FILMMAKER BEN RUSSELL IN PERSON! Garbed in the finest of linens (cotton) and bathed in radiant green flickering light (fluorescent), Magic Lantern’s Man-Behind-The-Curtain finally steps forward to reveal his own Mad Visions of Our Collective Existence. Steeped in American folklore, psychiatric techniques of the early 20th century, chaos theory, mask rituals, and techniques of synaesthesia, these five 16mm films propose an alternate mythos for the world in which we reside. In typical Magic Lantern fashion, we’ve got not only Creation Myths and First Contact Myths, but Giant Stone Head Myths and Eternally Bloody Cowboy Myths as well. As if that weren’t enough for you cineastes out there, you should know that missing this show means missing the Providence premiere of what may well be the only 16mm structuralist Western ever made…
Featuring: Black and White Trypps Number One (6:30, 16mm, silent, 2005), Daumë (7:00, 16mm, 2000), Black and White Trypps Number Two (8:30, 16mm, silent, 2006), Terra Incognita (10:00, 16mm, 2002), The Twenty-One Lives of Billy the Kid (55:00, 16mm, 2005)
Black and White Trypps Number One (6:30, 16mm, silent, 2005) “A theory of origins, a film for the stars and planets exploding all around our heads. Hypnosis is imminent.”
A psychedelic op-art film that references the traditions of hand-painted Avant-Garde cinema by replacing it with something entirely different.
Daumë (7:00, 16mm, 2000) “One of the strangest films I have ever seen; its characters come and go as if they’re ‘primitives’ posing for the camera, either obeying or fighting an ethnographer’s controlling eye.” – Fred Camper, Chicago Reader film critic
Black and White Trypps Number Two (8:30, 16mm, silent, 2006) “The dead of winter and all that has fallen will fall. Pass the wind and skies the shudder of the trees and turn your own eyes in.” Part two in a series of films dealing with naturally-derived psychedelia.
Terra Incognita (10:00, 16mm, 2002) “A pinhole film, a cheap robot voice, a makeshift history. An explorer’s tale of the unknown part of the world.”
Terra Incognita is a lensless film whose cloudy pinhole images create a memory of history. Ancient and modern explorer texts of Easter Island are garbled together by a computer narrator, resulting in a forever repeating narrative of discovery, colonialism, loss and departure.
The Twenty-One Lives of Billy the Kid (55:00, 16mm, 2005) “In Which the figure of Billy the Kid, a Notorious and Legendary Outlaw, is reproduced entirely through re-enactments of the Violent and Sudden Deaths of the Twenty-One Men He (May Have) Killed.”
Shot in the abandoned buildings of Gary, Indiana and the cornfields of Western Illinois, The Twenty-One Lives of Billy the Kid presents a fractured historical narrative without any real protagonist, one in which the titular character goes mostly unseen – Billy the Kid as the always- off-screen assailant, as a ghost’s laugh, as a shadow on the road. A single actor (Dave Grant as the Cowboy) plays the roles of Billy’s twenty-one victims and is covered in blood by the film’s end; with each murder comes a resurrection, and with each resurrection another bloody murder. The ghost towns of today are substituted for the frontier towns of the Old West, and the Cowboy is shepherded through this desolate landscape by the Nurse and the Soldier (Sharon Ambielli and Erik Fabian) – the forgotten souls of a violent and divisive war. Based almost entirely on historical accounts leading up to and surrounding the events of the 1877 Lincoln County War in New Mexico, The Twenty-One Lives of Billy the Kid employs a series of re-enactments that produce History as its main character in an effort to unravel it.
Shot dead by Pat Garrett at the age of 21, Billy the Kid was rumored to have murdered 21 men in his short lifetime. Contemporary historians place the number of Billy’s actual victims at four (two of whom were drunks in a saloon), but in the 124 years since his murder, Billy the Kid has been cast as everything from rustler to demon to lover to vampire-killer; the lack of biographical information about his life has made Billy into a cipher for any given historical or cultural moment. In The Twenty-One Lives of Billy the Kid, it is the fact of death that matters most – equal parts truth and mythology, this film is ultimately an interrogation into violence and the minor characters of history; it takes a long look at the lives of the relative unknown to see if they can hold the weight of the makeshift legend that they died serving.