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by Michael Hollins for TIE




The following supplement includes exclusive interviews conducted by TIE representative, Michael Hollins, for the October 26th, 2010 program at the UWM Union Theater in Milwaukee, WI.




Tel: 719.466.3176




Peter Tscherkassky:
Peter Tscherkassky’s discovery of experimental film came at the age of 19 during a five day lecture series held by P. Adams Sitney at the Austrian Film Museum in January 1978.  “Up to that encounter I knew film only as an artform that would need a big crew, a huge budget and commercial potential to pay back the invested money,” Tscherkassky said.  “From that moment on I knew that that film can be a radical art form, as radical as modern music or painting, and that anybody could make films just as a painter or writer. Alone at home. Or in the dark room.”


The filmmaker’s latest work Coming Attractions was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI. 


Coming Attractions is a sartorial comedy that masterfully mines the relationship between early cinema and the avant-garde by the way of eighties advertising.  Tscherkassky shed some light on his conception for the film, attributing inspiration to Tom Gunning’s idea of ‘Cinema of Attractions’; a term used to describe a completely different relationship between actor, camera and audience found in films prior to 1910.  “The notion of a ‘Cinema of Attractions’ touches upon the exhibitionist character of early film, the undaunted show and tell of its creative possibilities, and its direct addressing of the audience,” Tscherkassky explained.  “At some point it occurred to me that another residue of the cinema of attractions lies within the genre of advertising: Here we also often encounter a uniquely direct relation between actor, camera and audience."


Coming Attractions is entirely comprised of found footage that was compiled and manipulated to create the final product.  Tscherkassky’s method of constructing a film is different than most, as he clarified “I don't even have a camera to shoot films. I copy my films in the dark room with different light sources (flash lights, different laser pointers, regular light).”


Tscherkassky methodically analyzed an enormous amount of found footage, selecting pieces that could contribute to the overall sentiment he desired.  The filmmaker described the process in detail.  “In the case of Coming Attractions I had six hours of source material: rushes from commercials,” Tscherkassky explained.  “I needed a kind of "filter" to be able to handle such an amount of material. So I watched it over and over and over again and tried to find and select rushes that I could connect with some (more or less famous or at least well known) early films or important texts and articles about the connection between early film and the avant-garde.”


“But the result is not as dry as it may sound with this brief description,” Tscherkassky said.  “The acting of the models in the rushes is absolutely hilarious.  I regard ‘Coming Attractions’ as a light-hearted comedy.” 


(Source: Quotes extracted from Michael Hollins’ interview with Peter Tscherkassky)

Malic Amalya:

“My work maps out queer spaces of the indeterminable, the transitional, and the liminal.  In my films and installations, forms, sounds, identities, and narratives continuously slip between recognizable and abstract.  My approach to filmmaking is rooted in a fine arts studio practice, often utilizing the darkroom, direct animation, and set construction. By shooting through window frames, reworking found footage, building alternative viewing apparatuses, and exposing the properties of my media, I create passageways in which perception shifts.  Memories are reinterpreted, language evolves through generations, notions of the self realign, and boundaries become permeable.”  -Malic Amalya

Malic Amalya, born in Burlington, Vermont, is an avant-garde filmmaker whose works have been screened all across North America.  The artist’s entry into filmmaking came about when he “struggled to combine [his] investment in activism, social justice, feminism, anti-racism, and queer culture with [his] interest in visual art.”  Amalya realized the medium’s ability to promote these areas of concern, as he explained “I see experimental film as having the potential to be the practice of radical culture, as opposed to the doctrine of it—which one might see in narrative or documentary filmmaking.”

While discussing his film Drifting, which was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, Amalya reflected on the ability of the medium to capture life.  “A decade could be reviewed in a few minutes of film,” Amalya noted.  Drifting demonstrates this sentiment in an imaginative fashion, combining decades of several American family’s 8mm home movies from the 1940’s through 1980’s and reshooting these discarded filmstrips onto 16mm film stock through an optical printer. 

Amalya quickly realized celluloid’s capacity for creative compositions.  “I saw elements of film that are often hidden from audiences: layers of emulsion, frame lines, sprocket holes, light leaks, and burn holes.  I adored these photographic anomalies and would pocket any film that would have otherwise been thrown out,” Amalya said.  “By exposing the photographic anomalies and the sprocket holes of film, Drifting allows viewers to savor the patterns of light and the physicality of the media.  However, in showing the audience the hidden elements of film, I am also asking them to consider how framing impacts their experience and understanding of images.”

Drifting incorporates a live score, as Amalya insisted the film “is a performance, not a reenactment of the original films, and I wanted to create a soundscape in the theatre.  A lullaby is beautiful song intended to subdue the listener, and I want each musical performer to play with the dangers of beauty and sedation.  I want each viewing experience to be unique and allow for the audience to reflect on the impact of silence on these home movies, and what sounds might have been heard in the original recordings and viewings.” 

Drifting is a film that achieves many things.  “The texture of film grain and scratches of the emulsion, as well as the color palettes, and the mise-en-scence often bring up waves of nostalgia,” Amalya explained.  The filmmaker, whose work typically incoorporates queerness as a predominant theme, considers Drifting “a queering of home movies.”

Amalya’s intentions for the film were explicated, as the filmmaker informed “In Drifting, I want the audience to enjoy the beauty of the medium.  However, I also have a sharp critique of the cultural and familial erasures that happen within these home movies, and of nostalgia for times that were more openly oppressive than they are now.  Ultimately, I want to draw attention to what is not seen in these films, and for the audience to ask why.”         

(Source: Michael Hollins’ interview with Malic Amalya)

Pablo Marín:
“Yes, there are those in the film avant-garde who will always resist using words.  Yes, there are those in documentary who feel no urge to ‘get personal’, but for a few of us this is the territory where we thrive.”  -Pablo Marín

Pablo Marín is a scholar from Buenos Aires with an extensive background that includes teaching, writing, and curating film.  In addition, Marín has established himself as a unique filmmaker within the realm of experimental cinema with his original work premiering at several TIE festivals and other tour programs around the world, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, London Film Festival and the Millennium Film Workshop. 

One of Marín’s latest films, Diario colorado, was showcased at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI. 

When asked about the inspiration for Diario colorado, Marín replied “the road, the mountains, the trees, water running, people in between, fast cars, faster clouds: a new place I didn’t want to forget.”

Diario colorado, described as “democratic, multiple-exposed images of Colorado Springs in which everything put there by nature and men converge unordered, free,” is a silent film shot on single-8-18fps celluloid.  While he discussed the process of making the film, Marín reflected on his intentions for creating this innovative study of life.  “The film was shot in Colorado Springs during a visit to Colorado, and subsequently New Mexico, granted by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and TIE for an exhibit and a film tour,” Marín explained.  “However rich the visual landscape was in all the places I visited during the trip, my camera was only triggered within Colorado Springs.  My intention was to focus on one territory (which also was the one I spent more time in) and try to capture the most of it, instead of doing a travelogue of every place I went into.”

Marín emphasized the sincerity he strived for with the film, as he cited “the ‘democratic’ idea behind this capture procedure is no other than to try to depict honestly most of the components of that landscape with the same force.  From an ancient forest on a valley of the Rockies to a recent man-made artifact.” 

The sub-textual meaning in Diario colorado is open for interpretation.  “If there is a social statement being made in the film I would say it is almost invisible and inaudible,” Marín said.  “But if you do find it beneath the layers of colors and grains it would insist on those same things I think daily: most of the things that I consider the most vital and exciting of living in a quiet state of joy are in the process of becoming marginal, if not already buried.  It is under this light that my film turns grey and fatalistic.”  

(Sources: Top quote extracted from Lynne Sachs’ interview with Pablo Marín in May 2007.  All other quotes from Michael Hollins’ interview with filmmaker)

Claudio Caldini:
“I became interested in all film techniques, but particularly in the creative title design in feature films of the 60’s.  In 1968 I started super 8 filmmaking.  Experimental film was very difficult to see at that time in Buenos Aires.  We made our own approach without previously seeing any of experimental film’s classic authors.” –Claudio Caldini

Claudio Caldini is an internationally renowned experimental filmmaker.  Born in Buenos Aires, Caldini learned optical mechanical principles of photography and film from his father.  Caldini’s work has been widely recognized, receiving countless awards for its powerful artistic quality. 

Caldini’s film Lux Taal was screened on October 26 at the TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.

Lux Taal is Caldini’s abstract examination of the four seasons and climate change in a small town west of Buenos Aires.  Caldini explained his motivation for creating Lux Taal.  Lux Taal was a diary of light and seasons, from 2006 to 2009,” Caldini said.  “The inspiration was mainly botanical observation and small scale landscape.  The rhythms of nature are more regular and previsible and I wanted to reflect that and their consequences on our lives.  The title is an attempt to escape any precise local or cultural reference by means of phonetical poetry.”

While he discussed the technical approach to Lux Taal, Caldini informed “Lux Taal was a random (half controlled) multiple exposure with black intervals made in single 8, the duration of the shoot as an expressive operation.”     

Caldini also stressed the importance of working with traditional film in an ever expanding digital age.  “Celluloid experimental film is a classical way to see and understand the world, closer to philosophical thinking,” Caldini said.  “Frame and shutter are irreplaceable: the film projection contains what it IS (the image) and the non-being (the dark interval between frames).”

(Sources: Claudio Caldini’s biography statement available at:  All other quotes extracted from Michael Hollins’ interview with filmmaker)

Tony Balko:
“I watch a lot of film and see a lot of things that I like, and I’m not necessarily afraid to try them out.  Sometimes I think people do things really well, and think they’d be interesting for me to try.”

-Tony Balko

Tony Balko is a media artist from Pittsburg, PA whose work has been displayed on an international level.  Balko shed some light on his first ventures into avant-garde filmmaking.  “When I first started [making films], I wasn’t making experimental film or interested in it really at all,” Balko said, “I had an aversion to it, I guess, at first.  And then I started to work at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and through a series of events of being shown the right movies—specifically George Kuchar films—I kind of freaked out.  Then I got more interested in freaking out and then I got interested in experimental film heavily—how to make it—and I guess I’ve been making experimental films for about seven or eight years now.” 

Balko takes pleasure in creating within the unbounded range of avant-garde filmmaking.  “As an artist, I was very attracted to the freed form of experimental film,” Balko said.  “When you don’t have any format to follow, you can be much more creative.  That’s why I believe it’s the most expressive form of the medium.”     

Balko’s film Tree was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.

Tree explores organic development as light, water and air coax a tree out of the soil in a manner foregrounding time’s relativity to different forms of life on Earth.     

Balko described his incentive for creating Tree, as he explained “you can use what film or video can do, using its capabilities to completely take something out of its original context and abstract it and make it something that could only exist within that framework.”  This is approach Balko adopted while making Tree.  The artist informed that he was “interested in examining an organism mediated by this format that allows us to manipulate time.  The cheap way to do it would have been a time lapse, but this technique is much more disjointed; taking a look at this living entity that has a completely different relationship to time than we do.” 

The filmmaker went on to discuss the advantages of working within the medium, emphasizing the unique quality only film can achieve.  “That’s part of the thing about working with any media-art that I really enjoy—using what it can do specifically to make the piece….I tend to think that if I want to make a film, it has to be an idea that only film can do,” Balko said.  “Why do I want to make it a film?  That’s something I try to address.” 

Balko offered further meditations on celluloid filmmaking.  “Film is important in the sense that it can achieve things that other formats cannot,” Balko said.  “It’s a medium that does specific things.  There is nothing else like it.  So it’s good to keep film alive because it’s a powerful tool of expression.” 

(Source: quotes extracted from The New Yinzer and Michael Hollins’ interview with Tony Balko)


Christopher Becks:

 “Filmmaking first interested me when I started to understand the significance of the advent of moving images, when I realized how young of a medium film is and that it's really a very material one despite its capacity to completely efface this materiality and offer up a sort of alternate reality.  From there, the process is how I fell for it.  For each person a different process will lend itself as an outlet, and for me it was filming, optical printing and simply the physical contact with a filmstrip.”

-Christopher Becks


Christopher Becks is an artist that creates films, installations, photographs, sounds and other expressions through his work.  Born in Montreal, Canada, Becks currently lives in Paris, France.


Becks’ film Ouverture was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.


Becks described Ouverture  as “an in-camera song for a barn in Normandy.”  The silent film is shot in 35mm Cinemascope and takes full advantage of this wide-frame format.  Ouverture acts as a frame by frame contemplation of the bar, which is both serene and kinetic.


Becks informed that “the inspiration was quite simply the film's subject: a barn, situated just across a fence, in a landscape I often see from a friend's house in the farmland of Normandy.  Long after becoming familiar with it from the outside, the first time I entered the barn was with a Bolex.  The space had a strong impression on me from the start.”


Becks explained the way he uses film to express himself.  “My films don't try to achieve a particular strategy or to be something else (music is music, film is film),” Becks said.  “But they are interested in a more gestural visual language and in using the camera (an instrument) as a conduit.”


(Source: Michael Hollins’ interview with Christopher Becks and



Robert Todd:


Robert Todd, who studied painting as a graduate student at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, got his start in avant-garde film through his artwork.  “Film came as an extension of my interest in drawing,” Todd said.  “During the long period in which I was making  drawings as a fine artist, it took a while to see the depth of the kinship in process between the two media, but once I had a hold on my   interpretation of that, I pursued filmmaking exclusively. I think of my filmmaking as more poetic than experimental.”


Two of Robert Todd’s latest works, Rayning and After Morning, were screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.


Rayning was abstractly described by Todd as “one ray leads to another, building the dream destined to dissolve in the light of our mind’s eye.”  Todd elaborated on the film’s significance, as he explained “light can be fluid, the word "light" is open-ended, necessarily ephemeral, and it can remain so through the complications and transformations that the camera and the film offer, passing through time, the liquid   sense ever changing, dissolving, like our thoughts and feelings, the scape blurring then clear again, fantastic and disturbing.”


The filmmaker illuminated his inspiration for After Morning recounting the film’s genesis in detail.  “In June I ran a rather intensive week running workshops in Rotterdam,” Todd recalled.  “It was overcast and rainy nearly the entire time, but we were all out there making things in the gloom, rather vigorously into the strange light-sky of the evenings. We'd shot batches of film in different ways, processed and shown them to one another, it was all quite exhilarating.  The day I had to leave I took a camera out and shot in the new-found sunlight, basking in this after-event feel that permeated the air for me. I sought out a kind of post-party calm, but found that I was still seeking to draw more of the energy of the place out in those final frames.”


After Morning marks a milestone in the realm of Todd’s work and personal life, as the filmmaker explained “it was an excitement of spirit that led me to this, and attitude of quiet joy, and a final marker, a gesture of thanks for the life I'd just led that week, resonating wonderfully inside me. I think that's a poetic impulse, diaristic, too.”


Todd shared his perspective on celluloid filmmaking, expressing an appreciation for the medium’s capacity to push him as an artist.  “Film asks that I remain patient and trusting,” Todd said.  “But it also puts me into an interesting state that simultaneously demands control and release from preconceptions regarding the fictions of the every day. I love the eccentric space that is created on the screen, and the chance to find (or be shown) new lives within the life I think I'm leading.”


(Source: Michael Hollins’ interview with Robert Todd)



Nathaniel Dorsky:

“In film, there are two ways of including human beings.  One is depicting human beings.  Another is to create a film form which, in itself, has all the qualities of being human:  tenderness, observation, fear, relaxation, the sense of stepping into the world and pulling back, expansion, contraction, changing, softening, tenderness of heart. The first is a form of theater and the latter is a form of poetry.”                          - Nathaniel Dorsky

Nathaniel Dorsky is a renowned author and filmmaker, who began making films as a teenager.  His work has been celebrated on an international level with several institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art New York, Pompidou Center, Yale University, and the Pacific Film Archives displaying his films. 

Dorsky’s film Aubade was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.

As Dorsky described Aubade, he informed that “an aubade is a poem or morning song evoking the first rays of the sun at daybreak.  Often, it includes the atmosphere of lovers parting.”  Aubade obtains the quality found in most of Dorsky’s films.  “The things that work about my films are quite intimate,” Dorsky said. “They touch your mind.”

Aubade marks the artist’s first attempts at a new technical approach to filmmaking.  “This film is my first venture into shooting in color negative after having spent a lifetime shooting Kodachrome,” Dorsky explained.  “In some sense, it is a new beginning for me.” 


 (Source: Darren Hughes’ interview with Nathaniel Dorsky)




Phil Solomon:


“The texture of film, the shutter, the true black, the reflected light, the intermittency all swing somehow with my deepest impulses. Not just nostalgia, but in terms of my physiology and perception.”

-Phil Solomon


Phil Solomon is an American experimental filmmaker highly regarded for his work in both film and video.  Solomon’s entry into avant-garde filmmaking came after college when he began seeing himself “in the context of making film art as an individual, and to envision [himself] in that historical trajectory of art-making, rather than only considering the Hollywood industrial model of making films.”  Solomon illuminated his newly found perspective on film, as he explained “I simply thought about making films along the same lines of the individual artisan tradition in the other kindred of arts painting, poetry, photography and music.” 


Solomon’s work has been revered for its visual as well as thematic resonance.  The filmmaker described his style as an “economy of gesture- retaining only essential images.  An emphasis on poetic form, including visual rhythms, metaphors, ellipses, and ambiguity- reading between the lines so to speak, and therefore reading between elliptical juxtapositions of non-linear, non-narrative sequenced shots and so on.  My films seem much closer in their temperament , ideas and tendencies to the form and context of certain- somewhat hermetic – poets like Emily Dickenson, John Ashbery, Wallace Stevens, and Jorie Graham.”

Solomon’s 1983 film What’s Out Tonight is Lost was showcased at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.  The film, preserved and re-presented by the Academy Film Archive, premiered at the event with a stunning new 16mm print.  What’s Out Tonight is Lost was created by Solomon “in response to an evaporating relationship, but gradually seeped outward to anticipate other imminent disappearing acts: youth, family, friends, time…” 

Solomon stressed the significance of film in our technological age as a vehicle for realizing deep philosophical ideas and sentiments that are slowly becoming marginalized, as he noted “the entire notion of the development of the life of the mind, of the private, thoughtful, contemplative and self-aware individual – and the encouragement of the relaxed state one has to achieve, in my view, in order to even begin to receive an aesthetic experience - has given way to the worker bee mentality of the ever busy, ever connected, ever wired and jacked-in-from-morning-till-night electronic buzz seeker, complete with a round the clock, round the world false sense of (cyber) community and the false reassurance of an instant, ersatz intimacy in front of their screens or on their portable phones.” 

The filmmaker believes strongly in the power of individual artistic expression and the impact that these creative ventures can have on the minds of others, as Solomon revealed “I’ve always been drawn to the idiosyncratic consciousness and the utter privacy of deeply informed thought and feeling left to us by individual artists.”    

(Sources: Michael Hollins’ interview and Cinemad’s interview with Phil Solomon)


Saul Levine:

“I evolved a film practice in dialog with other filmmakers and artists I was seeing and meeting.  I tried to film what was going on around me and value it as much as the heroics of the big screen.”

-Saul Levine


Saul Levine born in New Haven, Connecticut, is an advocate and creator of avant-garde film.  Levine, currently a professor at MassArt where he has taught for the past 30 years, has been making films since 1965, with many of his works screened worldwide.  His most recent films have been exhibited internationally in Shanghai, Paris and Rotterdam. 

When discussing his beginnings in experimental cinema, Levine explained “I would sometimes think I wanted to make films but even though I loved movies there was nothing I was seeing that I wanted to make.”  The filmmaker’s exposure to avant-garde cinema at Yale’s AV department initiated a personal revelation.  “I saw cinemas ability to represent figures in time and space poetically could be a paradigm of consciousness,” Levine said.  “I saw that I could use film to understand the world around me directly.”

Levine developed an insight into what technical aspects of filmmaking could contribute to the sentiment of a film, as he explained his method of using “editing to make relationships between what I was seeing in front of the camera and what was going on in my mind.  I stopped making editing decisions based on story and started making them based on shape, memory and association.”   

Levine’s latest film, Light Lick: Daily Camera, was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.

Light Lick: Daily Camera is the most recent entry into Levine’s “Light Licks” film series, described by the artist as “a series of films that are made frame by frame by flooding the camera with enough light to spill beyond the gate into frames left unexposed.”  Levine’s draws inspiration from various sources for “Light Licks.” The filmmaker described them as “ecstatic flicker films inspired by jazz and mystic visionary practice.” 

“The ‘Light Licks’ extend my interest the ways film can be a media of visual improvisations,” Levine said.  “It also has allowed me to find new ways of using the camera to make images.” 

(Sources: Top quote and others extracted Saul Levine’s artistic statement- available at  All other quotes extracted from Michael Hollins’ interview with Saul Levine)

Timoleon Wilkins:

“I started making Super 8 films at the age of 13 (1982). The usual attempts at imitating Hollywood narrative were made, but I was much more excited by the apparatus of the camera, the unexpected and unique capabilities of filmstock with regards to light, color, movement, animation, and lastly, the potentials of recording sound after-the-fact with the Super 8 magnetic sound projector.”

-Timoleon Wilkins


Timoleon Wilkins has been an avant-garde filmmaker since 1982, garnering tremendous respect for his work throughout the past three decades.  Wilkins reflected on his early development as an artist, as he explained “I realized that my skills at 'playing' with the medium could be honed and molded into films with emotional meaning.  It was hugely liberating and absolutely natural for me since I had already been an 'experimental' filmmaker without even knowing it.”


Wilkins’ film Drifter was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI. 


Drifter is comprised of fragments from the filmmaker’s life, home and travels, recorded over a 14-year period.  Wilkins described the evolution of the film, as he recalled “Drifter was not inspired by any one particular thing. It took shape after years of collecting footage in all the places I had lived and traveled over 14 years. I started to recognize similarities in various pieces of footage and then I set out to put it together, guided mostly by intuition. When it was near finished (starting to have the right 'feel') the title came to me; it is an expression of my personality--I felt like a Drifter and idealized myself as a Drifter during this period of my life, for better and for worse.”


The film highlights the glories of atmospheric light and colour, inward soul-drifting, and the literal sensation of difting within and through each shot and cut.  Wilkins expanded on this, as he noted “the drifting exists on multiple levels.  First is the way in which the camera or subject matter itself moves; second, there is the continuity of this sensation carried from shot to shot, or over a series of shots, and the way the cuts themselves either encourage or give pause to it; finally, there are all the references to drifting, either cultural, or literal.”


Drifter is a purely visual experience, allowing viewers’ eyes to soak in sensations without any interruptions of sound.  Wilkins utilized the engrossing nature of film without sound and described his personal pleasure of such works.  “I very much enjoy the sounds inside my own head that occur while watching a visually rich silent film,” Wilkins said.  “Most people are not accustomed to listening to themselves in silence, but it can be a rewarding experience, and I find the movement, color and rhythms of film can encourage musical tones, rhythms and even dialogue in one's brain.”


(Source: Michael Hollins’ interview with Timoleon Wilkins)

Siegfried A. Fruhauf:

Siegfried A. Fruhauf is an Austrian director, whose work in experimental cinema is celebrated worldwide.  His films have been shown internationally at venues such as the Cannes and Venice film festivals. 

Fruhauf’s film Tranquility was screened at the October 26 TIE festival in Milwaukee, WI.

Bert Rebhandl described Tranquility as “a vacation daydream, a record of a flight of fantasy fluttering away, limitless consciousness raising which ends in a state of total relaxation.” 

(Source: Dissolution Film Portrait)


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