“Even in fancy dress films the people are still as I see them and how they see themselves. In Rio you have people who live in shanty towns and save up all year for the fab costume they will wear for the Carnival, and that's what they live for the whole year. For that spangled moment, during the Carnival when they're all dressed up, that's really them.” — Kenneth Anger, Visionary Film
Of all the great avant-garde filmmakers—Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Jonas Mekas, Bill Morrison—Kenneth Anger may be the most invested in the artificial and sensuous properties of cinema. His films derive from the tradition of Georges Melies, for whom cinema was a magic trick, a form of conjuring, as well as from the fake backdrops and glossy surfaces of Hollywood cinema. Where other filmmakers use the camera to hold a mirror up to nature, Anger uses his to create dazzling fantasy worlds. Rewatching five of his early films this weekend I was reminded of their, and his, brilliance.