September 24, 2020
...Craig Baldwin: Avant To Live! A conversation with Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta, with a screening of films by Craig Baldwin.
Currently in-progress, Craig Baldwin: Avant To Live! is a 350+ page publication documenting the work of acclaimed filmmaker, curator, and Bay Area icon Craig Baldwin (b. Oakland, 1952).

As a filmmaker known for his radical use of “found footage,” Baldwin engages adversarially with, and talks back to, mainstream media. He creates wildly imaginative works that profoundly challenge the nature of one-way media consumption. As a curator of the long-running Other Cinema series at San Francisco’s Artists’ Television Access, Baldwin expresses a radically expanded approach in which ephemeral forms of film history coexist alongside expanded cinema performance, underground film screenings, speculative lecture presentations, in-person artists, and more. Meticulously detailed and lavishly illustrated, Avant to Live! features contributions from over 50 writers, artists, and ideologues, serving as a comprehensive chronicle of the charmed artist’s life and work.

In this online event, Avant To Live’s co-editors Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta discuss their work on this monumental project. They survey the book’s contents, give a visual presentation of anomalous artifacts from the obsessive self-documenter’s vast personal ephemera archive, share an excerpt from Baldwin’s newly digitized found-footage essay Wild Gunman (1978), and present an online premiere of Baldwin’s “lost/rediscovered” early Super 8 performance film, the barnstorming ‘70s cinema time capsule Stolen Movie (1976).

About the films:
Wild Gunman: Mobilizing wildly diverse found-footage fragments, obsessive optical printing, and a dense “musique concrète” soundtrack, a maniac montage of pop-cultural amusements, cowboy iconography, and advertising imagery is re-contextualized within the contemporary geopolitical crisis in a scathing critique of U.S. cultural and political imperialism. Thanks to Anthology Film Archives.

Stolen Movie: Armed with a Super 8 camera and sound-person (John Corser), Baldwin runs both recording devices continuously through single-take raids on a series of SF Market Street grindhouse theaters. Rushing past box offices and through front lobbies, he captures the chance scenes and sounds on screen at the time, then flees out the rear exit doors to reunite with the reality of the street.

Steve Polta is an occasional writer, occasional archivist, occasional historian and former taxi driver, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the Director of San Francisco Cinematheque and co-founder of Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS film festival, presented annually (non-pandemic years) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from San José State University. CROSSROADS 2020, curated by Steve Polta, will be presented online August 21–September 30.

Brett Kashmere is Executive Director of Canyon Cinema Foundation in San Francisco and the founding editor of INCITE Journal of Experimental Media.

This conversation is part of a series of programs focusing on Bay Area art history and celebrates the various artists, groups, and spaces that made the region’s art community what it is today and what it can be tomorrow.

Craig Baldwin: Avant To Live!
A conversation with Brett Kashmere and Steve Polta, with a screening of films by Craig Baldwin.

Thursday, September 24.
Online, 10 AM PST

Click here for the event link.

Video documentation of this event is available here.

Photo: Bill Daniel
Photo: Bill Daniel