Film and photography are in many ways defined by the tensions between them: narrative vs. static, still vs. moving images. Yet many notable practitioners — from early pioneer Edward Sheriff Curtis to midcentury icon Andy Warhol to contemporary figures such as Sharon Lockhart and Sophie Calle — have created important work in both media.
This summer, in conjunction with the exhibition Focus on Photography, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will present two feature-length films that highlight the distance and the connections between the cinema and photography.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, June 10, the museum will screen Andy Warhol (1972). Directed by Lana Jokel — who also served as cinematographer for Heat (1972), perhaps the most commercially successful film to emerge from Warhol’s famous Factory — the documentary addresses Warhol's career through interviews with friends, critics and colleagues, as well as with the artist himself.
Significantly, Andy Warhol was created around the time that Warhol was taking many of the photographs on display in Focus on Photography, and the film includes many of the people depicted in those images. In addition, the documentary's rambling, non-narrative style recalls Warhol's own approach to cinema and includes a number of clips from his films, along with contemporary footage of Warhol himself at the Factory and more casual scenes of Warhol in the country and playing with a dog in a garden.
Then, at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 8, the museum will screen In the Land of the War Canoes (1914) by Edward S. Curtis. Best known for his 30-volume series The North American Indian (1907-1930) — examples of which are also included in the exhibition — Curtis employs an indigenous cast to tell the story of a chief's son who must best a medicine man to win the hand of his beloved. Combining staged Hollywood narrative with documentary authenticity, the film echoes the complex and contradictory objectives that guided his photographic practice.
Both screenings are free and open to the public and take place in Steinberg Hall Auditorium, located immediately adjacent to the Kemper Art Museum, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. In the Land of the War Canoes will be introduced by Karen K. Butler, assistant curator, and Nadia Ghasedi, cataloging and preservation archivist in the Washington University Film & Media Archive.