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A Tribute to Anne Charlotte Robertson, Film Diarist, 1949 — 2012

Guest Curated by Toni Treadway In Person
Saturday, March 22, Doors 7:30 PM/ Screening 8:15 PM
@ CineCycle, 129 Spadina Avenue

Part of Winter 2014

“Anne Charlotte Robertson filmed herself, her day to day existence and normal tribulations that most of her audience have lived. She wanted what many people want: to be loved, to be happy, to be thin, to be disciplined, to quit smoking, to be in control of her life, imaginary and real.

Anne recorded on Super 8 film the way many women have kept a diary: intimately, exhaustively. She worked in a manner closer to a spirited poet locked in a 19th century existence than to her contemporaries in 20th century experimental film. On screen, more “in your face” than writing in a diary, she did not shrink nor shirk. In fact, there is an element of exhibitionism mixed with her bald-faced looking on camera. She left boxes of films, notes and audio pieces all about the puzzle of her life. She lived in harmony and disharmony with her mother, with recurrent times out in the looney bin, and lately, she managed to live contentedly on her own until her death in 2012 of lung cancer.

The short films can only hint at Anne’s massive output. She left her film collection, writings and audio cassettes in the care of Harvard Film Archive. More films will be issued from time to time on video and as digital files for the study of this powerful and complex woman and diarist-filmmaker”. (Toni Treadway)

Toni Treadway is a writer, small gauge film advocate and old friend of Anne Roberston. She works with Bob Brodsky in the studio where since 1980 they have helped Anne get her Super 8 films into distribution and other artists get films into new works or archives.

“Influenced by filmmakers as diverse as Ed Pincus and Carolee Schneemann, Anne Charlotte Robertson (1949 – 2012) was a Boston area Super 8 filmmaker who examined and shared her life through her work – a mix of essay, performance and stop-motion animation. Anne completed her graduate degree at Massachusetts College of Art in the 1980s – honing her filmmaking skills under the tutelage of Saul Levine. Diagnosed with various and changing mental disorders, Anne faced several breakdowns and mental hospitals – experiences she documented and exorcised thoroughly through her films – particularly within the annals of Five Year Diary (1981-1997), a project spanning nearly two decades.

“Though relentlessly intense and emotional, her films are not entirely bleak, for her bracing self-awareness and humor energize and brings a rare effulgence to the depths of her darkest moments. Anne boldly exposed her most intimate and obsessive inner dialogues – from illness, breakdowns and longing for love to diets, cats and the minutia of existence. She also considered the filmmaking experience therapeutic and cited the process as helping cure her depression.

Anne died of cancer September 15, 2012 leaving behind an archive of a life passionately examined, primarily through the rough warmth of Super 8. Most of her work was created on Super 8 sound film featuring a soundtrack on the film, with additional audio on cassette and narrated live by Anne, creating many layers of sound and story. The original materials have been digitally transferred and are presented here on DigiBeta. The Harvard Film Archive, home to the Anne Charlotte Robertson Collection, is honored to pay tribute, over the course of two evenings, to the vivid insights and imagination of a pioneer of experimental first-person cinema.

The material given to the Harvard Film Archive includes the original films, film prints, video copies of the films, as well as the intellectual and distribution rights. The collection also includes scores of hours of audio tape, papers (including diaries and letters), and photographs.
The HFA is working with the award –winning small gauge film lab Brodsky and Treadway to preserve these unique films by creating new digital masters, incorporating the disparate soundtracks, and will make them available for rental. Anne had recorded her usually performed audio for some of the DIARY films, and masters have been created using both sound elements (the recordings and the sound-on-film). She left scripts with some of her DIARY films, and requested that someone record the performed audio for future preservation work”. (Liz Coffey, Film Conservator, Harvard Film Archive)

Programme:

Depression, Focus Please 3 min. 1984
“Intended as a longer film, this proved sufficient to vignette the nuances of my sadness. ” ACR
“How can I kill myself when everything is so beautiful?” – quote from the film ACR

Talking To Myself, 3 min. 1985
“Double-exposed self faces self, wrangling, complaining, trying to hear oneself think.” ACR

Apologies, 17 min. 1983-1990
“I apologize for everything; another exercise in self-therapy.” ACR
“Perhaps a protest, perhaps a significant feminist manifesto.” TT

Locomotion, 7 min. 1981
“Overdoses, breakdown, and rage at system in a stylized mental hospital isolation room.” ACR

My Cat My Garden and 9/11, 6 min. 2001
“My adored cat Zouina died a week before the tragedy; a week after, my garden died.” ACR

Five Year Diary
Reel 22 — A Short Affair and Going Crazy, 27 min. 1982

Five Year Diary
Reel 23 — A Breakdown and After the Mental Hospital, 27 min.1982

Quotes from critics and filmmakers:

Jonas Mekas, filmmaker and founder of Anthology Film Archives, wrote in a 1994 letter to the artist, “I was so overwhelmed with what I saw. I don’t think it’s me who is a film diarist: it’s you! It’s you! I was very very moved and I couldn’t sleep thinking about it.”

Richard Herskowitz, artistic director, Cinema Arts Festival Houston (and formerly Cornell Cinema director, 1982-1994, and Virginia Film Festival director 1994-2008) wrote Anne in a 1990 letter, “While some of your footage was among the most emotionally raw art we have ever seen, it never seemed like home movies or amateur filmmaking: it was always art at its most powerful– artfully controlled, multi-valenced, formally lovely.”

Cinema historian Scott MacDonald interviewed Anne about her Diary and in the preface stated,“in as complete a sense as any filmmaker I’m aware of, Robertson’s personal epic is her life.” (Full interview was published in Cinematograph, journal of the San Francisco Cinematheque in 1990.)

The material given to the Harvard Film Archive includes the original films, film prints, video copies of the films, as well as the intellectual and distribution rights. The collection also includes scores of hours of audio tape, papers (including diaries and letters), and photographs.
The HFA is working with the award –winning small gauge film lab Brodsky and Treadway to preserve these unique films by creating new digital masters, incorporating the disparate soundtracks, and will make them available for rental. Anne had recorded her usually performed audio for some of the DIARY films, and masters have been created using both sound elements (the recordings and the sound-on-film). She left scripts with some of her DIARY films, and requested that someone record the performed audio for future preservation work.

Anne Charlotte Robertson was a Super 8 filmmaker and diarist who lived in Framingham, MA. She began making films in the mid-1970s as an undergrad at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and earned her MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art. Her main work is the 38-hour opus, FIVE YEAR DIARY, which she began in 1981 and kept far longer than five years. Each episode of the diary, spanning varying numbers of days, is 27 minutes (approximately 8 camera rolls) and the diary is 84 reels long. In addition to the FIVE YEAR DIARY, Anne made over 30 other (mostly diaristic) short films, including APOLOGIES (1990), TALKING TO MYSELF (1985), MAGAZINE MOUTH (1983), and MELON PATCHES, OR REASONS TO GO ON LIVING (1994).

Anne Charlotte Robertson

Anne Charlotte Robertson

Apologies

Apologies

LOCOMOTION

LOCOMOTION

Locomotion

Locomotion

Magazine Mouth

Magazine Mouth

Reel-22

Reel-22

Reel-22

Reel-22

Reel-23-A-Breakdown-and-After-the-Mental-Hospital

Reel-23-A-Breakdown-and-After-the-Mental-Hospital

Spirit-of-'76

Spirit-of-'76

Subways

Subways

triptych-self-portrait-1991

Triptych-Self-portrait-1991

March22
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