Chris Kennedy

“Quixote: Bruce Baillie.” May 30, 2012

“It is one thing to write as a poet, another as a historian: the poet can tell things not as they were but as they should have been.”— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“Baillie cuts himself adrift in the land—its history, ideology, topography—in that tense spirit of Otherness inhabiting our long skein of wanderer-thinkers.”—Paul Arthur

Co-founder of Canyon Cinema and the San Francisco Cinematheque and one of the godparents of experimental film, Bruce Baillie (b. 1931) has forged a singular path in his visionary explorations of the world, his exquisite treatment of light and fragmented storytelling influencing successive generations of like-minded filmmakers. (Apichatpong Weerasethakul has pointed to Baillie’s Quick Billy as an inspiration for his own filmmaking.) Quixote, shot on a cross-country journey during 1964 and 1965, is the Baillie film most in need of rediscovery. Joining the ranks of Bob Dylan, Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac in chronicling a tumultuous period in American history from the road, Baillie sets out “to show how in the conquest of our environment in the New World, Americans have isolated themselves from nature and from one another.” Spending time amongst day laborers in California, on the Blackfoot reservations in southern Alberta and making it to Selma, Alabama just days after the first violence against civil rights marchers, Baillie crafts intimate portraits of the people he encounters, then superimposes these episodes over each other to create lucid dream narratives that foresee the explosive years to come, when the frustration against political and economic oppression and the Vietnam War start to inspire definitive movements towards change.

This programme pairs Quixote with Baillie’s evocative contemporaneous short All My Life, Joshua Romphf ’s recent Ride This Country (a portrait of a southern Ontario farm which has a similar eye towards a vanishing agrarian life), and Arthur Lipsett’s acerbic 21-87, which looks at the same time period of Quixote from a decidedly less romantic point of view.

All My Life dir. Bruce Baillie | USA 1966 | 3 min. | 16mm
Ride This Country dir. Joshua Romphf | Canada 2011 | 8 min. | 16mm
Quixote dir. Bruce Baillie | USA 1964-1967 | 45 min. | 16mm
21-87 dir. Arthur Lipsett | Canada 1964 | 10 min. | 16mm Approx. total running time: 66 min.

Joshua Rompf in person.

Wednesday, May 30 , 2012 7:00 pm