On Saturday, July 5, The Revelation Film Festival presents The Mu Mesons 16mm Showdown at Bodhi Tree Bookstore And Cafe. We reached out to the Mu Meson team to find out exactly what that entails.
Who are we talking to?
Aspasia( Miss Death) and Jaimie Leonarder( Jay Katz) are the exhibitors/curators of The Mu Meson Archives. Yes, we are a married couple but more than that, we are partners in crime. Cultural crime in which we search out and track down lost and forgotten film/television history. We then exhibit it to an entirely new audience in a completely different cultural context. We shed a contemporary light on the dark fringes of cinema.
What are the Mu-Meson Archives?
The Mu Meson Archives is not only our home but our micro-cinema /performance space in which we house our vast collection, This collection contains many films – I mean real film: Standard 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, specializing in 16mm and 35mm. It also a public-accessible collection of literature, outsider art, music, philosophy and much, much more. Over the years (more than two decades) we have played host to many local and international identities- author Jimmy McDonough, actor Crispin Hellion Glover, musician Mike Patton, to name a few.
What can we expect on Saturday night?
Saturday night we will be projecting (no digital footprint) reel film from the forgotten genre of educational cinema we experienced in the school rooms of the ’60s and ’70s. Some of the topics touched on will be Stranger Danger, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Home/Hospital Safety and Religious Propaganda. These films span the decades from the ’50s to the ’80s. In hindsight they are often quite bizarre and hilarious. Used as the tools of social engineering in their day, in retrospect they show how wrong the producers’ intentions were. We will deliver a live presentation on the history of these films and place them in their original context.
What role do you see the Archives as playing in preserving film history and culture?
Film collecting (the celluloid kind) has now historically been recognized as one of the major sources of film preservation on the world stage. We have tracked down and given back to the ABC many lost television series from the ’60s (all free of charge). The celluloid film collector many be the last bastion of lost history of the projected image. Mainstream culture is drowning the world in a tidal wave of mediocre expression. The film archeologist one day may be seen as the saviour of this conundrum.
What, in your opinion, are the most neglected and overlooked areas of film culture?
There are way too many to list in a few short sentences, but let’s give a couple of examples. Basically all independently financed cinema has a hard time today keeping its head above water. Educational film has always suffered from a poorly documented history apart a few maverick researchers. The birth of the music clip (Scopitone 16mm jukebox) is uncatalogued due to the weight of the MTV legacy. The classified military industrial complex shock and training films are only just beginning to see the light of day. What about suppressed or destroyed subversive cinema such as John Weiley’s analysis of the construction of the opera house, Autopsy On A Dream – a film deliberately destroyed because of its red hot subject matter?
Is there a Holy Grail you’re still searching for in terms of film collecting?
Every new find through the door of our Archives could be the Holy Grail. It has become our lifetime work to keep searching. In the 1940s during the second world war, the US government decided to lift the prohibition of the cultivation of hemp due the the lack of materials for the war effort. To assist in this task they commissioned an educational propaganda film called Hemp for Victory. It espoused the benefits of this robust natural fiber. Years later they denied this film’s existence, but thanks to film collectors they were proven wrong. That is one key example of a powerful lost film
Anything else you want to touch on?
Yes, every single person at Saturday night’s screening, proving that 3D processing is nothing in comparison to being there physically.