The Unpossessable Possessor Conversations

Episode 1 Mark Toscano & Jim Trainor

Mark Toscano and Jim Trainor go into depth about their respective films Releasing Human Energies and Harmony. Among other things, you can hear Mark and Jim talk about the origins of so-called “China girls”, anthropomorphic animals, dolphin rape and the fuzziness of animation students.

Mark Toscano

Mark Toscano is a filmmaker, curator, and film preservationist based in Los Angeles. Since 2003, he has worked at the Academy Film Archive, where he specialises in the curation, conservation, and preservation of artists’ films. He works with the collections of over 100 filmmakers, and has overseen the conservation and preservation of hundreds of films. He has curated and presented programmes of archival work at numerous venues and is a programmer and board member of Los Angeles Filmforum, an experimental cinema exhibitor. He has lectured at various universities on experimental film and archiving, and teaches the History of Experimental Animation at CalArts. His films, which have shown in a very select scattering of bewilderingly generous venues, are available for rental from Canyon Cinema and Light Cone.

Jim Trainor

Jim Trainor was born in Philadelphia in 1961 and grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. He attended Columbia University, where he studied English literature, and lived in New York from 1979 to 2000, where he made his first widely screened animated films: The Fetishist, The Bats and The Moschops. In 2000 Trainor accepted a teaching position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In Chicago he has made several more animated films, including Harmony, The Magic Kingdom and The Presentation Theme. All of these animated films were made on 16mm, with marker drawings on paper. In 2010 Trainor received a prize from the Alpert Award in the Arts, which enabled him to realise an idea for a live-action feature, his first, which would use actors to depict the life-cycles of insects. That project resulted in The Pink Egg.

Episode 2 Amy Halpern & Andrew Kim

In this episode we’re very pleased to have Amy Halpern in conversation with Andrew Kim. During the talk, Amy and Andrew discuss the idea of unpossessed possession, possession through the eyes of film as a gift that is never owned. They also review Amy’s response to the ideas we proposed in our introductory essay to the programme, and to some additional questions we sent concerning their own conception of the film machine. They also discuss at length Amy’s film Falling Lessons. This film is not available to stream online, as it is Amy’s wish that the film only be screened in its original 16mm format. To provide some context about the film, here is a quote from the film critic Kevin Thomas:

“Amy Halpern’s 64 minute Falling Lessons is a stunningly sensual, life-affirming experience from a major experimental film artist that is open to myriad meanings. The film is a rhythmic montage of almost 200 faces, human and animals, that Halpern pans vertically, creating a cascade of visages suggesting that while individuals express a range of emotions they remain ultimately enigmas. The glimpses of life going on around all these faces have an unsettling, even apocalyptic quality, and the film forces you to consider living beings and their value collectively rather than selectively. Halpern’s rich, inspired mix of sounds, words and music complements her images perfectly.”

Finally, a word of warning, the audio quality is a little rough on Amy’s side, so please bear with us.

Amy Halpern

Amy Halpern’s films are abstract in their concern with light, movement and the film medium, but they are also human in their elements and themes. The idea which persists throughout her work is that liberation — from social, political, psychological, perceptual and even bodily constraints –, is indeed possible. Committed to encouraging a wider awareness of abstract film, Halpern co-founded two screening cooperatives: the New York Collective for Living Cinema (1972-1982) and the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis (1975-1980). Halpern has collaborated as cinematographer and gaffer on many films. She is currently a member of the classic West coast light show Single Wing Turquoise Bird, performing on liquids and transparencies. Recent work is Assorted Morsels, a suite of eight short film exaltations. It includes Three Minute Hells, Injury On A Theme, By Halves, Palm Down and Elixir.

Andrew Kim

Andrew Kim is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. His films have screened at a variety of venues and festivals including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Images Festival, BAFICI, UnionDocs, and Los Angeles Filmforum, among others. He teaches filmmaking at the California Institute of the Arts and helps manage the Echo Park Film Center, a non-profit media arts center.

Episode 3 Alee Peoples & Mike Stoltz

We join Alee Peoples and Mike Stolz in their kitchen for an in-depth talk about their film Spotlight on a Brick Wall. Mike and Alee have separate artistic practices with their own very singular views and approaches. This is their first collaboration on film. Here they guide us, scene by scene, through their process, touching upon the relationship between stand-up comedy and experimental film, magic and performance plus the ins and outs of shooting with extremely flammable flash paper.

Alee Peoples

Alee Peoples maintains a varied artistic practice that involves screen-printing, sewing, sculpture and film. Currently living in Los Angeles, she has taught youth classes at Echo Park Film Center and shown her sculpture and film work at GAIT and 4th Wall. She has organised tours of her and fellow filmmakers’ works including a 13-date trip across the Southern U.S. in 2014. In the Fall of 2018, her and Mike Stoltz shared their films at microcinemas in The Netherlands and Berlin. Peoples has shown her films at numerous festivals including Edinburgh, Images (Toronto) and New York Film Festival, and at museums and spaces including SFMoMA, Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Pompidou Center, Dirt Palace (Providence) and The Nightingale (Chicago). She is inspired by pedestrian histories, pop song lyrics and invested in the hand-made.

Mike Stoltz

Mike Stoltz is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who works directly with the tools of cinema – images, sound, and time – to reexamine the familiar. His 16mm films and videos have played at festivals and micro-cinemas around the globe. Prior to filmmaking he spent many years involved in every aspect of the DIY music scene, from playing in bands and releasing records to lifting equipment and mopping the floor at the end of the show. He is a member of the the Echo Park Film Center and teaches at various universities in Southern California.