Art Institute honors underground filmmaker Kuchar

March 7, 2012 8:02:33 PM PST
The late George Kuchar may be the most famous underground filmmaker not many people know, but he was a huge inspiration to many film makers. We're learning more about him through a new exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute where he taught for 40 years.

The exhibition "Living In Studio Kuchar" is like walking into Kuchar's studio. There are videos everywhere showing his films that are irreverent, tawdry, tender, experimental and influential.

"It think it really starts off as campy, but there's some really amazing emotional qualities to his work. So it can be a documentary in one scene and the next scene can just jump into soap opera," said Julio Cesar Morales, a co-curator.

His films were inspirational to mainstream filmmakers and his students at the art institute where he taught from 1971 until his death last September.

"It's a really liberating class in the sense that you think more about film and you think about emotion and you use film as a tool not as a medium in the sense that there's different ways of working with production budgets," said Morales.

A film might cost him $600. He made more than 300 of them. Many students were actors, collaborators. Kuchar and his twin brother Mike started making films when they were just 11 years old. Their work was avant-garde. They developed an audience looking for something different.

The quote, "I am sick and tired of being naked in almost every scene," is posted on a wall. It is from Kuchar's movie "Hold Me While I'm Naked." The Village Voice called it one of the 100 best films of the 20th Century.

And his film "I, An Actress" has been added to the Library Of Congress National Film Registry along with "Forrest Gump" and Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid." It's pretty good company for an underground filmmaker.

"I, An Actress" is a classic and it's finally he is getting recognition.

"At the Academy Awards when they have the section of people who have passed throughout the year, there was George," said Morales.

This celebration of Kuchar's life and work is up through April 21st.

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