Follow Me To Certain Death
curated by Vanessa Renwick
presented at various venues with slightly different lineups, sometimes including Peter Kubelka's "Unsere Afrikareise", Dani Leventhal's "Draft 9", and Warren Haack and Dan Lovejoy's "Selective Service System" is the latest incarnation!

The Oregon Department of Kick Ass  
Follow Me to Certain Death
I hour 15 minutes
as part of TBA/PICA
at The Works @audio/cinema
226 Se Madison 8PM 8-12 dollars

Presented on Sept. 11th 2006, an evening of films that cast a meditative gaze on life and death in many forms.  

The program begins with Renwick's Britton, South Dakota,  8 min
 a mesmerizing film constructed solely of haunting portraits of children filmed standing in the street of a desolate town in 1930. The footage (obtained from Prelinger Archives) was shot by the owner of the town's movie theater to be screened before the features as a promotional gimmick to bring in the local folks. 70 years later the sometimes smiling, sometimes tortured faces of these children seem to tell everything that has happened since that windy, sunny day in South Dakota. The film is made all the more melodramatic by Portland artist Johnee Eschleman's emotive score. The lack of narrative invites dressing these cinematic dolls with futures, now histories. The melancholic drone of the accompanying organ music tends to lead them into sad tragic finery. (Awarded Best Experimental Film at the NW Film Festival by James Benning in 2003/ Gecko Award, Cinematexas 2004/ Best Experimental Film, Gus Van Sant Award, Ann Arbor Film Fest 2005)

2. Selective Service System Story  7 min

A video by Bill Daniel about a film by Warren Haack and Dan Lovejoy
Bill Daniel in person!

In 1970 a young film student at San Francisco State College devised a scenario for a short documentary film, "Selective Service System", that would simultaneously make a bold, graphic statement against the Vietnam War, and secure his own physical deferment from the military draft. Three decades later Bill Daniel interviews director and subject Dan Lovejoy and cameraman Warren Haack about the violence of those times and the violence manifested in their uncompromisingly honest and brutal protest film. (Originally produced for John Pierson's "Split Screen" show)

3. Next is Travis Wilkerson's National Archives V.1,  15 min

 (Screened at the Viennale in 2001) A daring exercise in agit-prop that utilizes imagery obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, in which gun-camera footage of U.S. bombing runs over Vietnam is disturbingly and poetically juxtaposed with a soundtrack created by Sonic Youth's Jim O'Rourke. The footage of lush blue-green jungle passing below the jet is superimposed with the pilot's electronic gun site. The constant gunning creates a trance-inducing rhythm that is syncopated by simple intertitles that name the targets. Converted from raw documentation into sublime meditation, much like Bruce Conner's atomic mushrooms in Crossroads, the film becomes an ethical bomb, exploding issues of hi-tech imperial warfare that we are faced with again.

4. Next is 9 is a Secret, 6 min
 an experimental essay about a time that Renwick had many crows and ravens enter her life. A graphically stark, metaphysical diary on helping a terminally ill friend die.

5. The screening continues with Renwick's new 25-minute, 3-screen projection piece Hope and Prey
 which features stunning wildlife cinematography of animals hunting and being hunted., and a thundering, hyper-dynamicLIVE soundtrack by Portland's infamous underground composer, Daniel Menche. The adrenal-pumping dramatic and sometimes brutal nature cinematography is transformed and elevated through black and white high-contrast recomposition.

"Two things are always here. Snow and leafless trees. Black and white. Running toward and running away from. Nothing else is certain.
Endless white field beneath your feet, hooves, paws, and endless white sky around you. Your wings push against it and relax, push against it and relax.
Vanessa's film is not about death. It is about life. It is almost obsessed with life, life in its humor, elegance and almost unimaginable cruelty. Life reduced to its grim skeleton: running toward and running away from. That is all we have ever done, will ever do. Very quickly we forget what it is we are running toward, what we are running away from. All we know is to run. That, and white, etched with black. And then, there is a moment, a singularity, when black becomes white, white becomes black. From this there is no return.." Halliday Dresser

6. Superior Elegy by Travis Wilkerson 20 min

Superior Elegy is a portrait of a 25 hour-long improvisational concert
held in Duluth Minnesota, in honor of a murdered friend. Despite being
scheduled for the weekend following September 11th 2001, the event's
organizers chose to perform as planned. In so doing, the event acquired
an unintended poignancy. Very simple means were used to document the
concert: a hand-wind Bolex, a super-8 camera, and available light. The
filmmakers were often on stage with the musicians and tried to regard
themselves as participants rather than observers. The resulting film
reads almost like a prayer: quiet, formal, and full of inexplicable