Altered Vision - American Avant-Garde Filmmaking

Editor's note:

Pr. Peña's lecture was featured in RTCI Radio and Radio Kef. 

June 09, 2023

The Tunis Global Center hosted, in collaboration with the University of Manouba, a keynote lecture on American Avant-Garde Filmmaking presented by Pr. Richard Peña at University of Manouba on June 9.

The lecture explored the intellectual and artistic roots of American Avant-Garde Filmmaking, tracing its development through various phases and tendencies. Often created by artists already associated with other artistic media, these "avant-garde films" served as an aesthetic protest against the dominance of the Hollywood film model. They showcased the boundless possibilities of cinematic language and offered an alternative approach to storytelling.

Four short films (Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943, Maya Deren & Alexander Hamid; A Movie, 1958, Bruce Conner; Dog Star Man: Prelude, 1961-64, Stan Brakhage; T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G, 1968, Paul Sharits), carefully selected by Peña to exemplify different tendencies within the U.S. avant-garde, were screened during the event.

Scholars, cinephiles, and professors actively engaged in thought-provoking discussions and panels following the film screenings. These sessions served as an intellectual platform for in-depth conversations about the artistic significance and impact of American avant-garde cinema.

More about the speaker: 

Richard Peña has been at Columbia since 1989, becoming full time in 1996 and being named Professor of Professional Practice in 2003; he has also taught at Harvard, Princeton, University of Paris/La Sorbonne, Beijing University and the University of São Paulo. Mr. Peña has also served as the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 to 2012. At the Film Society, he has organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Aldrich, Gabriel Figueroa, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Chinese, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Japanese Soviet and Argentine cinema. He is also currently the host of Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.

Check out Pr. Peña's previous conferences in Tunisia: