Henry Hills’ American Avant-Garde class will meet this semester as 3 modules (the second week of each month), which can be taken separately for 1 credit each, or all together for 3 credits. There will be 4 class sessions each module, plus 2 outside screenings. Each of the weeks there will be a visiting guest American experimental filmmaker.





1a. Friday, October 9, 10:00-13:00 FAMU Auditorium

2a. Friday, October 9, 15:00-18:00 FAMU Auditorium

3a. Saturday, October 10, 9:00-12:00 classroom 3

4a. Saturday, October 10, 13:30-16:00 classroom 3


additional screenings:


5:30 Tuesday Oct 6, Ponrepo, Michael Snow’s RAMEAU’S NEPHEW  (4 ½ hours)


8:00 Thursday, Oct 8, Ponrepo, guest filmmaker ABRAHAM RAVETT with 16mm films






1b. Friday, November 13, 10:00-13:00 FAMU Auditorium

2b. Friday, November 13, 15:00-18:00 FAMU Auditorium

3b. Saturday, November 14, 9:00-12:00 classroom 3

4b. Saturday, November 14, 13:30-16:00 classroom 3


additional screenings:


8:00 Wednesday, Nov 11, Ponrepo, visiting filmmaker PETER HUTTON with AT SEA


7:00 Thursday, Nov 12, Skolska 28 Gallery, visiting filmmaker PETER HUTTON with early 16mm films






1c. Friday, December 11, 10:00-13:00 FAMU Auditorium

2c. Friday, December 11, 15:00-18:00 FAMU Auditorium

3c. Saturday, December 12, 9:00-12:00 classroom 3

4c. Saturday, December 12, 13:30-16:00 classroom 3


additional screenings:


8:00 Tuesday, December 8, Ponrepo, S:TREAM:S:S:ECTION:S:ECTION:S:S:S:ECTIONED by  Paul Sharits, FLEMING FALOONS by Owen Land (George Landow), & EYE WASH by Robert Breer (new 16mm restorations from Anthology Film Archives)


8:00 Thursday, Dec 10, Ponrepo, guest filmmaker STEPHANIE BARBER with 16mm films



Course description

Viewing the dominance of narrative in film and the consequent hegemony of Hollywood as an historical anomaly owing to the economics of film production (an issue from the pre-digital past, now that filmmaking, like record collecting, has become essentially free), we will explore fringe work as an alternative reality which contains seeds of a positive future vision for moving-imagery, i.e., avant-garde film will be viewed as a model of consciousness seeking expansion. Ideally this will be a study of works in which form and content are perfectly merged, the focus being on film as a thing itself, not films “about” something. We will view as many films as possible, films that bounce off each other in different ways. Availability on DVD is redefining film history, and such access plays a major role in the structure of this course.



Students must keep a JOURNAL of experimental films they see, both in class and outside. This should include sufficient information to convince me that you have seen the films, plus commentary indicating that some of what you have seen has given you some thoughts. These journals are due (by e-mail) the week after each module. All four screening must be attended to receive credit for that module!




class 1a : “Early Cinema and It’s Influence”

            William Kennedy Laurie Dickson  EARLIEST EDISON FILMS vs. Andy Warhol’s BLOW JOB, the Library of Congress Paperprint Collection vs. Ken Jacobs


class 2a: Guest Filmmaker Abraham Ravett


class 3a:  60’s Underground Film pt 1 (San Francisco): Christopher MacLaine, Jordan Belson, Bruce Conner, Robert Nelson


class 4a. Maya Deren




class 1b: Stan Brakhage


class 2b:  60’s Underground Film pt 2: Harry Smith, Marie Menken, Kenneth Anger, Wallace Berman, William Burroughs, Pat O’Neill


class 3b:  20’s & 30’s: Man Ray, the American version of BALLET MECANIQUE, Ralph Steiner, Joseph Cornell, Busby Berkeley


class 4b:  Hollis Frampton ZORNS’S LEMMA, Robert Beavers FROM THE  NOTEBOOK OF



class 1c: Jack Smith (FLAMING CREATURES by Smith, CHUMLUM by Ron Rice, BLOND COBRA by Ken Jacobs)


class 2c: Guest Filmmaker Stephanie Barber


class 3c: Leslie Thornton, Su Friedrich, Peggy Ahwesh, & Abigail Child


class 4c: new films by Lewis Klahr, Jennifer Reeves, Ben Russell, Fred Worden, & Henry Hills




HENRY HILLS (, a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, has been making dense, intensely rhythmic experimental films since 1975. Owing to a personal involvement in film scenes in San Francisco in the 70’s & 80’s & in New York from the 80s to the present, and his activities as a curator, he has a personal relationship with almost all the major figures in the Experimental Film movement. He is intimate with the evolving concerns and thus can present a first-hand history, both anecdotal and theoretical. His own work, which seeks abstraction within sharply-focused naturalistic imagery, the eternal within the temporal, and the ethereal within the mundane, promotes an active attentiveness through a relentlessly concentrated montage. He brings a long association with various other art scenes as well, including  “language” poetry, John Zorn & the “downtown” improvised music scene, and Sally Silvers & post-modern dance. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, was included in the Whitney Museum “The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000” program, and screened in last year’s New York and San Francisco film festivals. A DVD of his selected 16mm films has just been released by Tzadik (


ABRAHAM RAVETT ( is the child of Auschwitz survivors and much of his poignant work is concerned with remembering and trying to comprehend the atrocity of the holocaust. Born in Poland in 1947, he was raised in Israel and emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1955. A prolific, widely screened, and much honored filmmaker, Ravett teaches filmmaking and photography at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA.


PETER HUTTON is known primarily for his silent cinematic portraits of cities and landscapes. A former merchant seaman, he has spent nearly forty years voyaging around the world to create sublimely meditative, luminously photographed, and intimately diaristic studies of place, from the Yangtze River to the Polish industrial city of Lodz, and from northern Iceland to a ship graveyard on the Bangladeshi shore. He has also worked as a professional cinematographer, most notably for his former student Ken Burns. Since 1989 he has served as the director of the Film and Electronic Arts Program at Bard College. In May 2008 the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a full retrospective of Hutton's films.


STEPHANIE BARBER (, a strange and energetic younger filmmaker and poet currently living in Baltimore, who has been extremely active over the decade producing works which are ‘by turns homespun and high-philosophic, lo-fi and literary, delicate and punk-rock,’ and has had recent screenings at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York & Rotterdam Film Festivals.