For nearly fifty years, the Bay Area filmmaker and curator Craig Baldwin has been an inspiring figure in contemporary media arts. His acerbic, densely-packed found footage films have traveled the globe, encouraging scores of nascent collage-essayists, culture jammers, and mockumentarians to action. A welcoming presence and steadfast fixture of San Francisco’s Mission District, Baldwin has been holding it down at 992 Valencia Street for decades, in defiance of sweeping gentrification, presenting his Other Cinema microcinema screenings in its street-level storefront theater while maintaining his legendary film archive/hoarder cave/work studio in the building’s basement.
Ever seeking to revise and hybridize existing modes and genres, and invent and name new ones, Baldwin’s filmmaking amalgamates cinephilic literacy and voraciousness, a sharp understanding of political and cultural history, and a sly critical polemics. His films are further energized by an encyclopedic knowledge of his own sprawling collection of cast-off educational films and B-grade features and a perverse proclivity for sourcing surreally sublime moments from industrial film effluvia.
Informed by left politics, cult cinemas, agit-prop activism, structural film, the Situationists, the Yippies, Arte Povera, media archeology, compilation documentary, and other found footage forms, Baldwin’s praxis is bound by a dual commitment to materiality and aesthetics on the one hand, and disruptive action and fervent, antagonal rhetoric on the other; all the while articulating a contrarian (and at times utopian) sense of apocalyptic historiography.
He is the recipient of several grants, including those from the Rockefeller Foundation, Alpert Award, Creative Capital, Phelan, AFI, FAF, and California Arts Council. Baldwin is widely regarded as an underground American treasure for both his filmmaking and eclectic curatorial practice.