Who Killed Cock Robin?
Sunday August 11, 2013, 7:30 pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents
Who Killed Cock Robin?
Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson in person!
At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90028
Tickets: $10 general, $6 students/seniors; free for Filmforum members. Available by credit card in advance from Brown Paper Tickets or at the door.
Who Killed Cock Robin (2005/2010, color, sound, 70 min.)
First screening since 2005!
Travis Wilkerson's first feature, following up on the lyrical agitprop of his Butte, Montana documentary AN INJURY TO ONE, portrays the life of a rootless teenager in the same dead-end town: shoplifting, hanging out in abandoned mines, grappling with the decline of employment prospects and labor movements. A bold and unfashionable film in every sense, not least its earnest political stand." Dennis Lim -- Top 10 Overlooked Sundance Films
"Wilkerson's triumphant follow-up to 2002's rousing if ultimately somewhat hectoring An Injury To One, Who Killed Cock Robin? again concerns itself with the economic woes of the film-maker's Montana home-town, Butte. But whereas Injury examined historical events in a largely documentary style, Cock Robin relates modern-day goings-on in a "fictional" format. That said, Wilkerson's ambitious drama has an appealingly rough-edged, experimental air: the actors (and only three have significant roles) seem to be playing variations on themselves; many scenes have a loose, improvisational feel; screen-filling captions keep us updated on the passage of time and the fluctuating price of copper (upon which the town's prosperity now depends). The focus is mainly on Barrett (Barrett Miller), a rangy, tattooed twenty-something struggling to make ends meet via a series of dead-end jobs. He spends much of his spare time drinking beer, debating local and global political issues with his best friend Dylan (Dylan Wilkerson) and/or his landlord Charlie (Charlie Parr), although his relationship with both men comes under severe strain when Barrett's financial woes worsen and he falls foul of the law.
Wilkerson observes the lad's decline with a certain sympathetic distance, implicitly linking it with the misfortunes of Butte (town and resident share initials), and by extension the whole of the USA (and its "moral, social decay.) Barrett finds solace in the example of rebels from previous generations sustaining himself, in one especially searing scene, with a rendition of union-martyr anthem 'Joe Hill.' But it's left up to the audience to decide to what extent Barrett is victim of economic and political circumstance, or a ragingly self-pitying, self-dramatizing author of his own misfortunes. Wilkerson shifts between various film formats (including what looks like a very grainy form of 8mm) to create a deceptively casual but cumulatively vivid portrait of an individual and his environment. As with Injury, he makes particularly imaginative and stirring use of music throughout, from the opening performance (by Charlie) of the "title track" to the astonishing, extended scene that forms the film's climax scored (and seemingly propelled on by) the concluding section of A Silver Mt Zion's spare, haunting 'God Bless Our Dead Marines <http://www.alwaysontherun.net/asmz.htm> ': "when the world is sick / can't no one be well / But I dreamt we was all beautiful and strong." It's an unexpectedly shattering and poignant finale to a brave, uncompromised, savage, unsparing film." Neil Young, Jigsaw Lounge
National Archive Vol. 1 (2001, color, sound, 15 min)
A daring exercise in agit-prop that utilizes imagery obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, in which gun-camera footage of U.S. bombing runs over Vietnam is disturbingly and poetically juxtaposed with a soundtrack created by Sonic Youth's Jim O'Rourke. The footage of lush blue-green jungle passing below the jet is superimposed with the pilot's electronic gun site. The constant gunning creates a trance-inducing rhythm that is syncopated by simple intertitles that name the targets. Converted from raw documentation into sublime meditation, much like Bruce Conner's atomic mushrooms in Crossroads, the film becomes an ethical bomb, exploding issues of hi-tech imperial warfare that we are faced with again.
A chance meeting in Havana with legendary Cuban film propagandist Santiago Alvarez changed the course of Travis Wilkerson's life. He now makes films in the tradition of the "third cinema," wedding politics to form in an indivisible manner. His films have screened at scores of venues and festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Toronto, Locarno, Rotterdam, Vienna, Yamagata, the FID Marseille and the Musée du Louvre. In the fall of 2012, the Slovenska Kinoteka in Ljubljana held an exhaustive retrospective of his work, comprising 11 films. His best-known work is an agit-prop essay on the lynching of Wobbly Frank Little called "An Injury to One," named one of the best avant-garde films of the decade by Film Comment. His other films include "Accelerated Underdevelopment" (on the filmmaker Santiago Alvarez), the narrative feature "Who Killed Cock Robin?" and the National Archive series. In 2007, he presented the first ever performance art at the Sundance Film Festival with Proving Ground, a live multi-media rumination on the history of bombing described as "one of the most daring experiments in the history of Sundance." A recent feature, "Distinguished Flying Cross," was honored with prestigious jury prizes both at Cinema du reel and Yamagata. His new film: "Los Angeles Red Squad," just premiered in the main competition at FIDMarseille. He also contributed short segments to two omnibus projects: "Far From Afghanistan," and Orbit (films). His writings on film have appeared in Cineaste, Kino!, and Senses of Cinema. He has taught filmmaking at the University of Colorado and Film Directing at CalArts. Presently, he is the inaugural Visiting Fellow of Media Praxis in the Pomona College Media Guild.
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.
Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:
Aug 18 Far from Afghanistan, with Minda Martin and Travis Wilkerson in person
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Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian (View)
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
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