Now available: three new prints from Ernie Gehr

Posted March 9th, 2020 in Announcements, New Acquisitions, New Films, News / Events

An essential filmmaker of the avant-garde, Ernie Gehr has worked continuously for over 50 years, crafting hypnotic and perception-shifting studies of the familiar. Within his films, observational studies of cities and land take on magical qualities through which streets and buildings reveal unexpected phenomena. Whether using film or digital video, working with abstract or representational images (or the slippage between them), Gehr’s work is about discovering the properties and possibilities of cinema. For Gehr, cinema is neither a reflection of life nor the portrayal of ideas or emotions; he wrote in 1971 of film as “a real thing” and “not imitation.” The contradictions between a still and a shot, persistence of vision and other optical effects, questions of framing and perspective, properties of video fields, and thresholds of perception are just some of the subjects of his work. But his cinema also brings us profoundly back to the world, to observations about family, displacement, urban life, and the significance of place. Thus Gehr’s films and digital work embody both a history of cinema and a cinema of history. They ask us to look carefully and thoughtfully and to perceive, in all senses of the word.

Serene Velocity (1970 | 23 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

“A literal ‘Shock Corridor’ wherein Gehr creates a stunning head-on motion by systematically shifting focal lengths on a static zoom lens as it stares down the center of an empty, modernistic hallway. Without ever having to move the camera, Gehr turns the fluorescent geometry of his institutional corridor into a sort of piston-powered mandala. If Giotto had made action films, they would have been these.”
– J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Still (1971 | 55 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Preserved by Anthology Film Archives

“STILL is, for me, the first truly Proustian film in which I see mood and atmosphere seem to become slowly crystallized on particular objects – as if the whole framed scene and its mood slowly coagulates into – for instance – the mysterious recesses of the lush foliage of the tree across the street which the breeze slowly stirs.” – Richard Foreman, Film Culture #63-64

Reverberation (1969 | 23 minutes | B&W | SOUND ON CD)

“REVERBERATION is a textured slowing, hollowing and placing. The sound-image relationship is one of the most intense I’ve experienced: the sound has a mass, it’s continuous, rough edged. This thick black and white flecking is equaled by a rocky grainy image (of bas-relief not of planes or roundedness). An equation of tone and light is hinted at by constant transformations. Moments, movements are slowed, weighty, solemn yet the film has a beautiful ‘However’: one sees and hears the whirling atoms beneath the images of streets, buildings, people. These images constitute perhaps a story, a portrait, a looking at, a making of a film of a friend and his friend by their friend.”
– Michael Snow