The Childhood Show

“The Childhood Show,” designed and printed by Meredith Stern

“The Childhood Show,” designed and printed by Meredith Stern

The days of basement forts and pet turtles and book reading competitions and nap time and sleepovers and Spiderman birthday cakes and dressing up like princesses and hobos may well be past, but hold on, don’t cry yourself to sleep just yet: Cinema is the make-believe of the present, and your friendly neighbors at Magic Lantern (the ones who give out the good candy at Halloween) have invited you to come over for a few hours. We already checked with your Mom and Dad, and it’s all right – you can bring as many of your friends as you want, and you can even invite that kinda mean kid cuz we think things might not be so great at home for him right now. Yes, you can bring your Smurf lunchbox and your stuffed animal with one eye, and no, we won’t be showing either The Dark Crystal or The Clash of the Titans again; we’re happy to say that we’ve got something much better in store, and we’re pretty sure you’re going to like it. Aww, who are we kidding – you’ll love it! Where else can you watch a kid age ten years in ten minutes, see an anti-capitalist fairy tale featuring a goose and a seamstress, play horror-movie-pretend with some kids your age, take part in a traditional Yanomamo game of “Let’s Do Hallucinogens Like Our Parents,” re-enact your awkward pre-adolescence, or ride a horse to the dulcet tones of Steve Reich? Magic Lantern, that’s where!

Featuring: Home Movies from RI by Anonymous (12:00, 16mm, 1948-58), The Scary Movie by Peggy Ahwesh (9:00, 16mm, 1993), Children’s Magical Death by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon (7:00, 16mm, 1974), Isemond by Xander Marro and Mat Brinkman (17:00, 16mm, 2005), Nest of Tens by Miranda July (27:00, video, 2000), My Name is Oona by Gunvor Nelson (10:00, 16mm, 1969)

TRT: 82:00

SYNOPSIS:

Home Movies from RI by Anonymous (12:00, 16mm, 1949-59) Another entry from the ghost world, from a history of the everyday. Six 16mm films trace the birth and development of a Kodachrome boy, played out in hospital doorways and verdant backyards, with mini-mowers and boats and silent laughter. This is the cinema of memory, the record of preservation, the echo of another child’s footsteps on the street that you walked on today.

The Scary Movie by Peggy Ahwesh (9:00, 16mm, 1993) Ahwesh’s two young actresses, Martina and Sonja, cross-dress in vampire capes and werewolf claws, re-enacting familiar horror tropes. A roughly corresponding soundtrack of stock screams and “scary” music suggests that the girls’ toying with gender roles and power dynamics may have dire consequences.

Children’s Magical Death by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon (7:00, 16mm, 1974) A group of young boys between the ages of 4 and 10 years imitate the shamans as they blow wood ashes into each other’s nostrils through hollow reeds. Their amusing pantomime clearly reveals how socialized they have become by observing the elders.

Isemond by Xander Marro and Mat Brinkman (17:00, 16mm, 2005) More fantasy puppet tales from our friends in Olneyville, complete with fairy dust and magic swords and noisy live soundtrack recordings. Watch in wide-eyed awe as Isemond the tailor and her new friend the Goose join forces in a peculiar way to battle a “hungry” developer.

Nest of Tens by Miranda July (27:00, video, 2000) “A young boy, home alone, performing a bizarre ritual with a baby; an uneasy, aborted sexual flirtation between a teenage babysitter and an older man; an airport lounge encounter between a businesswoman (played by July) and a young girl. Linked by a lecturer enumerating phobias in a quasi-academic seminar, these three perverse, unnerving scenarios involving children and adults provide authentic glimpses into the queasy strangeness that lies behind the everyday.” — New York Video Festival, 2000

My Name is Oona by Gunvor Nelson (10:00, 16mm, 1969) “But the revelation of the program is Gunvor Nelson, true poetess of the visual cinema. MY NAME IS OONA captures in haunting, intensely lyrical images fragments of the coming to consciousness of a child girl. A series of extremely brief flashes of her moving through night-lit space or woods in sensuous negative, separated by rapid fades into blackness, burst upon us like a fairy-tale princess, with a late sun only partially outlining her and the animal in silvery filigree against the encroaching darkness; one of the most perfect recent examples of poetic cinema. Throughout the entire film, the girl, compulsively and as if in awe, repeats her name, until it becomes a magic incantation of self-realization.” – Amos Vogel, The Village Voice

“It is one of the first filmic masterpieces of the new wave films.” – Larry Jordan