- Maya Deren’s The Witch’s Cradle screens as part of an avant-garde shorts program this Thursday at Co-Prosperity Sphere.
“If there’s a documentary about political activism from the 1970s that was shot on 16-millimeter, then chances are I’m going to show it,” said programmer Michael W. Phillips at a South Side Projections screening last year. Phillips has yet to screen every film that fits this description, but that’s not to say he isn’t trying. In August South Side Projections screened a 1974 documentary about the historic Attica prison riot, and on Sunday, November 9 at 6 PM, the nonprofit arts organization will present (from 16-millimeter, naturally) The Conspiracy and the Dybbuk (1971) at the Logan Center for the Arts. This short documentary presents “the Radical Jewish Union of New York’s exorcism of the evil spirit possessing Judge [Julius] Hoffman,” who presided over the grand jury trial of the Chicago Eight. Dybbuk screens with the feature-length Great Chicago Conspiracy Circus (1970), a film adaptation of the eponymous off-Broadway production, which “combines transcripts from the [Chicago Eight] trial with episodes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.” Admission is free.
First up for South Side Projections is a screening of macabre experimental shorts at Co-Prosperity Sphere this Thursday at 7 PM. Scheduled just in time for Halloween, the program covers 70 years of experimental cinema. The earliest selection, an independent adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher, comes from the late silent era, and the most recent, Peggy Ahwesh’s Nocturne, is just 16 years old. The pieces I previewed—Usher, Maya Deren’s The Witch’s Cradle (shot in 1943, but completed after Deren’s death), and Curtis Harrington’s On the Edge (1949)—had much in common. All three evoke German expressionist films in their symbolic imagery, angular compositions, and unnatural lighting schemes. You can check out the Harrington piece below.