From South High School’s 1951 yearbook

Today is Stan Brakhage’s birthday! You may know him for his experimental films like the Dog Star Man series and 23rd Psalm Branch, but did you know that he won three Scholastic Awards in high school for writing?

In 1951, Brakhage received First Award and a $50 cash prize for his short story Three Deaths and The Child, which you can read here!

He was the head of his high school’s literary club and started a drama club called Gadflies, with filmmaker Larry Jordan and the musicians Morton Subotnick and James Tenney. His experimentations with writing and theater as a teen influenced his later work as a filmmaker. He produced his first film at the age of 19 and has become known as one of the most influential American avant-garde filmmakers of the 20th century.

Brakhage described his films as “moving visual thinking” and often created pieces by manipulating the film emulsion directly with paint or collage techniques, which you can see below in his hand-painted film The Dante Quartet (1987). Today would have been his 80th birthday. It is great to know that this talented filmmaker stemmed from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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