Dominic Angerame is an American experimental filmmaker whose prolific output displays a particular interest in urban architectures and landscapes. Angerame has taught filmmaking at several North American universities and he was the executive director of Canyon Cinema between 1980 and 2012.

Ephraim Asili
is a filmmaker, DJ, and traveler whose work focuses on the African diaspora as a cultural force. Asili currently resides in Hudson, NY, and is a Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts Department at Bard College. 

Bruce Baillie
(1931-2020) was an American experimental filmmaker based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the co-founder of Canyon Cinema and San Francisco Cinematheque and a guiding member of the New American Cinema.

Dara Birnbaum
is an American video and installation artist. Birnbaum entered the nascent field of video art in the mid-to-late 1970s challenging the gendered biases of the period and television’s ever-growing presence within the American household.

Donna Cameron
is an internationally-exhibited and collected multimedia artist whose films and videos are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Cameron’s photography and films use a unique cinematic paper emulsion process (CPE) for which she was issued a US Patent in 2001.  

Emily Chao
is a filmmaker and independent curator based in San Francisco. Her ongoing series of diverse, short-form nonfiction films focus on identity, diaspora, history, and the interaction between space and memory. She is a co-programmer of Light Field and a founding member of Black Hole Collective Film Lab in Oakland.  

Miryam Charles
is a Canadian-Haitian filmmaker and cinematographer and a graduate of Concordia University’s Film MFA. Her brief experimental fictions and essay films, primarily shot in Super 8 and 16mm, explore diasporic longing, the uncanny, and the psychic and embodied weight of histories of dispossession.

Julie Dash
is an American film director, writer, and producer. Dash received her MFA from the UCLA Film School in 1985 and is one of the graduates and filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion. Her film Daughters of the Dust (1991) was the first full-length film directed by an African American woman to obtain general theatrical release in the US. Dash has also written two books and directed movies for television.

Sandra Davis
is a San Francisco-based experimental filmmaker and curator whose work has been exhibited at film showcases and festivals worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Pompidou Center, Paris. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of South Florida, and the San Francisco Art Institute, and lectured widely in the US and Europe on experimental cinema.

Robert Fenz
(1969-2020) made black-and-white films that reflected both the jazz-inspired imagery of New York School photographers such as Roy DeCarava and Aaron Siskin and the landscape films of Fenz’s former teacher, Peter Hutton. An inveterate traveler, Fenz made films in Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, India, and France. He also worked as a cinematographer on several films including Chantal Akerman’s From the Other Side (2003) and Là-bas (2006).

Ja’Tovia Gary
is an African American multidisciplinary artist working across documentary, avant-garde video art, sculpture, and installation. Her work, collaging voices, chants, analog animation, digital and archival film embraces the reparative ethics of quilting as a longstanding tradition of Black women’s fugitive arts. 

David Gatten
is an American experimental filmmaker exploring the intersections of the printed word and the moving image. His extensive filmography, primarily in 16mm but also more recently digital format, is a tapestry of conceptual, lyrical, and material engagements with 18th and 19th century textual archives of the Western world.

Barbara Hammer
(1939-2019) was a feminist filmmaker and pioneer of queer cinema, who made over 90 moving image works as well as performances, installations, photographs, collages, and drawings. 

Christopher Harris
has won numerous awards for his 16mm experimental films and moving image installations, which have screened at the Locarno Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Arsenal Berlin, and many other festivals and exhibition venues. He is a 2020-2021 Radcliffe-Film Study Center Fellow/David and Roberta Logie Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a 2015 Creative Capital grant awardee.  

Sharon Hayes
is an American artist whose output engages with different media ranging from performance and language-based art to video installation. Fusing fact and fiction, narrative and documentary modes in a reflexive manner, Hayes’s artworks focus on politics, queer and feminist histories, and questions of mediation.

Mike Henderson
is a painter, professor, and blues musician who set out from Marshall, Missouri in 1965 to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. After graduating with a BFA in painting and a MFA in filmmaking in 1970, he joined the faculty at University of California-Davis as a professor of art, where he taught painting, drawing, and filmmaking until his retirement in 2012.  

Saul Levine
is an American experimental filmmaker. His output brings together personal and politically-engaged documentary modes in a reflexive manner. Levine was a professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and established its MassArt Film Society.

Toney W. Merritt
is a California-based African American filmmaker playfully subverting experimental, narrative, and documentary strategies and techniques in an extensive body of work, including over 30 personal films and videos. He was part of a group of artists who founded San Francisco’s No Nothing Cinema, an independent venue for irreverent, underground cinema during the 1980s. He has taught at City College San Francisco and San Francisco State University. 

Kate Millett
(1934-2017) was an American feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist. In 1971, Millett formed Women’s Liberation Cinema and produced the feminist classic, Three Lives. Between 1963 and 2009, she had several international solo art exhibitions and installations in sculpture, drawing, serigraphs, and photography.

Everlane Moraes
is a Brazilian filmmaker, visual artist, and activist in the Black movement. She graduated from the Cuban International Film and TV School (EICTV). Her hybrid conceptual and documentary short films shot and co-produced across Brazil, Cuba, Mozambique, and Portugal, explore the fractured condition of lives in diaspora.

Samba Félix N’diaye
(1945-2009) was a pioneer Senegalese documentary filmmaker trained at the Louis Lumière Institute. His unique body of work in 16mm explores different facets of postcolonial Senegal, with an emphasis on practices of bricolage and recuperation. Before his death in 2009, he was working on a project of experimental film school in Dakar. 

Korean-born artist
Nam June Paik’s (1932-2006) video sculptures, installations, performances, and single-channel videos encompassed one of the most influential bodies of work in electronic media art. Merging global communications theories with an irreverent Fluxus sensibility, his work in music, performance, and video explored the juncture of art, technology, and popular culture.

Elena Pardo
is an experimental filmmaker based in Mexico City. Her filmmaking practice partakes in expanded cinema, animation, and documentary modes. She is the co-founder of Laboratorio Experimental de Cine (LEC) dedicated to experimental and expanded cinema production. 

Lynne Sachs
is an American experimental filmmaker, performance and installation artist, and poet. Her approach blends documentary, essayistic, and diaristic strategies to explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and historical experience. Her work weaves together poetry, collage, painting, politics, and layered sound design, searching for a rigorous play between image and sound and pushing the visual and aural textures.

Hussein Shariffe
(1934-2005) was a Sudanese filmmaker, abstract painter, poet, and university lecturer at the University of Khartoum. His films often crossed boundaries between genres, exploring questions of memory and exile—particularly in the aftermath of the 1989 military coup —through symbolism, insurgent tableaux, and nonlinear narrative techniques.

Emerging from the San Francisco-based social justice film distribution and production company California Newsreel,
Single Spark Films was the film unit of the Revolutionary Communist Party (formerly the Revolutionary Union).

Cauleen Smith
is an interdisciplinary artist whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Her films, objects, and installations have been featured in exhibitions at the Studio Museum of Harlem, Whitney Museum of American Art, Houston Contemporary Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA, the New Museum, and Decad, Berlin.

Harry Smith
(1923-1991) was a visual artist, experimental filmmaker, record collector, bohemian, mystic, largely self-taught student of anthropology, and Neo-Gnostic bishop. Besides his films, Smith is also widely known for his influential Anthology of American Folk Music, drawn from his extensive collection of rare 78-rpm recordings.

Rhea Storr
is a Caribbean-British experimental filmmaker and video artist. Using essayistic modes, her work especially explores issues of masquerade, translation, Black and Mixed-Race representation, performance, and carnival culture. 

Paige Taul
is an Oakland, California native who received her BA in Studio Art from the University of Virginia and her MFA in Moving Image from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work engages with and challenges assumptions of Black cultural expression and notions of belonging through experimental cinematography. 

Naomi Uman
is a filmmaker whose work is marked by a signature handmade aesthetic, often shooting, hand-processing, and editing her films with the most rudimentary of practices. Uman’s films have been exhibited widely at the Sundance, Rotterdam, and San Francisco International Film Festivals, New York Film Festival, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Smithsonian, and Mexico City’s Museo de Arte Moderno.

Doug Wendt
has been working in the arts, radio, and music business since co-hosting “Bison Review” on KUDI in Montana in the mid 1960s. Wendt received a Master’s degree in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1972.

Joyce Wieland
(1930-1998) was a Canadian artist whose work ranged from mixed-media collages and assemblages to experimental filmmaking. Describing herself as a “cultural activist,” Wieland engaged with issues of gender, labor, ecology, and disaster in her artworks.

Jud Yalkut
(1938-2013) was a pioneering intermedia artist and filmmaker. His remarkable body of moving image work, which spanned 50 years, ranged from early performance renderings and poetic filmic experiments to a series of groundbreaking hybrid video-film collaborations with Nam June Paik.


About the Maps

Cartography is an operation of power and at the core of the colonial remaking of the world. Mapping bodies of water, in particular, remains a fraught and contested exercise. For Playing in the Dark: Watery Experiments, Léopold Lambert creates maps that borrow from the unruliness of waves to destabilize ingrained ways of seeing.

Toney Merritt’s “ship feared lost in wild atlantic sea,” in By the Sea (1982) very much informs the spirit of these maps, via unfamiliar projections, indigenous place names when known and a deliberate irreverence for the usual orientation, coordinates and landmass-based place names that suffuse our understanding of space.

While a world map puts in a singular analytic frame the places evoked in the films—SUAKIN, DAKAR, GIVERNY, AYITI/PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAVANA, SEABROOK ISLAND, SAN FRANCISCO—a series of zooms depart from these interconnected currents to embed them in regional contexts. Taken together, these maps insist on the vastness of the Black aquatic, the multiple bodies of water that striate landmasses, and the hubris of any pretense of solid ground.

In the maps of Ayiti/Port-au-Prince/Havana, Dakar and Seabrook Island, water engulfs most of the frame, presencing the aquatic graveyards that bridge these sites. Some of the maps conjure bottomless seas, while others trace elusive submarine reliefs.

In all three, proliferating rivers and lakes sink deep into the landmass, characteristic of swampy coastal ecologies. They contrast with the more desertic terrains that surround the Red sea, an interface between the Arabian peninsula and the African continent, which connects through a series of highly politicized gulfs to the Indian ocean and the Mediterranean. As a major stop point on the road to Mecca, drawing movement from places as distant as the opposite Atlantic coast, Suakin, as many of the other places previously mentioned, epitomizes the pull and magnetic confluences of waters.

— Chrystel Oloukoï


Essays by Aaditya Aggarwal, Juan Carlos Kase, Chrystel Oloukoï, Ekin Pinar
Edited by Topiary Landberg and Brett Kashmere
Designed by Helen Shewolfe Tseng
Additional artwork by Léopold Lambert
116 pages, full color, perfect bound

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Canyon Cinema 50 Film Tour

Beginning in November 2017 and continuing through 2018, the Canyon Cinema 50 Tour included four film programs and two digital packages, which traveled across the United States and beyond; reaching audiences in more than 25 cities, at venues ranging from universities to restaurants, major museums to microcinemas.

Studies in Natural Magic

These four 16mm programs, composed of 43 films drawn from Canyon’s circulating collection of more than 3400 titles, provided an opportunity for audiences to encounter some of the defining works of American avant-garde cinema as they were meant to be seen, while also recuperating forgotten voices and casting a contemporary eye on Canyon’s collection. Many of the films in the tour were recent restorations and new prints. Two digital programs built from new HD transfers are also available, allowing participation from a wide variety of venues and organizations.

As part of Canyon’s effort to renew its longtime commitment to sustaining a grassroots distribution network for alternative cinema, the touring programs were designed to be adaptable. In addition to the four set programs, area curators, teachers, and artists were encouraged to organize special programs oriented toward regional accounts of Canyon’s legacy. We were especially interested in supporting programs that featured local Canyon filmmakers in order to provide a platform for these artists to reflect on their work in relation to Canyon’s collection, history, and culture.

As a component of the Canyon Cinema 50 project, the touring program was meant not only to celebrate Canyon’s history but also to point the way towards the organization’s continued relevance as both a purveyor of and advocate for artist-made cinema, seeding the next generation of what founding filmmaker Bruce Baillie described as “a federation of willing devotees of the magic lantern muse.”


Canyon Cinemazine #7: Dear Folks: Notes and Letters from Bruce Baillie


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This issue of Canyon Cinemazine is dedicated to Canyon’s founding filmmaker, Bruce Baillie, who died in April 2020 at his home on Camano Island; nearly 60 years after first welcoming friends and neighbors to a night of backyard cinema in Canyon, California.

Editors: Courtney Fellion, Max Goldberg, Brett Kashmere, and Seth Mitter
Design: Helen Tseng

This publication was generously supported by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation and The Friends of Canyon Cinema.

Printed by Newspaper Club
64 pages, tabloid newspaper
11.25 x 14.75 inches
Edition of 400



“In an era when it seems like most every piece of recorded media is available online, Canyon Cinema at 50 reminds us that there are still reels of film accessible only in the dark confines of a communal screening room.” (Matt Stromberg, Hyperallergic, July 10, 2018)

“Spread across four programs, this all-16mm showcase — curated from a larger touring retrospective — brings together a half-century of noncommercial moving image work by a variety of artists both recognizable and less heralded.” (Jordan Cronk, Hollywood Reporter, June 28, 2018)

“Rather than dwell nostalgically on the usual avant-garde tropes and traditions—or focus solely on the work of the distributor’s undisputedly illustrious founders—the programs here give a sense of Canyon’s capacious, ‘non-discriminatory’ character.” (Leo Goldsmith, 4columns, April 27, 2018)

The San Francisco-based cooperative Canyon Cinema is one of the essential institutions of American experimental film. The names in this 50th-anniversary retrospective — which is divided into four programs of shorts — read like a roll call of filmmakers any moviegoer interested in the avant-garde should know.” (Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, April 26, 2018)

Canyon 50 is a retrospective that is sprawling and alive, forward-looking and forward-thinking. It seems like every couple of years, someone declares the avant-garde (or film in general) ‘dead.’ And yes, it’s not as easy to work in celluloid as it used to be, although it was never exactly easy. But Canyon 50 is a perfect example of old and new, tradition and innovation, mutually informing one another.” (Michael Sicinski, March 22, 2018)

“My favorite blast from the past, however, is Love It/Leave It (1973), Tom Palazzolo’s 15-minute satire of knee-jerk patriotism and a choice example of good old Chicago lefty troublemaking…” (J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader, January 26, 2018)

“Canyon Cinema will be presenting a unique evening of avant-garde cinema organized around Robert Nelson and William T. Wiley’s 42-minute The Great Blondino (1967), an anarchic ’60s experiment in freeform filmmaking…” (Jesse Ficks, 48hills, April 11, 2017)

Canyon Cinema proves the avant-garde, underground and experimental can and will survive despite political climates that would rather see such artistic practices discredited, defunded and dissolved. Long may it survive as well.” (Sarah Hotchkiss, KQED, February 15, 2017)


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2019 Year In Review-public

Silkscreened commemorative poster designed by Nathaniel Russell for the occasion of Canyon Cinema 50 (edition of 100, 2-color / 18 x 24 silkscreen prints), printed at Bloom Screen Printing Co. in Oakland, CA. A limited quantity is available for purchase.