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Media Contact: Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu, (510) 642-0365

Selected Press Coverage for the Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000 Project (September 2010 – ongoing)



“Is geography destiny? Or, to put it another way, why did the San Francisco Bay Area become a humming hub for so many great avant-garde film and video makers, a veritable crossroads of the alternative world? . . . All that history percolates in the background of the freewheeling sampler Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, a six-program series being presented at Anthology Film Archives and the film department of the Museum of Modern Art. The programs have been culled from a larger show presented by the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive that ran from September to April. Encompassing a wealth of artistic movements, intellectual concerns and technical competencies, the original survey included films and videos from 1945 to 2000 and was accompanied by an exhibition and a book of essays, interviews, photographs and assorted documents edited by the series’s programmers, Steve Anker, Kathy Geritz and Steve Seid.”
—Manohla Dargis, New York Times, May 5, 2011

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"Flipping through the gossip, artifacts, and memories of Radical Light, it quickly becomes apparent how this wealth of material, much of it long forgotten or ignored, will be catnip to historians, practitioners, and programmers alike, providing fodder for reexamining—and inspiration for making—movies that matter."
—Gregory Zinman, Brooklyn Rail, June 1, 2011

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“Over 10 years in the making, this multi-platform history of experimental film and video practices in the San Francisco Bay Area is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the history of alternative film, video, and television in America.”
—Lucy Raven, BOMB Magazine, April 1, 2011

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“For decades, the Bay Area has supported one of the world's most prolific, stylistically free-form and influential alternative-film environments. Long overshadowed by the Hollywood industry, the Bay region's experimental-underground film and video culture has continued to thrive into the early 21st century, surviving natural disasters, demographic upheaval and even the Silicon Valley-generated cash influx that sent rents skyrocketing and drove many San Francisco artists into exile, or at least to the more affordable East Bay. . . That dynamic milieu is getting its due with Radical Light.”
—Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2011

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Radical Light is a jumps-off-the shelf kaleidoscopic history, a Talmudic-like scrapbook, well documented, yet alive and kicking. An exciting story you probably never knew or only knew part of, illustrated with fantastic pictorial examples and ephemera.”
—Mark McElhatten, Film Comment, November 1, 2010

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“Anyone involved with experimental film knows well the long-standing importance of San Francisco, which together with New York City, was and remains one of the twin centers of the American avant-garde, each rivaling the other in the culmination of rich internal mythologies. Yet the significance of the Bay Area has nonetheless been downplayed in the written record. . . . Anker, Geritz, and Seid seek to expand on known histories, exploring the complex interrelationships within the city’s venerable scene, like a crew of botanists having a field day in their own backyards.”
—Ed Halter, Artforum, November 2010

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Radical Light documents and celebrates the rich tradition of experimental film and video that found fertile ground in the freewheeling Bay Area, a hub of artistic exploration and technological innovation.”
—Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 2010

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“Tech geeks, beatniks, hipsters, hippies, rockers, punks, feminists, and queers generally love a good experiment. And they'll all find something intriguing in a new, gargantuan history of Bay Area alternative cinema presented by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Dubbed Radical Light, the history of local art film oddities ends up touching on pretty much every important social movement and technical innovation from the 1880s to the 1990s.”
—David Downs, East Bay Express, September 1, 2010

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“Let's assume you've lived in San Francisco for more than a few years. Perhaps you attended an art gallery in 1955, or a house party in 1980, or dropped into a storefront on Valencia in 1995. In any one of these venues, there was a good chance you'd be confronted with someone's homemade movie, on 16mm in the 1950s, Super 8 in the 1970s, or on video in the 1990s. Anyone who saw—or, god help you, made—these independent films at any time over the last half of the 20th century will get a double dose of Proustian rush with the Pacific Film Archive’s Radical Light program of Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000. . . “
—Gregg Rickman, San Francisco Weekly, September 1, 2010

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Radical Light’s ambitious ecology of alternative film and video in the Bay Area encompasses an invaluable anthology of firsthand accounts, secondhand appreciations, and historical overviews . . . Indeed, all these films burn brightly as you watch. . .”
—Max Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 13, 2010

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“It took adventurous curators and artist-led programming to build an audience for the offbeat, weird and often hard-to-watch efforts by Bay Area filmmakers — and that audience helped cement the Bay Area’s reputation as one of the best spots in the country for alternative film and video.”
—Reyhan Harmanci, The Bay Citizen/New York Times, November 18, 2010

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“Even in this counterculture world of Bay Area living, the degree to which some of these alternative films have remained alternative over the decades is unexpected.”
—Hannah Jewell, Daily Californian, September 18, 2010

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“After 10 years in the making and about 60 commissioned writers, “Radical Light” celebrates the Bay Area’s long-standing contribution to this genre.”
—Saba Mohtasham, Daily Bruin, January 12, 2011

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“Rad
ical Light is an astutely sophisticated sort of scrapbook, and inherently pluralistic. Its whole point is to chronicle our collective cinematic forays into political activism, sexual liberation, literary translation, formal interrogation, technological enhancement, and the timeless art-making impulse to just feel less alone in a weird and variously alienating world.”
—Jonathan Kiefer, KQED Arts, September 13, 2010

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KPFK “Hear in the City” interview with Steve Anker and Kathy Geritz

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“Institutions—from home-brewed screening series to academic enclaves tucked away in departments with strange names to legitimate art world forces—have certainly helped keep the fringes of cinema alive over the decades, and Radical Light, which was born out of the Cinematheque and the PFA and the Berkeley Art Museum, attests to the ways that these institutions continue to do so.”
—Tom McCormack, Moving Image Source (Museum of the Moving Image), January 10, 2011

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“Working with minimal budgets and little precedent, the cinema pioneers featured in the series ventured in uncharted territory, creating work that so reflected the tenor and cultural zeitgeist of their times. . . “
—Sura Wood, San Francisco Arts Monthly, September 1, 2010


“Avant garde film can certainly feel like a world of hidden gems that most of us will never find. Fortunately the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive goes all out this fall in celebration of Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000. Consider this your avant-garde education, not to mention your duty as a resident of this bohemian city.”
7X7, October 1, 2010