Thursday, April 28, 2011

Secret Cinema: Top Secret Films

The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design presents


Friday, April 29, 2011
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, April 29, 2011, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will present a program of short films never intended for viewing by the general public.

TOP SECRET: FILMS YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO SEE includes films produced to convey private information from the government, the military and big business, instructional or motivational in nature, to carefully targeted audiences of battle forces in the field, farmers, middle management and wholesale buyers of products. Spanning from World War II through the 1960s, these forgotten reels reveal long hidden and often surprising views of mid-century America. At least one of these films was originally marked as containing "Restricted" information (and for all we know it is still officially restricted!).

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

As always with Secret Cinema events, the films will be shown using real film (not video) projected on a giant screen.

Just a few highlights of TOP SECRET: FILMS YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO SEE are:

ARMY-AIR FORCE COMBAT DIGEST #53 (1944) - A weekly newsreel made just for soldiers, bringing news, developments in the war, and aerial footage of bombing missions right to the barracks via portable 16mm projectors. This episode is from October 4, 1944.

CULL FOR PROFIT (1951) - Made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this color educational film argues in favor of eugenics in egg farming, advising farmers to carefully remove from their coops hens that are lower egg producers. It might have just as easily been called KILL FOR PROFIT.

INSIDE TEST CITY U.S.A. (1953) - A promotional film from Readers Digest magazine that declares "Industry has discovered that what happens in Columbus (Ohio) today will be happening all over America tomorrow." The filmmakers interview local businessmen and consumers, all of whom are loyal Reader's Digest readers. Two comment that "most people read the Bible and the Digest." The narrator points out with pride that the Reader's Digest has greater market penetration in affluent areas than in poorer ones.

RECOGNITION OF AFV'S (1943) - Adapted by the U.S. Signal Corps from a British training film, this short aims to teach soldiers a valuable lesson: how to distinguish Allied tanks (or Armored Fighting Vehicles) from those of the enemy.

1104 SUTTON ROAD (1958) - Motivational dramatization shows the story of a dissatisfied factory worker who imagines what it would be like to become foreman or the company president. He learns that every employee must be productive to succeed. Sponsored by the Champion Paper and Fibre Company, with blazing Technicolor views of home and workplace life.

Plus an in-house training film from Bell Telephone, NAVAL AIRCRAFT WORKERS' DIGEST, THE DELCO 12-VOLT SYSTEM, and much more!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pop Cinema series

A terrific series tomorrow and Friday at the International House:
Pop Cinema: Art and Film in the UK and US, 1950s – 1970s

Thursday, April 28 at 7pm
UK Pop

O, Dreamland
dir. Lindsay Anderson, 1953, 16mm, 12 mins, b/w
Mama Don’t Allow
dir. Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, 1956, 16mm, 22 mins, b/w
Pop Goes the Easel
dir. Ken Russell, 1962, video transfer from 16mm, 45 mins, b/w
When I Was Young
dir. Peter Whitehead, 1965, video, 4 mins, color
Trilogy: Cineblatz; White Lite; Marvo Movie
dir. Jeff Keen, 1967-68, 16mm, 9 mins, color
Richard Hamilton
dir. James Scott, 1969, 16mm, 24 mins, color

Friday, April 29 at 7pm
US Pop

Jamestown Baloos
dir. Robert Breer, 1957, 16mm, 6 mins, color
Broadway by Light
dir. William Klein, 1958, 35mm, 12 mins, color
Achoo Mr. Karoochev
dir. Stan VanDerBeek, 1960, 16mm, 2 mins, color
I Was A Teenage Rumpot
George and Mike Kuchar, 1960, 16mm, 12 mins, color
dir. Bruce Conner, 1962, 16mm, 4 mins, color
dir. Marie Menken, 1964, 16mm, 8 mins, color
Kustom Kar Kommandos
dir. Kenneth Anger 1965, 16mm, 3 mins, color
Oh Dem Watermelons
dir. Robert Nelson, 1965, 16mm, 11 mins, color
— —— (aka Short Line Long Line)
dir. Thom Andersen and Malcolm Brodwick, 1966-67, 16mm, 11 mins, color
dir. Juan Drago, 1967, 16mm, 21 mins, color
American Time Capsule
dir. Chuck Braverman, 1968, 16mm, 3 mins, color
dir. Bob Cowan, 1968, 16mm, 9 mins, color
dir. Chas Wyndham, 1969, 16mm, 3 mins, color
Up Against the Wall Miss America!
dir. Newsreel Group, 1968, video transfer from 16mm, 6 mins, b/w

Saturday, April 30 at 2pm
Pop Art and Cinema panel discussion with:

Derek Boshier, Artist and Filmmaker
William Kaizen, Assistant Professor of Aesthetics and Critical Studies, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Kalliopi Minioudaki, Art Historian
Jacob Proctor, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Saturday, April 30 at 7pm

dir. Derek Boshier, 1970, video transfer from 16mm, 14 mins, color
dir. Peter Whitehead and Niki de Saint Phalle, 1973, video, 90 mins, color
The curators may be taking a little bit of license in tying all of these films to Pop Art (then again I've not seen the majority of these), but with a screening of such hard to see experimental and documentary work from the 60s and 70s, who's quibbling? Having recently screened Momma Don't Allow, I was struck by how palpable the sense of a new cinematic vocabulary and a new postwar consumer prosperity was.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Temple Cinematheque: City Documentaries

This Friday, Temple Cinematheque pairs two influential but often overlooked documentary shorts that aim to give a snapshot of a city subculture. Both will be screened in 16mm.

In the Street
(1948, US, James Agee, Helen Levitt, and Janice Loeb, 16m)
A silent short using hidden cameras to document Harlem street life in New York in the 1940s. The work continues photography Helen Levitt's interest in street photography, especially portraits of children, and Agee's interest in social documentation.

Momma Don't Allow
(1955, UK, Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson, 22m)
Pioneering documentary of the Free Cinema movement, documenting one evening at a North London jazz club in the 1950s. The film influenced the soon-to-emerge British New Wave, and both Reisz and Richardson went on to become key figures in that movement.

The program screens this Friday, April 22, at 3 PM in Annenberg Hall (Room 3), 13th and Norris St.

Monday, April 18, 2011

John Akomfrah at Scribe

Tonight, at Scribe Video Center:

Father of Black British Cinema, John Akomfrah, Comes to Scribe, 7PM for an in-person conversation with Louis Messiah.

In Conversation with John Akomfrah (in-person)
April 18
at Scribe Video Center

Please join us Monday April 18, 7PM at Scribe for an in-person conversation between acclaimed British filmmaker John Akomfrah and Scribe's executive director Louis Massiah. Considered one of the founding fathers of Black British Cinema, Akomfrah will screen excerpts from his new works and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Presented in partnership with Temple University's Department of Film and Media Studies and the University of Pennsylvania's Program in Cinema Studies, Center for Africana Studies, and the English Department - Latitudes Reading Group. $5, free for Scribe members, Temple University and University of Pennsylvania students and faculty. Seating is first-come first-serve. Attendees may also pre-register for this event by calling 215-222-4201.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Peter Rose film screening

Language, Time, and Fiction - Six works by Peter Rose

Peter Rose will show six works that propose sly philosophical questions about consciousness and language, time and space, and appearance and reality. The screening will conclude with the Philadelphia premiere of a new work that presents a luminous nocturnal portrait of a vanished culture.

University of Pennsylvania
Van Pelt Film Studies Center
Room 425 Van Pelt Library

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Works on video format.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekend of Avant-Garde and Science Films

This Saturday, the International House will screen three programs of science and experimental films, very few of which are easily seen. For full descriptions of the films, consult the I-House website.

Saturday (Apr 16) 2:00pm
Secret Cinema and Cinema Studies at UPenn present

A program of some of the oldest surviving educational films about science and nature and features an assortment of fascinating “popular science” shorts. These ultra-rare reels, many of which haven’t been seen in eight or nine decades, are still potent in their powers to entertain, amuse, and educate modern-day viewers about a variety of subjects. Many of the films have never been shown by Secret Cinema or anyone else since the 1920s! Introduced by science film scholar Oliver Gaycken. Highlights include:

Honey Makers
Pathe Screen Studies, UK, circa 1920s, 16mm

Trip to the Sky
prod Jean Painlevé, France 1937, 16mm

The Battle of the Plants
British Instructional Films, Ltd., UK, circa 1920s, 16mm

Laws of Motion
Encyclopedia Brittanica Films, UK, 1952, 16mm

The Science of Life
Bray Educational Films, US, circa 1920s, 16mm

Saturday (Apr 16) 5:00pm
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts:
Independent Artist Movement in Cinematography (shorts)

Rien que les heures (Nothing but Time)
dir. Alberto Cavalcanti, France, 1926, 16mm, 45 mins, b/w, silent

Amor Pedestre (Love a Foot)
dir. Marcel Fabre, Italy, 1914, 16mm, 10 mins, b/w, silent

Ritimi di Stazione, Impressioni di Vita N.1 Rhythms (Impressions of Life # 1: Railway Station)
dir. Corrado D’Errico, Italy, 1933, video, 10 mins, b/w, silent

Rennsymphonie (Race Symphony)
dir. Hans Richter, Germany, 1928, 16mm, 5 mins, b/w, silent

La Marche des Machines (The March of the Machines)
dir. Eugene Deslaw, France, 1929, 16mm, 9 mins, b/w, silent

Life and Death of 9413 – A Hollywood Extra
dir. Robert Florey, US, 1928, 16mm, 11 mins, b/w, silent

L’Histoire Du Soldat Inconnu (The History of the Unknown Soldier)
dir. Henri Storck, Belgium, 1931, 16mm, 10 mins, b/w, silent

Saturday (Apr 16) 7:30pm
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts:
Independent Artist Movement in Cinematography

Mario Peixoto’s visually entrancing Brazilian classic is a stunning silent poem inspired by a photograph by Andre Kertesz. Described by Peixoto as ‘a tuning fork’ to capture the pitch of a moment in time, it recounts a simple story of three people adrift on a boating trip.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring calendar update

I have updated the Philly film calendar, including among other things the Cinefest screenings. Download and import into your Google calendar or iCal for a handy reference.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flaherty Seminar shorts

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 6, the International House is programming shorts from this past year's Flaherty Film Seminar, on the topic of "work." Screening is at 7PM.

dir. Michael Glawogger, Austria, 1987, BetaSP, 3 mins, color

Haiku uses the clang of metal forming as the basis for an earsplitting rhythm that mirrors the repetition of life structured by the factory’s whistle.

dir. Mika Rottenberg, US, 2008, BetaSP, 16 mins, color

Cheese conflates farm-girl imagery with the fairy tale Rapunzel into a story loosely based on the Sutherland Sisters, renowned for their extremely long hair. Floating through a pastoral yet mazelike setting of raw wooden debris cobbled together into a benign shantytown, six longhaired women in flowing white nightgowns ‘milk’ both their locks and their goats to generate cheese. As nurturing caretakers, these women represent maternal aspects of Mother Nature.

Me Broni Ba
dir. Akosua Adoma Owusu, US/Ghana, 2008, BetaSP, 22 mins, color, Twi and English w/ English subtitles

Who dictates the whims of fashion and what can these whims tell us? Me Broni Ba remixes the traditional anthropological documentary (including the classic story about Euro-colonialism) into a mad and inventive fusion of both forms and formats. Titled for an Akan term of endearment (me broni ba or my white baby), Me Broni Ba is a lyrical and impressionistic portrait of hair salons in Kumasi, Ghana, combining images of Ghanaian women who practice braiding on discarded white baby dolls with a child’s story of migrating from Ghana to the United States.

The Pottery Maker
dir. Robert Flaherty, US, 1925, BetaSP, 14 mins, b/w, silent

A humble experiment using the new Mazda incandescent lamps instead of mercury vapor lights, The Pottery Maker was shot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s basement in collaboration with the Arts and Crafts Department and proved to be important as a preliminary study for the pottery-making sequence in Industrial Britain.

The Sixth Section
dir. Alex Rivera, US/Mexico, 2003, BetaSP, 26 mins, color, Spanish and English w/ English subtitles

The Sixth Section is a portrait of a Mexican migrant community inhabiting a transnational space between the village of Boquerón, Puebla and Newburgh, NY, where they formed a niche enclave, ready to supply their labor in menial occupations. Having come north with the intent of supporting families back home, Newburgh’s Poblanos shrewdly consolidate their efforts into Grupo Unión, a benevolent society (headquartered in a backyard tent) dedicated to public-welfare projects in Boquerón. Rivera leafs through Grupo Unión’s jaw-dropping portfolio: the construction of a 2,000-seat baseball stadium; purchase and delivery of an ambulance for the village clinic; instruments for a marching band; completion of an abandoned, half-dug well; and more — all done from upstate New York.

The Way
dir. Uruphong Raksasad, Thailand, 2006, BetaSP, 6 mins, color, Thai w/ English subtitles

A man with a young boy on his shoulders maneuvers through a tall thicket. “This is the old way,” he says, reassuring the boy that they have not much farther to go.

Temple Cinematheque: Experimental Shorts

The next screening in the Temple Cinematheque series will be a program of experimental shorts from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. All of the titles will be screened in 16mm:

Director: Jan Krawitz
16mm, b/w, 10 minutes, 1976

Jan Krawitz has been making documentary films for 35 years. Her work has been exhibited and awarded at film festivals in the United States and abroad, among them: In Harm's Way, Mirror Mirror, Drive-In Blues, Little People, Cotton Candy and Elephant Stuff, Afterimage, and Styx. Her film Styx is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is a Professor in the Graduate Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University. She has a B.A. from Cornell and a Master of Fine Arts in Film from Temple University.

" quickly establishes a tempo, a rhythm, and an almost symphonic kind of form that brings the everyday into a superbly balanced conjunction with the realm of the extraordinary suggested by the title..."
San Francisco Chronicle

Director: Standish Lawder
16mm, b/w, 11 minutes, 1969

An underground classic, cited by Richard Linklater (SLACKER, A SCANNER DARKLY), as one of his favorite shorts, NECROLOGY is an anthropological film about life and death in New York City - a roll call of the recently deceased. Shot in Grand Central Station, director Standish Lawder, who is best known for his photography, captured 12 minutes of anonymous commuters in their daily routine. The finished film shows lines of people ascending and disappearing into a shadowy abyss with the haunting suggestion of people on their eventless way to hell. Lawder added a lengthy list of bogus credits to the end for a touch of morbid humour that leaves viewers to ponder their own fate.

"The film is one of the strongest and grimmest comments upon the contemporary society that cinema has produced." Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice

Life is a Bitch and Then You Die
Director: Nina Gilberti
16mm, b/w, 5 minutes, 1985

Re-editing film footage from Joris Ivens’ 1928 silent film, THE BRIDGE, Nina Gilberti added music and narration to create a completely new work that is different in mood and meaning from what Ivens’ intended. The individual shots have been re-assembled to work more closely with the narrative content. Flipping shots and screen direction, combined with rapid editing and a frenetic score, the filmmaker offers us a humorous glimpse into the narrator’s thoughts and feelings.

Last Movement of a New World Symphony
Director: Nikola Kulish
16mm, color, 11 minutes, 1974

Using the music from the last movement of Dvorak’s New World symphony as a foundation, Kulish directed this harried tale of a man on a seemingly desperate mission. With a montage that rises and subsides in conjunction with the protagonist’s energy and resolve, the film compels us to empathize with the hero until he confronts what ultimately awaits him.

The program screens this Friday, April 8, at 3 PM in Annenberg Hall (Room 3), 13th and Norris St.