Co-produced with Anthology Film Archives and 60 different archival institutions, this massive seven-disc trove of aboriginal experimental shorts at once trumps, augments, and partners with the already-pretty-huge Kino collection Avant-Garde: Experimental Films of the 1920s and ’30s (which has its European selections to boast about). Being an underground legacy maven has never been so easy. Curated by unassailable scholar Bruce Posner, Unseen Cinema is divided up into seven thematic genres—abstractions, technological meditations, urban visions, “amateur” cinema, etc.—and encompasses 155 films, everything from canon-ensconced surrealisms to hunks of Busby Berkeley, Edison actualités, travelogues, never-seen original Slavko Vorkapich montages, uncompleted Joseph Cornell assemblages, bizarrely executed newsreels, and non-narrative work by every U.S. émigré or native name in the books: Man Ray, Bute, Strand, Steiner, Burckhardt, Watson and Webber, Florey, Fischinger, McLaren, Leyda, Flaherty, ad infinitum; there’s even travel film shot by Walker Evans and short docs by the radical “Nykino” collective. Many of the pieces of history-making footage included here are recent discoveries, and have never been widely seen before. Extras: Besides a mini-book by Posner, each film comes with new music (unless it’s “intentionally silent”—no fucking around here), and a concise contextualizing paragraph written by one of some 40-odd seasoned toilers in this wildest and most neglected of fields.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 15, 2005