Off the Screen: Moving Pictures and Written Words: Celebrating The George Kuchar Reader

Copresented by San Francisco Cinematheque

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 • 7:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15, Kanbar Forum


All Ages

Note: There will be no Museum access during this closed-hours program.

George Kuchar (1942–2011) is widely celebrated as one of the premier auteurs of underground cinema. Genuinely audacious and always outrageous, the strikingly original films and videos that George created alone or with his twin brother Mike made him a hero to generations of filmmakers and artists the world over. He left behind an incredible, nearly inexhaustible body of over 350 films and videos and many other expressions of his rampant creativity. The George Kuchar Reader, edited by Andrew Lampert, is a lavish new book containing copious amounts of never-before published and long out-of-print words, comics, and photos. To celebrate the release of this oversized tome, which took over two years in the making, Lampert will read a few selections and present two distinctive, rarely screened 16mm films. A hysterical and insightful recently digitized early 1970s video of George in action on the set will also be unveiled.


Portrait of Ramona (1971, 16mm, 25 min.)
“This movie was made mostly in Brooklyn during some very hot and empty evenings. Since the evenings were so empty, Jane Elford, the star, urged me to get started making another movie (we had completed Pagan Rhapsody the year before). I said "okay," and launched her in a photographed series of telephone calls, not really knowing who was going to be on the other end. I was interested at the time in irrational, neurotic responses and so the heroine was put into unstable situations that I dreamt up because I was making a movie with a plot and there should be some action. . . . Many of the stars appear nude and all I can say is that because of the heat and the general, overall feeling of the film, which is one of the usual desperation and explosive emotions, I couldn't see any other way of them playing it. The general tone of everything was . . ."Why even bother to get dressed?"

The end result is (to me) a rather happy blend of cramped, dark apartments, pumpkin orange people and a lot of music. I sing the vocal to the Portrait of Ramona theme at the end and it's rather frightening but I only meant to sing it with some gusto ... not in the way it turned out: like the final screams of a species doomed to extinction.”
—George Kuchar

Aqueerius (1981, 16mm, 8 min.)
“Young men and woman awash with the vital forces that gush forth from flaccid hoses or dribble relentlessly from turned-on nozzles.”
—George Kuchar

Learn more about The George Kuchar Reader.