Some of you have written to me about the recent state of Stan's health, his imminent move to Canada, the future of his film distribution, contact info, and so on. I thought I would write a note to the list and give those of you who are interested a general picture of what is happening in Stan's life at the moment and the 'state of his art', as he is packing up his place in Boulder and getting ready to leave. For those of you who knew him in these environs, it is simply impossible to imagine this place without him.
Stan has been withdrawn from much of public life and correspondence these past few months because he has been in almost constant pain, from what now appears to be a damaged nerve in his leg from a recent tumor. He has undergone difficult treatment, and recent tests show no sign of cancer in his body at this time. The painkillers themselves, however, have been causing him a great deal of difficulty and occasional depression - but he has recently bounced back and is good spirits these days. He recently screened his latest film, "Panels for the Walls of Heaven" in my studio, and we were all thrilled - a beautiful 40 minute hand painted work, edited at home with no rewinds - using a pen stuck through the reel keys to wind the film as he edited in his bedroom, saying "this is how I started..."
He has recently removed all of his internegatives from Western Cine, his lab for the past fifty years (and this year marks his 50th year of filmmaking, by the way), and shipped them off to MoMA for preservation. Before he did this, The University of Colorado Library, with support from the Donner Foundation, was able to purchase new prints of every one of his (approximately) 380 available titles. Walking into a room full of his complete works (through 2001-2) was an amazing experience. This recent purchase of the collection is going to the first step in what I hope will be a Brakhage Center here in Boulder for preservation, research, and ongoing repertory screenings of his work and others. We are now in the process of buying his available papers and letters (80 boxes), and are trying to raise funds to strike new internegatives from the originals (wherever possible) for preservation of the collection and perhaps create some kind of eventual arrangement with Stan and Marilyn to make work available for sale in the future, but this is only in the talking/dreaming stages at the moment. I will update you on the future potential of purchasing Brakhage films when I know more. MoMA is mostly charged with preservation and not making prints for sale on a general basis in this case, as far as I know, but I am optimistic about the availability of all of his work in the future, mostly thanks to the immense care taken by the folks at Western Cine (who, like most labs, are struggling to stay in business), Jane Wodening, Marilyn Brakhage, and Stan himself all these years.
To celebrate Stan's 50th year of filmmaking, and his retirement from the University of Colorado as a Distinguished Professor of Film Studies, I am teaching this fall what I believe to be an extraordinarily comprehensive course on his work (because of the recent availability of the entire collection). For anyone interested, I would be happy to send a syllabus to you off list. Stan will be lecturing for the first four classes, his final classes here after a lifetime of teaching, and then he will be departing for Victoria around September 10. Many other exciting things are happening around Stan's work this fall, including a series of upcoming programs at the National Gallery of Art curated by Mark McElhatten, screenings of new work at major festivals (including VERY and NIGHT MULCH in 35mm), the Criterion DVDs, and so on. The CU Foundation is holding a fundraiser for the (ongoing) collection and the papers, with a screening of "Panels" to be held in Denver on September 8. If anyone is interested in attending and seeing Stan before he leaves, write to me off list for details.
In the meantime, I know that we all wish him and his family the best in his new home. L'Chaim, Stan.