The Confessions of Curt McDowell

The Confessions of Curt McDowell

Introduction by Melinda McDowell

In person: Melinda McDowell. 
Dirty, playful, bawdy, freaky, raunchy, sexy, brilliant, campy, punky, puerile, gross, glamorous…there are not enough evocative adjectives to accurately encompass the innumerable pleasures of Curt McDowell’s resolutely queer and radically multi-sexual body of film work in all its florid fecundity. 

A contemporary of John Waters and the Kuchar brothers, San Francisco-based McDowell produced a stimulating body of films between the late 1960s and his death in 1987 from HIV/AIDS, drawing vividly on his obsessions with sex, pop music, performance, comedy, melodrama, and the delicious dichotomy of the gorgeous and the grotesque. Most notorious for his nearly three-hour horror/comedy/porno/melodrama/cult classic Thundercrack! (1975), McDowell also created numerous hilarious, intimate, audacious, and unexpectedly profound short films over his tragically short career. 

The Academy Film Archive has been home to Curt McDowell’s films since 2014, and since then has been actively working to restore his entire body of work. This program will feature an eclectic selection of these restorations, most showing for the first time in Los Angeles, and including the world premiere of the restoration of McDowell’s most provocative and acclaimed short film, Loads.  

Programmed and note by Academy Film Archive Senior Film Preservationist Mark Toscano. 
All films directed by Curt McDowell unless otherwise noted; all restored prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Immense thanks to Melinda McDowell.  
Total program runtime: 74 min. Please note: this program contains explicit content. No one under 18 admitted. 

Ainslie Trailer | Los Angeles Restoration Premiere 
1972. 2 min. USA. Color. English. 16mm. 
1971. 11 min. USA. B&W. English. 16mm. 
Wieners & Buns Musical | Los Angeles Restoration Premiere 
1972. 14 min. USA. B&W. English. 16mm. 
Ronnie | Los Angeles Restoration Premiere 
1972. 4 min. USA. B&W. English. 16mm. 
Stinky-Butt | Los Angeles Restoration Premiere 
DIRECTED BY: Curt McDowell, Mark Ellinger. 1974. 3 min. USA. B&W. Sound. 16mm. 
Beaver Fever | Los Angeles Restoration Premiere 
1974. 20 min. USA. B&W. English. 16mm.  
Loads | Restoration World Premiere 
1980. 20 min. USA. B&W. English. DCP.
Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation. 

Back to Main Series