A Salon with Sandra Davis


Please join Canyon Cinema and SF Cinematheque on the evening of Monday, August 6th, 2018 at 16 Sherman Street for the next installment in our Salon series. We’re pleased to welcome filmmaker and long time studio member at 16 Sherman, Sandra Davis, who will be presenting an evening of films reprising her recent Braquage screening in Paris which locally premieres her most recently completed work, THAT WOMAN (2018) featuring George Kuchar in the role of Barbara Walters. Don’t miss this FREE cinematic Summer celebration including works by Davis along with Chick Strand, Amy Halpern, Sharon Couzin, Janie Geiser and Anna Geyer. 

“I was deeply indebted to George Kuchar, who lent himself to the flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants studio segments; and generously brought to his scenes his own trademark emotional honesty and scalding humor. A note for sentimental viewers, the production took place in his long-time classroom, Studio 8, at SFAI.” – Sandra Davis

The Canyon Cinema Salon Series is a FREE event hosted at at 16 Sherman St, off Folsom between 6th and 7th in SOMA.

7:00pm – Reception
7:30pm* – Screening and discussion.
*Note: Street entrance locked at 7:30 – please arrive on time.

Program includes: 

Cartoon La Mousse by Chick Strand (1979, 16mm,  15 min, US)

By Halves by Amy Halpern (2012, 16mm, 7 min, US)

Roseblood by Sharon Couzin (1974, 16mm, 9 min, US)

Babel Town by Janie Geiser (1992, 16mm, 7 min, US)

Ich Bin Ein Yunger Hupfer by Anna Geyer (2008, 16mm, 10 min, Germany)

That Woman by Sandra Davis (2018, Digital, 22 min, US)

Program notes:


Remarkable film from a founder of Canyon Cinema. She is an artist whose work is impossible to define: it combines document, poetry, and the humor of a specifically California “surrealism” of the 60’s. Her films honor women and their lives and relationships.  “Chick Strand is a prolific and prodigiously gifted film artist who seems to break new ground with each new work. Her recent “found footage” works such as CARTOON LE MOUSSE, are extraordinarily beautiful, moving, visionary pieces that push this genre into previously unexplored territory. If poetry is the art of making evocative connections between otherwise dissimilar phenomena, then Chick Strand is a great poet, for these films transcend their material to create a surreal and sublime universe beyond reason.” – Gene Youngblood

BY HALVES     Amy Halpern

New York born, Halpern also spent long career years in the Los Angeles area. While working on her own short works, she also worked in the film industry, as did other filmmakers such as Pat O’Neil. She was co founder of The Collective for Living Cinema, N.Y.C. 1973, and The L.A. Independent Film Oasis, Los Angeles, 1975; she worked in the early 1970s in 3-D shadow-play with Ken Jacobs’ New York Apparition Theatre. BY HALVES features re-worked footage from the radical comedian Richard Pryors’s return concert after his near-death in a fire.  The work reveals her intimate knowledge of the material of film – and a relationship between 35mm (the industry) and 16mm (the artists).

ROSEBLOOD   Sharon Couzin

A Chicago artist, and integral member of the Chicago experimental film community, who taught many years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her films reflect a particular interest in dance, in language itself, and in the possibilities of transformation and recombination of images through use of the optical printer. “Images of a woman in dance, in flora, in picture, in eyes, in architecture, in sunshine, in color, in crystal, in space, in confusion, in danger, in disintegration, in her hand, in birth, in the Valley of Sorrow, in the sea, in repetition, in sculpture and in herself.” – Sharon Couzin. “Some really extraordinary subliminal combinations are happenings.” – Pat O’Neill

BABEL TOWN  Janie Geiser

Here, an early work in which her puppet theater work is extended into film. Geiser, is a visual/theater artist and experimental filmmaker, whose work is known for its investigation of the emotional power of inanimate objects, its sense of mystery, and its strength of design. “Geiser shares with filmmakers such as Jan Svankmajer the rare ability to make children’s toys and seemingly innocent objects … resonate with the most unsettling, arcane, and adult fears. Better still, Geiser gives voice to the reaches of the unconscious, pointing to the abandoned splendor that exists prior to the rules of society and language.” (Holly Willis, Res, 2004)

“In the Book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel led to the creation of multiple languages, and here the titanic heads that appear behind the tower linked by ribbons inscribed with hieroglyphics evoke an encounter with the power of language which can either further constrict the Girl or truly liberate her.” Tom Gunning

In this foray into the importance of language itself, Geiser contributes to the  important feminist strategy of naming, or “re-naming” self – language gives the power of naming.


Geyer describes her work as “cameraless, non-representational work “and also “experimental with a narrative bent”. She also works in live three or four projector loop sets, often performed in collaboration with local musicians, combining the technology of the past and present and including abstract imagery, live action work and degraded digital imagery of the digital age. Here, “two Überavian blacksmiths meet on a lazy spring afternoon -romance ensues. Featuring ray-o-grams and based on a pun (“feder” is the word for both “spring” and “feather” in German), springs, feathers and spring-like metal shavings serve as primary source materials. Tinted, bleached, painted and re-photographed, these materials become a study in color and movement set against a soundtrack of both organic and industrial/machine sound” AG

THAT WOMAN   Sandra Davis

“THAT WOMAN uses as source material the original Barbara Walters interview with Monica Lewinsky, which is intercut with a “re-creation” of the interview. This re-staging uses transcripts of the actual dialogue, as well as a few interpretive scenes that I scripted. Additional visual elements include the “commercial breaks” from the original broadcast, as well as a “breaking news” segment, which announced the death of a film giant. 

Ms. Lewinsky is played by a women bearing a remarkable physical resemblance to the original, and Barbara Walters is played by George Kuchar. The make-up, costumes, set, lighting, and camera set-ups, are a facsimile of the original, albeit without the stunning high-production values displayed in the network original.

Recalling elements of this scandal, the performers bravely made their improvisational way through scenes including a cigar, and an audio performance by our actress of HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. PRESIDENT. 

This work gave me the opportunity to utilize the video medium itself to mimic and subvert the seductive power of media spectacle and the ways in which an addiction to scandal has eroded our society’s ability to engage in civil dialogue. Horrified and flabbergasted by the unfolding political media spectacle in 1998-2000, I was recording the constant TV barrage of “live reports” on VHS, not knowing how I might eventually respond in a work of my own. As a mature woman and artist, I was interested in unpacking the layers of coding and performativity surrounding the broadcast interview. While Lewinsky was seemingly put forward by another mature woman, Walters, to present her own story and take ownership of her narrative, the structure and gloss of the presentation–through the structure of the questions, the application of seductive makeup, and camera techniques–emphasized her mediated sexual desirability over her words. In THAT WOMAN, the Lewinsky performer is given a chance to shift outside of the restaged moment in order to testify to her own struggle to exert control over the cultural perceptions of herself as an object not only of male gaze and desire, but of societal projections of a misogynist culture. During this saga of nauseatingly national media spectacle, private experience became public, asking the spectator to question: what is the true nature of obscenity?” – Sandra Davis

Production of THAT WOMAN was supported in part by the San Francisco Arts Commission

About the Artist –

Sandra Davis is a San Francisco-based experimental filmmaker and curator whose work has been exhibited at film showcases and festivals worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, Pompidou Center, Paris. She has held teaching positions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of South Florida, and the San Francisco Art Institute. She has lectured widely in the US and Europe on experimental cinema and its place within modern and contemporary art.

The Canyon Cinema Salon series is made possible with generous support from the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation.