Gathering: Remembering Robert Todd

Directed by: Robert Todd

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2018 | 7:00 PM

A program of remembrance for those who knew Rob and his films, and a program of introduction for those who didn’t.

The experimental film community lost one of its most singular voices with the passing of Boston-based filmmaker Robert Todd in August. This program has been organized by a group of Rob’s Chicago friends, not as a memorial, but as a celebration of his work.
 
To know Rob’s films was to know him. His work was filled with great beauty, curiosity, wonder, reflection, and emotion. He was a gatherer of images and light (the program title “Gathering” is also the title of one of his films, though not one showing). He was an explorer of the world around him (a forest, an office space, underneath a bed, urban roadways, anything and everything), capturing those small details, those transient moments, those miraculous confluences of light, color, and texture that are invisible to most of us. But not capturing for himself; capturing to share with us, to help us see and learn, ourselves, how to live in the moment. His project was a continuation of Stan Brakhage’s (Rob was one of the most engaged practitioners of Brakhage’s lyrical tradition), “Imagine a world…” indeed.
 
Rob’s engagement with the world was not entirely an aesthetic one, though. In his life and in his work he found the space and time to treat issues of social justice, document the artistry and labor of individuals, and open himself to difficult emotional depths. This is another side to his generosity of spirit.
 
He could, also, just be silly. His laugh was infectious, his humor often dry and wry, his joy in things childlike.
 
This program of 16mm films and one digital video ranges from early work to fairly recent work. The various selections reflect the diversity explored above, and serve as a kind of portraiture-through-work of Rob himself.
 
We hope you will join us in this evening of celebration, discovery, and beauty.
 
We wish to extend our profound thanks to Rob’s sister, Deb Todd Wheeler, for her support, encouragement, and generosity.
 

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PROGRAM:
 
Fable: I Want the World Clean (1999, 16 min, 16mm)
“Musing on the violence we do to the world and our histories by trying to rid them of impurities, this fantastic "tale" centers on a family's house passed down through five generations.”
 
Clip (2001, 3 min, 16mm)
“A sequence of 10 images presented in 10 groups of 400 alternating frames. The primary image of a bird is gradually disfigured by the successive introduction of competing imagery, yet the overall field seems to have its own life.”
 
Evergreen (2005, 15 min, 16mm)
“nature:artifice, endurance:durability”
 
Qualities of Stone (2006, 11 min, 16mm)
“organic and inorganic meet in minerality”
 
Office Suite (2007, 15 min, 16mm)
“Inside, Outside, Upside Down
A life half lived to the fullest.
From inner space to the end of a day.
 
This officescape reflects the rhythms of my mind from daybreak-to-break: light journeys within and without my office, in 3 movements: InnerClose with Shadow and Steam (Andante Up, Down, and Sidelong), Exterior Fantasy from Dawn to Break (Allegro in moving colors), and Hallway (the End of that World).”
 
Dig (2007, 3 min, 16mm)
“Your Street is My Street.
A constricted frame in agitation...
 
...the sweet music of jackhammers raging throughout.
After nearly seven years of constant construction on my street, the road in front of my house was ripped up once again early one summer morning. A few days after they'd paved over the damage, Dig-Safe Marks magically appeared, signaling the start of yet another round of terror for the neighborhood, here vividly brought to life in unsparing terms.”
 
Imperceptihole (2011, 14 min, 16mm, co-directed by Lori Felker)
“A High Contrast Correspondence Film. A Science Non-Fiction Fairy Tale. Co-Produced with Lori Felker.
 
Things are never as polarized as they appear - 
Circling and searching, falling and landing, entering and exiting; actuality lies between seasons, states, planes and worlds.”
 
Undergrowth (2011, 12 min, 16mm)
“Hunting.
A dream.
 
‘A blind predator dreams through its prey's eyes.’
 
The obvious predator is a Barred owl, but the film uses this a vehicle to consider the active role of the camera in image ‘capture.’ The prey is undefined, but suggested as a compendium of natural figures that the camera ‘captures.’”
 
Dangerous Light (2012, 7 min; Digital Video)
Shards of light from an imaginary past.
 
Old World (2017, 10 min, 16mm)
“Windows into dreams and mythologies,
interrupted peacefully.”
 
All film descriptions except Dangerous Light by Robert Todd.
 
Organized by: Elizabeth Coffman, Lori Felker, Ted Hardin, Karen Johannesen, Christy LeMaster, Josh Mabe, Adam Paradis, Bryan Wendorf, and Patrick Friel
Chicago Filmmakers
5720 N. Ridge Ave.
60660 Chicago , IL