Paul Bartel is one of those indie filmmakers who never seemed to get as much credit for the way he shaped modern American cinema as he should have. Despite being a contemporary of Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, and Joe Dante (all of whom—like Bartel—made films for Roger Corman at one point), Bartel’s films—despite a small cult following—run the risk of being forgotten simply because many of them have not been available on home video since their VHS releases.
This is really a shame when you consider the sense of irony, gleeful satire, and casually taboo topics he snuck into his films that somehow crossed over to the point where mainstream audiences were actually exposed to them. Most fascinating to me is the gentleness that somehow coexisted with Bartel’s savage satirizing of public mores. Even in films that dealt repeatedly with marital infidelity, cannibalism, murder for sport, and sexually dissatisfied characters hopping beds with abandon, Bartel maintained a sympathy for all involved. He actually seemed to love his absurd characters and that made all the difference in the world.
I am thrilled to see that he is getting the long-overdue retrospective he deserves as Anthology Film Archives in New York presents Paul Bartel: A New York Tribute October 13-19, programmed and hosted by David Savage. Among others, Bartel’s best-known films like EATING RAOUL, DEATH RACE 2000, and SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN BEVERLY HILLS will be screened.
In conjunction with the retrospective, there will be a gallery show of sketches by Bartel’s longtime friend and collaborator Bob Schulenberg. The sketches are from the planning and production process on Bartel’s early short film THE SECRET CINEMA.
Here’s the full press release from Anthology Film Archives:
Anthology Film Archives to Host Tribute to PAUL BARTEL with Week-Long Retrospective; Companion “Secret Cinema” Drawings by Bob Schulenberg in Patrick Parrish Gallery Show
New York, NY, July 26th, 2017 Anthology Film Archives will be home to the first-ever tribute to independent film pioneer Paul Bartel (1938-2000) from October 13-19th, 2017, today announced the series programmer and host, David Savage.
PAUL BARTEL: A NEW YORK TRIBUTE will explore his taste for farce, black humor and satire reflected in such films as EATING RAOUL (1982), PRIVATE PARTS (1972), DEATH RACE 2000 (1975), CANNONBALL! (1977) and SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN BEVERLY HILLS (1989). Anthology will be screening most all of his films on 35mm and will gather cast members, family, friends and the author of a new biography of Paul Bartel, Stephen B. Armstrong (“Paul Bartel: The Life and Films ” 2016) to the theater for post-screening discussions.
Running in conjunction with the film series will be a related gallery show of drawings and photography by Bartel’s close friend, Bob Schulenberg – a celebrated illustrator – at the Patrick Parrish Gallery in Tribeca, opening with a VIP reception October 12th. Titled “Bob Schulenberg: The Secret Cinema Drawings,” the show will exhibit a number of Bob’s leather-bound sketchbooks in which he drew the people he encountered with Paul as they struggled to make his (Paul’s) first important short film – The Secret Cinema, released in 1968.
“I have been wanting to introduce Paul Bartel to a younger generation for years,” explains David Savage, the series programmer. “I felt that his legacy as a director was getting lost. He appeared in almost a hundred cult movies as an actor and he was always typecast as this mildly outraged, tweedy professor or some similar type. But he is an important figure in American independent film as director, starting with The Secret Cinema and then developing as a subversively funny voice in film.”
But when a friend emailed him a link to NewYorkSocialDiary.com contributor Bob Schulenberg’s illustrated column, the idea behind the film tribute and a companion gallery show catalyzed.
“I was completely captivated by Bob’s drawings and photos which he made during the filming of The Secret Cinema. They tell the story of their struggles making the film, but they also tell the story of their friendship and the trust between them. They also open up this incredible window to the most glamorous and heady time in New York City’s history – the mid-1960s,” says Savage.
Many of the films in the lineup at Anthology have never been on any home video format or were unreleased, such as Bartel’s last film SHELF LIFE (1993).
David Savage is an independent film programmer, screenwriter and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY.