On Tuesday, January 4, 2005, The American Film Institute's Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, hosted "The Short Films & Videos of Skizz Cyzyk: a retrospective spanning 1983 to present." The screening sold out and many people were turned away before a second screening could be added. The event began with a reception in the theater lobby, followed by the screening, and ending with a Q&A discussion with the filmmaker. Below are some photos from that evening and some of the press generated by the event. (photos by George Hagegeorge).
from the AFI PREVIEW Magazine
Baltimore's Skizz Cyzyk Live!
THE SHORT FILMS & VIDEOS OF SKIZZ CYZYK:
A Retrospective Spanning 1983 to Present
Tuesday, January 4, 9:00
Three brand new pieces (MANAGER'S CORNER, featuring an Earl Weaver meltdown; GUMDROPS; and the morph-o-rific HAIR DRYER CHAIRS VERSION 2004) cap off this retrospective of low-budget, cinematic oddities from Baltimore's underground auteur Skizz Cyzyk. Other works include award-winning shorts (the animated FOUR FILMS IN FIVE MINUTES; the political ukulele-driven music video DAMN YOU MR. BUSH!; the Jackass-meets-Todd Haynes STAR SPANGLED BABYDOLL; and the Night Flight classic BAD ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET), plus several music videos, odd docs and experimental shorts.
"Skizz Cyzyk's short films and videos pulse with a controlled kinetic energy" -Michael Yockel, Baltimore City Paper
Directed/written/produced/performed by Skizz Cyzyk. US, 1983-present, b&w/color, approx. 70 min. NOT RATED. SOME MATERIAL MAY BE UNSUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.
from the Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE WEEKLY - CRITIC'S CHOICE: SPECIAL EVENTS (5 stars)
THE SHORT FILMS & VIDEOS OF SKIZZ CYZYK, Jan. 4
Considering all the good behind-the-scenes work local cinema everyman/superhero Skizz Cyzyk has gotten up to over the years--cohosting screenings at the old Mansion Theatre, founding and running MicroCineFest, so on and so forth--it's possible to overlook the fact that he's also quite the filmmaker himself, especially since he's one of the most unassuming guys ever to order "Cut." Fortunately, the American Film Institute's fancy new facility in Silver Spring has tapped Cyzyk for its Mid-Atlantic Regional Showcase, dunning him into assembling a retrospective of his films dating back to 1983 for a big to-do tonight. Cyzyk says getting some of the older films ready for viewing again has cost him more than they cost to make in the first place, so don't expect Tony Scott slickness--just a panoply of shorts, music videos, mini-documentaries, and experiments, including three new pieces, united by Cyzyk's wry oddball wit and sleeve-worn heart. Atta boy. 9 P.M., AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, (301) 495-6720, www.afi.com/silver/new/nowplaying/2005/vlil5/mars.aspx, $5. (Lee Gardner)
from the Washington DC City Paper
PICK: TUESDAY, JANUARY 4
Skizz Cyzyk was indie-cool before indie was cool. Since 1983, the Baltimore-based filmmaker has made more than 50 films. Best to let Skizz describe a few himself: "Manager's Corner uses a found audio clip of Earl weaver... I animated it using 'Xerox art' and [cels]," he says via e-mail. "Gumdrops is just a bunch of gumdrops moving around to music. For some reason, my folks gave me a ton of gumdrops many years ago and I decided to use them in a film. Unfortunately, over the past five years...the gumdrops grew mold and I had to throw them out, then buy more gumdrops in order to finish the film. Hair Dryer Chairs Version 2004 is the latest version of an evergrowing project I will forever be working on as long as there are hair dryer chairs in my living room and friends who come to visit." Also included in the AFI's Skizz Cyzyk Retrospective is a restored version of the classic Bad Aliens From Another Planet, which is pretty self-explanatory. The program screens at 9 p.m. at the AFI's Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (#01) 495-6700. (Dave Nuttycombe)
from the Baltimore Sun
This interviewer knows his subject well
By Michael Sragow
Sun Film Critic
Originally published December 31, 2004
On Tuesday, the American Film Institute's Silver Theater in Silver Spring will present "The Short Films & Videos of Skizz Cyzyk: a retrospective spanning 1983 to present." Baltimore cineastes have grown to know Cyzyk even better than they know his films because of the gracious, humorous and erudite introductions he gives to visiting moviemakers at several Charm City festivals. So rather than make a vain attempt to match his charm and learning, we cleverly asked Skizz to introduce himself. So, for the lowdown on the man and his films - here's Skizz interviewing Skizz.
You've been making films and videos since 1983. Is this your first retrospective?
Why yes it is, thanks for asking.
How come it's in Silver Spring and not in Baltimore?
Because the AFI asked for it, and their theater is in Silver Spring.
Every now and then the Creative Alliance screens one of your works at the Patterson, but otherwise it is hard to see your work in Baltimore, even with outlets like MicroCineFest and the Maryland Film Festival. Why is that?
I'm the festival director for MicroCineFest and the programming manager for the Maryland Film Festival. I have made a point of never programming my own work at either festival because I feel it would be unethical. So I'm at the mercy of others for screening outlets in Baltimore. Besides, I don't want to overexpose my films in my hometown.
Why is that?
Have you ever gone to a film screening where the filmmaker is present and so are all of his/her friends? Isn't it annoying? The film could be downright awful, and it will still get a great response, causing the non-friends of the filmmaker in the audience to wonder what all the fuss is about. I try to avoid that situation, both as an audience member and a filmmaker, though this upcoming retrospective might turn into that kind of screening if enough friends make the trek to Silver Spring.
What can they expect if they come to the retrospective?
A 70-minute mishmash of stuff. I'll be showing some films and videos that I'm proud of, some I'm ashamed of and some I'm just plain unsure of. When I started putting the program together, I realized that most of my '80s work needed some beefing up before I would feel comfortable showing it to the public. In some cases, the only video copies I've ever had were shot off a wall with a VHS camera. So I've splurged for better video transfers and have been busy restoring several projects so that they will look and sound much more presentable than ever before.
I've spent more money restoring some of my films then I spent making them in the first place. I make my films and videos as cheaply as possible, keeping with the do-it-yourself aspect of underground filmmaking, and that has a lot to do with how they turn out. Content-wise, I tend to create mostly for self-amusement, and since I'm usually amused by culture that isn't always appreciated by large audiences, I have no idea how my work is going to go over in front of an audience.
What are your films about?
That's the beauty - sometimes even I don't know! There's a recurring stuffed rodent. There's aliens who come to Earth looking for Pez Candy refills. There's a glass head, an intruding eyeball, an exploding baby doll, gumdrops, hair dryer chairs and a lion playing drums. There's cheese, pickles, tweezers, a cast of hundreds, a sign that says "YARN" and a fez-wearing vampire playing the accordion.
What are some of the highlights?
Besides the newly restored versions of the older work, I'm excited about the three new pieces that will be showing. The first is Hair Dryer Chairs Version 2004, which is a piece I've been working on for years. It stars about 75 friends of mine, and a pair of hair dryer chairs. The other two shorts are my first 16 mm animated films in 12 years. One, Managers Corner, stars an animated Earl Weaver colorfully answering questions from baseball fans. The second one, Gumdrops, stars, well, gumdrops, and this will be its first public screening.
If I could be any vegetable, which one would it be?
No serious journalist would ever ask such a thing.
Colin Magee and Amy Forsberg in the "Night Flight classic" BAD ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET, projected on the big screen for the first time since 1988. Many cast members were present.
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