Film and TV

Suranjan Ganguly on experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage

Few filmmakers have pushed the limits of cinema as forcefully as the late Stan Brakhage. His hundreds of films forged a cinematic language that has dominated the experimental media world since the 1950s. Brakhage work is not the easiest to watch. Some films, such as Window Water Baby Moving, use rapid editing and gestural camerawork to document a home birth, a subject that was beyond taboo when it was made in 1959 and still manages to shock contemporary audiences; others, such as Night Music, are explosions of swirling colors hand-painted directly onto film.

So some handholding is helpful for those learning to access the richness of Brakhage's work -- and that's where Suranjan Ganguly comes in. A University of Colorado professor, scholar of poetic cinema and friend of Brakhage, he asks the questions these films demand: What can we see? What are we trained not to see? What realms of experience have we been denied by tutoring our eyes in puritanical moral systems and the oppressive logic of nineteenth century perspective? In advance of Stan Brakhage: An Adventure in Perception, Ganguly's Saturday, March 15 presentation, we spoke with him about Brakhage's work.

See also: Filmmaker Guy Maddin on cinematic séances and the Brakhage Symposium

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris