Resistance Isn’t Futile
Resistance takes many forms, riotous and quiet, political and economic, through education and through engagement. In our program this week, we look at some forms of resistance – by people and groups and filmmakers, by seeing some of the ways that films have found dynamic ways and unheralded people to face dark times and make better futures. We’ll also take a look at a few of the issues of the day, to remember the troubles of the past that people have resisted, and how some of them have never left us. Featuring films by Straub-Huillet, Kelly Gallagher, Danny Lyon, Kevin Jerome Everson, Penelope Spheeris, Marco Braunschweiler, Robert Fenz, and more. Curated by Adam Hyman. Rescheduled from January 22.
Tickets: Suggested donation: $10 general; $6 for students/seniors; free for Filmforum members. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at http://bpt.me/3081414 or at the door
En rachâchant by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub
1982, France, b&w, 8 min.
Text by Marguerite Duras: “Ah! Ernesto!” (1971)
Image by Henri Alekan and Louis Cochet
1969, 14 min.
This is the film the Black Panthers used to promote their cause. Shot in 1969, in Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento, this exemplar of 1960s 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.
Key to the Cities, by Kevin Jerome Everson
2008, 16mm, 1:45, black and white
features two mayors honoring the “Candy Man” in two different ways.
Pearl Pistols, by Kelly Gallagher
2014, video, 3 min.
Pearl Pistols is an animated glitter bomb and resurrection of a speech by the radical and revolutionary civil rights leader Queen Mother Moore.
National Rehabilitation Center, by Penelope Spheeris
1969, 16mm screened from digital, 14 min
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.
Two years before Peter Watkins’ Punishment Park (1971), director Penelope Spheeris takes the McCarran Act to its inevitable next step and shows us—via an early use of mockumentary—what the U.S. might be like if potential subversives were simply locked up en masse before they had a chance to subvert anything.
"The Internal Security Act, sometimes called the McCarran Act, popularly named for Nevada's Senator Pat McCarran… argued for the fingerprinting and registration of all "subversives" at large in the United States… President Truman, who had himself imposed the Loyalty Order for federal government employees in 1947, immediately vetoed it, on the grounds that it "would make a mockery of our Bill of Rights [and] would actually weaken our internal security measures." But his veto was overridden by a humbling 89 percent majority vote, and McCarran's newly formed Senate Internal Security Subcommittee working closely with Hoover's FBI set up shop and conducted hearings for the next 27 years. One of the more bucolic provisions of the McCarran Act was its authorization of concentration camps "for emergency situations." -- from: Better Red Than Dead: A Nostalgic Look at the Golden Years of RussiaPhobia, Red-baiting, and Other Commie Madness, by Michael Barson (New York: Hyperion, 1992).
Bradley Manning Had Secrets, by Adam Butcher
2012, color, 5:30
Written and Directed by Adam Butcher
Animation: Ben Claxton, Adam Butcher
The story of Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley), not as a Wikileaks 'hacktivist', but as a young American soldier simultaneously going through a crisis-of-conscious and a crisis-of-gender-identity.
Animated in a rotoscoped pixel-art style and using dialogue from Chelsea’s online conversations, the film explores issues of personal and political secrets, digital identity and alienation.
All dialogue was taken from the real online conversations that Manning had with Adrian Lamo. This was then voiced by actors. Source: http://www.wired.com/2011/07/manning-lamo-logs
This film was created in November 2011, nearly 2 years before Chelsea came out publicly as a trans woman. This was also before her chosen name “Chelsea” became public knowledge.
James Baldwin #1-#5, by Marco Kane Braunschweiler
2014, HD video, 4:11
Marco Kane Braunschweiler is a Swiss-American artist based in Los Angeles. In James Baldwin #1-#5, Braunschweiler strips away the image of writer James Baldwin, leaving a white shifting silhouette of his likeness against a black background to content with his disembodied voice. Baldwin delivered effective, incisive rhetoric to speak truth to oppression in America, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. Removing the image of Baldwin altogether underscores the natural effect the photograph has to condense and flatten time, showing just how little has changed in the past fifty years. -Erin Christovale, Curator, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery
El Mojado, [The Wetback] by Danny Lyon
1974, New Mexico, color, 14 minutes
English and Spanish with subtitles,
Produced by J.J. Meeker.
A portrait of a hard-working undocumented laborer from Mexico.
"It's like being a hunter, but you're stalking human beings, and that's a lot more fun." -- Border Patrol Officer
"El Mojado is about my best friend in New Mexico, an undocumented worker from rural Chihuahua . . . His name is Eddie and I soon came to regard him as a genius. Eddie could do anything, make anything, fix any car or truck, and usually do it with scraps. We built an adobe house together and every spring I would meet him near the border and smuggle him past the border patrol into the United States. He introduced me to the whole unbelievable world of 'illegal aliens'." - Danny Lyon, http://bleakbeauty.com/film%20pages/elmojado.html
Crossings, by Robert Fenz
2006-07, 16mm, 10 min.
In Crossings (2006–07), made for the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Fenz switches to color film to convey more sensate information about the United States–Mexico border wall. Ten minutes of film features Crossings played twice—first silently, next with ambient sound—allowing the viewer to imagine a soundtrack before the imposed audio begins. Presented as quick, single-frame snapshots are a pair of frames shot looking to the left and right from each side of the wall followed by upward and downward views on both sides, creating a strobelike effect that recalls the psychedelic experiments of James Whitney or Harry Smith. The length of each shot is of primary importance to Fenz, for whom each frame is a captured moment in time. These moments build, highlighting the surprising formal beauty of the wall while evoking the frenetic, fearful energy one might feel if trapped by it. By visually simulating what the wall symbolizes, Fenz depicts terror and awe as impossibly intertwined. TRINIE DALTON, https://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_fenz
Portrait #2: Trojan, by Vanessa Renwick
2006, 5 minutes, 35mm to SD video
score: Sam Coomes; cinematography: Eric Edwards; edit: Vanessa Renwick
The Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, with its 499-foot tall cooling tower that loomed over its otherwise bucolic Columbia river setting, is the only commercial nuclear power plant ever built in the state of Oregon, at the cost of $450 million in the 1970's economy (almost 3 trillion dollars in today’s money). Beset by environmental concerns and citizen protest from the moment it began operations in 1975, resting in close proximity to a fault line, suffering unplanned closures due to leaking steam tubes and other operating issues, and shortly after Portland General Electric spent $4.5 million to defeat a ballot measure to shut the reactor down, the plant finally closed for good in 1993, after only 17 years in operation. At 7:00 am on May 21, 2006, in the first ever implosion of a cooling tower at a reactor plant in the United States, with the river and its denizens as witness, Trojan fell. Portrait #2: Trojan is a sublime representation of the surrounding environment leading dramatically up to the moment of demolition. Sam Coomes’ flawless score provides stunning sonic context for the happy ending of the Oregon nuclear skyline. The film is an effective prescription in prevention of politically-triggered anxiety and depression in post-modern Cascadia.