See a Found Footage Opus

Based in San Francisco’s Mission District since the mid-’80s, Craig Baldwin makes a rare hometown visit on June 15 to rattle the rafters at Shapeshifters Cinema at Temescal Art Center.


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Craig Baldwin is back int he East Bay with a new opus.

Photo courtesy Shapeshifters Cinema

The Bay Area used to teem with colorful characters: Outspoken outcasts, on-the-edge artists, radical visionaries, fashion iconoclasts, and dyed-in-the-wool eccentrics. They’re nearly impossible to see in the wild these days, like all endangered species. Thank Jah, Craig Baldwin is still on the loose. The mad scientist of Bay Area film, Baldwin has championed avant-garde cinema — the output of artists more concerned with the grammar, language, and form of movies than their ostensible content — for more than four decades as a filmmaker, programmer of The Other Cinema, and college instructor. To the uncompromising Oakland native and his underappreciated cohorts in the film underground, the mode is the message.

Based in San Francisco’s Mission District since the mid-’80s, Baldwin makes a rare hometown visit on June 15 to rattle the rafters at Shapeshifters Cinema at Temescal Art Center. He’ll present and perform the latest iteration of his found-footage opus, The Nth Dimension, using two projectors in tandem to screen a procession of judiciously chosen snippets from 20th century corporate and educational films. Baldwin’s accomplished technique takes our collective visual past and, rather than waxing nostalgic, transforms it into an interrogation of the ways we process, and frequently surrender to, moving images.

Baldwin is a tad grayer and a good deal less frenetic than when he was turning out densely innovative masterworks of montage such as Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America and Spectres of the Spectrum in the 1990s. But he remains an endearing combination of whirling dervish, winking trickster, and astute sociopolitical analyst. There’s no one else on the planet like Craig Baldwin, a thinking person’s rebel and a true Bay Area original.

Craig Baldwin, June 15, Shapeshifters Cinema at Temescal Art Center, 511 48th St. (at Telegraph), Oakland, ShapeshiftersCinema.com.

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