Invocation of My Bastard Brother

By Andrew Lampert

The following invocation was delivered as part of the keynote proceedings of the inaugural Bastard Film Encounter on April 25, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Find more of Lampert's work at

We are buried by
We are drowning in
We cannot get out from under
The 20th century and the moving image.

We are residents of 2013
Spacemen to our ancestors
Ancient to the future
Inheritors of countless reels
In all gauges and lengths
Shrunken, brittle, vinegared, broken
Musical and visual magnetic tapes
Captured on formats short-lived
Lost in our own time.

We are generators of terrabytes, data dumps
Crowding the cloud with
Files named “final” and “final final”
Building labyrinths for our children’s children
Moving forward, accumulating backlog
Piles overflowing on palettes
Stacks rising atop heaps
Films gathered from all corners of the world
Filling every cubic square foot of our cellars
Hardly alive in dead storage
Negligibly cataloged
Mysterious unseen images in musty unmarked cans
That smell of boredom
Offering improbable entertainment value
Dated social significance
Negative production value
Subjective educational quality
Limited artistic integrity
Stupefying content
Dubious execution
Unintentional surrealism
Questionable intentions.

We are outnumbered.
For all the films canonized
Ranked on registries
Taught in classes
Obtusely analyzed in syllable heavy dissertations 
Read by no more than four people on planet Earth
For every certified classic
There are two million turkeys
In all sizes, styles and budgets
Not abandoned, but rejected
Unthinkable sums of movies 
For which eyes are scarce.

Life is fleeting
Films are rotting.

We are witnesses
Protectors of analogue ways of seeing
Pioneers of digital access
Driven by altruism
Fueled by good will
Bound by our belief in

We gather together
Drink in hand
Asking each other
How can we get ahead
Keep pace with
Catch up to
The endless clutter of moving images
Demanding our attention
Depleting our resources.

The solution is time and money
But this is not an answer
There will never be enough of either
Our orphanages are running out of beds
Preservation is privilege
And let’s be honest
Not all films were made equal.

If we look
In the attics of widows
There will be cans
In New Jersey warehouses
We will find negatives
Films will be discovered in the North Pole, and Antartica, too
It is said that Kim Il Sung assembled a mammoth collection of stag movies.
Where are they today?

What is to be done with those films and by-products
Burdening institutions
Crushing collectors
Held in such low esteem by their keepers 
That when we speak of them 
All we do is lament the space they occupy?

My fellow Bastards
It is time for us to acknowledge 
Our sadly misguided
Our defiantly banal
Our most deviant
Our least expected
Examples of
Cinema gone wrong
We can only declare what is good by knowing what is bad
And having the evidence to show.

Film is not the truth at 24 frames per second
It is proof that can be played at any speed.
Quality is illusory
This weekend we will prove it.

To save and project?
To project is to save
If not for the public at large
Then for present company
Whose collective memory
Will usher these failures forward
To oblivious researchers
Inquisitive viewers
Hopeful future audiences
Who will demand to see what we have shown
Who will be curious to find out the who what where why and when
Well after we are gone
If not sooner.

However honest we can be with ourselves about
Relative merit and historic record
We persist to stumble in the niche
See context in the whole
Recognize what is important and what could be if given a push
Our preferences and opinions
Cannot not be ignored in the course of our work.
We attempt is objectivity 
But we are cheerleaders
We play favorites
Wishing to save everything
Wanting to make it all available
Knowing we cannot
We are tour guides pointing fingers who
must ignore prevailing conventions of taste because
It will change
It always does.

We preserve masterpieces
We save relics 
We do this for history
We do this for the future
And in salvaging we must
Continually problematize the record
Ignore the facts
Wrestle with bureaucracy
Abide our curiosity
Disregard negative reactions
Set aside some garbage on a shelf
Even polish a turd
Because if we cannot save it all
Lets at least hold onto
Representative examples
Of our worst moments
Which in hindsight might be
Our golden hour.




As an artist, Andrew Lampert has widely exhibited at institutions and festivals including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Gallery of Ontario, PS1, The Getty Museum, The British Film Institute, The International Rotterdam Film Festival, The Toronto International Film Festival and The New York Film Festival among many others. As Curator of Collections at Anthology Film Archives from 2003-2015 he preserved works by dozens of moving-image artists and co-programmed public screenings. He has taught at Purchase College, Eugene Lang College and Cooper Union, edited the book The George Kuchar Reader (Primary Information, 2014) and co-edited both volumes of Harry Smith Collections Catalogue Raisonne (J&L Books, 2015). Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) distributes many of his works.



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