The Films of Amy Halpern

Sun 4/16/2023 • 7PM PDT

Billy Wilder Theater

Presented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program

In-person: curator David Lebrun.

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Free tickets must be obtained on a first come, first served basis at the box office, where seating will be assigned.

Ferociously curious, brilliant and talented, Amy Halpern (1953-2022) grew up in New York studying dance, which provided her with a great appreciation and gift for movement. Freedom would become central to her filmmaking; freedom from bodily constraint but also from social, psychological, political and perceptual limitations. Abstract in form, her works are deeply engaged with human experience through powerful metaphors of liberation and their evocation of beauty, care and wonder.

A UCLA alumna (B.F.A., 1979; M.F.A., 1989), Halpern made nearly 40 films and one feature, almost all on 16mm. During the 40 years she spent in Los Angeles, she collaborated with such luminaries as Pat O’Neill, Charles Burnett, and her husband David Lebrun. Halpern grew close with the legendary filmmaker Chick Strand and appears in her film Soft Fiction among other influential and formative west coast experimental films. She and her films inspired countless artists, including those she taught at various institutions around L.A., most notably at the University of Southern California. Halpern brought people together for a common good, co-founding two screening cooperatives: The New York Collective for Living Cinema (1972–82) and the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis (1975–80).

The UCLA Film & Television Archive is honored to participate in this three-night, cross-city celebration of Halpern’s life, films and commitment to the moving image community with additional screenings scheduled at The Academy Museum and Los Angeles Filmforum.

Program notes by David Lebrun. Program curated by David Lebrun and Mark Toscano. Special thanks to David Lebrun, Mark Toscano and Adam Hyman.

U.S., 2022

“Abstract music notation and something very obvious.”—Amy Halpern

16mm, color, sound, 6 min.

Emit a Beam, See a Light

“Statement and demonstration.”—Amy Halpern

16mm, color, sound, 4 min.

Jane, Looking
U.S., 2020

Portrait of Jane Wodening (Brakhage). “A person who was the subject of the camera for many years looks back at us with an interrogating stare.”—Amy Halpern

16mm, color, silent, 2 min. With: Jane Wodening (Brakhage).

Ma Sewing
U.S., 2021

“My mother, now 94. Shot more than 30 years ago.”—Amy Halpern

Falling Lessons
U.S., 1992

“Amy Halpern's 64 minute Falling Lessons is a stunningly sensual, life-affirming experience from a major experimental film artist that is open to myriad meanings. The film is a rhythmic montage of almost 200 faces, human and animals, that Halpern pans vertically, creating a cascade of visages suggesting that while individuals express a range of emotions they remain ultimately enigmas. The glimpses of life going on around all these faces have an unsettling, even apocalyptic quality, and the film forces you to consider living beings and their value collectively rather than selectively. Halpern's rich, inspired mix of sounds, words and music complements her images perfectly.”—Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times.

16mm, color, sound, 64 min.

Total running time: 78 min.

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