Free Owsley Sunday Film: Artist, Amateurs and Abstraction: Mid-Century American Cinema

4X3 FilmKlub

In the early 2000s, with the transition to digital formats, thousands of media departments deaccessioned their 16mm film libraries. Films were either given away, or literally dumped in landfills, believing that the format was dead. As a student at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Ryan Daly worked on the behalf of the school salvaging eighty-thousand 16mm prints from Allegheny County media department. The task proved too expensive for the school and the films were offered up to Ryan Daly who established Cinemanonymous Film Archive in 2003.

Specializing in rare and often unseen amateur, experimental, industrial, sponsored and educational films, Cinemanonymous Film Archive is a vast collection of 16mm film prints. Drawing from this collection, Ryan Daly has organized several film programs under the moniker 4×3 FilmKlub since that time. Presenting a variety of thematic programs–all screening in the original 16mm format–4×3 FilmKlub is showcase of rarely-screened short films.

The themes range from dance films, screen tests, animated oddities, corporate comedies, first time filmmakers, silent films, commercial advertisements, educational films, experimental films, home movies, cartoons, and newsreels. These rare, forgotten, forbidden, and amazing short 16mm films are a must-see-to-believe cinematic experience with each program introduced by Daly.

Artist, Amateurs and Abstraction: Mid-Century American Cinema
Various Directors

Sunday, March 11, 1 pm


Postwar America was a boom for 16mm filmmaking. Thousands of military surplus 16mm sound projectors were sold to schools and other institutions at low costs, making the 16mm format more accessible. Film societies and cineclubs across the county sprung up providing non-commercial filmmaking an avenue for exhibition. Self-taught artist and amateurs alike were free to explore the conventions of filmmaking, abandoning representation for a far more abstract vision. This program oscillates between known masters, like the father of computer animation John Whitney Sr., to unknown practitioners like Jack E. Gieck, who was awarded ‘best film’ by Amateur Cine League in 1951. Mid-Century American Cinema was awash with experimentation and abstraction during this period. 1950-60, running time: 64 minutes.

  1. Celery Stalks at Midnight – John Whitney Sr. (3 min) 1951
  2. Uranus – Jack E. Gieck (5 mins) 1951
  3. Bells of Atlantis – Ian Hugo, Anais Nin, Len Lye (9 min) 1952
  4. Highway 1958 – Hilary Harris (5 mins) 1958
  5. Bell & Howell ‘Movie Star’- Promotional Film (6 min) 1950
  6. Color and Light – Jim Davis (8 min) 1953
  7. Abstract in Concrete – John Arvonio (10 mins) 1952
  8. Carnival – Don Bevis, Jim May, Herb Hertel (8 mins) 1955
  9. Montage II: Ephemeral Blue – Richard Grove, Richard J Meyer, Wayne Sourbeer (10 mins), 1960