Program Notes: Rooftop Cinema

She Collage and other shorts | Various Artists | US | 2010-2016 | 62 minutes

Rooftop Cinema, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Friday, June 8, 9:30pm»

The second installment of this year’s Rooftop Cinema surveys recent collage films with techniques including cut-out animation, filmstrip manipulation, and archival footage montage.

Tonight’s program is the first of several experimental evenings at Rooftop Cinema this summer. In a recent interview with Rob Thomas in The Capital Times, Rooftop curator James Kreul explains his interest in experimental films.

“Broadly speaking, many experimental films organize sounds and images based on abstract concepts rather than a narrative structure,” he explains, “Sometimes [the images] can be purely abstract, emphasizing color, shapes or movement. Other times the images are representational, but they are assembled for a reason different than telling a story. The game you play watching them is therefore different than watching a narrative film.”

Tonight’s films feature a range of games to play, or mental activities through which we can engage the film. A “spoiler” tonight would not be a story detail or character reveal. A spoiler tonight would be to hand out a list of rules for these games. But here are two general tips for those who are new to experimental film. First, pay more attention to moment-to-moment effects than you usually do with narrative films (example: graphic matches or contrasts). Second, since narrative structure won’t guide you, look for other principles by which the images are organized (example: repetition and variation).


she collage | Kate Lain | US | 2015 | 9:55

Kate Lain is a Los Angeles–area multidisciplinary artist working in film, video, clay, and other media. In her varied works, Kate plays with material, texture, traces, and movement and is interested in ways humans understand and interact with nature. Her preoccupations include family, memory, gender, land, texture, color, and place. She is drawn to places where structures and materials break down. (

Lain’s she collage is part response to the work of Southern California–based collage artist Terry Braunstein, part reflection on the practice of art-making. The film was commissioned by curators Claudia Bohn-Spector and Sam Mellon for the exhibition, Who Is She?—Terry Braunsteinat the Long Beach Museum of Art in 2016.


Notes from the Farm | Caryn Cline | US | 2014 | 7:25

Caryn Cline has been making films and videos for 20 years, working with found footage, and  shoot 16mm film on a hand-cranked Bolex camera. “Botanicollage” is a term she coined to describe the technique of creating direct animation films using botanical elements, influenced by the films of Stan Brakhage such as Mothlight and Garden of Earthly Delights.

In her statement for the film, Cline explains that Notes from the Farm documents her response to an artists’ residency at the Independent Imaging Retreat (aka the “Film Farm”) in rural Ontario: “Having grown up in rural Missouri, but having since lived exclusively in large urban areas, I found the Film Farm both familiar and strange. I shot and hand-processed ‘live action’ scenes on the farm, using organic materials (trees, flowers, plants) as ‘mattes‘ for my post-residency work in the optical printer, where I combined these mattes and scenes with handmade ‘botanicollage’ film that I created from plants gathered at the farm.” (


outer darkness | Hannah Piper Burns | US | 2015 | 11:18

At her website, Hannah Piper Burns explains: “She plays fast and loose with the idea of mediums and materials. She conjures narratives that coalesce and collapse through investigation, juxtaposition, re-contextualization, collage and mimicry. Appropriation is her primary means of accessing and redirecting power. Rhythm is her preferred binding agent.”

In addition to filmmaking, Burns is a film programmer and curator. In 2015 she co-founded Compliance Division, a project space operating out of her home in Portland, OR. Her exhibition titled Venus Retrograde, currently on display at the Portland Art Museum through August 12, 2018, extends her interest in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette into three-channel video installations and mixed media projects. (


More Than a Thousand Rioters | Kelly Gallagher | US | 2016 | 6:19

Kelly Gallagher is an experimental animator, filmmaker and Assistant Professor of Film at Syracuse University. Her theoretical work investigates the radical and feminist possibilities of experimental animation. Through her Purple Riot Studio, she has been producing original and colorful handcrafted animations for the past decade that explore overlooked histories and movements of resistance and perseverance. She also creates commissioned animations for documentary film and music video clients ranging from PBS to The Coup.

In her artist statement, Gallagher explains, “I am primarily interested in handcrafted filmmaking and exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animations make labor visible, aesthetically gesturing towards the workers behind their production. I am invested in exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animation forms and techniques can be utilized to address political inquiries and concerns, and stories of resistance.” (


Marie | Karen Yasinsky | US | 2010 | 6:00

Karen Yasinsky teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Film/Media Studies. As an artist she works primarily with animation and drawing. Her video installations and drawings have been shown in many venues internationally including the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art, NY, UCLA Hammer Museum, L.A. and Kunst Werke, Berlin. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Baker Award and is a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and the American Academy in Rome. (

Marie is based on the main character in the film Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) by Robert Bresson.


Magic For Beginners | Jesse Maclean | US | 2010 | 20:29

Jesse McLean is an Assistant Professor of Film/Video/Animation/New Genres at Peck School of the Arts, UW-Milwaukee. She was the recipient of an International Critics Prize, (FIPRESCI Prize) at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen and a Jury Prize in the International Competition at the 2013 Videoex Festival. She was a featured artist at the 2014 Flaherty Seminar and a MacDowell Fellow in 2016.

Magic for Beginners examines the mythologies found in fan culture, from longing to obsession to psychic connections. The need for such connections (whether real or imaginary) as well as the need for an emotional release that only fantasy can deliver are explored. (




Rooftop Cinema is a program of MMoCA’s education department and is curated by James Kreul, with technical support provided by Tanner Engbretsen. MMoCA’s film programming is generously funded by maiahaus and Venture Investors, LLC.



Published by James Kreul

James Kreul has advocated for alternative screenings of independent, international, and experimental film in Madison since the 1990s.