In 1967, USC student George Lucas was one of four young filmmakers assigned to make a documentary short on the Arizona set of MacKenna's Gold, the 1969 Western starring Gregory Peck. While his peers went through the usual behind-the-scenes motions, Lucas went off by himself and made 6.18.67, a human-free meditation on the light, landscape and life of the desert.
While Lucas is the Hollywood-identified filmmaker on L.A. Filmforum's Sunday program of experimental works that dialogue with the dominant film industry, many of the shorts, like 6.18.67, exploit Hollywood's means and/or methods of production to launch critiques of the same. (An exception would be the 1949 Kenneth Anger classic Puce Moment, which uncynically thrills to the ecstatic excess of movie-star glamour.)
Highlights include The Life and Death of 9413 — A Hollywood Extra (1928), Robert Florey and Slavko Vorkapich's brilliant silent short, depicting a movie drone's dehumanization through an actor's interaction with masks, models, miniatures and mirrors; and The Death of the Gorilla, Peter Mays' 1968 short consisting of fragments of Hollywood movies, photographed off a TV and stacked into countless superimposed layers. A restoration fresh from the New York Film Festival's "Views From the Avant Garde" program, Mays' assault of flickering images and canned sounds hypnotically portrays Hollywood as a dream apparatus that becomes nightmarish in its very abundance.
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INDUSTRY TOWN: THE AVANT-GARDE AND HOLLYWOOD | L.A. Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre | Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m. | alternativeprojections.com