Kenneth Anger

Santa Monica (California, USA), 1927 - Yucca Valley (California, USA), 2023

One of the major figures of the avant-garde New American Cinema of the 1950s and 60s, Kenneth Anger (born Kenneth Anglemyer) grew up in Hollywood, was a child actor (most notably in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1935) and was allegedly making films by the age of ten (e.g., the short Ferdinand the Bull 1937; Who Has Been Rocking My Dream Boat? 1941). After meeting famed underground filmmaker Harry Smith in 1947, he adopted the name Kenneth Anger and, over two weekends, completed his first important work, Fireworks (1947). This personal psychodrama received a public screening and won critical acclaim in 1949 at Jean Cocteau's Festival of the Damned in Biarritz. Its protagonist, played by Anger, is a guilt-ridden homosexual who dreams of being viciously beaten by a group of sailors and his punishment leads to images of sexual liberation and fertility. The film's final images are of Anger asleep with another man, the dream only temporarily abating his internal anguish over his homosexuality. Shocking in its time for its sexual content, Fireworks was praised as a imaginative and daring personal expression.

(Biography from Turner Classic Movies)

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