From that late fifties until his death in 1987, Will Hindle was a major figure in the American Avant-Garde and what has been called the Personal Film Movement, as defined by a conscious move away from the industrial methods of production toward a more individualistic and idiosyncratic cinema. Incredibly technically adept as well as emotionally astute, Hindle utilized complex optical effects to craft beautiful, evocative and densely-layered short films that play out vividly like dreams and resonate long after. Being neither wholly abstract nor rooted to narrative form, the fictive elements within the films tend to forgo exposition, instead working with the images, colors, and sound to create a strong sensorial experience that channels a deep empathetic response within the viewer.
While Hindle was a contemporary and friend of filmmakers such Stan Brakhage and Bruce Baillie – both of whom rightfully continue to be recognized, within certain circles, for their cinematic contributions – Hindle's own work seems to have fallen into relative obscurity in the time since his passing. This may be in part due to his comparatively small output; he only finished 10 films in his lifetime. (Trekkerriff, the 11th, was finished after his death.) A more likely major contributing factor, however, is the limited availability of decent film prints and the total lack of availability of his works on video.
Hindle himself was opposed to his work being reproduced on video, and while there have obviously been some major advances in video over the past thirty years, his estate has until now remained true to his feelings that his works be seen only on film. While this maintains the integrity and potency of the experience, it could also prove damning, for if people aren't screening the work, there is no way to see it, and if people have not seen the work, they are unlikely to program it (lest they decide to take a chance like this adventuresome curator who has only seen roughly half of Hindle's output).
Thankfully, a number of the prints we will be screening have been recently restored by Mark Toscano of the Academy Film Archive, who is currently in the process of restoring the rest. We are very pleased to be presenting them at the wonderful Coolidge Corner Theatre, where Balagan got it's start 16 years ago. All films will be presented on 16mm.
Pastorale d'Eté (1958), 9 minutes
PASTORAL D'ETE is one of the nation's first works of the Personal Film movement. Hindle dovetails the lyrical images of a singular high summer's day heat. A poignant first work. Initially used camera settings and lens operations. Evidences the mastery of editing to come.
FFFTCM (1967), 5 minutes
Renewed income and the ability to work on one's own produced this feeling and work. A Promethean awakening, de-bonding of the human spirit ... reaching for the unfiltered blaze of Light and Life. The driving sounds of heart beat, fanfare for the Common Man and devotional chants. A time of sharing ... a touch of vision in the night.
Billabong (1969), 8 minutes
BILLABONG ... mates verité camera and violently creative and master editing ... revealing the mood of youths contained by the government. On location in Oregon. Empathetic in the extreme.
Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos And The Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides In West Coast Places (1970), 12 minutes
Presaging details and intent of the Charles Manson's cult and actions was not meant to be one of this film's greater attributes. It was, however, filmed uncannily months before the facts were known. The resemblance is oblique. The film: the mysticism of a "calling," a journey to be made, a vision in mid-desert to behold and oneness with it all. Filmed in Death Valley.
Later that Same Night (1971), 10 minutes
Hindle's first all-southern-made work, filmed shortly after moving his studio from San Francisco to the lower Appalachians. Jackie Dicie sings the song in disruptive out-of-synchronization. It is Hindle's first-water attempt to express the southern country mode of existence ... the alone woman and the lonesome land.
Watersmith (1969), 32 minutes
Perhaps Hindle's magnum opus to date. New York Times critic Vincent Canby calls WATERSMITH "beautiful abstract patterns of lines of energy. A kind of ode to physical grace." A deceptively "calm" film requiring an equally calm audience and a superior soundtrack reproduction system, WATERSMITH weaves its lone visual threads closer and closer until the screen is awash with multiple levels of artistic achievement, technical supremacy, physical and mental demands and rewards ... for the relaxed and receptive viewer. Not a flash and funk work. A film to be seen again and again.
Trekkeriff (1987), 9 minutes
Following a move to Alabama at the dawn of the 1970s, Hindle made the wonderful and strange Pasteur3 (1976), which for most would seem to be his final film. For several years, continuing to live in the South and eventually teaching at the University of South Florida, Hindle made no films, and suffered for it. Film was a vitally powerful and emotional mode of expression for him, and his engagement with the medium was deeply felt and even instinctual.
In the early 1980s, thanks to the encouragement and support of Shellie Fleming, Hindle began work on a new film. It was a difficult and troubling process, and the creation of the film was drawn out over a long period of time as Hindle struggled to find its form. The edit was finally completed around 1985, but Hindle then threw out the entire soundtrack (a piece of composed music), deeming it inappropriate. Between 1985 and 1987, he created an entirely new soundtrack, finally completing the film in early 1987. It was a difficult labor, and although Hindle was still not utterly satisfied with the film, he decided to release it. He communicated his plan to Canyon Cinema to send the new film there for distribution in Spring of 1987, but the print never made it, as Will Hindle very suddenly and tragically passed away on April 7 of that year.
The film, Trekkerriff, remained in limbo for 24 years. The only people to have ever seen it were a few handfuls of Hindle's and, later, Shellie Fleming's students. Working from the only surviving print and Will's original magnetic sound masters, the Academy Film Archive has restored the film. Additional Will Hindle films are also in the process of being restored. (Mark Toscano)