The Balagan Film Series had its final screening of the season earlier this week with “Our Departed,” a program comprised of work from filmmakers who passed away in 2011. As co-curator Jeff Silva noted, it’s been a rough year for the film community in terms of losses, and he likened the Balagan program to another take on the “in memorium” section of the Oscars – a flipside to the usual Hollywood tribute since it featured work from very independent filmmakers like George Kuchar, Robert Breer, Owen Land, Karen Aqua (whose film Twist of Fate was screened on a great 35mm print), Ricky Leacock, Raúl Ruiz and Omar Amiralay.
Some of the films I’d heard of and was eager to see – like Leacock’s Chiefs, about a police chief convention in Hawaii right after the 1968 riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention – and others, like Owen Land’s 3-minute No Sir Orison, were pleasant surprises.
It was pretty inspiring to see these films with an audience in a theater and (for me at least) to be introduced to some new filmmakers posthumously and to see just how much people have and continue to care about them and their work.
This kind of thoughtful exhibition and screening reminds you about all the great material that’s there to be revisited, building a community of filmmakers that spans from the past into now. Balagan has done a great job over course of the fall in bringing some underrepresented and otherwise hard-to-see films to Boston – when possible on 16- or 35-mm. The Balagan series was originally started by Jeff Silva and Alla Kovgan, and after a long hiatus they’ve re-launched the series with co-curators Stefan Grabowski and Mariya Nikiforova
They’ve also launched a kickstarter campaign to help with their costs for the upcoming season – check it out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/911939745/balagan-film-series/