces emerged, I was struck by the inevitability and futility of what I was seeing, which triggered in me thoughts of rats in cages, endlessly pushing rocks up mountains, video games that you always lose and the paradox of the movement of electrons.   The sound interprets, in many different ways, the possible explanations for such strange human behavior.
For me, these visual documentaries are the successive approximations to the goal of being able to look at the larger view of what happens over time in in order to gain a better insight into the nature of the human condition, which I can say with all honesty has never come close to happening. - BB

57 Jobless,  (2009, 1080p digital, 26 min.)
This was my first foray into using digital technology as an optical printer, to expand upon the visual experiments I had begun in the seventies.  The film consists of five variations on brightly colored paints being poured onto a vertical surface, separated into bands of dripping color, pared down to their luminous values, displaced by each other, offset in time and used as mattes to deconstruct a background image into corresponding fragments.  - BB    

The Bathtub Shot  (2009, 1080p digital, 11 min.)
The Bathtub Shot is a personal documentary about a daydream that won't go away and becomes an excuse not to do, until the rationalization for not doing takes over the daydream.  The film is essentially a single shot with overlays of the random thoughts and fears that increase over time, until the actually doing of a relatively simple task becomes a monumental obstacle to be overcome only with great angst. - BB

The 108 Movements (2013, 1080p digital, sound by Gregg Johnson, 29 min.)
West coast premiere!
In collaboration with musician and sound-designer Gregg Johnson, The 108 Movements began as an exploration of the structure of the long form Yang style Tai Chi Chuan.  Both of us had studied the form and we initially took a mathematical approach to searching for the magickal number of 108 within the three sections. We logged each of the movements, noted when they were repeated, how many times they were repeated, etc. and were quickly confounded by the lack of any recognizable pattern.  The structure was abstract, arrhythmic, and seemed to follow no rules that we could find.  
In much the same way as one has to abandon thought to be able to practice the Tai Chi form, we abandoned logic and rational thinking and worked independently, responding aurally or visually to the spirit of the movement and the section, and then reacting to each others' new work with more nuanced and complex variations.  Like the form itself, there was very little discussion and no analysis.  
On a technical level, I was interested in exploring digital technology's ability to be duplicated without generational loss to take the old "phase printing" technique to a new level.  I discovered I could quickly bring my mac workstation to its knees doing only ten passes, but was able to exponentially increase the passes, ie. 10,100, 1000, etc. by duplicating and offsetting the output until I could see the entire section on a single frame that could be examined indefinitely instead of instantly becoming part of an irretrievable past.      - BB  


Beth Block was born in 1952 in Buffalo, New York, and has lived and worked in Los Angeles since 1975.  She received her BFA from Kent State University, initially studying painting, but under the mentorship of filmmaker Richard Myers, she changed her major to experimental film. In 1975 she enrolled in the MFA program at Cal Arts where she produced FILM ACHERS (1976), a widely-screened optically printed film that has been purchased by the Library of Congress and The Canadian Filmmakers Archives, and TWELVE, (1977), her master's thesis film, which was included as part of the Ann Arbor Film Festival national tour.

After graduating from Cal Arts in 1977, Block began a prominent career working in the film industry creating visual effects for major Hollywood films including TERMINATOR 2, ALTERED STATES, and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH.  Throughout the 1980s, Block continued to make her own experimental and documentary films, including VITAL INTERESTS (1982), which won the Director's Choice Award at the Sinking Creek Film Festival.

During the 1990s, Block was among the first generation of artists to transition to using computers to create visual effects, and she anxiously awaited the day when this technology would become affordable for her own personal use.

In 2009, she made her first high definition digital film, THE BATHTUB SHOT (2009), quickly followed by 57 JOBLESS (2009).

In addition to her experimental films she is a freelance documentary director, cinematographer and editor.  She currently teaches in the directing track at USC's School of Cinematic Arts and is also documentarian for the Unusual Suspects Theatre Company and the NewTown Pasadena Foundation.

Her films and installations have also been exhibited at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); San Francisco Cinematheque;  Los Angeles Downtown Federal Building; Los Angeles Filmforum; Projections on Lake, Pasadena, CA; Film in the Cities, Minneapolis, MN; and festivals including the Philadelphia, Athens, and Black Maria Film Festivals.  

Block was a founding member and former board president of the NewTown Pasadena Foundation, where she is still an active member, and from 1985-1995 was a Los Angeles Filmforum board member and past president.  Her films are distributed by Canyon Cinema.

This program is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque. We also depend on our members, ticket buyers, and individual donors.

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2015 is our 40th year.

Memberships available, $70 single, $115 dual, or $50 single student
Contact us at lafilmforum@yahoo.com.
Find us online at http://lafilmforum.org.
Become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LosAngFilmforum!


Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian (View)
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
United States


Film > Movies
Film > Premiers

Dog Friendly: Yes!
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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