Strange Sinema 96: Visionary Music and Beyond - Fri. Jan. 22nd - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Strange Sinema 96, a monthly evening of newly discovered films, rarities and choice selects from the stacks of the archive. Drawing on his collection of over 50,000 16mm film prints, Oddball Films director Stephen Parr has compiled this 96th program of classic, strange, offbeat and unusual films. This installment, Strange Sinema 96: Visionary Music and Beyond features films that expand the boundaries of cinema and music. The program presents rare music documentaries, experimental animation and genuinely forward-thinking films that meld together music and moving images. From the 20thcentury’s most revolutionary avant garde genius Harry Partch to Bruno Bozzetto’s brilliant cameraless collaboration with swingin soundtrack maestro Franco Godi this program is an eye-popping and ear-opening excursion into the beyond. Selected films include The Dreamer That Remains(1973) featuring a rare profile of legendary composer, musical inventor and hobo Harry Partch;Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (1953), Ward Kimball’s brilliant Technicolor, mid-century cartoon that explores the development of Western musical instruments from caveman to present day; Glass(1958), the beautiful, masterful, Oscar-winning short film about glass-blowing featuring  the occasionally eerie mixture of jazz, bebop, and the metallic punctuations of industry at work performed by the Pim Jacobs Quintet; Ego (1970) Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto optical printing and pop art imagery bond with master Franco Godi’s wildly ultra-lounge soundtrack; Begone Dull Care (1949) a cameraless, abstract, constantly morphing film by internationally renowned National Film Board of Canada animator Norman McLaren, cut to a upbeat jazz score by Oscar Peterson and winner of six international prizes; Allegro Ma Troppo (1963) French director Paul De Roubaix’s award-winning, hyperkinetic vision of Parisian nightlife between 6PM and 6AM, shot at two frames per second utilizing automatic cameras and montage sound; Jammin’ The Blues (1944), the most famous jazz film ever made- produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz, directed by Gjon Mili with noir like cinematography and featuring incredible performances by jazz legends; Free Fall (1964) famed Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s synesthetic experience created through the intensification of image and sound utilizing single-frame editing and tribal music; A Balinese Gong Orchestra (1974), features the Tunjuk Orchestra. Each instrument is explained and demonstrated, then the orchestra plays a hypnotic and mesmerizing piece from the Ramayana Ballet Suite. Plus, for your preshow pleasure Discovering Electronic Music (1983), veteran director Bernard Wilets’ introduction to music synthesizers and computers used to create electronic music. 

Date: Friday, January 22nd, 2016 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117

I feel taste, and smell sound – it's all one – I myself am the tone-Arthur Lipsett


The Dreamer That Remains (Color, 1973)
“Harry Partch is an American visionary. He has built his own musical world out of microtones, hobo speech, elastic octaves and percussion instruments made from hubcaps and nuclear cloud chambers.”
Stephen Pouliot's portrait of Harry Partch, one of the most innovative and influential composers of the 20th century. Partch invented instruments (cloud chamber bowls, cong gongs, the harmonic canon, more), experimented with drama and ritual and created a live ensemble utilizing dozens of invented instruments.

Partch influenced virtually every forward thinking composer and experimental musician of the 20th century. A fascinating artist Partch lectured, performed and rode the rails as a hobo during the Great Depression, incorporated everyday speech into his melodic lines. He transcribed graffiti and used it as text. Partch was one of the great musical innovators of the last century.
“The work that I have been doing these many years parallels much in the attitudes and actions of primitive man. He found sound-magic in the common materials around him. He then proceeded to make the vehicle, the instrument, as visually beautiful as he could. Finally, he involved the sound-magic and the visual beauty in his everyday words and experiences, his ritual and drama, in order to lend greater meaning to his life. This is my trinity: sound-magic, visual beauty, experience-ritual.”-Harry Partch

Note: Recently the rock performer Beck created a musical tribute to Harry Partch. For more info visit:


Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (Dir. Ward Kimball, Color, 1953)
Academy Award winner in stunning Technicolor- this short was originally released in theaters as part of the “Adventures in Music” educational series. The short features a stuffy owl teacher lecturing his feathered flock on the origins of Western musical instruments. Starting with cave people, whose crude implements could only "toot, whistle, plunk and boom," the owl explains how these beginnings led to the development of the four basic types of Western musical instruments: brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Directed by the brilliant Ward Kimball, this is a classic of mid-century cartoon design and has been ranked one of the top 50 greatest cartoons.

Glass (Color, 1958)
A simple but stunning film by Dutch director Bert Haanstra, this short looks at glassmaking in a beautiful and interesting way.  Winning an Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 1960 the amazing photography and inventive soundtrack make this a unique melding of filmic improvisation and sound.  Molten blobs of beautiful colored glass, fluid motion and editing, and a quirky musical score make this a near perfect film, perfectly balancing images and rhythm with the occasionally eerie mixture of jazz, bebop, and the metallic punctuations of industry at work performed by the Pim Jacobs Quintet.
Ego (Color, 1970)
Brilliant animation by Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto (of the cult favorite Mr. Rossi series and the outrageous feature Allegro Non Troppo)- starts with traditional comic-style animation until the factory-working family man goes to sleep and unleashes his subconscious thoughts sending him into a battleground of situations.  Utilizes brilliant animation styles including optical printing and pop art imagery. Featuring ultra-lounge master Franco Godi’s mesmerizing soundtrack. An Oddball favorite!


Begone Dull Care (Color, 1949)
In this film without words vibrant abstract images are drawn directly onto the
film by the legendary National Film Board of Canada animator Norman McLaren. “Begone Dull Care” shines with masterful use of scratching and painting on film stock. The film gives warmth and movement to compositions resembling a constantly morphing Jackson Pollock painting, yet never fails to remind us of
its very calculated aesthetics when it suddenly adapts to the score's slower movements and shifts from expressionistic and oversaturated explosions to minimalist vertical lines that vibrate accordingly to Oscar Peterson's jazz piano. “Begone Dull Care” won six international prizes between 1949 and 1954.

Allegro Ma Troppo (Color, 1963, Paul Roubaix)
A Parisian evening, conveyed through automatic cameras and imaginative cinematography of the life of Paris between 6PM and 6AM shot at two frames per second utilizing automatic cameras. From strippers to car crashes, Paul Roubaix’s Allegro Ma Troppo evokes the intensity and variety of nocturnal life in the City of Light through speeded-up action, freeze-frame, and virtuoso editing.


Jammin’ the Blues (B+W, 1944)
Probably the most famous jazz film ever made- produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz, directed by Gjon Mili and featuring incredible performances by Lester “Prez” Young, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Illinois Jacquet, Barney Kessel, Marlowe Morris, John Simmons, George “Red” Callender, “Big” Sid Catlett and “Papa” Jo Jones.  Nominated for an Oscar in 1945 and entered into the National Film registry in 1955, this film simply must be seen by any serious jazz fan. Cinematography was by the later Hitchcock stalwart Robert Burks on his very first DP assignment.  There is a noir ambience to the film and each scene has a formal elegance that is enthralling. Mili has total command of his form (his only film as director!), and the mise-en-scene and continuity are impeccable. 

Free Fall (B+W, 1964)

Free Fall features dazzling pixilation, in-camera superimpositions, percussive tribal music, syncopated rhythms and ironic juxtapositions. Using a brisk “single-framing” technique, Arthur Lipsett attempts to create a synesthetic experience through the intensification of image and sound. Citing the film theorist Sigfreud Kracauer, Lipsett writes:

“Throughout this psychophysical reality, inner and outer events intermingle and fuse with each other – “I cannot tell whether I am seeing or hearing – I feel taste, and smell sound – it's all one – I myself am the tone.'”

*Note: Free Fall was intended as a collaboration with the American composer John Cage, modeled on his system of chance operations. However, Cage subsequently withdrew his participation fearing Lipsett would attempt to control and thereby undermine the aleatory organization of audio and visuals.

A Balinese Gong Orchestra (Color, 1974).
A simple, explanatory film on the well-known gamelan gong, featuring the Tunjuk Orchestra. Each instrument is explained and demonstrated, then the orchestra plays a hypnotic and mesmerizing piece from the Ramayana Ballet Suite, which is based on traditional music.

Discovering Electronic Music (Color, 1983)
An introduction to the synthesizers and computers used to create electronic music, including the legendary Fairlight CMI, one of the first sampling synthesizers used for pop music production. Directed by Bernard Wilets, a veteran educational producer and particularly known for his “Discovering Music” series.

Curator Biography:
Stephen Parr’s programs have explored the erotic underbelly of sex-in-cinema (The Subject is Sex), the offbeat and bizarre (Oddities Beyond Belief), the pervasive effects of propaganda (Historical/Hysterical?) and oddities from his archives (Strange Sinema). He is the director of Oddball Films, a stock film company and the San Francisco Media Archive (, a non-profit archive that preserves culturally significant films. He is a co-founder of Other Cinema DVD and a member of the Association of Moving Archivists (AMIA) where he is a frequent presenter.

About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Silicon Valley, Kurt Cobain: The Montage of Heck, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our screenings are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.