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40 Years After: FILMING THE '68 REVOLUTION
Tip of the Week! "A sturdy roster...an ambitious, heady stew" -NewCity Chicago
1968 was a year of worldwide unrest, with antiwar fervor, student movements and backlashes happening all at once. The meaning of these events as well as their origins and consequences have long been subjects for discussion, and this program, 40 Years After: Filming the '68 Revolution, will illustrate through free-form experimentation, documentaries and newsreels the profound impact of those tumultuous times, which continue to resonate today.
"The War at Home can only grow in importance with the passage of time. It should be reviewed at regular intervals, so that each generation may understand what its parents felt and how they acted" -The Nation
"An extremely important film of profound and ongoing implications... This turbulent decade has been superbly evoked" -Los Angeles Times
"Refreshingly different in its sense of emotion recollected in tranquility" -Newsweek
"Refreshingly different in its sense of emotion recollected in tranquility" -Newsweek
"Extraordinary" -Roger Ebert
Nominated for an Academy Award and widely considered one of the most important political films ever made, The War at Home vividly chronicles the antiwar protest movement of the 1960’s and 1970's. This film provides an illuminating look at the home front of the Vietnam War — the war that students and other antiwar dissidents waged on America’s political system, military and notions of patriotism. Through a powerful combination of rare archival footage and interviews with students, community leaders, Vietnam veterans, and participants from all points of view, The War at Home shows how the antiwar movement grew into a genuine people's revolt in tandem with the escalation of war in Vietnam.
Directed by Glenn Silber & Barry Alexander Brown, U.S.A., 1979, BetaSP, 100 mins.
Fri., Aug. 22 at 7 pm
AT THE RIVER I STAND
"One of the most clearheaded, evenhanded documentaries about the civil rights movement you'll ever see, and a piece of gripping storytelling as well" -Dallas Observer
During two eventful months in 1968, what began as a local labor dispute between African American sanitation workers and the white power structure of Memphis grew into a national struggle for racial and economic justice after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.
Directed by David Appleby, Allison Graham and Steven Ross, U.S.A., 1993, DVD, 56 mins.
In 1968, University of Chicago students went on strike and occupied an administration building. Many were suspended and a few were expelled. A year later, two expelled young women were asked by their former classmates to talk about the experience as a class project. These women confront the students about their convictions and how far they are willing to go to defend their values.
Directed by Newsreel, U.S.A., 1968, BetaSP, 28 mins.
The year 1968 was a pivotal year in history. The Chicago Democratic Convention became a battleground that continues to shape social and political attitudes today. From a perspective 40 years later, what was it like to document this revolution? How does a filmmaker keep perspective in the midst of profound events? What is documentary truth in the face of social and political injustice? A panel of filmmakers and participants will reconnect us with issues that may be more essential today than they were in 1968.
Moderated by New City film critic Ray Pride, the panel includes Chicago Film Group founder and producer (of American Revolution II and Murder of Fred Hampton) Bill Cottle, filmmaker/professor of film Jill Godmilow (Far From Poland, Waiting for the Moon), filmmaker/cinematographer (Labor Stories) Judy Hoffman, filmmaker/Heartland Journal publisher Mike James, cinematographer and social activist Peter Kuttner, and Kartemquin Films co-founder and Hoop Dreams producer Gordon Quinn.
Sat., Aug. 23 at 10 am
REELVOLUTION SHORTS 1
Total Running Time: 91 mins.
Draft resistance organizing in Boston; a Boston organizer's trip to North Vietnam; a G.I. coffeehouse in Texas; Newsreel's take over of Channel 13 in New York — following the production of The Rat's special issue on Chicago — and Chicago during the Democratic Convention (the planning of five days of protest). Each section focuses on an organizer central to each project — the attempt is to define the nature of commitment to "the Movement" against a backdrop of 1968's summer activities.
Directed by Newsreel, U.S.A., 1968, BetaSP, 60 mins.
Filmed as the official statement of the Youth International Party, this film is as freewheeling and irreverent as the Yippies themselves. It presents an overview of 1968 Chicago, Mayor Daley, and the pig the Yippies ran for president. This film also explores the issue of police brutality — both humorously and with an undercurrent of deep anger, and was actually produced by and for yippies.
Directed by Newsreel, U.S.A.,1968, DVD, 10 mins.
Gang members, Vietnam vets, and young factory workers from Chicago's neighborhoods tell of their personal experience with racism — who gets hurt and who profits.
Directed by Kartemquin Films, U.S.A. 1974, BetaSP, 21 mins.
Revolution '67 is an illuminating account of events too often relegated to footnotes in U.S. history — the black urban rebellions of the 1960's. Focusing on the six-day Newark, New Jersey outbreak in mid-July 1967, the film reveals how the disturbance began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as a fateful milestone in America's struggles over race and economic justice.
Directed by Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno, 2007, U.S.A., DVD, 90 mins.
"A rigorously bright study...The film's intellect is matched by a vivid sense of history" -L.A. Times
"A lively and provocative look at protest and dissent...as vivid and astonishing as any fiction to arrive on screen" -Christian Science Monitor
"Berkeley in the 60's, a lively and comprehensive chronicle, is indeed a potent blast from the past" -New York Times
"A detailed inquiry, with a sharp analytical sense of where the Free Speech Movement came from and how it developed, informed throughout by a keen sense of political and historical process...this is essential viewing" -Chicago Reader
Six years in the making and a with cast of thousands, Berkeley in the Sixties recaptures the exhilaration and turmoil of the unprecedented student protests that shaped a generation and changed the course of America. Interweaving footage and music from the time with insightful recollections from 15 former leading political and cultural activists, this remains one of the best examinations of the late 1960's ever made.
Directed by Mark Kitchell, U.S.A., 1990, DVD, 118 mins.
"I believe I'm going to die doing the things I was born for." -Fred Hampton
An unprecedented, historically significant documentary on the slain leader of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, who was killed in 1969 by Chicago police while he slept in his apartment. Filmmakers Mike Gray and Howard Alk were already shooting a portrait of this charismatic speaker and community organizer when his murder occurred. Arriving at the crime scene only a few hours after the police raid, the unsettling footage they captured was later used to contradict news reports and police testimony in what many believe to be Hampton's assassination.
Directed by Mike Gray and Howard Alk, U.S.A.,
1971, DVD, 88 mins.
Best Foreign Film British Academy Awards
"[Louis] Malle and his co-writer, Jean-Claude Carrire, use the upheaval of May, '68, very deftly: it intrudes on their comedy like distant thunder on a sunny day, but the threatened downpour of Meaning never develops" -New Yorker
The story it tells is projected against the events of May 1968 when, all over France, a wave of radicalism threatened to leave sweeping social changes in its wake. The film's setting, though, is far away from the strikes and the riots and the free-thinking students who led them. A well-to-do family gathers to divide the spoils of a country estate after the death of the ancient matriarch. Michel Piccoli and Miou-Miou star in this satiric portrait of a family and a nation in conflict.
Directed by Louis Malle, France/Italy, 1990, 35mm,
108 mins. In French with English subtitles.
In this cinema-verité documentary, a teenage youth group called Thumbs Down, decides "to bring Christ to their neighborhood" by holding an antiwar Mass at their conservative Chicago parish. Neither militants nor hippies, they simply believe that Christianity means social action and concern with issues. They present this belief to the community and the confrontation reveals the deepening crisis of communication between the young Christians and their parents, priest, and neighbors.
Directed by Gerald Temaner and Gordon Quinn, U.S.A., 1968, BetaSP, 102 mins.
Sun., Aug. 24 at 3 pm
Total Running Time: 104 mins.
This is a two-part film that chronicles the forces that led to the Prague Spring, where Czechoslovakia enjoyed a brief break from the Communism of the Soviet Union before Warsaw Pact troops rolled in.
The first part of this documentary series returns to the Prague Spring of 1968 — the period of "Socialism with a human face" in which there was a glimmer of hope that society as a whole would fully recover. Pieced together solely from period footage without commentary, this film chronologically recalls the key moments of an era when the process of democratisation and revival was also accompanied by an extraordinary cultural boom. After only a few months, however, the post-January policies and planned economic reforms were stifled by the August invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies, which arrived to "rescue freedom from the planned counter-revolution." (Karoly Vary Film Festival)
Directed by Viktor Polesný, Czech Republic, 2008, DVD, 52 mins. In Czech with English subtitles.
The second part of this series devoted to the Prague Spring, charts the fundamental events that took place during the years 1968–1969. After the leaders of the Czechoslovak Communist Party returned from Moscow, opinions were voiced that the future of the country depended upon its relationship with the Soviet Union. After their hope was steamrolled by the Soviet tanks, the betrayed country once again began living in an atmosphere of fear, lies and hypocrisy. The nation was roused from its profound lethargy only by the death of Jan Palach, the first of the "human torches." After his burial, and the bloody suppression of the demonstrations on the first anniversary of the occupation, an era of normalisation began. (Karoly Vary Film Festival)
Directed by Viktor Polesný, Czech Republic, 2008, DVD, 52 mins. In Czech with English subtitles.
Sun., Aug. 24 at 5 pm
In the summer of l969, Newsreel went to North Vietnam, and from that trip came People's War, which moves beyond the perception of the North Vietnamese as victims, to a portrait of how the North Vietnamese society is organized. It shows the relationship of the people to their government and how local tasks of a village are coordinated and its needs met. Additionally, it deals with the reality of a nation that has been at war for twenty-five years, that is not only resisting US aggression, but that is also struggling to raise its standard of living. Amid much publicity, the footage was confiscated upon its return to the US. Despite this attempt at suppression, People's War has become one of the most sought-after films
Campaign uses the neo-Roman architecture of Chicago Coliseum, Amphitheater and Elks Temple to build an atmosphere of institutional calm, beauty and strength. The benevolent despot, played by Mayor Daley, seen in the film crowned with a green hard hat, staves off the attempted coup of his regime by militant anarchists mistakenly publicized by the press and TV as a protest against the war and the Democratic Convention. Filmed in the streets of Chicago during the '68 Convention under actual combat conditions.
A now historical film about the disruption of the 1968 Miss America pageant. Using raps, guerrilla theater, and original songs, female protesters stress the misuse of their sisters by the pageant as mindless sexual objects. Footage includes attorney/activist Flo Kennedy.
This is the film the Black Panthers used to promote their cause. Shot in 1969, in Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento, this exemplar of 1960's activist filmmaking traces the development of the Black Panther organization. In an interview from jail, Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton describes the origins of the Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver explains the Panthers' appeal to the Black community, and Chairman Bobby Seale enumerates the Panther 10-Point Program as Panthers march and demonstrate.
Directed by San Francisco Newsreel, U.S.A., 1969, DVD, 14 mins.
SAN FRANCISCO STATE STRIKE
Ethnic studies courses are common today, but that has not always been the case. In many ways, multicultural education can be traced back to San Francisco in 1968-1969. In one of the most high-profile student actions of the 1960s, students at San Francisco State University went on strike, shutting down the campus for six months. University president S.I. Hayakawa called in the police, who busted heads and arrested hundreds in an attempt to restore control of the campus. The strike didn't end, however, until the school acceded to student demands and created the first ethnic studies department at an American university. This film, shot by the students and their allies, is a classic primary source document of the 1960's.
Directed by San Francisco Newsreel, U.S.A., 1969, DVD, 20 mins.
On May l, 1969 the Black Panther Party held a massive rally in San Francisco. Speakers Kathleen Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Charles Garry present the rally’s demands for the release of Huey Newton and all political prisoners. The film includes footage of the police raid on Panther headquarters in San Francisco a few days prior to the rally and the Panther’s Breakfast for Children Program.
Directed by Newsreel, U.S.A., 1969, DVD, 15 mins.
As students take to the streets in New York and Berkeley, their political movement illustrates the well known statement by Chicago Mayor Daley, that the police are there "to preserve disorder". Pig Power is an impressionistic montage of music and images which showcase the disparity between social control and the idea of real "freedom".
Directed by Newsreel, U.S.A., 1968, DVD, 6 mins.
Tues., Aug. 26 at 7 pm
"Worth a look not only for Mailer devotees, but also for the insight they provide into the heady, insouciant '60s" -Village Voice
In June of 1968, in the wake of the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the attempt on the life of Andy Warhol, the elegant resort town of East Hampton witnessed a bizarre invasion of celebrities and unknowns, professional actors and amateurs, black radicals and underground superstars, assembled by Norman Mailer for a movie in which he would both direct and star. Shot by D.A. Pennebaker and Ricky Leacock, Maidstone, Mailer's third and most ambitious film, concerns the exploits of highly popular, yet esoteric, film director Norman T. Kingsley. Described by Mailer as "a guerilla raid on the nature of reality," Maidstone sets the stage for an explosion of human passions in its volatile mix of existential politics, direct cinema and sexual intrigue that dissolves the line between fiction and actuality. (Michael Chaiken)
Directed by Norman Mailer, U.S.A., 1971, BetaSP, 110 mins.
One of the Dziga Vertov Group projects, Jean-Luc Godard's collaboration with filmmakers Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker on the 1968 film 1 AM: One American Movie fell apart when Godard became disillusioned with the project. After Godard's abrupt departure, Pennebaker and Leacock edited the resulting footage into One Parallel Movie. A reflexive piece that marks the unceremonious end of the decade, the film includes footage of Rip Torn, Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver, The Jefferson Airplane and Godard himself. (Harvard Film Archive)
Directed by D.A. Pennebaker with Jean-Luc Godard and Richard Leacock, U.S.A., 1972, BetaSP, 90 mins.
A candid look at the 1968 Police Chiefs Convention in Hawaii offers an interesting perspective on the members of an institution whose popularity with the public was in decline. Leacock follows the chiefs and their wives: they test guns, learn to hula dance and frankly discuss their tarnished public image. Interestingly, this short film has often been presented with Pennebaker's Monterey Pop.
Directed by Richard Leacock and Noel E. Parmentel Jr., U.S.A., 1969, BetaSP, 18 mins.
Wed., Aug. 27 at 7 pm
"Raw and unadorned...A live hand grenade brought home from a distant battlefield" -New York Times
"A Winter Soldier screening should be a voter registration requirement" -Village Voice
"Winter Soldier is an important historical document, an eerily prescient antiwar plea and a dazzling example of filmmaking at its most iconographically potent. But at its best, it is the eloquent, unforgettable tale of profound moral reckoning." -Washington Post
"The most important film we had about this country's tragic involvement in Vietnam... It's almost as potent today as it was when it was released" -Roger Ebert
"It may be the most important account we have of America's tragic encounter with Vietnam...this remains essential viewing" -Chicago Reader
In February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre, an astonishing public inquiry into war crimes committed by American forces in Vietnam was held at a Howard Johnson motel in Detroit. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War organized this event called the Winter Soldier Investigation. More than 125 veterans spoke of atrocities they had witnessed and committed.
Directed by Winterfilm, U.S.A., 1972, BetaSP, 96 mins.
"An angry, technically brilliant movie... a film of tremendous visual impact, a kind of cinematic 'Guernica,' a picture of America in the process of exploding into fragmented bits of hostility, suspicion, fear and violence" -New York Times
"Important, and absorbing... He has made an almost perfect example of the new movie" -Roger Ebert
Haskell Wexler's fictional story centers on a brash news cameraman, John
Cassellis (beautifully played by Robert Forster), known for his dedication
to chasing down a story, discovers that his station has been selling his
footage to the government. His images are being used to track down
individuals who have been classified as "agitators". After Cassellis quits the station and strikes out on his own, his relationship with Eileen (Verna Bloom) and her son Harold (Harold Blankenship) grows deeper. But then Wexler, his film and his characters got caught up in the actual police riots that accompanied the 1968 Democratic Convention. Suddenly, fictional characters became part of real events, and real characters wandered into a fictional story. One of the most important American independent films of the 1960's and amazing to watch.
Directed by Haskell Wexler, U.S.A., 1969, 35mm, 110 mins.