Bruce Baillie collection Volumes 1, 2, 3 (1962 - 1971) 3 x DVD5
Bruce Baillie’s odyssey in the 1960s is arguably the central legend of American film art of our nation’s most convulsive decade in living memory. After founding Canyon Cinema in the tiny Redwood-laden East Bay hamlet of Canyon, CA, in 1961 (the organization would eventually evolve into both the independent film distributor of the same name and the ever-vibrant San Francisco Cinematheque), Bruce began a series of Kerouac-ian treks crisscrossing the North American continent. Often living out of a Volkswagen bug, he produced an astonishing series of visionary film masterworks. Taken collectively, this body of work, including Mass for the Dakota Sioux, Quixote, Valentin de las Sierras, Castro Street, and All My Life, was nothing less than the dream odyssey of a film shaman on a mission to diagnose and heal the psychosis at the heart of the American soul. BB finally paused his travels for a period in the mid-’60s, when he joined one of the early experiments in ’60s communal living, Lou Gottlieb’s Morningstar Ranch, in Sebastopol. At Morningstar, Bruce lived rough but maintained an immaculate shed in which he edited several of his major works. It was the idyllic, hippie-period utopian living situation in the midst of being created, but it all came crashing down when hepatitis spread through the ranch, causing several deaths. Bruce’s own severe bout with the disease would soon lead to an unending battle with the then-unknown and unnamed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. During his recovery, Bruce began shooting the hourlong, four-reel Quick Billy, an autobiographical rendering of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, in which a soul’s passage through the stages of death and the afterlife is explored in visionary form for the first three reels, then reworked and burlesqued as a silent movie Western in the last.

3 x DVD5 | NTSC 4:3 | 180 minutes | 2.34 Gb + 2.46 Gb + 2.44 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: none
Genre: Experimental

. Tung (1966) - 5 min. One of Baillie’s sensuous tone poems, Tung is a portrait of a friend; sandy skin and flaxen hair in the early-morning light.
. Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) - 20 min. An experimental film dedicated to the Dakota Sioux, which follows the form of the Christian Mass. A series of images of contemporary America interwoven with the ritual spiriting away of a dead Indian.
. Valentin de las Sierras (1971) - 11 min. Skin, eyes, knees, horses, hair, sun, earth. Old song of Mexican hero, Valentin, sung by blind Jose Santollo Nadiso en Santa Cruz de la Soledad.
. Castro Street (1966) - 11 min. - Inspired by a lesson from Erik Satie, a film in the form of a street: Castro Street, running by the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California.
. All My Life (1966) - 3 min. - The camera pans left across a wooden picket fence during early summer and tilts up into a brilliant blue sky as Ella Fitzgerald’s “All My Life” plays on the soundtrack.

. Here I Am (1962) - 10 min. - Bailie, a Bay Area veteran who founded Canyon Cinema in 1960, filmed some developmentally challenged kids at a special school called the East Bay Developmental Center... Bruce Baillie’s lyrical portrait of an Oakland school for emotionally disturbed children regards the world of the classroom with open curiosity. His camera thrives on the unpredictable movement of students and fog; every new composition is a new window unto the school space. This impressionistic style realizes many small epiphanies of play and private reverie. A soundtrack of bird-song and cello only deepens the quietude. Though filmed in a style akin to cinema-verite, Here I Am flows as a poem.
. Quixote (1965) - 44 min. - The bearded figure at the beginning of Quixote resembles Walt Whitman and the great poet’s influence is palpable in Bruce Baillie’s kaleidoscopic convocation of midcentury America, an under-acknowledged masterpiece of 1960s cinema. Quixote describes a journey across the land and soul of a divided land with the same melancholic wanderlust that infused Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road" and Robert Frank’s "The Americans." Four distinct movements collect a litany of highway signs, Mexican farmhands, desert tarantulas, skyscrapers, high school basketball players, Indian reservations, old time religion, circus acrobats, antiwar demonstrators, wild horses, tycoons, supermarkets, comic books, jazz and the Vietnam War. The land is primary, though its meaning is held suspended in Baillie’s s swooning camera movements and preternatural optical effects. Praised as “the greatest American film you’ve never seen” by critic Chuck Stephens, Quixote remains an entirely unique atlas of the country’s spiritual currents.

. Quick Billy (1971, 55 min), the experience of transformation between life and death, death and birth (or rebirth) in four reels. "[Bruce] Baillie once related a dream in which he, as a doctor, had to suffer the illnesses and then die the deaths of all people," writes Kathleen Michael Connor. "Any human being willing to take on responsibilities for the deaths of others cannot harm them, and this is what the viewer instinctively knows." Film artist Bruce Baillie has committed his whole life to creating a more peaceful world through his art. One of the founders of Canyon Cinema (and, by extension, San Francisco Cinematheque), his works are in the Library of Congress and considered national treasures.

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