Pushing Boundaries

The Territory Begins 21st Season on KLRU-TV

Just as the fall schedule of season and series premieres kicks off on network television, the same holds true for KLRU-TV's The Territory, now in its 21st season as the longest-running showcase for independent film and video work broadcast on public television. This fall, The Territory expands its borders both literally and metaphorically. Beginning with this season the program -- a joint production in Austin and Houston by the Austin Museum of Art, Houston's Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), and Houston Public Television (KUHT-TV) -- will begin broadcasting to PBS stations throughout the state. In addition to showcasing the work of a number of Austin artists, this season's schedule of eight hour-long programs promises to continue The Territory's commitment to new media that challenge traditional conceptions of form and content.

In an interesting departure from the increasingly sophisticated and popular field of computer animation, The Territory's first program (Oct. 8, 11pm) focuses on the work of three artists whose short films return to the technical roots of animation. Entitled "Animation," the first of The Territory's eight programs showcases three films that executive producer and commentator Judith Sims (curator of film and video, Austin Museum of Art) describes as "mood pieces" that explore a variety of relationships. The program begins with Canadian filmmaker Wendy Tilby's Strings (1991), a work whose charm and subtlety are conveyed through detailed visual narration as well as through technique: The images are painted on a single glass plate. Maureen Selwood's Flying Circus (1994) and Suzan Pitt's Joy Street (1995) make use of animation as a means through which to explore themes of despair, fear, and hope -- concepts that commentator and co-producer Marian Luntz (curator of film, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) reminds viewers are not often associated with animated film and video.

Related to this idea of eclecticism and unconventionality is The Territory's mission to convert the average television into an alternative viewing space. The program strikes a balance between innovative work by established and new artists and insightful commentary by anchors Sims, Luntz, Ed Hugetz (filmmaker/provost, University of Houston and Clear Lake), and Tom Schatz (author/film professor, University of Texas at Austin). Throughout the season these commentators will be joined by guests such as UT English professor Mia Carter, Houston-based film critic Sam Ho, and El Paso media artist Willie Varela. Together with The Territory's anchors, these guests will offer their own expertise and insight into a diverse collection of work.

Through its Web site (http://www.swamp.org/swamp) and e-mail address (cyberia@swamp.org), The Territory invites viewers to browse through program information and comment on the program's featured films and videos. The eight-part 1996 season is broadcast in Austin on KLRU-TV (channel 18/cable 9) on Tuesday evenings at 11pm, unless otherwise noted.

1. Animation (Oct. 8, 11pm)

Works by three female animators explore through sumptuous visuals the emotional complications and real-world consequences of relationships. Wendy Tilby's Strings (Canada, 1991) reminds us of the power in details; Maureen Selwood's Flying Circus (Santa Monica, 1994) is "an imagined memoir" based on the filmmaker's childhood; and Joy Street (New York, 1995) is Suzan Pitt's account of one woman's journey from despair to rebirth.

2. Coming of Age (Oct. 15, 11pm)

Three Minutes on a Bus (1995) by Austin's own Cressandra Thibodeaux is just one of the four films in this program that centers on pivotal moments that mark the end of childhood. Thibodeaux's film is based on an event experienced by the filmmaker herself. In Dangerous Waters (New York, 1995) Anniken Fjesme comically explores a boy's sexual awakening. Art Jones's Dodgeball (New York, 1995) is a mockumentary that profiles the power plays in the public-school gym. In Tenacity (New York, 1994), filmmaker Chris Eyre portrays Native American youths involved in a culture clash.

3. Evolving Images (Oct. 22, 11pm)

Six short works illustrate the process of evolution within families and among mothers, women, and men. Mary Kocol's Is This Me? (Massachusetts, 1994) utilizes animated photographs to chronicle a family's past as they look through their photo album. Austin-based Sara Whiteley intercuts footage from space with earth-bound images to reflect on her mother's death and her estranged grandmother's denial in Requiem (1995). In Rose Married a Junkie (New York, 1990) filmmaker Laura Margulies visualizes one woman's thoughts with live-action, painted, and hand-drawn imagery. Veena Cabreros-Sud's Stretchmark (New York, 1996) portrays the stark realities of single parenthood. Abductees (Great Britain, 1995) is Paul Vester's animated film about five Americans who believe they were abducted by extraterrestrials. Diane Bonder's experimental film Parolé (New Jersey, 1993) explores the construction of sexuality through medical and psychological discourses.

4. Love Stories (Oct. 29, 11pm)

The two films in this program recount offbeat love stories with dark humor and realism. Austin filmmaker George Longworthy wrote the script for Skeletons (1995) -- a film about judgment, according to the writer-director -- during the first few days after he moved to town. Dan Doyle's Burning Love (New York, 1993) follows two teenagers in their quest to be alone.

5. Digital Animation (Nov. 12, 11pm)

This program features a cross-section of short works that push the limits of computer graphics. Among those films and videos featured are an excerpt from Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's recent film The City of Lost Children; Balls and Blocks (California, 1996), Allen Coulter's positive short about prejudice; Austin-based Kevin McIntyre's Technimation (1995) in which viewers tour a high-tech virtual world; monster-on-the-loose fantasy, King Tex (Dallas, 1995) by John David and Bob Tullier, featuring the famed icon of the Dallas fairground; Public Shelter (Waxahachie, 1994-95), which presents a glimpse of the World Wide Web, CD-ROM, and gaming extensions of Jayne Loader's pioneering work; Electronic Arts' interactive movie, Psychic Detective (San Mateo, CA, 1995), developed by Jim Simmons, John Sanborn, and Michael Kaplan; and Sam Hurt and Chan Chandler's The Hokey Pokey (Austin, 1995), which uses cel animation and the music of Brave Combo to introduce Hurt's comic-strip character Eyebeam to music video. Numerous other examples of commercial applications of computer graphics are included in the program.

6. Video Pioneers (Nov. 19, 10pm)

Video pioneers Nam June Paik and Bill Viola are the subjects of this program. Jud Yalkut profiles Paik in Electronic Superhighway (New York, 1995), and Site of the Unseen (Brazil, 1994) is Carlos Nader and Marcello Dantas' tribute to the work of Viola.

7. Multicultural Collages (Dec. 3, 10pm)

Three groups often marginalized in the United States provide the impetus for this program focusing on multicultural images and themes. Kip Fulbeck's Nine Fish (California, 1995) portrays the physical decline of the filmmaker's Cantonese grandmother as it explores the treatment of the elderly in the U.S. From Brooklyn comes Reiko Tahara's Remnants (1994), an exploration of the fragmented reality of Japanese life and its depiction in Western media. In Videobook (New York, 1994), Native-American videomaker Beverly Singer shares her thoughts through voiceover narration and audio imagery.

8. Video Essay (Dec. 17, 11pm)

The eighth and final program in the series concludes with a video entitled Conversations Across the Bosphorous (San Francisco, 1995) by Jeanne C. Finley. This work provides both a past and a present representation of life in modern Turkey as it incorporates the narratives of two Muslim women. n

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