Los Angeles experimental filmmaker Timoleon Wilkins won the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s prestigious Stan Brakhage Film at Wit’s End Award for his 16mm film “Drifter “(2010).
Founded in 1963, The Ann Arbor Film Festival is North America’s longest running independent and experimental film festival. Over the years it premiered the work of Kenneth Anger, Agnes Varda, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Barbara Hammer, Lawrence Kasdan, Devo and George Lucas, to name just a few. Historically, the festival has been the premiere international platform for experimental films since the demise in 1974 of Jacques Ledoux’s “Le Festival international du cinéma expérimental de Knokke-le-Zoute” in Belgium.
“Drifter”, which played at The 48th New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant Garde (September, 2010) and The BFI’s 54th London Film Festival (October 2010), is “an atmospheric anthology of places and faces”–Wilkins’ 14 year project is a personal “road movie”, a reverie of painterly Bolex-shot Kodachrome images, described as “The suggestive ballad of a lone wanderer.”
Classicist Wilkins’ lyrical personal filmmaking style bridges the generations. He shoots on the hand wound Bolex and reversal stock (originally Kodachrome, now Ektachrome) favored by his Avant Garde mentors (Brakhage, Baillie, Conner) and scores the films with a lively musical sensibility that merges the impish with the elegiac
There is a transcendental quality to Wilkins’ films. He often reveals everyday moments that hint at eternity. His films include casual portraits, layered urban and nature images and sudden kinetic bursts of movement or color. He discovers abstractions found in macro-shots of nature, and the mysterious evanescent play of light and color that hint at a higher meaning. In the words of filmmaker and author Nathaniel Dorsky, “Timoleon is not only in love with film, but is the love of film.”
Wilkins’ ravishing “Lake of the Spirits” (1998) played in the recent series “Radical Light” at the L.A. Filmforum Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian Theatre. Wilkins also co-authored an interview with Brakhage about San Francisco beat filmmaker Christopher Maclaine which appeared in the recently published book Radical Light: Alternative Film And Video In The San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000″ from UC Press, edited by Steve Anker, Steve Seid and Kathy Geritz.
Wilkins, currently the Theater Manager at the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Billy Wilder Theater, has been an activist regarding the use of film stock. Most recently he urged fellow filmmakers to sign a petition regarding Eastman Kodak’s decision to end manufacture of the visually sumptuous low-speed black & white motion picture film, Plus-X.
Wilkins, who began making Super 8mm films at the age of 13, studied with Stan Brakhage at University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1991 he moved to San Francisco, completed his first 16mm film and continued making self-funded 16mm, supporting himself as a camera salesman, English teacher, film lab technician, and theatre manager.
He was elected to the Board of Directors of Canyon Cinema in 1994, and served as Board President from 1996-1998. He revived and edited the long-defunct Canyon Cinemanews, and edited Baillie:Life/Work, a monograph for founding filmmaker Bruce Baillie, published by San Francisco Cinematheque. From 1993-1995 he published the self-styled and somewhat iconoclastic fanzine Celluloidall–“the magazine of incredible, projectable film.”
From 1997-2000 he worked as an assistant to filmmaker/artist Bruce Conner, and was hired by Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis to oversee the film printing for Conner’s major lifetime retrospective, 2000BC: The Bruce Conner Story, Part II, and completed a restoration of Conner’s 1966 film Breakaway in its original image orientation and full contrast. In 2005-2006 he lived and worked in Mexico City (in the colonia of San Miguel Chapultepec) as an English teacher. There are images of Mexico in his film “Drifter.” He is hoping to complete a longer film about Mexico, also shot on Kodachrome.
In 2005, he was a visiting artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Gene Siskel Theatre presented a retrospective of Wilkins’ body of work. In December of 2010, Wilkins contributed music samples, from his extensive audio library, used in composer Kent Lambert’s soundscape