A Salute to Mechanical Men with 16mm film rarities from the 1930s-1980s
Oddball Films presents an evening of retro robots and futuristic freaks in Strange Sinema 70: Incredibly Strange Robots. Strange Sinema is Oddball Films' monthly screening of oddities, recent discoveries and unusual rarities culled from their 50,000 16mm film archives. This eye-popping program of futuristic delights premiered to a packed house at the 3rd Annual Robot Film Festival in July at the Bot and Dolly Studios in San Francisco. Incredibly Strange Robots is both a tribute to robots, robotics and mechanized machines and features eclectic and oddball shorts, excerpts from feature docs, motion picture production shorts, cartoons and a Polish avant garde film. Films featured include an excerpt from Elektro The Smoking Robot (1939) featuring the legendary walking, talking and smoking(!) robot from the 1939 New York World's Fair; No. 00173 (1966), Jan Habarta's chilling look inside a futuristic factory with brilliant industrial music soundscore by Eugeniusz Rudnik; The Weird World of Robots (1968) with famed sci fi writer and futurist Isaac Asimov and Walter Chronkite examining the strange and surreal world of robots in the 1960s. This film feaures Asimov advocating worker robots to replace blue collar workers, robotic dogs, human amplifiers and more. Other films include an excerpt of Ray Bradbury's Electric Grandmother (1981) starring Maureen Stapleton as a robotic grandmother who replaces the real thing. A Westworld Production Short (1973) gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Michael Crichton’s classic cyber “Westworld”, where a vacation fantasy world for rich vacationers goes horribly wrong. Daffy Duck stars as a futuristic appliance salesman with screwball devices and robot machines which go haywire in Design For Leaving (1953), The Robotic Revolution (1986) demonstrates how robots can assemble watches and automobiles, stock supermarket shelves, assist in surgery, play the organ, and build other robots. In Mr. Koumal Invents a Robot (1968), Mr. Koumal has a hard time polishing his shoes, so invents a machine to do it in this snappy Czech animated short. We conclude with Ballet Robotique,(1982) A beautifully shot footage of GM assembly line showcases robots in action, synchronized to classical music performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Ballet Robotique was nominated for two Academy Awards. Plus! Robot karate, droid commercials, clips from visionary NYC robot maker Michael Sullivan's Sex Life of Robots featuring music by the Alloy Orchestra, and much more!
Date:Friday, November 22nd, 2013 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to RSVP@oddballfilm.com or (415) 558-8117
Elektro The Smoking Robot (Excerpt, Color, 1939)
Crowds flocked to see Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse Electric for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The talking Elektro described himself as a "smart fellow" with a "fine brain" consisting of 48 electrical relays that worked like a telephone switchboard.
Elektro was a bit of a wise-ass, making lame jokes, smoking cigarettes, and blowing up balloons. Elektro could walk (slowly), move his mouth, and turn his head. The 7-foot-tall creation took voice commands via a telephone handset.
No. 00137 (Color, 1966)
Jan Habarta, prize winner at many festivals for his earlier films, created this brilliant commentary on the dehumanization of life in a technological world. The deceptively simple visual technique is remarkable in its ability to involve the emotions of the viewer without a word of dialogue. Into the cold, dispassionate atmosphere of a factory run by automatons comes a small red butterfly. Attracted by the little creature and concerned for its safety as it [flies?] perilously close to the giant presses, the workers show their first sign of human emotion. Aware that the/[line break] strictly organized environment, we find ourselves caught up in the agonizing suspense of the situation. The final fate of the butterfly [...] yet in no way unexpected, gives enormous impact to the theme of the film. Script, direction, and graphic design by Jan Habarta. Music by Eugeniusz Rudnik. Photography by Henryk Ryszka. Produced by Short Film Studio, Warsaw.
The Weird World of Robots (Color, 1968)
Famed sci-fi author and futurist Isaac Asimov and Walter Cronkite investigate the strange and surreal world of robotics in the 1960s. Asimov advocates a race of “worker robots” to do the blue collar work for planet earth. Watch a robotic dog (Old Yaller), human amplifiers, a centaur and robotic machines designed to stimulate human responses to medical students. Later the “grave” questions are posed: “There is no question that man can live with the robot. The question is, can the robot live with man?”
The Electric Grandmother(Excerpt, Color, 1981) When a family loses their mother, they receive an offer to create a robotic replacement. Built to their specifications, the robot steps in to offer them consolation and a matriarchal hand as they deal with their grief and loss. But can a robot, even the most advanced, really fill in the void of losing their real mother and what happens to a robot when they've fulfilled their obligation? Directed by, Noel Black (Pretty Poison) and starring Maureen Stapleton (Cocoon, Interiors) and Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys, The Great Gatsby).
Westworld Production Short (Color, 1973) Behind-the-scenes of Michael Crichton’s classic cyber “Westworld”, where a vacation fantasy world for rich vacationers goes horribly wrong. Stars Yul Brenner as a killer robot.
Design For Leaving (Color, 1953)
Daffy Duck is a salesman for a futuristic appliance company, who, against Elmer Fudd's will, modernizes Fudd's house with many robotic and screwball gadgets, none of which work in Fudd's favor. A classic cartoon.
The Robotic Revolution (Color, 1986)
Shows how robots can assemble watches and automobiles, stock supermarket shelves, assist in surgery, play the organ, and build other robots. Tells what a robot can and cannot do and examines the social implications of robots in the workplace.
Mr Koumal Invents a Robot (Color, 1968)
Mr. Koumal has a hard time polishing his shoes, so invents a machine to do it, then a robot that will do it instead. He ends up polishing the robot’s shoes instead.
Part of a series of Czech animations featuring the bulbous-nosed Mr. Koumal. These animated films illustrate a variety of human accomplishments in parable form.
Ballet Robotique (Color,1982)
An imaginative glimpse at the role of robotic technologies in the General Motors automotive assembly process. The film features beautifully shot footage of GM assembly line robots in action, synchronized to classical music performed by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The result is a over the top homage to the art and innovation of GM technology (in 1982, not today!). The film received two Academy Award nominations.
Plus! Clips from visionary NYC robot maker Michael Sullivan's Sex Life of Robots featuring music by the Alloy Orchestra.
View a clip here:
Plus! robot karate, droid commercials and more preshow films..
Stephen Parr’s previous programs have explored the erotic underbelly of sex-in-cinema (The Subject is Sex), the offbeat and bizarre (Oddities Beyond Belief), the pervasive effects of propaganda (Historical/Hysterical?) and oddities from his archives (Strange Sinema). He is the director of Oddball Film+Video and the San Francisco Media Archive (www.sfm.org), a non profit archive that preserves culturally significant films. He is a co-founder of Other Cinema DVD and a member of the Association of Moving Archivists (AMIA) where he is a frequent presenter.
About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.