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REDCAT--a theater at age 5

November 28, 2008 |  4:40 pm

Dumb_type Is REDCAT still a cool addition to the city's cultural scene?

On view now through Jan. 18:  "9 Scripts From a Nation at War," a video installation that explores the role of language in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; on Jan. 10, there will be a five-hour public reading of 18 tribunals held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Dec. 3-7 David Gordon's "Trying Times (Remembered)" returns to the stage for the first time since 1982. "The landmark 'Trying Times' is his purposefully 'anti-signature' piece, linking a range of movement, visual devices and dialogue to weave a course between droll off-handedness and precisely calibrated design," says the publicity.
       Next, on Dec. 8 performance artist Joan Jonas presents a theatrical version of a work that considers two literary sources: Dante and German historian Aby Warburg.
      These programs epitomize the knotty, left-of-center work that has been filling Disney Hall's REDCAT theater and adjoining gallery for five seasons now. On this occasion, The Times asked its theater, classical music and art critics to consider the programming so far.
      Hint -- they don't agree on REDCAT's record. 

Photo: In its first days of operation in 2003, REDCAT hosted the Japanese new media and performance collective that goes by the lowercase name dumb type. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (12)

I'm surprised and disappointed that there is no mention of Red Cat's Film/Video program. I live in San Diego and look forward to the screenings at Red Cat on Monday nights. I make this 3 hour drive knowing that most of these films/videos will never trickle down to San Diego or any of the surrounding cities in LA. In fact, most of these films/videos will never go to DVD or get uploaded to YouTube. They push the boundaries of visual and sound design and offer a range of edgy content that the studios would never consider. Please recognize and publicize this unique and reputable film/video program. Not informing the greater community about Red Cat's film/video screenings is an unfortunate oversight and a loss for Southern California.

I agree with the previous comment - REDCAT has become one of the best of the very few venues in Southern California for visionary film and video. All of the REDCAT film and video events I've attended in the past year have had sold out audiences that stay for the q&a with the artists. Los Angeles needs to have these screenings reviewed and promoted by the LA Times so that audiences stay informed and keep coming.

I would like to congratulate the Times on the well-deserved acknowledgement of Redcat’s contribution to Los Angeles’s cultural landscape. However I must concur that the omission of Redcat’s excellent film and video program is a significant oversight.

For many years, Los Angeles ironically was given “second city” status in the international community of experimental cinema. This began to change over the past ten years with a fortunate confluence of events that has included the revitalization of Film Forum under the direction of Adam Hyman, a series of world-class symposia coordinated by Rani Singh at the Getty, and the emergence of Redcat as one of the nation’s highest profile avant-garde venues, expertly curated by Steve Anker and Berenice Reynaud.

Redcat has not only managed to present a long string of major international film artists, it has regularly done so with the highest technical standards to sold-out houses; playing a major role with its sister organizations in creating a citywide context for the understanding and reception of this most elusive of art forms. They have quietly created a shadow culture as it were, to the dominant image of Los Angeles as the exclusive home of mainstream cinema. I invite the Times to consider an evaluation of Redcat’s cinema programming as a vital component of the wonderful cross-disciplinary experiment in our revitalized downtown.

While we are very grateful to see REDCAT’s curatorial achievements highlighted by the LA Times, we are puzzled to discover that only the Theater and the Music Programs are mentioned, as well as the Exhibition Space, but not the Film/Video Program.
When the Los Angeles Times used to run a weekly column called “Screening Room” devoted to “alternative” screenings, the critics in charge were interested enough in REDCAT’s Film and Video Program to discuss and review it on more than one occasion – and their response and analysis was always welcome. Not only did it allow us to reach a wider audience, but it also created a welcome dialogue about the nature, function and aesthetics of non-commercial cinema.
It should not be assumed that Los Angeles, as a city, is only concerned with Hollywood. As proven by the works of solid historians such as William Moritz (who taught at the California Institute of the Arts from 1987 to his death in 2004) and David James (currently teaching at USC and author of The Most Typical Avant-Garde) there has been a filmic avant-garde in Los Angeles from very early on, and neglecting to cover “alternative screenings” is de facto eradicating a very important chapter of our cultural history. Moreover, due to the fact that “the industry” provides jobs for young artists, there is a very vibrant independent film community here – which, in addition to people waiting for a 3-picture deal from the studios, includes many young film- and video-makers who are genuinely passionate about using cinema as an art form and a medium for personal expression and formal exploration. Finally in Los Angeles there are a number of extraordinary venues dedicated to showing non-commercial cinema (some of them having a long and respectable history), such as the Los Angeles Filmforum, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the Echo Park Film Center, the Silent Movie Theater, Outfest, the film/video programs at the Getty Center and LACMA, or the American Cinematheque. In our five years of existence, as the Co-Curators of Film at REDCAT, we have collaborated on various projects with these venues – in order to foster a genuine alternative film scene in Los Angeles. A number of such curators have joined efforts and formed the LA Film Programmers Group, whose members are in permanent touch via e-mail and meet from time to time to exchange ideas, discuss common programming and other efforts together.
We are saddened by the fact that the Film/Video Program at REDCAT was not reviewed with the same care and the same insights as the other programs in the space. We are ever more saddened by the fact that the Los Angeles Times seems to have lost interest in covering alternative film screenings and the work of the people who curate them. We would be very happy to discuss the situation further with you and make it possible for these film/video programs, that are vital for the cultural life of Los Angeles, get the kind of journalistic attention and critical analysis they deserve.

Warm Wishes,

Steve Anker
Co-Curator, Film at REDCAT
Dean, School of Film/Video, California Institute of the Arts

Bérénice Reynaud
Co-Curator, Film at REDCAT
Faculty, School of Film/Video, California Institute of the Arts

I was happy that finally REDCAT was highlighted by the LA times, but was very disappointed that there is nothing mentioned about film/video program. Since we are exposed big budget blockbuster just being in L.A, I really appreciated that REDCAT film/video program has been introducing true cinema from all over the world. Before REDCAT film/video program, I always had to drive another 40 minutes after work to see some non-commercial film at UCLA, and I have missed so many of them because of that. But now I only have to drive 15 minutes to REDCAT. As everything seem located in west side, I also would like to mentioned that REDCAT brought east side some important cultural venue.... I also would like to mentioned that REDCAT film/video program brought many different point of views from different film makers to us. I am always amazed by curator's eyes: Berenice Reynaud and Steve Anker and their tastefulness. I really think that REDCAT film/video program should be highlighted among other program at REDCAT!!!

Thank you for your article highlighting some of the wonderful programs at REDCAT. However, it is a shame that you neglected to mention the exquisite Film/Video programming by Berenice Reynaud and Steve Anker. For five years, I have set aside my Mondays evenings, fully trusting that I will be inspired by the courageous film and videos presented. As a teacher of youth, I send students brimming with an affinity for the avant-grade to these special evenings. As Legacy Project Manager at Outfest, I am encouraged to see that LGBT films are programmed regularly. I am inspired by Berenice and Steve’s breadth of programming; there is a deliberate focus upon presenting international and people of color artists. As a filmmaker/artist, I love attending these screenings to be among 'my people'. Personally and professionally these evenings have evolved my creative sensibility and more importantly, has created a community where people are stirred to be bold in their artistic work and lives.

After reading the articles this past Sunday on REDCAT’s five year anniversary, I feel compelled to respond. The exclusion in the discussion of the film and video program at REDCAT is a major oversight. I realize that of late the Los Angeles Times has decided to cut back on any thoughtful engagement with the diverse “alternative” film programs available to its readers, but to cover the other arts at REDCAT without any inclusion of the film program is negligent. The experimental and avant-garde film programming at REDCAT is expertly curated by Bérénice Reynaud and Steve Anker and is considered world class. They have developed a reputation for continually bringing in challenging, diverse and thoughtful work, often times with the rare opportunity to have the filmmakers in attendance. The Monday night series are always well attended. The film/video programs at REDCAT are of the highest caliber and they deserve to be recognized as such.

I was appalled-- though not at all surprised-- by the omission from last Sunday’s special feature on Redcat of any mention of the film series curated by Berenice Reynaud and Steve Anker. Along with Adam Hyman’s screenings at the Film Forum (similarly ignored by the Times for the last decade or so) and several other recent developments, the Redcat screenings have dramatically transformed the access for the people of Los Angeles to cinema that in some way stands outside or contests its industrial usage and capacity for capital investment. Los Angles may well be the city of Hollywood but, despite the Times’s cultural myopia, there is more in Los Angeles than Hollywood. For the past five years, Reynaud and Anker have done a remarkable job of bringing us the best of several kinds of alternative, avant-garde and art cinemas. Their program has always been good, and usually it has been great: imaginative, innovative, courageous, and very rewarding. You owe an apology to them-- and to the many different and different kinds the people-- who have appreciated their immense contributions.

Professor David E. James, Acting Chair, Critical Studies, School of Cinematic Arts, USC.

I think most would agree that REDCAT, as a major Los Angeles art institution, would not be complete without its stellar film and video program. So it is, at the very least, puzzling that it should be ignored. The Times assembled its esteemed art, music, and theater critics to comment on the space, and no doubt it has excellent film critics who would have been qualified to talk about Steve Anker and Berenice Reynaud’s intelligent, passionate, and provocative programming. Others have already discussed the significance and relevance of REDCAT film and video to Los Angeles’ cultural life; I see this firsthand in the diversity and enthusiasm of the people who attend screenings, crowd the theater, and stay late for filmmaker Q&As. It’s also apparent in the screenings themselves, which bring to our city the best from international film festivals, rare and forgotten cinematic gems, and the most visionary of emerging talent. The oversight by the Times is disappointing, and worse, it’s brazenly irresponsible.

I appreciate the coverage of “our big desire for epic films” - I just watched the new Bond and Batman flicks myself. Fun. But I find both art and entertainment in the films that play REDCAT. Thrills, chills, comedy, romance, intelligence, emotion and even total epics, like Peter Hutton’s AT SEA or Pedro Costa’s COLOSSAL YOUTH or Frederick Wiseman’s HOSPITAL, all packing more real world weight and incredible imagery than the usual big budget film.

You cover award-winners – Wiseman has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim, three Emmys, a Peabody Award, and honorary doctorates. You cover film legends – that should include Kenneth Anger, Robert Breer, Chantal Akerman and Daniele Huillet when they screen, I believe. Plus the essential new work of Nina Menkes, Craig Baldwin and the new Chinese film scene, discoveries of new talent, and just plain fun ranging from VIVA to Pixar’s shorts.

The craziest part of REDCAT is the 16mm projection – a format that is crumbling all over the world for film exhibition is huge and glorious at REDCAT. It’s unheard of these days.

Not asking for special treatment, just fair representation of arts and entertainment. The crowd at REDCAT film shows is younger than you might think. You might latch on to a whole new readership looking for information on all things cool and unusual.

-Mike Plante
Programmer, CineVegas
Programming Associate, Sundance
Publisher, Cinemad

I'm a big fan of Film at REDCAT and look forward to your future coverage of REDCAT's film and video events!

My name is Paolo Davanzo and I am an educator, filmmaker and the director/co-founder of the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. Excuse me for joining this discussion so late in the game, however I must echo the sentiments of the previous postings and reiterate that your coverage of RED CAT’s 5th year anniversary, though appreciated, was sadly missing any mention of the film and video series. In a town so easily seduced by the allure of Hollywood and overnight fame, RED CAT’s film and video programming provides a vital and vibrant access to truly alternative cinema in our city. For the past 5 years, Steve Anker and Berenice Reynaud have passionately currated an array of cinematic gems and delights that nurture our cinematic dreams and hopes as a community. In an anonymous landscape such as Los Angeles, cinema has the power and to bring us together. Please do not let these magical moments go unnoticed and in the future help us nourish the cinematic soul of our city.


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