Performance, Ritual, Transformation

curated by Andy Ditzler

still image from Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964) courtesy Anthology Film Archives

Transforming the body via performance, ritual, and filmmaking – and sometimes all at once.

Sunday, May 29, 2011 | 7:00 PM | My Sister’s Room | East Atlanta
1271 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta, GA 30316 | 678-705-4585
$7 or purchase a five-day pass at

part of Mondo Homo
co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies at Emory University

For Mondo Homo 2011, we present a series of films on how ritual, filmmaking and performance are used to transform bodies. Jean Rouch’s ground-breaking 1954 Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters) documents a possession ritual in Ghana – then a British colony known as The Gold Coast. In the film, the members of the Hauka sect are possessed not by deities or mythical figures but by the officials of the British colonial state: the Secretary-General, the Conductor, the Corporal of the Guard – a subversive political response to colonial oppression. Rouch’s handheld camera work matches the intensity of the imagery, becoming almost part of the ritual itself.

In the early 1960s on the Lower East Side of New York City, a small group of underground artists and queer pioneers were having strange theatrical rituals in each others’ apartments (and each others’ clothes). Ron Rice’s astonishingly gorgeous color film Chumlum documents the proceedings and merges up to four layers of imagery in a masterful use of the camera.

As a teenager, working entirely alone in her bedroom and using only a Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera, Sadie Benning made a legendary series of diary videos. Jollies bravely chronicles her emerging sexuality, seen through her wry humor. George Kuchar’s hysterical I, An Actress is a classic film about filmmaking and the way performance transforms body and soul.

In a funny and poignant video, transgender performance artist Zackary Drucker undergoes an intimate ritual with the help of an audience, who is asked to help Zackary with a bodily transformation, using nothing more than tweezers and guided meditation. Returning to 1955, we finish with a spectacularly queer Mother’s Day performance by Mr. Wladziu Valentino Liberace, better known by just his last name – a man who changed the world for queers without ever actually coming out of the closet.

Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters) (Jean Rouch, 1954) 16mm, 30 minutes
Chumlum (Ron Rice, 1964) 16mm, 23 minutes
I, An Actress (George Kuchar, 1977) 16mm, 8 minutes
Jollies (Sadie Benning, 1990) video, 11 minutes
The Inability to Be Looked At and the Horror of Nothing to See (Zackary Drucker, 2009) video, 17 minutes
The Liberace Show: Tribute to Mothers (Duke Goldstone, 1955) video, 30 minutes  screened on DVD courtesy the UCLA Film and Television Archive

still image from Sadie Benning's Jollies (1990) Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank

MONDO CINEMA 2011 is a Film Love event. The Film Love series provides access to rare but important films, and seeks to increase awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde film. The series is curated and hosted by Andy Ditzler for Frequent Small Meals. Film Love was voted Best Film Series in Atlanta by the critics of Creative Loafing in 2006, and is featured in Atlanta Magazine’s Best of 2009. Archives of the series may be found at

Film Love home page

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