Ghosts Before Breakfast

EPFC | November 28th, 2017

Guest curator: Andy Spletzer
Theme: Experimental Films are Funny

One of the first art movements to embrace film was also one of the funniest, probably because, like with all other art forms, they refused to take it seriously: Dadaism. In 1927 or 1928, Hans Richter created “Ghosts Before Breakfast,” the story (as much as there is one) of time passing, hats flying, tea trays crashing, a bowtie with a mind of its own, and any number of other seemingly disconnected images.

I think it’s the joy of experimentation that I respond to, the sense of fun that is exuded as the Dadaists created and crashed surrealistic images into each other. Last spring for the Seattle International Film Festival I programmed a fun and funny tribute to 100 years of Dadaism called “A DAD” by Austrian filmmaker Robert Cambrinus, and I would have linked to that here if the dang film was online.

However, if there’s one thing that I realized after choosing this month’s theme, it’s that, even though there are funny experimental films out there, the fact of the matter is that there should be so many more! Humor is an attitude, a playful spirit, a smart deconstruction of an existing form, a lightness made from love, not a dismissiveness.

I’m sure there’s plenty of funny experimental films out there that I have yet to see, and lots of my favorite filmmakers (Guy Maddin, Peter Tscherkassky, Kelly Sears, Lewis Klahr, George Kuchar, Arthur Lipsett, Craig Baldwin, so many others) use humor in films that aren’t really comedies. So if you, PERSON WHO IS READING THIS, if you are a filmmaker, I just want to remind you don’t have to take your art so damn seriously all the time!