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Scratch Projection / February 20, 2024

A TRIBUTE TO AMY HALPERN

Amy Halpern (1953-2022) occupies a singular place in the history of American experimental cinema. She was a key figure who took part in many legendary film shoots and artistic projects, a tireless organizer who co-founded or directed several filmmakers’ associations, and, at the same time, an original and prolific filmmaker in her own right, whose works remained, until very recently, in the shadow of her contemporaries.

Born in New York, Halpern devoted herself to contemporary dance from an early age. In the early 1970s, as a student at Binghamton University, she rubbed shoulders with Hollis Frampton, Peter Kubelka, and Paul Sharits, as well as Larry Gottheim and Ken Jacobs who became close friends and collaborators. Later, while studying at UCLA, she worked as a gaffer (a profession she would continue to exercise for years) on the shoots of Charles Burnett and Julie Dash, important figures in the movement of Black American filmmakers known as the “LA Rebellion”. In the second half of the decade, she became close to the Angeleno experimental scene as a programmer and performer. Perceptive viewers will recognize her face in Chick Strand’s Soft Fiction (1979) and, more fleetingly, in Pat O’Neill’s Water and Power (1989).

In was also in the mid-1970s that she began work on her only feature film, Falling Lessons (1992), a monumental project that would occupy her for fifteen years. In parallel, between 1973 and 2022, she completed nearly forty short films. Amy Halpern’s work is traversed by a number of motifs that testify, above all, to her exceptional sensitivity and empathy toward others, including animal behavior, the life of Los Angeles palm trees, human gestuality, police violence and modes of resistance to it, portraiture, color, diegetic sound, and, especially, what she called “loud silence”. In the words of programmer and researcher Arindam Sen, “Her politics, non-anthropocentric and anti-racist, underlie a formidable body of work that is marked by personal curiosity, delicacy and tenderness.”

A TRIBUTE TO AMY HALPERN

Tuesday February 20, 2024, 20:30



VERGE
for my sisters
by Amy HALPERN
2022 / 16mm / color / silent / 5' 30
UNOWNED LUXURIES #3
by Amy HALPERN
2020 / 16mm / color / silent / 2' 00
JANE, LOOKING
by Amy HALPERN
2020 / 16mm / color / silent / 2' 00
FALLING LESSONS
by Amy HALPERN
1992 / 16mm / color / sound / 64' 00

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