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Film Finale

San Jose's ciné16 ends its regular run of Thursday 16 mm nights

By Richard von Busack

THURSDAY, Oct. 28, is the last regularly scheduled ciné16 screening in San Jose. In its eight years of programming, ciné16 screened more than 1,500 films. Local archivist Geoff Alexander saved countless 16 mm films from near-extinction; these films comprise an art form, as he notes, that "rests somewhat uncomfortably in the uneasy stratum between the antique and the forgotten and hasn't been outmoded long enough to provoke the national interest it deserves." The Academic Film Archive of North America is making plans for a 2005 schedule on a less regular basis; in the meantime, the AFANA people are planning for expansion to other cities, a book and, some day, another regular local venue. Along with such focal points as Savers Thrift Store, the Time Tunnel, Streetlight Records and San Jose Giants games at Municipal Stadium, ciné16 seemed like an essential part of the local cultural scene. The programming of Alexander, Barinda Samra, Rob McGlynn and Michael Selic gave something to the community that may only really be appreciated now that it's all over.

The program features: Bate's Car: Sweet as a Nut (1974, 15 min.), directed by Tony Ianzelo. As parodied in the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comix: Harold Bate's chicken-shite mobile, running on pure, natural methane. Fiddle De Dee (1947; 3 min.), directed by Norman McLaren and featuring abstract animation set to trad Quebecois fiddle. Doubletalk (1976; 10 min.), directed by Alan Beattie and boasting dating dos and don'ts, in the style of area writer Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude: while observing that marvelous ritual of meeting the parents before a date, we're privy to the thoughts of all parties concerned. Le Paysagiste, a.k.a. Mindscape (1976, 8 min.), directed by Jacques Drouin and composed on the original pin screen of Alexandre Alexeieff. Pin screen is a form of mechanical pixelation that bids to be called one of the most difficult of all the unforgiving ways we make still objects act, move and dance.

A Dog's Tale: A Mexican Parable (1986, 4 min.), directed by Caroline Leaf. A dog has his day, telling a story about his side of things. Host Alexander likens this live-action film by the great unknown animator to Diaghilev's 20th-century ballet sets, but for me it reminds me of the large unsettling chair on the cover of Los Lobos' Kiko. This rarely screened cartoon exemplifies the discoveries made by the AFANA. Ohrid Express (1972, 12 min.), directed by Robert Legrande and Jean Dasque. In Macedonia, a narrow-gauge train runs its route through the mountains. Slima the Dhowmaker (1978, 30 min.), directed by Paul Saltzman. In Zanzibar, a village gets together to build a handmade boat. Like the best episode ever of This Old House. Gerald McBoingBoing (1950, 10 min.), directed by Robert Cannon. One of the treasures of UPA, a Dr. Seuss story about a boy who speaks in sound effects. The series bows out with Liberace (1955?, 10 min.). A renowned pianist who discovered the harmonizing between "Three Little Fishies" and a Chopin nocturne, the owner of a rhinestone as big as a toaster, a man who laughed all the way to the bank while we mere mortals cry all the way to ours, and one of the great all-time Batman villains, who near as damn it sewed the Dynamic Duo to a pair of matresses—the human embodiment of the term "swank" bids you all a gracious, well-bred "adieu."

ciné16 plays Oct. 28 at 7pm in San Jose in the basement of the Agenda Lounge, 399 S. First St; www.afana.org; free.

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From the October 27-November 2, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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