Martha Colburn

Filmmaker and artist Martha Colburn will offer a focus on animation in this year’s program through two carte blanche programs (including some of her own films) and a workshop open to the audience. Animation is an especially ripe site for “Cracking Up,” known historically and today for taking up a myriad of the term’s meanings all at once, often in only a few short minutes. SIFF is very happy to have one of today’s leading experimental animation filmmakers with us this year.


“The world only exists in your eyes – your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to. And you’re trying to be a little puny individual. By God, if I ever cracked, I’d try to make the world crack with me.” This is a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald in his book The Crack-Up, and I use it as an introduction to this program because it addresses the idea of our conception of reality and the idea of bringing others with us as we ‘Crack Up.’

From WWII veterans to pioneers of Post Modernism, to toxic media avengers, these film artists and animators use their craft to express their inner madness and wreak havoc on or re-order the ‘outer chaos.’ Drifting spirits of the dead meet worlds made up of lines and rhythm; invented techniques from Jeff Scher’s Psychadelichrome to the self-built Hellitron tone generators of Ian Helliwell; obsessive and illogical creations… These are a few of the elements employed by artists in these programs to express the necessity of art. Art is necessary to maintain their balance with the World around and within them. Sometimes this demands inven- tion, appropriation, burning toys – as in the case of Jeff Keen’s 1960’s filmic melt-down of popular culture – drawing and erasing, painting, collaging images by the thousands (2,000, 5,000, 14,000), the numbers are unfathomable. The obsessive nature of animation could be seen as a record of the creator’s sanity – the resulting film – or as a record of insanity, or crack’dness. Not for those devoid of patience, the art of animation is a testament to the creators’ desire to create an alternate world, though never forget- ting their ties to history. The film Chateau/Poyet by Larry Jordan brings to life the etchings of French artist Jean Poyet (1465–1503); Norman McLaren brings to life lines of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre; and Selina Trepp looks to the future and creates anti- dotes for our sickened toxic environment.”

-Martha Colburn

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