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  • Writer's pictureMatt Levin

"Altered States" The Film Series

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

“Altered States”, The Film Series is a new monthly film series I'm hosting/curating at Lost Origins Gallery in Mount Pleasant, Washington, DC and I couldn't be more thrilled about it! It's really labor of love for me and something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve loved film ever since I was a kid growing up in LA. Brilliant films were being made in the late 70's when I first started to be aware of film as an art form. Some of my first memories of films were Jaws, Alien, Apocalypse Now, and Annie Hall. I was also lucky enough to have a mom who loved film, she was always showing me cool stuff at an early age. We were also one of the first family's that had the Z Channel. Z was first pay television channel that showed incredibly eclectic films both old and new. My taste evolved while attending film school where I was made to watch a film a day for years! My passion for film has continued to the present. I love discovering hidden gems, genre busting, hard to describe, visionary, the strange and unusual, psychedelic, subversive and transgressive films. Now I get to have an audience to share my taste with.

In some ways the film series is an extension of my tv series, Translove Airwaves(TLA) On my show, I travel the world and connect with artists, musicians, filmmakers, gurus, anyone that is either making art that I’m fascinated with or that are leading lives in a unique and interesting way. The show combines conversation, performance, music, animation and a bit of psychedelic magic sprinkled on top. The pilot episode of TLA, TLAPilotTrailer features Simon Boswell, the legendary film composer who wrote the music for 1989's Santa Sangre, Alejandro Jodorowsky's psychedelic masterpiece. Santa Sangre, along with other Jodorowsky classics, The Holy Mountain and El Topo, are definitely candidates for films we'll screen in the series.

When people think about psychedelics they think drugs first, and then music, but they might not think about psychedelic film. Of course the counterculture movement of the late 60's produced the first wave of iconic psychedelic rock bands, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds, and The Grateful Dead to name a few. That music has become so iconic, it tends to overshadow other psychedelic art.

Psychedelic film, though, has always had a presence in the history of cinema. From The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the 1920 German impressionistic silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene, to Un Chien Andalou, (An Andalusian Dog) the 1929 French silent short film directed by Luis Buñuel, and written by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. Dalí of course would go on to become the most famous and celebrated surrealist, psychedelic artist/painter of all time. The birth of cinema was filled with "trippy" allegorical imagery that altered reality in a way long before LSD existed. Of course an argument can be made that all films are altered reality, thus all films are psychedelic. While I agree with this to a point, not all films truly have visionary, psychedelic imagery and ideas.

With the advent of sound, film got more sophisticated both in technique and in its themes and storytelling. The Wizard of Oz, Fantasia, The Red Shoes, Vertigo, Blow Up! 2001. A Space Odyssey, Yellow Submarine Easy Rider, and the Holy Mountain were all important films in the evolution of psychedelic cinema. Newer films such as Gaspar Noe's 2009 film, Enter the Void, and the groundbreaking animation technique of 2018's Into The Spider-Verse have further upped the ante in terms of capturing the psychedelic experience on film.

One of the central ideas in my series is that the psychedelic experience is not just about getting high or "tripping" just for pleasure, but achieving a higher state of consciousness and finding a truth or meaning through the experience. I hope to do this with the film series as well. I've mentioned psychedelia quite a bit(We have to label it as something, right?) But more than fitting into a certain genre or style, I want to screen films that resonate for me on a deep level, and have a unique point of view that I think will lend themselves to conversation. With that in mind, every screening will have a post-film discussion. We want to engage with our audience, and talk about the films we watch.

As I mentioned at the top, the screenings will be held at Lost Origins Gallery in Mt. Pleasant, DC. The owner of LO, Jason Hamacher, has been amazing in terms of letting me and other artists realize their vision and showcase their work. The beautiful gallery has had some incredible shows over the 5 plus years it's been around. From DC punk rock photographs(Jim Saah's incredible "In My Eyes" show), to a North Korean artist, who once was a propagandist inside the regime, to the current show, 100 years of White House photographers, there's always something great happening there, and it's a wonderfully warm and inclusive space, where everyone feels welcome. For film screenings, Jason has installed a new 100”custom screen, 4K digital projector, and surround sound system, so the AV presentation will look and sound awesome. The gallery can seat 40 people comfortably for a screening. For more info on the gallery, go the Lost Origins website

The screenings will be free but because space is limited, we're asking people to please RSVP, here's Eventbrite link to register. The series kicks off, Friday November 4th, with "Seconds" the 1966 sci-fi, psychological thriller starring Rock Hudson, and directed by John Frankenheimer(The Manchurian Candidate)

Future films that will be show in the series include: Santa Sangre by Alejandro Jodorosky, Zabriske Point by Michelangelo Antonioni,The Sweet Smell of Success by Alexander Mackendrick, Two-Lane Blacktop by Monte Hellman, and of course Altered States by Ken Russell.

See everyone at the movies!

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