by François Miron
2015, 85 min, digital
Anthology Film Archives
June 2-4, 2016 7:30 PM
A crucial figure in 1960s-70s avant-garde film, Paul Sharits was among the pioneers of structuralist cinema, a school of filmmaking that sought to emphasize and explore the formal dimensions and physical properties specific to the medium. A deeply committed and visionary artist, Sharits began exploring the potential of the single frame and the flicker effect in the mid-1960s, and would go on to make numerous films that take as their subject the filmstrip itself. Though his work has been celebrated among avant-garde filmmakers and scholars for decades, in recent years he has also been embraced by the art museum and gallery worlds, and appropriately so, given his persistence in deconstructing 16mm ﬁlm into such novel forms as multiple projection installations, frozen ﬁlm frames mounted between plexiglass sheets, and ink-colored partitions for abstract ﬁlms.
The first feature-length documentary about Sharits, François Miron’s new film is both a perceptive exploration of his oeuvre by a filmmaker who has clearly studied and thought deeply about Sharits’s work for many years, and a revealing account of his often troubled life. Featuring extended clips from interviews and other footage of Sharits, as well as new interviews with other filmmakers, scholars, and family members, the documentary sketches a portrait of a tormented, deeply romantic artist, always courting disaster but also cursed by an inherited mental condition. PAUL SHARITS is both a terrific introduction to Sharits’s life and work, and, for those with a longstanding interest in the filmmaker, a treasure trove of rare footage, illuminating commentary, and archival materials.