The University of Chicago News Office
Nov. 14, 2006 Press Contact: Julia Morse
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The University of Chicago to host one of three film screenings as part of experimental filmmaker Gunvor Nelson’s final North American tour this week

What/Who: Light Years: Films and Videos by Gunvor Nelson will welcome to Chicago the experimental filmmaker to Chicago for three screenings next week. Chicago, the final of four tour stops this fall, will likely be the end of Nelson’s last United States tour, with this year marking her 40th year as a filmmaker.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, November 16
8 p.m. Friday, November 17
8 p.m. Saturday, November 18

Where: Thursday: the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. Friday: the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis Ave., Room 307 Saturday: Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St.

Background: One of the few women to emerge from San Francisco’s heady independent film scene of the 1960s, Nelson has produced one of the greatest bodies of work in experimental film. Her films and videos are at once intimate studies of life’s emotional landscapes and sensual explorations of image and sound, built up through lush compositions and lyrical montages. Nelson was born in Stockholm in 1931 and moved to the U.S. in the 1950s to attend college. She taught for more than 20 years at the San Francisco Art Institute, also teaching at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago during 1987.

Following a career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and appearances at the Ontario Cinematheque in Toronto and the Pacific Film Archive and San Francisco Cinematheque n Berkeley/San Francisco, Nelson will finish her 2006 U.S. tour with three screenings at three Chicago locations. Nelson will attend screenings at every venue, which will each present a completely different program. The three Chicago screenings will encompass the range and diversity of her career. From her first film “Schmeerguntz,” a critical and deliberately crude attack on idealized femininity to the intensely moving portraits of her young daughter in “My Name is Oona” (1969) and her dying mother in “Time Being” (1991); from poetic ruminations on her native Sweden in “Light Years” (1987) and her dynamic use of painting and collage in “Natural Features” (1990), to her recent use of digital video to create richly textured landscape pieces full of myster in “True to Life” and “New Evidence,” both made in 2006, Nelson has created works that are distinct and exciting. She has become one of the most accomplished and celebrated artists from the avant-garde film world.

A new catalog on Nelson’s work, Evidence, has been published on the occasion of this North American tour. It is available for $10 and is on sale at Chicago Filmmakers. It will also be on sale at all three Chicago screenings next week.

Light Years complete schedule:

  • Program One: 6 p.m. Thursday, November 16
    82 min. Presented as part of Conversations at the Edge.
    Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.
    Admission: $9 general; $7 students; $5 Gene Siskel Film Center members.

    “Schmeerguntz” (1966) is a visceral and brash attack on notions of idealized femininity.

    “Moon’s Pool” (1973): “Photographed under water, live bodies are intercut with natural landscapes, creating powerful mood changes and images surfaced from the unconscious.” — Freude Bartlett

    “Natural Features” (1990): “Perhaps no film has more successfully blended an evident passion for painting with a sensitivity to filmmaking as lush pigments alternate with and punctuate the different photographic layerings.” — Steve Anker

    “New Evidence” (2006): “Shadows traveling, women standing, fires blazing, feet walking and over everything water flowing. A lot of water.” — Nelson

  • Program Two: 8 p.m. Friday, November 17
    68 min. Film Studies Center, the University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis Ave., Cobb Hall, Room 307.
    Free admission to this screening only.

    “My Name is Oona” (1969) is an engaging portrait of her young daughter and is perhaps her most well known film.

    “Red Shift” (1984): “is a meditation on the emotional relationships between three generations of women, explored via daily gestures, everyday events and disjunctive aural traces. Set in the filmmaker’s childhood home in Sweden, the film, made with the assistance of Diane Kitchen, is interwoven with voice-over readings of Calamity Jane’s letters to her daughter.” — MoMA

    “Time Being” (1991) is a delicate and powerful portrait of Nelson’s dying mother.

  • Program Three: 8 p.m. Saturday, November 18
    74 min. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St.
    Admission: $8 general; $7 students; $4 Chicago Filmmakers members.

    “True to Life” (2006) is a journey into plants, a confrontation between the camera and a close thriving territory, as well as a confrontation between this closeness and abrupt distance.

    “Light Years” (1987): “Nelson blends collage animation with highly textured live-action material to create a haunting evocation of her displacement from her native Swedish culture.” — Parabola

    “Tree-Line” (1998): “Travel that only appears to be moving, a kind of repetitious stammering with complex variations in rhyme and locomotion — the image finally arrives, full frame, at a tree.” — MoMA

    Last modified at 10:47 AM CST on Tuesday, November 14, 2006.

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