Press Releases

Date of Release: 
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Contact Info: 

Katie Kazan, Director of Public Information 
608.257.0158 x 237 or

Sheri Castelnuovo, Curator of Education 
608.257.0158 x 227 or

Still images available upon request

Rooftop Cinema Returns

Rooftop Cinema Returns with
Independent Film Under the Stars
June 6, 13, 20, and 28, 2008
Madison, WI – The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art invites everyone to bring a blanket or camp chair to the museum's rooftop sculpture garden for an evening of independent films under the stars. The third season of Rooftop Cinema will take place on Friday evenings throughout June. Screenings begin at 9:30 pm, and popcorn and beverages may be purchased on site from Fresco, the museum's rooftop restaurant. 
Rooftop Cinema is free for MMoCA members and $5 per screening for the general public. Tickets are sold at the lobby reception desk beginning at 8:30 pm. Screenings will move to the MMoCA lecture hall if rain is predicted.
Friday, June 6  ·   9:30 pm  ·   Chain Reactions
The Way Things Go
 (Der Lauf der Dinge) 
Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Switzerland, 1987, 16 mm, 30 min.
Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss create a precarious 100-foot-long structure using tea kettles, tires, old shoes, trash bags, and other common items that they set into motion, causing a chain reaction worthy of Rube Goldberg. Using chemistry, gravity, and physics, the objects combust, collapse, and ignite into one another through an abandoned warehouse. Print courtesy of First Run/Icarus Films. 
“Their masterpiece to date... Using elemental means­fire and fireworks, blasts of air, gravity, and a variety of corrosive liquids­the artists manage to sustain a chain reaction of evermore absurd materials and events for 30 minutes.” (The New York Times)
Homage to Jean Tinguely's 'Homage to New York' 
Robert Breer, USA, 1968, 16 mm, 9.5 min.
Print courtesy of Canyon Cinema.
“This tribute is an expressionist documentary of Swiss motion sculptor Jean Tinguely's auto-destructive sculpture as it is assembled and then self-destructs at The Museum of Modern Art. Tinguely's sculpture is an eclectic, massive conglomeration of wheels, bathtubs, piano strings, pulleys, and airplane parts that are constantly in motion. Breer overlays segments of the Homage being set on fire with scenes of the original drawing plan and welding, and extends his portrait by manipulating his imagery in kinetic collages which reflect the energy of Tinguely's work.” (MoMA Circulating Film Library Catalogue) 
Friday, June 13  ·   9:30 pm  ·   The Films of Helen Hill
“This special tribute looks back at the life and work of beloved experimental animation artist, filmmaker and activist Helen Hill, whose murder in New Orleans last year sent shock-waves through independent film communities far and wide and sparked huge protests by residents in her adopted home. A graduate of Harvard and CalArts, Hill drew inspiration from the cut-out silhouettes of Lotte Reiniger and went on to incorporate other techniques­stop-motion, puppetry, cycles, drawing on film­in her own award-winning animation. Hill and her husband, Dr. Paul Gailunas, eventually moved to New Orleans, where she quickly became a prominent member of the city's arts community. Her family was displaced following Hurricane Katrina but soon returned to work with grassroots groups in rebuilding the city. Then tragedy struck: Hill was shot to death by an unknown intruder in the early hours of January 4, 2007.” (REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) 
This special screening of Helen Hill's work was made possible by the Harvard Film Archive, which has struck new 16 mm prints of ten of her films.
Rain Dance, 1990
Made at Harvard, restored by Bill Brand and his students in 2007
 This film was dedicated to Elijah Aron who was writing a novel about Rain during these years. The accompanying song was written by Elijah and Paul and was performed by Paul and Matthew Butterick.
Vessel, 1992
Made at Harvard
This film was inspired by a poem Helen wrote that was first published in The Rag (Fall 1991). Helen's silhouette puppets reflect the influence of Helen's favorite filmmaker, Lotte Reiniger. A tea pot and sunflowers appear in this film. This film introduces her use of the bright colors resonant of favorite artists, William Blake, the Pre-Raphaelites, and Vincent van Gogh.
The World's Smallest Fair, 1995
Made at CalArts
Helen applied for a grant specifically to bring artists together. Helen had always dreamed of owning a cotton candy machine from Cromers Peanut Store (a huge party warehouse) in her home town. The grant gave her money to purchase a cotton candy machine and 12 cans of Flossine as well as to produce the film. The story revolves around artists (her fellow CalArts students) using cotton candy as their medium. Paul and Elijah also make appearances.  
Scratch and Crow, 1995
Made at CalArts
Helen produced this film for her MFA degree. She had grown up going to her cousin Annie's farm in Fairview, North Carolina. Helen's favorite job was to take care of the chickens. She would gather their eggs as well as carry them to find their water source. She even shoveled chicken manure to be sold as fertilizer. She later owned pet chickens in New Orleans and California. InScratch and Crow, Helen remembers her chicken friends with gentle and poetic words, a rich color palette, and imaginative tropes. Cats hatch eggs; watermelons fall from the sky; chickens become angels and fly out of tombstones; coiled springs symbolize inner workings.
Tunnel of Love, 1996
Quite early in her life, Helen decided that “love at first sight” was not a strong basis for a lasting relationship. She believed that the best romance was between best friends. Paul and Helen had been good friends living in Adams House. After Harvard, they went to New Orleans. However, an “accidental romance” brought the two good friends together in love. Elijah remained their best friend and collaborator in creative endeavors. Tunnel of Love was made to illustrate Paul and Elijah's song Accidental Romance. Helen called it a “romance activist” film, meant to give good advice about falling in love. It also captures the carnival atmosphere that Helen remembered and loved from the South Carolina State Fair.  The film features a tea party with CalArts friends and the Photo Booth photos that Helen collected and loved.  
Your New Pig Is Down the Road, 1999
This love letter to Paul was filmed during one summer in Ontario at Phil Hoffman's Film Farm (a filmmaking workshop where she learned to hand-process her own films). Helen beckons Paul to follow her down the road where Paul's new pig waits. The film features their much loved daisies, their much respected St. Francis, and their baby pig Daisy with her little sister.  
Film for Rosie, 2000
Daisy the potbellied pig died prematurely, and soon after Helen and Paul bought their second pet pig Rosie. This is Rosie's pigeology and features all her relatives. 
Mouseholes, 1999
This film remembers Helen's beloved grandfather, Pop. She never had a babysitter as Pop was always around to care for her. He was in large part responsible for her graciousness and good manners based on the Golden Rule. Pop had kidney failure in February 1995. Helen was finishing up her MFA at CalArts but traveled to Columbia as often as possible to be with Pop and to sit with him during the nights when he was hospitalized. He died in April and Helen memorialized him and herself with this film as she grapples with his death. In Mouseholes, Pop's mother and aunts lovingly greet him with a tea party in heaven. The wasps nest included in Mouseholes still hangs in the Medway Road house where Pop left it. Helen's own funeral was modeled after Pop's funeral and included the same Biblical verse as read in the film, “No eye has seen nor ear has heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man, what God has prepared for those that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:19). Helen was buried next to Pop. 
Madame Winger Makes a Film: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century, 2001
This was part of a group of films the Canada Council for the Arts funded on the theme of filmmaking and the new millenium. In Madame Winger, Helen expressed her belief that the idea behind a film is more important than which technology is used. The film describes inexpensive ways to make films, including hand-processing film and drawing directly onto the film. Helen wrote “It's fun to handle film as a celluloid canvas rather than as a fragile carrier of images only to be handled by lab technicians…. You can experiment and create the most beautiful images ever.” The voice of Madame Winger is Helen's godmother, Meredith Pogue. During 1999 and 2000, the Canada Council for the Arts funded Helen to learn handcrafted techniques from filmmakers in Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary. She compiled these findings into a sourcebook titled Recipes for Disaster: a handcrafted film cookbooklet. This book, which she kept in continuous circulation by Xeroxing copies to fill requests, became popular among independent filmmakers. She revised it in 2004. (Download the book at
Friday, June 20  ·   9:30 pm  ·   Chris Marker's Sans Soleil
Sans Soleil (Sunless) 
Chris Marker, France, 1982, 16mm, 100 min. 
“Constructed around a series of letters sent by a peripatetic freelance cameraman to an unknown woman, Sans Soleil presents portraits of distant locales through its ravishing imagery and through the poetic language of the correspondence. Remarkable for its prescient incorporation of video processing, the film is notable equally for its prefiguration of contemporary work in fictionalized documentary. Marker pushes beyond the boundaries of the traditional narrative cinema to invent a singularly personal film genre­part diary, part essay, part documentary, and part fiction.” (Harvard Film Archive) New 16mm print with English dialogue courtesy of New Yorker Films.
Friday, June 27  ·   9:30 pm  ·   Comic Timing
The Black Tower 
John Smith, UK, 1987, 16mm, 24 min. 
“In The Black Tower we enter the world of a man haunted by a tower which, he believes, is following him around London. While the character of the central protagonist is indicated only by a narrative voice-over which takes us from unease to breakdown to mysterious death, the images, meticulously controlled and articulated, deliver a series of colour coded puzzles, jokes and puns which pull the viewer into a mind-teasing engagement. Smith's assurance and skill as a filmmaker undercuts the notion of the avant-garde as dry, unprofessional and dull and in The Black Towerwe have an example of a film which plays with the emotions as well as the language of film.” (Nik Houghton, Independent Media) Print courtesy of Canyon Cinema.
On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed?  
Owen Land, 1977-79, USA, 16mm, 18 min.  
On the Marriage Broker Joke ... turns upon an opposition of Freudian analysis and Christian hermeneutics .... Two pandas, who exist only because of a textual error, run a shell game for the viewer in an environment with false perspectives. They posit the existence of various films and characters, one of which is interpreted by an academic as containing religious symbolism. Sigmund Freud's own explanation is given by a sleeper awakened by an alarm clock.” (P. Adams Sitney) Print courtesy of Canyon Cinema.
Oh Dem Watermelons 
Robert Nelson, USA, 1965, 16mm 11 min.
“A major American underground classic. This film originally served as a theatrical intermission in the San Francisco Mime Troupe's social-political satire “A Minstrel Show, or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel,” but it quickly took on a life of its own. Oh Dem Watermelons takes hilarious and absurd jabs at the watermelon as a tired Black stereotype, using a wild mix of collage, animation, and irreverence, set to a propulsive soundtrack by Steve Reich.” (Mark Toscano) Print courtesy of Canyon Cinema. 
Rooftop Cinema is curated by Tom Yoshikami, doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison and organized by MMoCA's education department. For a detailed schedule of MMoCA's film and video programs, visit and click on Events/Film at MMoCA.

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