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Synthesis (1968)

January 30, 2016 @ 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM

UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Academy Film Archive present
“A Tribute to Penelope Spheeris.”

Synthesis (1968)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Synthesis is director Penelope Spheeris’ first film, made in 8mm Kodachrome while she was a student at UCLA. In a seemingly near-future control room devoid of people, various readouts and calculations suggest that humankind is not altogether compatible with the grand scheme of the universe.

Digital Video, color, 8 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

Bath (1969)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Made in an environment and at a time when frequent and gratuitous images of nude women permeated the work of her male counterparts, director Penelope Spheeris produced this intimate and sensual observation of a woman bathing. The appearance of Spheeris’ credit at the beginning of the film seems to ask the question: how does voyeurism change when we know the voyeur is actually a voyeuse?

16mm, b/w, 6 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

Shit (1969)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Never completely finished during its original production, this snarky comic piece was rediscovered in director Penelope Spheeris’ vaults in 2010 and preserved “as is.” The titular substance plays a key role in determining an outmoded man’s role in a changing society.

16mm, color, 4 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

The National Rehabilitation Center (1969)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Two years before Peter Watkins’ Punishment Park (1971), director Penelope Spheeris takes the McCarran Act to its inevitable next step and shows us—via an early use of mockumentary—what the U.S. might be like if potential subversives were simply locked up en masse before they had a chance to subvert anything.

16mm, color, 12 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

I Don’t Know (1970)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

A truly major work, I Don’t Know (1970) observes the relationship between a lesbian and a transgender man who prefers to identify somewhere in between male and female, in an expression of personal ambiguity suggested by the film’s title. This nonfiction film—an unusual, partly staged work of semi-verité—is the first of director Spheeris’ films to fully embrace what would become her characteristic documentary style: probing, intimate, uncompromising and deeply meaningful.

16mm, color, 20 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

Hats off to Hollywood (1972)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Picking up the story first presented in I Don’t Know (1970), Hats Off to Hollywood (1972) brazenly and brilliantly mixes documentary reality with fully staged recreations/reimaginings of episodes in the lives of Jimmy/Jennifer and Dana, a loving, bickering couple who challenge the notion of homonormativity. Drugs, poverty, disease, bigotry and prostitution all figure into this disarmingly candid and often hilarious film, a remarkable work that is the apotheosis of director Spheeris’ early work, and a luminous signpost leading directly to The Decline of Western Civilization (1979-1997).

16mm, color, 22 min.

Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

No Use Walkin’ When You Can Stroll (1998)
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

One-time carny, bartender, and married 10 times, director Penelope Spheeris’ mother was an uncommon woman. In this sweet, funny, and moving video portrait, Spheeris gives us a vivid glimpse into the richness of her mother’s life and character.

35mm, color, 11 min.

In-Person: Penelope Spheeris; Mark Toscano—Academy Film Archive.

FREE Admission for all UCLA students with valid I.D.!

More Info: UCLA Film & Television Archive Website


January 30, 2016
7:30 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Category:


Billy Wilder Theater
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024 United States