Monday, July 20, 2009

Sid Laverents, 1908-2009

Sid Laverents, who died last week at the age of 100, was perhaps the most famous amateur filmmaker in America. As a member of the San Diego Amateur Moviemakers Club, Laverents began making films in his home in 1959 and made more than 20 of them before his death. A former sheet-metal worker who had performed in vaudeville as a one-man band, Laverents combined his musical and technical skills in his best-known film, the nine-minute Multiple SIDosis (1970), in which he used multiple exposure to add as many as eleven images of himself onscreen, side by side, all playing the Felix Arndt tune "Nola." The film, which he worked on for four years, was added to the National Film Registry in 2000. “We selected it," explained Stephen Leggett of the National Film Preservation Board, "to honor all the many terrific films produced by amateur cinĂ© club filmmakers throughout the U.S. over the years. The film is technically quite adept and inventive, amusingly droll and quite mesmerizing to those who see it.” The Film and Television Archive at the University of California is in the process of preserving Laverents's other works, including his four-part autobiographical The Sid Saga. “What raises his work to a higher level," says Ross Lipman of UCLA, "is the deep ingenuity he brings to the minimal tools he has.”

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