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One of the pioneers of US independent animation, Suzan Pitt, now has its own slot at the Criterion Channel.

Suzan Pitt, who passed away 16 June 2019, cannot be praised enough for her courage and persistence to do with US animation what David Lynch did for US live-action cinema (no wonder her Asparagus film was shown on a double bill with David Lynch's Eraserhead). 

Identity, sexuality and politics enter into her work in the most intricate ways. So, it is quite a feast to see 7 of her films (along with a 30-minute, 2006 documentary, Suzan Pitt: Persistence of Vision) are now available at the Criterion Channel.

From the Criterion press release:

Enter the wild and wondrous world of the late Suzan Pitt, an independent animation visionary whose oneiric psychosexual odysseys are direct channels to her dreams, nightmares, fantasies, and inner desires. Straining a diverse array of influences—from Leonora Carrington to Betty Boop to magical realism—through her subconscious, Pitt became an underground-animation legend with her DIY landmark ASPARAGUS, a kaleidoscopic vegetal fantasia that blew minds when it toured the midnight-movie circuit on a double bill with David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD. Embedding deeply personal explorations of issues like mental illness (JOY STREET) and mortality (EL DOCTOR) within whorls of biomorphic, Jungian imagery, Pitt’s films are triumphs of surrealist imagination from an artist who brought her unconscious to florid, flickering life.

Suzan Pitt was born and grew up in Kansas City. In 1965, she graduated with a BFA in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her "painted images" soon led her to both animated films, installations (Asparagus premiered in an installation at the Whitney Museum in 1979), and more films, artistic works and honors (including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship and three production grants from the National Endowment of the Arts). 

The films lineup at the Criterion Channel:

  • Crocus (1971)
  • Jefferson Circus Songs (1973)
  • Asparagus (1979)
  • Joy Street (1995)
  • Visitation (2011)
  • El Doctor (2006)
  • Pinball (2013)
  • Suzan Pitt: Persistence of Vision (2006, dir. Blue Kraning and Laura Kraning)

Let's cross our fingers that more independent animation artists will find their way to the Criterion Channel. For those located outside US and Canada (where The Criterion Channel is available), there is also the chance to get the DVD Suzan - Pitt: Animated Films; the dvd also includes the 2006 documentary

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