CINEFAMILY Presents... 'BASS on FILM' - Two Nights of Film, Commercials, Titles, Shorts and Rarities of SAUL BASS. 6.23 & 6.24.


Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been touched by and have admired designer/filmmaker Saul Bass — his striking work is ubiquitous to the modern eye, and his name has become synonymous with graphic design. You’ve frequently taken in his elegant, striking logos, from the AT&T “death star” to the silhouetted Girl Scout cookie sisters. He single-handedly reinvented the movie title sequence (Vertigo, West Side Story, Exodus and Goodfellas? All Bass creations), illustrated the most stylistically influential movie posters, and probably created the best film sequence Hitchcock ever directed — yes, the shower scene from Psycho. Yet an equally brilliant area of his work remains vastly under seen: commercials, whimsical educational and industrial films, a fantastical Ray Bradbury adaptation, and Phase IV, one of the most visually striking sci-fi features from the genre’s Seventies golden age. With precise efficiency, Bass (with his wife/collaborator Elaine) communicated enormous feeling and information into the smallest of spaces, making him not only of our greatest designers or filmmakers — but one of the great eyes of the 20th century. With a big thank you to the Academy Film Archive and Jennifer Bass, June 23rd's program includes the lecture documentary Bass on Titles, a selection of Bass’ rare commercials, excerpts from his industrial films, The Searching Eye (created for the 1964 World’s Fair), his beloved pull-out-all-stops Why Man Creates, and more! Plus, legendary title designer/Saul Bass contemporary Pablo Ferro will be at the Cinefamily in person to speak on the subject of Bass’s cultural influence!

June 24th -

Seekers of celestial psych cinema need no longer cue up 2001’s “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite” to unlock their third eye: enter the optically luscious, organically abstract and singular universe of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Saul Bass once said “design is thinking made visual” and, throughout his career, always thought two steps ahead of the collective consciousness, birthing images both instantly timeless and boldly progressive. It’s a testament to Bass’s unique eye that his 1980 educational short The Solar Film (exploring how we can harness the sun’s power) manages to make our own Spaceship Earth feel alien and fantastic — and that his jaw-dropping, crystalline 1983 sci-fi short Quest (adapting a story by the late Ray Bradbury) achieves effects of such scope and quality on such limited means that George Lucas made his staff at ILM study it. As amazing as these shorts are, they are the worker ants to the queen ant that is his monumental achievement Phase IV, a triumph of visual storytelling that communicates impending sentient insect peril through unparalleled microphotography, sound & art design, abstract architecture and subtle gestures. As if taking Stanley Kubrick’s monolithic freakout as a cinematic challenge, Bass takes up the mantle of smart and strange sci-fi in what is rightly 2001’s legitimate progeny. Widely under appreciated and guaranteed to be the most stunning theatrical experience you’ll have this year, Bass’ sole feature is a trip you don’t want to miss.

Phase IV- Dir. Saul Bass, 1974, 35mm, 91 min.
Select archival material courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.


 “Saul Bass wasn’t just an artist who contributed to the first several minutes of some of the greatest movies in history — in my opinion his body of work qualifies him as one of the best filmmakers of one of this, or any other time.“Steven Spielberg

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