Welcome to the first-ever Ultra Dogme ‘Film Books Round-up’. What I’ve assembled here is a short list of 5 film-focused print publications that I investigated this year and felt like sharing with you. Some were graciously sent to me as review copies and others were ordered on a whim. I hope you will discover a new favorite in at least one of them. Clicking on any of the book titles will take you to the point of purchase on the publisher’s site. Happy reading! -MLP
Modernism by Other Means: The Films of Amit Dutta – 2020, published by Lightcube Books, written by Srikanth Srinivasan ($3.50, PDF only)
This is the first book written on Amit Dutta, and as per the title, it “examines how Dutta’s work strives towards an authentic conception of modernism, one that bypasses Eurocentric rites of passage, inviting us to reframe our ideas of what being modern in art means.” I will abstain from saying much more here, as I’m currently working on a longer piece about it, but suffice to say that this e-book is well worth the (outrageously low!) price. And if you’d like to see it in print — buying the e-book is one way to help make that possible.
The Walden Book – 2003, published by Re:Voir Video, edited by Pip Chodorov and Christian Lebrat (18,96€)
The Walden Book is a fascinating companion to Jonas Mekas’ 1969 opus titled after the American Transcendentalist text by Henry David Thoreau, Walden (though Mekas’ film was originally titled Diaries, Notes and Sketches). The book opens with two enlightening essays — “Film Diary/Diary Film” by David E. James and “Jonas Mekas Celebrates What He Sees: The Moebius Strip” by Jean-Jacques Lebel — before presenting us with “Frame by Frame: The Annotated Walden“, broken down into the 6 reels of the film. Each ‘reel’ of the book begins with the same text of the film’s corresponding scene title card (i.e. GREGORY MARKOPOULOS SHOOTS BACKGROUNDS FOR GALAXIE), and each scene’s annotation offers a quote, often from other filmmakers, sometimes from friends or people featured onscreen, and sometimes from academics such as Scott MacDonald. Everyone from ‘Nick’ Dorsky to P. Adams Sitney is briefly quoted, many of these quotes previously unpublished. Mekas had intended for his visual diaries to be able to be watched piecemeal, as if one were actually reading it; able to watch a single passage and then set it down for deeper consideration before moving on to the next part. It goes without saying that such a practice has been made more than possible (even pedestrian, as I imagine the deeper consideration step is often passed over). Should you decide to watch Walden in such a fashion, whether for the first time or the fifth, The Walden Book is the perfect contextualizing companion.
Non-Fiction 01: Power – 2020, published by Open City Documentary Festival, edited by Matt Turner (£8.00, or buy #1+#2 in a bundle for £12.00)
The article that convinced me to order Non-Fiction #1 was its opener, “Cinematic Counter-Strikes: Želimir Žilnik + Colectivo Los Ingrávidos’ by Greg de Cuir Jr. and if you aren’t sold on that title alone, then I encourage you to take a look at Žilnik’s Black Film and Los Ingrávidos’ Vimeo profile. The rest of the issue features deep-diving essays on far-reaching facets of the idea of documentary, all presented in an eye-pleasing minimal design. The second article in Non-Fiction #1 is by the author of our next book…
Lucid Dreaming: Conversations with 29 Filmmakers – 2020, published by OR Books, written by Pamela Cohn
(Paperback: $26/£23 — E-book: $10/£8 — Print + E-book: $28/£24)
A collection of short interviews with an expansive swath of lesser-known ‘underground’ filmmakers, Lucid Dreaming introduced me to a number of artists working under the radar (i.e. Khavn, Chico Pereira, Karim Aïnouz) in addition to better acquainting me with familiar names whose works I soon hope to investigate further (i.e. Khalik Allah, Deborah Stratman, Ja’Tovia Gary, J.P. Sniadecki). And opening with a Barbara Hammer interview certainly doesn’t hurt. Pamela Cohn’s introductions are straightforward and concise, outlining what she finds most compelling about each artists’ work. Her questions are thoughtful and well-informed.
Infuriating Times #1 (UPDATE: issues #1 and #2 are now available for purchase for $8 each.) –
2020, published by the Chicago Film Society
Only announced on social media and initially mailed out for free (though postage donations are greatly appreciated, and I happily made one to cover the cross-Atlantic shipping) This remarkable little labor of love almost slipped through the cracks, but I managed to snag one of the last copies.
Infuriating Times #1 is best summed up by Nick Pinkerton over on the excellent Employee Picks as “a ‘zine made by the programmers and projectionists of the Chicago Film Society, and a product of energy redirected during the seemingly endless cessation of theatrical film screenings, which begins with a summary of 2020 to-date, in particular the impact of CoVid-19 and its associated fallout on the ecosystem of film distribution and exhibition.”
Finally, although I have not yet read it, I thought you might like to know that a new title, Experimental Film and Photochemical Practices by Kim Knowles is currently only $19.99 (marked down from $99.99!), and it ships worldwide for no additional charge.
Additionally, I’d like to recommend, site unseen, Girl Head: Feminism and Film Materiality by Genevieve Yue ($32 for the paperback, via Fordham University Press)