SF2015: Begotten

BEGOTTEN – Thurs Oct. 28 @ 7:30p

(Show & Tell w/ E. Elias Merhige)

Possibly the godfather of all cult films, Elias Merhige’s Begotten has long toiled in bootleg obscurity, only being accessible through tenth-generation VHS copies or shoddy youtube video streams. Branded as a Rorschach test for the adventurous eye by film critic Richard Corliss, and “one of the then most important films of modern times,” by none other than Susan Sontag, Begotten is a seminal, powerhouse piece of experimental cinema that has been unfairly relegated to niche circles of film buffs and pure experience seekers. The film resembles a subconscious nightmare made manifest; as though the Earth itself could “dream” and transmit that disturbing phantasm to us — its wards — a chronicle of its long, ever-changing violent seasons. (John Muir)

Although reducing this film to a plot is a disservice, it nonetheless can offer the viewer at least a warning as to what they’re about to experience and the realm that Merhige is playing in. A God-like being kills itself, but “Mother Earth” takes its seed and gives birth to a human-seeming son, who is then taken and abused by strange, robed natives from a nearby community. The “Son of Earth” creates life and food for them in a kind of enforced fertility rite, and the villagers then proceed to kill Mother Earth and her son. Life springs anew from their grave, and the cycle of life and death continues anew.

We proudly bring Elias Merhige out for a night of conversation and show & tell of his incredible collections of artifacts, literature and cultural ephemera. We will be screening Begotten from Merhige’s own personal, rarely-seen 16mm print, along with a screening of his short film Din of Celestial Birds in 35mm.

Dir. E. Elias Merhige, 1990, 16mm, 72 min.
Dir. E. Elias Merhige, 2006, 35mm, 13 min.