Q&A w/ the artist follows the screening
Introduced by Bradley Eros
“Grisly, abrasive and one of the few truly underground features we’ve seen in a good while, ZERO plays like a Brakhage/Morrisey directorial collaboration on a screenplay by Pasolini. A profoundly disturbing study in abjection and squalor, ZERO offers its own version of redemption. It’s not to be missed.” – Robert Beck Memorial Cinema (Bradley Eros, Brian Frye)
Microscope is excited to present a screening of James Fotopoulos’ first feature film ‘’Zero” in its original format on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, introduced by Bradley Eros who along with Brian Frye presented the work in its first “real screening” in the US on November 21, 2000 at the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema (RBMC), which took place the Lower East Side space Collective Unconscious.
The nearly 2 1/2 hour long film – shot by Fotopoulos with his 16mm Bolex camera at the age of 18 – is a decadent story of isolation, sentimental and sexual repression where “primordial dreams of humanoid sex and violence manifest in his [the main character’s] everyday reality as cancer, abuse and mannequin love”, mixing realism and dreamlike states depicted through the lyrical rhythms and physicality of celluloid film.
“Zero” features the same actor and location of his earlier shorts “Substitute” (1994) and “Tranquility” (1995) and was completed in 1997 while Fotopoulos was shooting his next and break-through film “Migrating Forms”.
Described by the press as “America’s foremost poet of sexual anxiety”, the artist whose subsequent works range from 17 seconds to 7 hours can already be seen in “Zero” embracing the full spectrum of filmmaking, from script writing to shooting, production and editing, from sketching storyboards to painting on film and building set props.
This film marks the first time that Fotopoulos altered his footage through hand-painting, scratching and color toning, stationing for weeks at a professional lab to employ other alternative printing techniques:
“There was a lab that was run by the two guys that learned how to process film etc in the Navy in World War II. They were only doing industrial film but that business was dying – and they needed the job and also were interested in what i was talking about doing from a technical standpoint … they told me at the end that if they knew i was going to show pubic hair they wouldn’t have taken on the project.” – JF
A special Zero pin-back button produced for the occasion based on the original 1997 button will be given to the audience members. Film series of James Fotopoulos’ films take place later in July at Facets Cinémathèque and The Nightingale in Chicago.
The screening is introduced by Bradley Eros. James Fotopoulos in attendance and available for Q&A following the screening.
16mm, b&w & color, sound, 1997, 142 minutes
James Fotopoulos’ first feature film is a two and half hour endurance test about a lonely man’s descent into horror, mutilation and psychological collapse. The lines of reality and fantasy blur when the man’s hand-tinted primordial dreams of humanoid sex and violence manifest in his everyday reality as cancer, abuse and mannequin love. This nightmare universe drags the viewers through the sewer of life to find peace in the natural setting at its metaphysical end.
“Incorporating stereotypical nightmare imagery and repellent hate-speeches from its sociopathic protagonist, Zero feels like the cinematic endurance-test equivalent of Sartre’s ‘Nausea’.” – Travis Crawford , Filmmaker
James Fotopoulos is an artist working primarily with the mediums of moving image, sculpture, and drawing. Among his many notable film and video works, which range from several seconds to over seven hours are Zero (1997), his first feature which debuted when Fotopoulos was just 20, Migrating Forms (1999), Christabel (2001), Jerusalem (2003-2004), The Sky Song (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dignity (2012), and There (2014). His works have screened and exhibited in the US and abroad including at MoMA P.S.1, Walker Art Center, Whitney Biennial, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Arts and Design, Spectacle Theater, Andy Warhol Museum, Sundance Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, London Film Festival, Festival del Film Locarno, Museo de Art Contemportaneo del Zulia, Venezuela, Biennial for Videoart, Mechelen, Belgium, among others. His work has been discussed in Artforum, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Hyperallergic, The New York Post, and others. He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Foundation Grant. James Fotopoulos was born in Chicago, IL in 1976 and currently lives and works in New York.