Lee Anne Schmitt

Lee Anne Schmitt: California Company Town

"Schmitt’s work is a direct illustration of the connection between the personal and the political, and illuminates the strains created by the many inequities found within America’s political and economic systems." The Viennale

World Premiere | 2008, 76 min., 16mm
Jack H. Skirball Screening Series

California Company Town, the much-anticipated essay film by Lee Anne Schmitt, casts a probing, clear-eyed gaze at the landscape of California towns abandoned by the industries that created them—onetime boom-towns now haunted by the twilight of the American promise. A versatile multidisciplinary artist whose practice extends from film and performance to photography and writing, Schmitt is a member of the faculty of CalArts’ graduate Film Directing Program. She creates evocative, deeply felt works that consider everyday elements of American life as cultural ritual, including a series of cinematic investigations of the intersections of landscape with personal memory (Las Vegas, 2000), with the history of the American Left (Awake and Sing, 2003), and with urban development (The Wash, 2005).

In person: Lee Anne Schmitt

Director’s Statement

I am a writer and director of both film and performance events, working in film, writing, photography, and performance to create work that elevates the everyday elements of American life towards the level of cultural ritual. I have set out to explore the juncture between fiction and documentary that defines the ‘essay film’. All of my work begins with landscape, the experience of living in a particular place at a particular time, the phenomena of time and space, and the space between the ideology and the reality of the spaces we live within.

History is always marked upon the land, a process made remarkable in California, a state whose very geography has been recharted to serve specific uses. While sold as an open space, a limitless land expansive with free opportunity, California was actually, from its beginning, fissured by the interwoven needs of private and state interests. The reality of our world was born out of very specific moments and choices, a construction that is neither organic nor inevitable.

Additional Filmography

  • Buffalo Hunt (co-dir Lee Lynch), feature, 16mm and video [work-in-progress]
  • The Wash (co-dir Lee Lynch), 2005, 20 min., super8 film
  • Awake and Sing 2003, 42 min., 16mm
  • Nightingale 2002, 14 min, 16mm Las Vegas 2000, 7 Minutes, video
  • Jumping Portrait, 2000, 8 min., video
  • Rise and Shine, 2000, 16 min, video

Lee Anne Schmitt’s films have been shown nationally and internationally in such venues as Museum of Modern Art (New York); FID Marseille; Rotterdam International Film Festival; Pacific Film Archives (Berkeley); Vancouver International Film Festival; Vienna International Film Festival; Echo Park Film Center; Shadow Festival of Documentary Film (The Netherlands); Montreal Festival of New Media and Cinema.

The Jack H. Skirball Screening Series is curated by Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud

Funded in part with generous support from Wendy Keys and Donald Pels.

Associated Images: 

MON 09/22
8:30 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff