Date/Time: 14/12/2003 12:00 am
Documentary Fortnight 2003
This two-week showcase of recent nonfiction film and video, featuring works by seasoned and emerging film– and videomakers, provides an intensive examination of documentaries from around the world, and reveals how the documentary form is constantly evolving. The films in this series cut a wide swath, from glimpses of inner-city life in the United States and street life in Mongolia and Baghdad to a chilling look at how the Gypsies of Europe were victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The films’ styles range from the highly experimental to the solidly informational. The exhibition includes three films by the Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, known for his eccentric profiles of reality; Third World Newsreel’s North Korea: Beyond the DMZ (2003); and Dee Henoch’s newly completed film Joe Chaikin’s Life in the Theater (2003), which honors the avant-garde New York theater pioneer. Many of the film– and videomakers will present their work.
Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, and William Sloan, Librarian, Circulating Film and Video Library, Department of Film and Media.
The Archive of Memory. 2003. USA. Directed by Eric Breitbart. A symbolic interpretation of the provocative ideas of cultural historian Aby Warburg. 26 min.
Atrocidades maravilhosas (Wonderful Atrocities). 2002. Brazil. Directed by Renato Martins, Lula Carvalho, Pedro Peregrino. Underground artists in Rio de Janeiro make posters and secretly post them at night. In Portuguese, English subtitles. 18 min.
50 Ways to Set the Table. 2003. USA. Directed by Judy Fiskin. The annual “tablescaping” competition at the Los Angeles County Fair reveals the contestants’ flair for American popular culture and the vagaries of individual taste. 26 min.
Program 70 min.
Thursday, December 11, 6:15 (introduced by the directors)
Yank Tanks. 2002. Cuba/USA. Directed by David Schendel. A group of Cubans lovingly preserve American cars from the 1940s and 1950s with paint, handtooled parts, and a determination to maintain this endangered fleet of colorful classics. In Spanish, English subtitles. 70 min.
Thursday, December 11, 8:30 (introduced by the director)
Howrah Station–Calcutta. 2002. The Netherlands. Directed by Harrie Timmermans. In this impressionistic documentary depicting Howrah Station, one of the busiest railway connection points in Asia, travelers are contrasted with the slum dwellers that live alongside the tracks. Without narration. 26 min.
Manjuben truck driver (Miss Manju—Truck Driver). 2002. India. Directed by Sherna Dastur. On an Indian highway, a female truck-driver inhabits a male world. In Hindi and Gujarati, English subtitles. 52 min.
Friday, December 12, 2:00 (introduced by Timmermans)
Fleurette. 2002. Portugal. Directed by Sergio Trefaut. This profile of the filmmaker’s mother, who lived through revolution and war in Portugal, Brazil, and France, tells the remarkable tale of an apolitical survivor. In Portuguese, English subtitles. 80 min.
Friday, December 12, 4:00 (introduced by the director)
Sorriso amaro (Rice Girls). 2003. Italy. Directed by Matteo Bellizzi. Inspired by the classic Italian feature Bitter Rice (1949), about young women working in the rice fields along Italy’s Po River, the filmmaker takes a group of women back to the fields where they toiled half a century ago. In Italian, English subtitles. 54 min.
Friday, December 12, 6:00
Jesus, du weisst (Jesus, You Know). 2003. Austria. Directed by Ulrich Seidl. Cinema becomes a confessional when six individuals speak in intimate terms about their relationship to Jesus. Seidl’s unique approach to cinema creates documentary-style dramas and factual accounts that expose unsettling desires and personality quirks. In German, English subtitles. 87 min.
Friday, December 12, 8:00
Mountain Men and Holy Wars. 2003. USA. Directed by Taran Davies. This narrative documentary explores the roots of the Russian-Chechen conflict, one of history’s longest and most bloody struggles. Shot in the Caucasus near Chechnya, the film focuses on the nineteenth-century holy man Imam Shamil, who led the war for independence against Russia. 56 min.
Saturday, December 13, 1:00 (introduced by the director)
Baghdad in No Particular Order. 2003. USA. Directed by Paul Chan. Chan spent a month in Baghdad as a member of the Iraq Peace Team, a group initiated by the Nobel Peace Prize–nominated organization Voices in the Wilderness that is working to end the sanctions against Iraq. This work is a reflection of the video ephemera Chan collected while in Baghdad. 60 min.
Saturday, December 13, 3:00 (introduced by the director)
Third World Newsreel: A New Production and Selected Shorts
North Korea: Beyond the DMZ. 2003. USA. Directed by J. T. Takagi and Hye-Jung Park. The most recent production of Third World Newsreel, an independent production and distribution organization, follows a young woman’s search for lost relatives in what is revealed to be the most mysterious and demonized of countries, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. The work examines tensions between the DPRK and the United States. In English and Korean, English subtitles. 55 min.
Newsreel to Third World Newsreel—1968–2003: A Selection of Historic Newsreel Shorts. Directed by Newsreel/Third World Newsreel. 10 min.
Program 65 min.
Saturday, December 13, 5:00 (introduced by the directors and Dorothy Thigpen, Executive Director, Third World Newsreel)
Hundstage (Dog Days). 2001. Austria. Directed by Ulrich Seidl. Dog Days captures the bestial side of life in Vienna’s suburbs over a hot, desultory weekend. Seidl’s first fiction feature contains documentary-like characteristics, just as his documentaries contain aspects of fiction: the director combines scripted and improvised scenes, a mix of professional and nonprofessional actors, a keen eye for detail, and a talent for heightening reality. Leisure Times Features. In German, English subtitles. 121 min.
Saturday, December 13, 7:00
Tierische Liebe (Animal Love).1995. Austria. Directed by Ulrich Seidl. This portrayal of animal lovers in the director’s home country is at once comical and disturbing. The characters, comprising people from the fringes of society as well as genteel elderly women, are treated equally in the director’s carefully composed scenes. In German, English subtitles. 114 min.
Saturday, December 13, 9:15
Portret (Portrait). 2002. Russia. Directed by Sergey Lozniksa. An experimental documentary about a farm community near St. Petersburg. What at first appear to be still photographs are revealed to be moving portraits. Without narration. 27 min.
Obec B (Village B). 2002. Czech Republic. Directed by Filip Remunda. A village in the Czech Republic comes alive for its first-class soccer games. In Czech, English subtitles. 33 min.
Sunday, December 14, 2:00 (introduced by Remunda)
Et les arbres poussent en Kabylie (The Trees Grow Too in Kabylia). 2002. France. Directed by Djamila Sahraoui. Mourad is given a digital video camera by his aunt Djamila to film life in Tazmalt, a forgotten town in the mountainous Kabylia, Algeria. When the boy and his friends join forces to renovate their district, the budding filmmaker’s magnetism eventually draws the whole community into the effort. In Arabic, English subtitles. 85 min.
Sunday, December 14, 4:00
Return to Tibet. 1993–2003. USA. Directed by Nicholas Vreeland, Skip Blumberg. With photographs by Richard Gere. Thirty-four years after fleeing the Chinese Communist invasion of Tibet, the reincarnated Lama Rato Khyongla Rinpoche makes a poignant journey to his monastery accompanied by the American Buddhist monk Nicholas Vreeland and the film actor Richard Gere. 39 min.
Sunday, December 14, 6:00 (introduced by the directors)
Porraimos. 2002. USA. Directed by Alexandra Isles. A chronicle of the Roma Holocaust, the attempt by the Nazis to exterminate the European Gypsies. Combining personal testimonies, photographs, and film from the Reich Department of Racial Hygiene, this documentary explores the use of eugenics to persecute Romanies, Jews, and other “undesirables.” 56 min.
Monday, December 15, 6:00 (introduced by the director)
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. 2003. Ireland. Directed by Kim Bartley, Donnacha O’Briain. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is a tough-as-nails, quixotic opponent of the power structure that would like to see him deposed. Two independent filmmakers were present when he was forcibly removed from office, in what was probably history’s shortest-lived coup d’état. 74 min.
Thursday, December 18, 2:00
Vision Test. 2003. USA. Directed by Wes Kim. A routine eye exam turns into a troubling dramatization of attitudes toward minorities in the United States. 6 min.
The Wild East—Portraet af en storbynomade (The Wild East—Portrait of an Urban Nomad). 2002. Denmark. Directed by Michael Haslund-Christensen. The street youths of Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, dream of a better life after the collapse of Communism, but work is hard to find. 54 min.
Thursday, December 18, 4:00 (introduced by Haslund-Christensen)
Wartakes. 2002. Colombia. Directed by Patricia Castano, Adelaida Trujillo. Two Colombian filmmakers spent more than four years turning their cameras on themselves to expose the tough reality of their war-ravaged country. In spite of the pervasive violence, these self-portraits bring out the beauty and warmth of their homeland. In Spanish, English subtitles. 78 min.
Thursday, December 18, 6:00
Three Tales. 2002. USA. A collaboration between video artist Beryl Korot and composer Steve Reich. This documentary video opera recalls three well-known events from the twentieth century: the Hindenburg disaster, the Bikini Atoll atomic tests, and the cloning of Dolly the sheep, reflecting on the implications of technology—from early air transport to the current ethical debate on the future of our species. Composed in three parts: Hindenburg, 11 min.; Bikini, 22 min.; Dolly, 26 min. Program 59 min.
Thursday, December 18, 8:00 (introduced by the directors)
Traces: The Kabul Museum 1988. 2003. Japan. Directed by Tsuchimoto Noriaki. During the fall of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, in 1992, most of the artifacts of the national museum were destroyed or stolen. This video represents a rare film documentation of the Kabul Museum. 32 min.
Another Afghanistan: Kabul Diary 1985. 2003. Japan. Directed by Tsuchimoto Noriaki. Another Afghanistan traces the daily life of the citizens of Kabul during its civil war. In Japanese with English subtitles. 42 min.
Friday, December 19, 6:30
Missing Allen. 2001. USA/Germany. Directed by Christian Bauer. The Chicago cameraman and independent filmmaker Allen Ross made seven films with the German filmmaker Christian Bauer, then suddenly vanished without a trace. After a fruitless four-year search, Bauer returned to the United States to investigate what happened to his friend. The work is both a loving tribute and a whodunit thriller. 92 min.
Friday, December 19, 8:30 (introduced by the director)
Das Haus der Regierung (Neighbors of the Kremlin). 2002. Germany. Directed by Christiane Buechner. In 1929 Stalin built a monumental apartment building in Moscow as a utopian community for the elite. In this film, the surviving residents, all of them women, recall the experience of living there while under the constant threat of denunciation. In German and Russian, English subtitles. 110 min.
Saturday, December 20, 5:30 (introduced by the director)
New York Profile: Joe Chaikin’s Life in the Theater. 2003. USA. Directed by Dee Henoch. A documentary about the pioneering founder of Open Theater, which flourished in New York in the 1960s. Chaikin was frail during the filming, but the magnetism and integrity that inspired a generation of actors and other theater people come through. 43 min.
Saturday, December 20, 7:45 (introduced by the director)
Flag Wars. 2003. USA. Directed by Linda Goode Bryant, Laura Poitras. Following the process of gentrification over a four-year period, Flag Wars is a poignant account of competing economic interests between two historically oppressed groups—African Americans and gays. New York premiere. 86 min.
Saturday, December 20, 9:15 (introduced by the directors)
Three films by Amar Kanwar. Kanwar is an independent documentary filmmaker based in New Delhi whose subject matter includes ecology, politics, art, and philosophy. The works shown in this program focus on violence and non-violence, poets and singers, and the death of Mahatma Gandhi.
A Season Outside.1997. India. In English and Hindi, English subtitles. 30 min.
A Night of Prophecy. 2002. India. In Hindi, English subtitles. 77 min.
To Remember. 2003. India. Silent. 8 min. Program 115 min.
Sunday, December 21, 1:00