Janie Geiser

Terrace 49 (2004) 16mm, color, 5.5 min

Genre: Experimental

Images of impending disaster- slamming doors, a truck careening down a hill, and a frayed, almost snapping, elevator rope collide with the repeated image of a woman - body, cycling toward ephemerality as the woman disappears into the texture of the film itself. In my recent films, I have been exploring the possibilities found in merging video texture with film, creating a lush, disorienting, ambiguous film space, and an atmosphere a temporal suspension. In Terrace 49, I further break up this space, dividing the film frame into shards, as fractured as memory and as fragile as glass.

16mm Rental: $30.00

Janie Geiser

Babel Town (1992) 16mm, color, 8 min

Genre: Animation, Experimental

"In BABEL TOWN Janie Geiser extends her puppet performances to film, creating neither a filmed record of a puppet show, nor an exercise in puppet animation. Instead Geiser uses film and puppets to create a fable that glides between the animate and the inanimate, the miniature and the monumental. Through a window, a Girl escapes from a house where parental conflicts seem to hammer down the roof. Gliding through a dream-like environment, in her newfound freedom she encounters dangerous hurdles: rhythmically slicing scissors and the construction of a massive Tower of Babel, all accompanied by a percussive soundtrack of clicks, clangs, snips, sudden tocsins and tapped-out messages. Returning home, she discovers she has undergone an Alice in Wonderland-like change in scale and no longer fits in the confined boxes of family security. Her parents watch their now giant daughter through the window. "Geiser constructs a truly dream-like nighttime odyssey in which liberation is closely followed by threats, and escape from immediate family conflicts seems only a prologue to an encounter with demonic tools, hammers and scissors, which construct a larger (but still controlling) reality around the wandering Girl. In the Book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel led to the creation of multiple languages, and here the titanic heads that appear behind the tower linked by ribbons inscribed with hieroglyphics evoke an encounter with the power of language which can either further constrict the Girl or truly liberate her. Although she remains outside the house of her original confinement, there seems to be some regret as she explores the now diminutive houses with one hand, like a dollhouse of forgotten games, only to slink away like a surprised burglar as a flashlight beam illuminates her. The space she disappears into is ambiguous, like the freedom and threat she has found on her nocturnal journey. Was it all a dream? The hammering down of reality continues." -- Tom Gunning

Rental: $40.00
16mm Rental: $40.00

Janie Geiser

Red Book, The (1994) 16mm, color, 11 min

Genre: Animation, Experimental

Keywords: Psychology & Mental Health

THE RED BOOK is an elliptical, pictographic animated film that uses flat, painted figures and collage elements in both two and three dimensional settings to explore the realms of memory, language and identity from the point of view of a woman amnesiac. THE RED BOOK suggests the ways in which language defines us, and reaches back into dismemberment myths about the creation of different tongues through the breaking apart of bodies (in this case, the woman's body). As the film progresses, the submerged images of her stored memory appear and collide with the present world in circular rhythms, and there is a sense of irretrievable loss. "Images appear as in a graceful collage: glimpses of words are written in white vanishing ink; a woman is drawn in outline, as if she were a paper doll made of red construction paper. Everything is red, white, black, or gray in this smashing little film, which has graphic flair and a surrealistic edge." -- Caryn James, The New York Times

Rental: $35.00
16mm Rental: $35.00

Janie Geiser

Secret Story, The (1996) 16mm, color, 8.5 min

Genre: Animation, Experimental

Keywords: Children & Youth

THE SECRET STORY arose as a response to several beautifully decayed toy figures from the 1930s that were given to me as a gift. These figures, and other toys, objects and illustrations that I found from the period between the world wars, suggested a kind of unearthed hidden narrative which I have attempted to re-piece together, as if these figures were the hieroglyphics of a just-forgotten tongue. THE SECRET STORY revolves around the central figure of the woman, and her girl-double, who look somewhat like versions of Snow White. She wanders through landscapes of rivers and floods, home and war, and memory and illness, culminating in an ecstatic walk in the forest, suggesting both the dark and cathartic trajectories of the richest fairy tales. In his review of the 1996 New York Film Festival in Film Comment, Paul Arthur writes: "Geiser's film ... creates a child's vision of domestic immersion and foreboding out of crudely articulated antique dolls, toy blocks, and paper cutouts. Against a photographic background of a floodbound house, figures of mother and daughter exchange symbiotic knowledge of household routines, tasks, or games .... Recurrent images of a doctor and a nun, along with shifting veils of color, evoke a condition merging physical illness with spiritual floating. Although the 'secret' is never spelled out, the degree of emotional affect generated by or around Geiser's expressionless objects is compelling." THE SECRET STORY was chosen by Film Comment's Gavin Smith as one of the Best Short Films of 1996.

Rental: $40.00
16mm Rental: $40.00

Janie Geiser

Immer Zu (1997) 16mm, black and white, 8 min

Genre: Animation

Keywords: Psychology & Mental Health

IMMER ZU is an elliptical, experimental animated film which evokes a mysterious undercover world of secret messages, cryptic language and indecipherable codes. Shot in luminous black and white, IMMER ZU uses miniature two and three dimensional figures and sets, as well as shadow puppetry, to suggest the urgency of a nocturnal mission, a mission of life and death importance. In this dark and richly atmospheric film, with a soundtrack collaged from several film noirs, meaning is constantly covered and uncovered in a shadowed journey toward eclipse. "The dark-meshed moires of the memory book in its pulp fiction edition forms obsidian riddles that cut time to ribbons. Life puts us in the critical condition of having to espionage with our own stolen recollection of events preserving them in code often difficult to retrieve as it sinks into the limited access of the mental underworld." -- Mark McElhatten, from the program for the 1998 New York Film Festival's Avant-Garde Visions

Rental: $30.00
16mm Rental: $30.00

Janie Geiser

Fourth Watch, The (2000) 16mm, color, 9 min

Genre: Experimental

Keywords: Films about Film, Media, Psychology & Mental Health

The ancient Greeks divided the night into four sections; the last section before morning was called the fourth watch. In these hours before dawn, an endless succession of rooms is inhabited by silent film figures occupying flickering space in a mid-century house made of printed tin. Their presence is at once inevitable and uncanny. A boy turns his head in dread, a woman's eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet which dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind disappearing windows. The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light. It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls. Mark McElhatten, co-curator of the 2000 New York Film Festival's Views From the Avant-Garde, where The Fourth Watch premiered, writes: "A small masterpiece of the uncanny brought about through beautifully controlled use of superimposition and scale and a cross breeding of "incompatible" species of texture and (cathode-solar) light. Glacial blue poltergeist -- somnabulists, melodramatic stars and damaged children from silent films -- emerge at night into a tin dollhouse opening up invisible envelopes of space, comingling with hypnoticic chiaroscuro cast by trembling sunlight." Kristin M. Jones, in her review "NYFF: Views from the Avant-Garde" in the November-December 2000 issue of Film Comment, writes: "Of the three Janie Geiser works screened, perhaps most haunting was The Fourth Watch, in which images of people in black-and-white movies rephotographed from a video monitor are superimposed on shots of a dollhouse interior. Bluish, spectral figures float by as sunlight mingles with flickering shadows on brightly colored tin. A beautiful somnambulist vanishing into TV bar rolls suggests a poetic metaphor for the current state of avant-garde cinema, when the medium's past, future, and even its own death are being transformed into material for provocative new films."

Rental: $30.00
16mm Rental: $30.00

Janie Geiser

Lost Motion (2000) 16mm, color, 11 min

Genre: Experimental

Lost Motion uses small cast metal figures, toy trains, decayed skyscrapers, and other found objects to follow a man's search for a mysterious woman. From an illegible note found on a dollhouse bed, through impossible landscapes, the man waits for her train which never arrives. His wanderings lead him to the other side of the tracks, a forgotten landscape of derelict erector- set buildings populated by lost souls. Dream merges with nightmare in this post-industrial land of vivid night. Fred Camper writes in the Chicago Reader (May 25, 2000): "Lost Motion is the sumptuously told tale of a failed search... In her most visually lush film to date, Geiser superimposes images and drapes her scenes in moving shadow patterns. She depicts the train's arrival by superimposing images of dolls exiting model trains over the searching man's figure... Ultimately the film's fragmentary constructions become more than modernist denials of illusion and assertions of materiality.: essential to the film's tone, Geiser's obviously illusory images evoke strong feelings as the mundane drama of a failed meeting becomes intertwined with an essay on the way our lushest dreams fail by virtue of their very extravagance."

Rental: $30.00
16mm Rental: $30.00

Janie Geiser

Spiral Vessel (2000) 16mm, color, 7 min

Genre: Experimental

Keywords: Psychology & Mental Health

A found psychological test kit yields puzzle figures with cutout ears, cutoff heads, and pullaway body parts. The ear opens into an interior world of shifting science book images which, when isolated, evoke mysteries more than they reveal facts.

Rental: $30.00
16mm Rental: $30.00

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