Face of A Stranger (1977), a restored feature film by San Francisco filmmaker and musician David Michalak.
Reception at 7:30pm
Concert at 8:00pm
While famed director Nicholas Ray worked on his “experimental” film with students at SUNY COLLEGE in Binghamton, N.Y., local upstart David Michalak worked on his own feature, paying tribute to shadowy German expressionism, silent movies and the serials of the 1920s.
Not a word is spoken in this tale of a kind-hearted man who turns to cruelty when his lover dies an unexpected tragic death. His sanity is challenged further when he meets a woman bearing a strong resemblance to his deceased partner . Expression and gesture covey the story. Michalak shot the film on location at a restored turn of the century house, a rock quarry (The Devil’s Punch Bowl) and in the lush forests of upstate New York with his film company Eye-Full Films.
James Russell Lowell’s review from the premiere at Roberson Museum in 1977 is, in part, quoted here, calling the film:
“remarkable….poetic and hypnotic…”
“David Michalak’s folkloric opus transports his audience into a world shared by UFA expressionists of the silent era yet it possesses a wonderful, uncanny immediacy – both poetic and hypnotic.”
The film is full of nightmares, dreams and visions of a love lost and features glowing performances by Billie-Marie as both the haughty Otillia and servant Anna.
“What a revelation it is to see an actress like Billie-Marie who truly, innately, comprehends the visual relevance of cinema! She endows her face – her every gesture – with emblematic meaning, conveying an almost unearthly quality. Michalak’s camera, script and direction allow us to see her as the ultimate trusting soul; accepting one fate after another, finding empathy only in a dancing dream-clown, who all-too-briefly enchants her.”
The films also stars: David Gardner as Gunnar, Gerald Michalak as Jarl and Michael Butler as Hynek who dances.
Tonight’s premiere will feature a newly recorded score by the internationally acclaimed pianist, Thollem McDonas. Selected Film-Frame prints will be on view in the lobby and the show will open with a short set by Rova’s Bruce Ackley.