A Cosmic Middleleague Team

The BOLEX POETICS are comprised of individuals associated with avant-garde film. The Bolex, because it is a high-quality and relatively inexpensive device, is frequently the movie camera used by avant-garde filmmakers. This season's team continues the tradition of using film artists associated with the "essential avant-garde film" canon which was established over twenty years ago and represents what was once called the "New American Cinema." The only rookie on the 1999 team is Brian Frye who is a young filmmaker from California very much in the tradition of the New American Cinema and its canon.

1999 Bolex Poetics


Rookies are in italics

Kenneth Anger, Infield
b. 1930

Made his first film at the age of 11. Part of American avant-garde cinema's first wave.

Bruce Baillie, Catcher
b. 1931

Founder of the Canyon Cinema theater and film distribution cooperative. A master of the "lyric" mode of American avant-garde filmmaking.

Stan Brakhage, Pitcher
One of the leading practitioners of American avant-garde filmmaking. Wrote Metaphors on Vision which contains much theoretical material regarding the art of the film.

Robert Breer, Infield
b. 1926

Originally trained as a painter, Breer became a luminary in the "graphic" animated wing of the American avant-garde cinema.

James Broughton, Firstbase
Part of the first wave of American avant-garde filmmakers. He began working with film experimentally in the 1940s and became a member of the Film Selection Committee of the Anthology Film Archives.

Luis Bunuel, Pitcher
Spanish-born surrealist filmmaker, Bunuel's influence on the American avant-garde cinema is well documented. His first film, Un Chien Andalou (1928) is considered a classic in the avant-garde film field.

Maya Deren, Pitcher

One of the earliest and most profound of the American avant-garde filmmakers. She began her work in the 1940s and contributed important a number theoretical ideas to the emerging group of avant-garde filmmakers.

Sergei Eisenstein, Leftfield
From his early work in the avant-garde theater Eisenstein became one of the principle makers and theorists of avant-garde films in revolutionary Russia.

Hollis Frampton, Rightfield

Frampton evolved from a still photographer to a leading light in the avant-garde film movement known as "New American Cinema", which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. A keen eye, a sharp intelligence, and a vibrant imagination combined to make Frampton a visual artist of the first rank.

Brian Frye, Outfield
b. 1975
Experimental filmmaker from California. Frye studied filmmaking at the University of California in Berkeley and received a Masters of Fine Art degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. Deriving inspiration from Jonas Mekas, Hollis Frampton and Ernie Gehr, Frye could be considered part of the next generation of the New American Cinema. According to film reviewer Fred Camper, Frye's work "points toward an intellectual cinema that questions the ways we see and know the world."

Ernie Gehr, Shortstop
A leader of the so-called "Structural" filmmakers of the late 1960s, Gehr has provided one of the most interesting definitions of cinema: "Film is a variable intensity of light, an internal balance of time, a movement within a given space."

Peter Kubelka, Pitcher
b. 1934

Austrian-born avant-garde filmmaker who was a leading maker of "Structural" films in the 1960s. Kubelka also designed the original film screening room at Anthology Film Archives.

Adolfas Mekas, Secondbase
Lithuanian-born experimental filmmaker, he came to the United States with his brother Jonas in 1949. The two brothers were, in large part, responsible for the emergence of the avant-garde film community in New York during the 1950s. In the 1970s Adolfas became chairman of the Bard College Film Department which has trained a number of next-generation avant-garde filmmakers.

Jonas Mekas, Pitcher
b. 1922

Lithuanian-born avant-garde filmmaker, Jonas came to the United States in 1949. In 1955 he founded Film Culture magazine and in 1960 he was the inspiration and chief organizer of the New American Cinema Group. Through his "Movie Journal" column in the Village Voice newspaper and his other activities, Jonas Mekas tirelessly publicized and supported the American avant-garde film movement. His own filmmaking work is focused on the "diary" form and it has been said that within a week of moving to America he bought a Bolex movie camera to record the everyday occurrences of life in his adopted country.

Harry Smith, Centerfield
One of the originators of the hand-painted film, Smith began working with film before 1940. Smith's work with film animation and formal film theory has led Sitney to call him "one of the central filmmakers of the avant-garde tradition."

Michael Snow, Pitcher
b. 1929

The "dean of structural filmmakers." Snow's 1967 film Wavelength won first prize at the fourth International Experimental Film Festival. Annette Michelson calls Wavelength a metaphor for consciousness.

Dziga Vertov, Thirdbase

Born in Russian Poland, Vertov began his innovative work in film at the age of 20. His film Man With a Movie Camera (1929) influenced both documentary and experimental filmmaking in Russia and in the West.


P. Adams Sitney, Field Manager
Sitney's interest in the avant-garde film began when he was sixteen and he founded a film magazine in New Haven, Connecticut. After attending Yale University Sitney became an editor of Film Culture magazine and served on the Film Selection Committee of the Anthology Film Archives. More than any other individual, Sitney is responsible for defining and providing context to the multi-varied activities of the filmmakers associated with the American avant-garde cinema. In 1974 he published Visionary Film which provides an historical and theoretical discussion of the aesthetics of American avant-garde film from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Ken Kelman, Coach
Dramatist, film critic and teacher he was a regular contributor to Film Culture magazine. Kelman also was a member of the Film Selection Committee of the Anthology Film Archives.

Annette Michelson, General Manager
An original and influential commentator on the avant-garde art world. With innovative essays on aesthetics such as "Film and the Radical Aspiration" Michelson contributed theoretical insights that influenced many of the filmmakers associated with the American experimental film.

Jerome Hill, Team Owner
Painter, composer and filmmaker, Hill was also a significant patron of the American avant-garde film community. His 1971 Film Portrait is an excellent example of the personal amateur home movie which influenced the autobiographical wing of avant-garde filmmaking.




A Mekas










Home Park
Capacity: 29,666 Seats

Cosmic Player Plates

Kenneth Anger- 1999 Cosmic Player Plate

Luis Bunuel- 1997 Cosmic Player Plate

Stan Brakhage- 1998 Cosmic Player Plate

Maya Deren- 1999 Cosmic Player Plate

Hollis Frampton- 1997 Cosmic Player Plate

Won-Lost Records

Year			Won	Lost

1985	Beasts		90	72
1986	Beasts		87	75
1987	Beasts		72	90
1988	Beasts		76	86
1989	Beasts		89	73
1990	Beasts		70	92
1991	Beasts		103	59
1992	Beasts		99	63
1993	Beasts		100	62
1994	Beasts		78	84
1995	Beasts		70	84
1996*	Beasts		80	74
1996*	Poetics		74	80
1997	Poetics		81	81
1998	Poetics		89	74

*The 1996 Poetics consisted of films made by filmmakers, many of whom were on the 1996 Beasts roster. In 1997 the two team organizations merged and the old Beasts became the new Poetics representing the filmmakers instead of their films.

Poetics 1998 Stats


Other Rosters
1996 Poetics Roster

1997 Poetics Roster

1998 Poetics Roster


Related External Links

Film & Video Art

Frameworks Mailing List Archive

Flicker Links

Film Theory Web Page

N.Y. Underground Film Festival Links Page

Filmmaker Magazine Home Page

oVID- an internet data base for experimental film and video art

The Bolex
In 1924 Jacques Bolsky started a company in Switzerland called Bol, SA to sell the Cinematographe Bol 35mm movie camera. This machine can be considered the direct ancestor of the Bolex. Bolsky, who was born Bogopolsky in the Ukraine in 1896, had studied medicine in Geneva, Switzerland before he began his career as a camera-maker.

In 1930 the Paillard camera company bought Bolsky's company and formed the Cine-Bolex division. Bolsky was retained as an engineering consultant and by 1933 the first Bolex 16mm movie camera was produced. It was called the Bolex H-16 but nobody seems to know what the letter "H" stood for. (Bolsky left Europe for the United States in 1940 where he started another camera company. He died, suddenly, on January 20, 1962 at the age of 66.)

The Bolex H-16 quickly earned a reputation for being a versatile, compact, high-quality movie camera that sold well worldwide. A variety of modifications over the next 20 years such as an internal frame counter, and the introduction of compatible zoom lenses only enhanced Bolex's reputation as a relatively low-cost, reliable movie camera.

In 1956 Paillard introduced the Bolex H-16R version of the camera. The "R" stood for "reflex." The camera's viewfinder system was redesigned and featured a flickerless through-the-lens reflex viewing and focusing system. New reflex lenses requiring shorter focal lengths than the standard 50mm were also designed. Several models of the Bolex H16 reflex cameras were manufactured between 1956 and culminating with the Bolex H16 Rex 5 in 1967.

A number of Bolex H8 cameras were made to support the regular 8mm film format. Like their 16mm counterparts the H8s are versatile and reliable.

Since many avant-garde films are made freed from the constraints of budgets, the relatively inexpensive Bolex has, for the independent filmmaker, frequently been the tool of choice.

Bolex H16 Rex 5

American Avant-Garde Film
We don't want false, polished, slick films-- we prefer them rough, unpolished, but alive; we don't want rosy films-- we want them the color of blood.
--Jonas Mekas, 1961

The history of film reveals that its avant-garde begins in Europe and Russia in the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1940s it arrives in America, mostly in the suitcases of artists escaping the World War Two fiasco across the ocean. By the 1950s the American avant-garde film field is emerging and by the 1960s it has coalesced into something called the New American Cinema. By 1974 the American avant-garde film is sufficiently ripe so that it's first history can be written.

Much of the credit for the promotion of the work of the American avant-garde filmmakers must go to Jonas Mekas who stands as its chief chronicler and journalist.

In 1955 Mekas founded Film Culture magazine which became the primary publicity organ for the American avant-garde film movement. By 1958 his "Movie Journal" column was a regular feature in the Village Voice weekly newspaper. In 1960 he created the Independent Film Award to recognize outstanding accomplishment in the independent film arena. In 1962 he organized the Film-Makers Cooperative which provided an alternative method of film distribution. Mekas regularly set up screenings of experimental films through the Film-Makers Showcase programs which later became the Film-Makers Cinematheque. In 1970 he was directly involved in the creation of the Anthology Film Archives which supported the preservation and frequent screening of selected "Essential" examples of film art. Mekas was a tireless polemicist and promoter of the New American Cinema as he called it.

Credit must also be given to P. Adams Sitney who established himself as the senior theoretician and historian of the American avant-garde movement. His essays found in Film Culture and in introductions to several books about the movement including The Essential Cinema and The Avant-Garde Film: A Reader of Theory and Criticism provided the uninitiated with profoundly detailed maps allowing the new art to be understood and better appreciated. In 1974 Sitney published Visionary Film a detailed history of the American avant-garde enterprise which remains the chief text of the phenomenon covering the period from the 1940s up through the 1970s. (A second edition of the book was published with some revisions in 1978.) Sitney is also the author of "Autobiography in Avant-Garde Film" which is one of the most intriguing and inspiring essays on the subject of the relationship between the artist and his art. That relationship remains a significant and recurring theme in many of the personal films representative of the avant-garde.

P. Adams Sitney & Jonas Mekas

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1999 Bolex Poetics- Official Team Roster
Published: December 7, 1998
Copyright © 1998-1999 by the Cosmic Baseball Association