Revolution in the Air: The Long Sixties
- Revolution in the Air:
- The Long Sixties
Lecturer: Mary Patten
From January 25 through May 7, we offer a series of fourteen programs entitled Revolution in the Air: The Long Sixties, with weekly Tuesday lecture/discussions by visual artist, video-maker, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor Mary Patten. The series is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Prof. Patten's lecture. Admission to all Revolution in the Air programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
Watch for our next series, Public Enemies: The Gangster/Crime Film, beginning August 30, with weekly Tuesday lectures by Laurence Knapp, professor at Oakton Community College and author/editor of books on Clint Eastwood, David Fincher, and Ridley Scott.
The Arab Spring, the “movements of the squares,” and Occupy have re-kindled interest in other revolutions from the near and distant past, as well as their manifestations in film form. This series will bring together key films and experimental videos that emerged from the revolutionary moment of the “long 1960s” (1955-1975). We will look at explicitly political films such as Gillo Pontecorvo’s BATTLE OF ALGIERS and Chris Marker’s GRIN WITHOUT A CAT, where cameras were on the ground, recording or re-enacting the great upheavals of that era. We will also watch films that directed their gaze toward the ephemeral moments of how people lived--spheres of intimacy that reflected and anticipated bigger cultural shifts. Finally, we will screen a few “speculative fictions” of the period, like Robert Kramer’s ICE and Lizzie Borden’s BORN IN FLAMES.
- POINT OF ORDER!
- 1963, Emile de Antonio, USA, 97 min.
POINT OF ORDER! is the definitive film record of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, a primal media circus in which Red-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy lost much of his popular appeal. Culled from 188 hours of TV kinescopes, this classic documentary weaves suspense, humor, humiliation, outrageous lies, and compelling characters (notably, reptilian villain Roy Cohn and folksy hero Joseph N. Welch) into a package as exciting and entertaining as any fictional courtroom drama. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation. Archival 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. (MR)
- THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS
- (LA BATTAGLIA DI ALGERI)
- 1966, Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria, 121 min.
- With Brahim Haggiag, Jean Martin
“One of the best movies about revolutionary and anticolonial activism ever made, convincing, balanced, passionate, and compulsively watchable as storytelling.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
“If you want to understand what’s happening right now in Iraq, I recommend THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS.”
—Zbigniew Brzezinski (2004)
Those were the days, when an antiestablishment film like this one could be nominated for three major Oscars (Director, Screenplay,
Foreign Language Film). The defining work of postcolonialist cinema, it focuses on a young thief-turned-revolutionary and a hardball French military commander while drawing a broad picture of the Algerian fight for independence during the late 1950s. Filmed in a dynamic semidocumentary style, BATTLE OF ALGIERS is ambivalent but not neutral--the arguments for torture on one side and for terrorist bombings on the other make it as relevant as ever. In French, Italian, English, and Arabic with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
- I AM CUBA
- (SOY CUBA/JA KUBA)
- 1964, Mikhail Kalatozov, Cuba/USSR, 141 min.
- With Luz María Collazó, José Gallardo
“Fascinating...as an example of lyrical black and white filmmaking, it is still stunning.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Some of the most exhilarating camera movements and most luscious black-and-white cinematography you'll ever see.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Made in the heady early days of Russian-Cuban solidarity by veteran Soviet director Kalatozov (THE CRANES ARE FLYING), I AM CUBA recklessly mixes the dialectical agitprop of Sergei Eisenstein, the freewheeling camerawork of the Nouvelle Vague, and the juicy decadence of LA DOLCE VITA. The screenplay (penned by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Cuban novelist Carlos Fariñas) is divided into four episodes that depict different aspects of the Cuban revolution: sleazy Havana nightlife, a dispossessed farmer, student protesters, and a fugitive rebel sheltered by a peasant family. In Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
- MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT
- (MEMORIAS DEL SUBDESARROLLO)
- 1968, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba, 97 min.
- With Sergio Corrieros, Daisy Granados
“A fascinating achievement. Here is a film about alienation that is wise, sad and often funny.”
—Vincent Canby, The New York Times
The first film from post-revolutionary Cuba to be released in the U.S., Alea’s “Third Cinema” masterpiece centers on a Europeanized
Havana intellectual who is too idealistic (or lazy) to leave for Miami but too decadent to fit into Castro’s new order. Both a critique of revolutionary society and a critique of that critique, MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT demonstrates that artistic subtlety, political commitment, and superior entertainment need not be incompatible. In Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
- A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT
- (LE FOND DE L’AIR EST ROUGE)
- 1977/1993, Chris Marker, France, 180 min.
“A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is a work of extraordinary journalism, but it is also a work of deft and subtle poetry.”
—Dave Kehr, The New York Times
“One of the most towering and extraordinary films to grace the screen. Under Chris Marker’s masterful guidance, history is written with a blowtorch.”
—Phil Hall, Film Threat
A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is master documentarian Chris Marker’s epic account of the rise and fall of the New Left. Part One, “Fragile Hands,” charts the growth of the student-protest movement amid a background of Vietnam, the Black Panthers, the Red Brigade, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara, climaxing in the events of 1968. Part Two, “Severed Hands,” analyzes the movement’s tortuous decline, both from outside aggression (in Czechoslovakia and Chile) and internal dissension. Marker delivers not a textbook documentary but an opinionated, angry, playful, poetic, and inventive display of the dazzlingly personal style seen in his other masterpieces such as LE JOLI MAI and SANS SOLEIL. In French, Spanish, English, and German with English subtitles and English voiceover narration. 35mm. (MR)
Friday, February 22, 6:15 pm
(entire film, 180 min. plus 10-min. intermission)
Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 pm (Part One only, 90 min.)
Tuesday, March 5, 6:00 pm (Part Two only, 90 min.)
- FINALLY GOT THE NEWS
- 2003, Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman
- and Peter Gessner, USA, 55 min.
“A classic...Ideological in best sense, [FINALLY GOT THE NEWS] is a film about ideas that presents a serious strategy for mass working class action.”
—Dan Georgakas, Cineaste
Two films dealing with African American political activism: The lucid and rousing FINALLY GOT THE NEWS focuses on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (which also produced the film), a grass-roots Marxist labor movement that arose in the auto factories of Detroit in the late 1960s as an alternative to the toothless and racist UAW.
NEGROES WITH GUNS
2005, Sandra Dickson and Churchill Roberts, USA, 53 min.
NEGROES WITH GUNS tells the fascinating story of Robert F. Williams, a long-forgotten figure whose impassioned advocacy of armed self-defense in the 1950s went against the grain of the nonviolent Civil Rights strategy and made him a forerunner of the Black Power movement. Both in Beta SP video. (MR)
- MONTEREY POP
- 1968, D.A. Pennebaker, USA, 78 min.
“Quite simply one of the best rock concert films ever, thanks not only to some great performances, but also to the way it sums up the spirit of the time.”
—Geoff Andrew, Time Out London
This pioneer music documentary by cinéma-vérité giant Pennebaker set the template for countless rock concert films to follow, while also capturing the spirit of Sixties counterculture at its grooviest before the bad vibes set in. The occasion is the three-day Monterey International Pop Festival that marked the beginning of 1967’s Summer of Love. Using tight zooms and shallow focus to imbue the stars with a tactile aura, Pennebaker and his seven-camera crew immortalize a wealth of legendary performers and performances, including Janis Joplin ripping off a ferocious “Ball ‘n’ Chain,” Jimi Hendrix cremating his guitar for “Wild Thing,” and the late Ravi Shankar mesmerizing the crowd with his sitar finale. HDCAM video. (MR)
- 1970, Robert Kramer, USA, 130 min.
“A searing, unnerving history lesson, it's an American counterpart to some of Jacques Rivette's conspiracy pictures, a desperate message found in a bottle.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Guerrilla filmmaking in every sense, Kramer’s independent/underground, cinéma-vérité/science-fiction boundary-crosser used a budget of only $12,000 to produce an ambitious imagining of America in the throes of armed insurrection. The story is set in a vaguely defined future (which, à la Godard’s ALPHVILLE, looks just like the present) in which an unpopular U.S. war in Mexico provokes a left-wing uprising. Concerned with the nuts-and-bolts of revolutionary action and the debilitating effects of infighting among radical groups, ICE is in many ways the fictional equivalent of Chris Marker’s A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT. 16mm. (MR)
- 1967, Allan King, Canada, 100 min.
“★★★★ A very special sort of film.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“WARRENDALE is so moving, so fascinating and fine...It is not a study, it is not propaganda. It is an experience, passionate and compassionate.”
—Stanley Kauffman, The Nation
Once controversial, soon classic, this landmark documentary was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which then banned it from television for thirty years. WARRENDALE went on to win the International Critics Prize at Cannes and to move Jean Renoir to declare King “a great artist.” The film focuses on a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children that uses experimental and unorthodox techniques, chiefly involving close physical contact and unrestrained venting of emotions such as grief and rage. Filmed with extraordinarily intimate access, WARRENDALE is neither a clinical study nor an evaluation of the methods used; it is an immersive and sometimes shattering emotional journey. DigiBeta video. (MR)
- SALÒ, OR
- THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM
- 1975, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy, 116 min.
- With Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Cataldi
In one of the most controversial and ultimately misunderstood films ever made, Pasolini horrifically, shockingly, and fearlessly revisits his early premise of sexuality as a liberating force and comes to a new conclusion. The film is structured around the three descending levels of hell from the Marquis de Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom”: the circles of Madness, Excrement, and Blood. The story is set in the World War II Nazi puppet-state of Salò, where four of the fascist elite select sixteen innocent young men and women to become their sex slaves in a graphic and morally illustrative tale of lost humanity and the corrupting nature of power. In Italian with English subtitles. 35mm. (BS)
Note: Adult content may offend some viewers.
- UN CHANT D’AMOUR
- 1950, Jean Genet, France, 26 min.
“A milestone not just of gay rebellion but also of pure sensual expression in film.”
—Fernand F. Croce, Slant Magazine
A still-potent landmark in homoerotic cinema, UN CHANT D’AMOUR is Genet’s only effort as a film director. Reputedly made at the behest of a gay porn collector, and cited as a favorite by Todd Haynes and Jim Jarmusch, it depicts the erotic circuit among two prisoners in adjacent cells and the sadistic guard who watches them. 16mm silent.
THE CONTINUING STORY OF CAREL AND FERD
1975, Arthur Ginsberg, USA, 59 min.
Voyeurism and alternative sexualities also figure in the second film on the program, THE CONTINUING STORY OF CAREL AND FERD. Described by its makers as “an underground documentary soap opera,” it centers on an unconventional couple—ex-porn actress Carel and bisexual addict Ferd—who decide to let a filmmaker document their intimate lives, with results that are both destructive and therapeutic. Beta SP video. (MR)
- ZABRISKIE POINT
- 1970, Michelangelo Antonioni, USA, 110 min.
- With Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin
Removed from the late '60s climate of dissent, Antonioni's only American-made film now stands as a startling work of art, alternately stark and excessive, cathartic and self-indulgent. Antonioni’s absorption in the landscape, both natural and man-made, is the real story, and he revels in every widescreen frame: billboards poised against the blue sky, the shadow of a plane traversing desert wasteland, youthful brown bodies intertwined in the sands of Death Valley. Forget revolution; the explosive finale is nothing less than an orgy of kineticism, as Antonioni gleefully blows up everything in sight from umpteen angles, because he can. 35mm widescreen. (BS)
- BORN IN FLAMES
- 1983, Lizzie Borden, USA, 90 min.
- With Honey, Adele Bertei
“Beautifully made, courageously edited, and swift-moving, this challenging, provocative film is a work that is both humanist and revolutionary.”
—Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
A landmark of No Wave, feminist cinema, and politicized science fiction, BORN IN FLAMES posits an alternative history in which America has undergone a peaceful revolution, but women are still getting shafted. Various factions join the protest, but debates over tactics and goals threaten to splinter the movement. Underground radio broadcasts, TV news, punk songs, and surveillance tapes contribute to a multivocal collage that privileges productive diversity over politically correct uniformity. 16mm. (MR)