The US filmmaker Warren Sonbert (1947-1995) has been called “the supreme Romantic diarist of the cinema” (Wheeler Winston Dixon). Twenty years after his untimely passing, this program re-introduces four of Sonbert’s films made between 1966 and 1992, curated with and introduced by Jeremy Rossen, Assistant Curator at the Harvard Film Archive.
“Where Did Our Love Go” is also introduced with a short reading from Detroit poet Carla Harryman, who befriended Sonbert during the 1970s when both were active in San Francisco’s literary and cultural community.
Duration: 10 min
“Inspired by the denizens of the Warhol art scene, Amphetamine depicts young men shooting amphetamines and making love in the era of sex, drugs and rock and roll.” — Jon Gartenberg
Where Did Our Love Go?
Duration: 15 min
“Warhol Factory days… [Gerard] Malanga at work… girl rock groups and a disco opening… a romp through the Modern. My second film.” — WS
Duration: 22 min
“[A] swirling montage of images, suggestive of loves gained and love lost, set to the tunes of four rock songs. At times the words of the songs seem to relate directly to the images we see, at other times words and images seem to be working almost at cross-purposes…” — Fred Camper
Duration: 37 min
“Sonbert published excerpts from his screenplay adaptation of Strauss’ Capriccio, his favorite opera, in 1986. Short Fuse, completed six years later, can be seen as a return to Capriccio’s themes, including Nazism and eroticism, beauty and force, detail and structure.” — Jon Gartenberg
All prints are from the estate of Warren Sonbert held as the Warren Sonbert Collection at Harvard Film Archive, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. All film prints and still images were preserved and made available to HFA by archivist Jon Gartenberg. Warren Sonbert’s films have been preserved under the auspices of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. The Estate Project’s film preservation program was developed under the guidance of Jon Gartenberg, and the films were preserved in conjunction with the Academy Film Archive, Los Angeles.
Warren Sonbert (Brooklyn NY, 1947 – San Francisco CA, 1995) began making films as a student at New York University in 1966. He created eighteen films in his career plus the unfinished Whiplash, which was posthumously completed by his former student Jeff Scher in 1997. Moved to San Francisco from New York in 1972 where he was also active as a critic, regularly reviewing classical music, opera and film for The Advocate and the Bay Area Reporter. In San Francisco, Sonbert was also active in literary circles associated with the journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, including poets such as Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Carla Harryman and others. At various times Sonbert taught filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Bard College. During his career, there were retrospectives of his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, 1983), the Berlin International Film Festival (1987), the Centre Pompidou (Paris, 1987), and the Museum of Modern Art New York (1994). Posthumous retrospectives have been held at the Guggenheim Museum (New York, 1999), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2000), the Austrian Filmmuseum (Vienna, 2005), the Harvard Film Archive (2008), and Tate Modern (London, 2013). His films are in the collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art New York, the British Film Institute (London) and the Vienna Film Museum.
Jeremy Rossen (USA) is the Assistant Curator at the Harvard Film Archive. Previously, he was curator and co-founder of Cinema Project (Portland, OR) and worked on archival projects with Anthology Film Archives (NY) and the Academy Film Archive (Los Angeles), and was an archivist for Mississippi Records in Portland. He has curated film programs at multiple venues around North America since 2001. He lives in Cambridge, Massachussets.
Carla Harryman (USA) is a playwright, poet and essayist. She has authored 17 books since 1979. Often associated with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, in 1979 she also co-founded the San Francisco Poets Theatre. She lives in Detroit and serves on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University.