Kenneth Anger is the maverick of avant-guard filmmaking. It is hard to imagine seeing Fireworks in 1947, which still seems so bold and shocking. To quote Anais Nin who saw the film at the time "At someones house I was shown [Anger's] film Fireworks. The sadism and violence revolted me, but the film has power and is artistically perfect. It has a nightmare quality. Everyone had mixed feelings, horror and recognition of Kenneth Anger's talent." That talent is still easy to see today.
Having a chance to meet Dr. Anger was one of those special moments that can only be described as a true feeling of being in the presence of a legend. Listening to his stories that include such names as Francis Ford Coppola, "Marty" Scorsese, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Francois Truffaut, etc. left me in awe at the life Dr. Anger has lived. Indeed, at the presentation at the Walker Cinema on Friday night I think the audience was just as enchanted, if not more so, with Dr. Anger's storytelling as they were with the restored 35mm prints of his films.
Unfortunately Dr. Anger's arrival coincided with a DVD release of his work that he is seeing no benefit from. He is getting none of the proceeds from the recent DVD release, which he fully deserves. Furthermore, the person doing the liner notes for the DVD is someone Dr. Anger feels does not fairly represent his work. The injustice is even more so now that I have met the man and truly believe he could use the money. (As if my blog would have any resonance to a social movement, please e-mail Fantoma with your concerns.)
Seeing Fireworks, Rabbit's Moon, Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kammandos restored was like seeing them for the first time. (Okay, well, it was my first time seeing some of these films.) For the people who were at this sold out event, I think there is no denying how special the night was.