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Artist’s Choice Screening: Betzy Bromberg 16mm Shorts Programme


Petit Mal (18 mins, 1977), Ciao Bella or Fuck Me Dead (13 mins, 1978), Soothing the Bruise (21 mins, 1980).

One of the most important voices in contemporary avant-garde cinema, Betzy Bromberg has been making experimental film works since the 1970s, and we’re thrilled that Patrick Staff has selected three of her works for a special evening of 16mm screenings in our cinema as part of the public programme for The Prince of Homburg.

Bromberg's work in the Hollywood industry of optical effects (working on such films as The Terminator and Tron) allowed her to carry over advanced technical skills to her experimental work without detriment to its avant-garde concerns.  Her works have nearly all been shot on 16mm, an analog medium which Bromberg says she will work with until "either I'm done or it's done," in reference to the dominance of digital filmmaking in Hollywood.

The style of Bromberg's experimental films is described as slowly evolving into the abstract, consciously free of the special effects of her industry career.

“Shot in and around New York City, Bromberg’s first 16mm film, Petit Mal, is an invigorating, pissed-off assessment of women’s physical and social confinement. Ostensibly a portrait of an artist friend, the film is driven by a conversational first-person voiceover describing feelings of being trapped by the expectations of others.” Vera Brunner-Sung, Millennium Film Journal Vol. No. 67

Ciao Bella or Fuck Me Dead is a summer-in-the-city travelogue that mixes vérité of Lower East Side bikers, Times Square topless dancers, and Coney Island crowds to achieve a highly charged atmosphere of manic exhibitionism and sexual raunch.” J. Hoberman, Art Forum

“A subjective assault, Soothing the Bruise is a kind of found cinema, in which the pieces of existence, the pablum pop of Top 40 radio, mix effortlessly with thermonuclear techno-jargon, and stoned-out kids camping around in the buff co-exist in a restless uneasy mix with Times Square strip shows, neon effluvia, lugubrious country-western ballads and Bromberg’s own visceral polemics.” – Brian Lambert, Twin Cities Reader