Over the past twenty-five years, Scott MacDonald's kaleidoscopic explorations of independent cinema have become the most important chronicle of avant-garde and experimental film in the United States. In this collection of thematically related personal essays and conversations with filmmakers, he takes us on a fascinating journey into many under-explored territories of cinema. MacDonald illuminates topics including race and avant-garde film, the political implications of the nature film, the inventive single shot films of the late 1960s and early 1970s, why men use pornography and what they are looking at when they do, poetry and the poetic in avant-garde film, the widespread failure of film studies academicians to honor those who keep film exhibition alive, and other topics.
Several of the interviews--those with Korean filmmaker Gina Kim, French nature filmmakers Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou (Microcosmos), Canadian media artist Clive Holden, formalist/conceptualist David Gatten, and New York's Film Forum director Karen Cooper--are the first substantial conversations with these filmmakers available in English.
Scott MacDonald is author of the five volumes of the Critical Cinema series (UC Press), of Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor (UC Press), and of several other books on avant-garde film. He is currently Visiting Professor of Film History at Hamilton College and at Harvard University.
"These essays are among Scott MacDonald's best. An added bonus among all this new work is one updated vintage essay from 1981—still the very best essay ever written about the uses of pornography. All the essays are intellectually, personally and viscerally vibrant, coupling substantive recent essays with his trademark, probing interviews with key filmmakers. Each interview is beautifully paired with the essays. Scott MacDonald is a monument to thoughtful knowledge of, and pleasure in, avant-garde cinema."—Linda Williams, author of Screening Sex
"More than any other critic, Scott MacDonald truly explores contemporary experimental cinema, seeking out new works and new artists, reconsidering classics and broadening out our sense of film history from the images on screen to the social, political and economic contexts and debates surrounding them. And yet if MacDonald surveys a complex landscapes, his books never carry the claustrophobia of the archive or academia. This criticism answers the call of the open road, with conversations and companionship with vivid personalities guiding the way, and the sense of high adventure waiting just around the bend."—Tom Gunning, Chair, Committee on Cinema and Media, University of Chicago