New Season Begins Marking The Territory

by Marjorie Baumgarten One sure sign of the changing of the Texas seasons (or what passes for seasons in these parts) is the annual return of one of the best shows broadcast by our local PBS affiliate, KLRU-TV: The Territory. This innovative and long-running show features short experimental works by film and video artists. Seeking to "expand the boundaries of television," The Territory brings the gallery or the arthouse venue to your living room. Every season, the series presents a well-chosen collection of new film and video works that might be rarely seen otherwise.

The pieces shown by The Territory are unconventional in their very nature; as a group, the series challenges the conventions of standard TV programming. Works chosen for the program tend to be things that are often categorized as "experimental" or having outstanding technical or visual impact or challenging subject matter. The shows are hosted by knowledgeable commentators who introduce the individual works and provide opinions and avenues for further thought following each film or video. These hosts include Tom Schatz, author and film professor, University of Texas at Austin: Ed Hugetz, film producer and professor, University of Houston at Clearlake; Marian Luntz, associate curator of film, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; other on-air guests include Lorenzo Thomas, Sam Ho, Loris Bradley, and Hector Galán.

The Territory is co-produced in both Austin and Houston by the Austin Museum of Art (executive producer Judith Sims), the Southwest Alternate Media Project (line producer, Celia Lightfoot), and KUHT-TV Houston (director Jeff Weiss). The eight-part 1995 season is broadcast in Austin on KLRU-TV (channel 18/cable 9) on Tuesday nights at 10pm, unless otherwise noted.

1. STREET COMEDIES
(Oct. 17, 10pm)

These five comedies use humor in urban settings to make sense of reality. Works include "Stolen Toyota" by Kelly Baker (Portland, 1993), in which the director interviews some befuddled individuals, including himself, who've had their vehicles stolen; "What's Your Favorite Fish?" by Richard Berge (San Francisco, 1993), a series of goofy "man-in-the-street" interviews that turn the sidewalk into a stage; "Over the Hedge" by Karen Davis (Berkeley, 1992), which playfully looks at the devoted practice of shrubbery adornment; "Direction Man" by Kit Carson (Texas, 1995), a ground-zero art exercise in which the twisted film visionary Kit Carson (David Holzman's Diary) made a film transfer of an amazingly poetic street moment that was randomly shot with a camcorder by a lost movie location scout; and "Mad About the Boy" by Alix Umen (San Francisco, 1994), a funny take on gender stereotyping by some buzz-haired women.

2. PERFORMANCES:

STRAIGHTFORWARD AND STRANGE

(Oct. 24, 10pm)

Two performance documentaries explore cultural identity and stereotyping. They are "The Couple in the Cage," by the legendary Coco Fusco and Paula Heredia (Los Angeles, 1993), and "Joey, Joey" by Ilse Somers (New York, 1988).

3. RECLAIMING THE IMAGE

(Oct. 31, 10pm)

In these two works, accomplished artists interact with popular imagery to discover implied sentiments and new meanings. "Zygosis" by Gavin Hodge and Tim Morrison (London, 1991) examines the rise of Hitler and National Socialism, and "Citizen Art: Cultural Jamming" by Pedro Carvajal (Jersey City, 1994) looks at contemporary advertising and slogans.

4. PORTRAITS OF THE ARTISTS
(Nov. 7, 10:30pm)

These two portraits look at musician Vic Chesnutt in "Speed Racer: Welcome to the World of Vic Chesnutt" by Peter Sillen (Athens, GA, 1993), and independent animator Joanna Priestley in "Grown Up" by Priestley (Portland, 1993).

5. CULTURE AND IDENTITY

(Nov. 21, 10pm)

The one film in this episode is "Flow" by Yau Ching (Hong Kong/New York City, 1993) in which one artist creates a portrait of another through "stream of consciousness" video images akin to the expressionist tradition in Chinese art.

6. OUT AND COMING OUT
(Nov. 28, 10:30pm)

Two young female artists take different approaches in addressing issues of sexual identity in "Playing the Part" by Mitch McCabe (Boston/Michigan, 1994), and "German Song" by Sadie Bening (Tivoli, New York, 1995).

7. ASIAN AMERICAN MALES

(Dec. 19, 10pm)

"Bui Doi (Life Like Dust)" by Ahrin Mishan and Nick Rothenberg (New York/Los Angeles, 1994) looks at gang life as a substitute for family, and "Some Questions" and "Asian Stud's Nightmare" by Kip Fulbeck (La Jolla, California, 1994) both examine cultural stereotyping in American film and television.

8. CALLING CARDS (Dec. 26, 10pm)

Both of these projects were made by their directors to serve as calling cards to show to potential investors and producers of longer-form endeavors. Included are "A Hero of Our Time" by Michael Almereyda of Nadja and Twister fame (Los Angeles, 1993), which is described as a well-crafted and beautifully photographed "tribute to film noir [that] tells the story of two men, two guns and one woman"; and "Underwater" by Deborah Lemattre (Los Angeles, 1994) in which two young girls come of age. n

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