Miami has seen its fair share of art house waves ebb and flow. Today, Miami is at the height of a renaissance with the art house world and a very active, creative group of homegrown filmmakers. However, the purist format of film is dying here like everywhere else. It makes this Saturday’s upcoming screening of “Avant-garde Cinema: Selections from the Miami-Dade Public Library 16mm Film Collection” at the Miami-Dade Main Library in Downtown Miami all the more important.
Back in the early 1990s, when I first began awakening to indie cinema, the choices felt scant. One guy important to the indie film exhibition world in Miami in the very early ’90s was a librarian. Donald Chauncey actually helped found the Alliance Cinema inside Lincoln Road Mall back when more homeless people walked the mall than patrons. This was where you went to see the debut film by Gus Van Sant, Mala Noche. It was also where you could catch a four-part series of two-hour programs of music videos with an artistic bent from everyone by David Bowie to Coil, celebrating 20 years of MTV. It was a brilliant place for adventurous cinephiles looking for something different.
In his heart, Chauncey loves movies in their purest form: on film. He is now retired but still volunteers at the Miami-Dade Library maintaining what’s left of the library’s once expansive film collection. He recently spent several weeks cleaning and repairing 16mm prints of noteworthy avant-garde works by the likes of Len Lye, Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage among others. I met him inside the film archive a couple of weeks ago. The result of that meeting was published in “Cultist,” the art and culture blog of the “Miami New Times.” You can read about the peculiar smell of film decay and Chauncey’s verve for film by jumping through the “Cultist” logo below:
Avant-garde Cinema: Selections from the Miami-Dade Public Library 16mm Film Collection will screen Saturday June 29, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at the Miami-Dade Main Library: 101 W. Flagler Street, Miami. Click here for a map.