Artists' Television Access

Face of a Stranger

Friday, August 19, 2011, 8:00 pm, $10

While famed director Nichols Ray worked on his “experimental” film with students at SUNY COLLEGE in Binghamtom, N.Y., local upstart David Michalak worked on his own feature, paying tribute to shadowy German expressionism, silent movies and the serials of the 1920s.

 It is a story of a kind-hearted man who turns to cruelty when his lover dies an unexpected tragic death. His sanity is challenged further when he meets a woman bearing a strong resemblance to his deceased partner. Michalak shot the film on location at a restored turn of the century house, a rock quarry (The Devil’s Punch Bowl) and in the lush forests of upstate New York with his film company Eye-Full Films.

 James Russell Lowell’s review from the premiere at Roberson Museum in 1977 is, in part, quoted here, calling the film

                         “remarkable….poetic and hypnotic…”

“David Michalak’s folkloric opus transports his audience into a world shared by UFA expressionists of the silent era yet it possesses a wonderful, uncanny immediacy – both poetic and hypnotic.”   

 The film is full of nightmares, dreams and visions of a love lost and features glowing performances by Billie-Marie Gross as both the haughty Otilla and servant Anna.

“What a revelation it is to see an actress who truly, innately, comprehends the visual relevance of cinema!  She endows her face – her every gesture – with emblematic meaning, conveying an almost unearthly quality. She is entirely in possession of that mystical gift to her audience of which only the silent screen is capable! “

 “Mr. Michalak’s camera, script and direction allow us to see her as the ultimate trusting soul; accepting one fate after another, finding empathy only in a dream-clown, who all-too-briefly enchants her.”

 The internationally acclaimed pianist, Thollem McDonas will perform an original live score written especially for this showing.