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Sep 17, 2015 7:00 PM

Thursday Forum: Aimless Walk - Alexander Hammid

A film interested in the apparently inessential in the life of photographer and filmmaker, Alexander Hammid. The director will discuss her work in depth and provide a Q&A session afterwards. Director: Martina Kudláček, 1996, 48 min.


To make films in the way one takes a stroll is a goal of beauty and an enterprise of considerable difficulty. The apparatus and complex production processes often stand in the way of the whole idea of strolling and being receptive to every flicker of the world. But one is almost unaware of these difficulties in Martina Kudlácek's documentaries - L'amour fou / Ludvik Svàb and Aimless Walk / Alexander Hammid. Camera and tape recorder register fleeting observations and minute details with the quiet exactitude that one normally finds in pencil drawings and fountain pen script.

As a portrait of an artist Aimless Walk / Alexander Hammid refuses to surrender either to mythologising the chosen subject or to that flood of fact and information which turns many documentary films into hours of dry scholastic pedagogy. The film is interested in the apparently inessential in the life of photographer and filmmaker Alexander Hammid who was born as Alexander Hackenschmied in 1907 in Linz, Austria. And it respects his wishes - "I don't like to talk. I express myself always in images. Otherwise I like silence." The inessentials are Hammid's essentials - the daily doings in his New York apartment; how he sews on a button, makes his own yoghurt or the long walks and subway journeys through Manhattan with echoes from his first film in 1930 Bezúčelná procházka - Aimless Walk shot during the heyday of Prague avantgarde film and before his emigration.

Throughout the film, Kudláček associates her observations with beautiful passages from Hammid's experimental films, for example, the classic Meshes of the Afternoon which he produced in 1943 together with his wife Maya Deren. Splinters are knitted together in chains, threads of sound and whispering pictures become dense, that is the intonation of the film. ~Alexander Horwath

The film contains material from the following experimental films:
Bezúčelná procházka - Aimless Walk, 1930 by Alexander Hackenschmied
Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid
Private Life of a Cat, 1945 by Alexander Hammid


Alexander Hammid
Born 1907 in Linz as Alexander Hackenschmied, grew up in Prague. Filmcritic and art photographer. 1930 experimental film Aimless Walk. Later worked on documentary and advertising films. Made the political document Crisis about Czechoslovakia before World War II.1939 emigration to America. In 1943 experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon with Maya Deren. Also worked with Francis Thompson on pioneering projects (multiple screens, IMAX), won Oscar for best short documentary film in 1966 for the film To Be Alive.


More about Alexander Hammid

Free admission.
First-come, first-served.


321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Sep 17, 2015 7:00 PM


Czech Center

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