Exploding Celluloid: "Slow Run" by Larry Kardish

Poster by Matt McKinzie.

On Thursday, November 9th, at 7pm, join us at the FMC Screening Room (475 Park Avenue South, 6th Floor) for the rare opportunity to see Larry Kardish's 1968 feature film SLOW RUN on the big screen, on gorgeous 16mm!


"Inspired by Wheeler Winston Dixon’s The Exploding Eye, an essential survey of lesser-known experimental filmmakers from the 1960s, Chris Van Horn and I share a passion for tracking down neglected feature-length and short avant-garde 16mm that remain un-digitized — ones that usually reside in private collections, public libraries, and mixed-media archives. It’s with our screening series, Exploding Celluloid, that we hope to provide a broader level of accessibility to these types of under-appreciated titles, ones included within The Film-Makers' Cooperative’s vast collection and, hopefully as well, stir up some much-needed renewed interest.

For our second screening, we’ve selected Slow Run (1968), the rarely screened feature-length debut from Laurence ‘Larry’ Kardish, future author and Senior Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art. While it would be easy to contextualize the film within a lineage of emerging Canadian voices from the late 60s—along with the esteemed likes of Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, animator Al Sens, and Robert Cowan—Slow Run is truly an idiosyncratic beast of its own kind, with an aesthetic vision and formalist bent rarely seen in a work this decidedly daffy.

Starring Canadian character actor Saul Rubinek pulling double duty as the film’s unreliable narrator and central performer, Slow Run concerns itself with the musing, trials, and many tribulations of a young Kanuck whose followed his dreams and made his way to the Big Apple, and takes it upon himself to think out loud—in a never-ending, stream-of-conscious rant—about what exactly comes next. Mix one part Warholian exercise in bohemian exploration with one part Rudy Burckhardt-esque documentary of New York during one of the most transformative decades in its history—and add a dash of the comically absurd for good measure—and you’d get something in the general realm of what Kardish was able to accomplish on his first (and to date, only) foray into movie-making.

The film received mixed to muted response upon its release, including less than positive reviews from the New York Times and from Manny Farber in an early issue of Artforum. Marching to the beat of his own drum, Jonas Mekas, in a passionate defense of the film for Village Voice, described it as such: 'One could call it a diary film, perhaps. Or an extended short story. I don't know what it is. There is no plot in the old-fashioned way—there is only LK and New York […] The whole thing is very casual, unpretentious, and you could say, having nothing to do with cinema. But it is. You sit, you relax, you watch, you listen, you go with it (is LK a 'lyrical realist'?).' Likewise, we promise if that you “go with it,” that you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll cry tears of joy (hopefully), you’ll wonder, at times, who exactly this was made for—and yet, above all else, you’ll be thankful to have experienced what’s bound to be one of the strangest unidentified flying objects of your filmgoing life." - Paul Attard




Laurence Kardish – Slow Run, 1968. 16mm, black and white, sound, 80 minutes.