connecting cultural production and political activism
OCTOBER 11-13, 2 0 0 8  

A weekend of screenings and discussions organized by Dara Greenwald with Benj Gerdes & Paige Sarlin from 16beaver group

Screening / Discussion Schedule
Saturday at Exit Art (10/11)
Sunday at 16 Beaver (10/12)
Monday at 16 Beaver (10/13)

About the Films

The Signs of Change Weekend of Screenings and Discussion brings together films and videos from the past 40 years that raise questions about what it means to participate in both cultural production and political action. The goal of the weekend is to provide a forum for sustained discussion of political documentary, its history, its uses, its aesthetics and politics. Taking as its focus the relation between moving images and social movements, we hope this weekend will prompt participants to think about the form and function of documentary images used in conjunction with left-wing movement building. Unlike a festival, each session is organized with equal emphasis on the screening and the discussion and analysis. Rather than have question and answer sessions with individual media makers after each screening, we have invited a number of mediamakers, scholars, and activists to engage with the issues and questions that the various programs raise in an effort to facilitate a discussion that will build over the course of this three day event. The weekend is open to all who are interested in the social use and impact of film and video and we hope that all who can will join us for films, food and excellent conversation.

Screening / Discussion Schedule          

Saturday, Oct 11th at EXIT ART 475 Tenth ave between 36th and 37th street, NY, NY
There will be a $5 admission charge for 7:30 screening

4 -5:30  Revolutionary Worker's Struggles on Film
Finally Got the News, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, 1970, rt 55   (Shown on 16mm)
McStrike-Paris Victor Muh, 2005, rt 4min

7:30 -10:30 Peasants Struggles in Japan*
Introduction by Sabu Kohso, writer and activist, Barbara Hammer, filmmaker
Narita: The Peasants of the Second Fortress, 1971, rt 143 min, Japanese w/English subtitles

*Screening co-sponsored by Asian/Pacific/American Institute and Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging at NYU in conjunction with The Uses of 1968: Legacies of Art and Activism Symposium and 1968: Then and Now Exhibition

Sunday, Oct 12th at 16BEAVER 16 Beaver Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10004
$5-$10 donation a day to cover bagels, coffee, and dinner

12:00 - 1:00 Coffee and Bagels

1:00 - 1:30
Introduction and Welcome
Re-Framing Signs of Change: Focus on Documentary Media
The curators and organizers of the event will introduce the general ideas and format for the weekend's screenings and discussions.

1:30- 4:00 Movement Media: Radical Form/Radical Politics
This session will examine some of the "greatest hits" of political non-fiction film that are frequently invoked when talking about social documentary or revolutionary cinema.  Departing from a traditional screening format, the program will consist of a series of clips  from the work of Adam Curtis, Solanas and Getino, Chris Marker, DIVA TV, and a number of other "revolutionary" film and videomakers. This collection of work was chosen to highlight the relation between form and politics in media production and to provide an opening frame for raising questions about the form and function of media in relation to movements.
The discussion  will be facilitated by the organizers.

4:00 - 4:30 coffee break

4:30-7:30  Speaking Out Against War
Queen Mother Moore at Green Haven Prison
, 1971, Peoples Communication
Network 15 min
Winter Soldier,  Winter Film Collective, 1972, 96 min
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, Big Noise Films, 2008, 30 min
Port Huron Project 4: Ceasar Chavez, Mark Tribe, 2008

8:00 pm Dinner and a Movie
Stronger than Before, Women's Video Collective, 1983, 26 minutes
4th World War, Big Noise Films, 2003, 76 min

Monday, Oct 13th at 16BEAVER 16 Beaver Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10004
$5-$10 donation to cover bagels, coffee, and dinner

12-1:00 Coffee and Bagel Brunch 

1:00- 1:30 Re-Introduction: Discussion and Re-Cap

1:30 -4:00  Artists & Action: Documents of Creative Resistance**
Happy Anniversary San Francisco, March 20-21, 2003, 2004, Benj
Gerdes, 4:30 min
What the Fuck Are These Red Squares? Kartemquin Films, 1970, 15min
Five Days for Peace, Nils Vest, 1973, 37 min, US Premiere
More works TBA

**Nils Vest and Benj Gerdes will be present for the discussion

4:00- 4:30 coffee break

4:30 - 6:30 Dispatches from The Counter-Globalization Movement
Crowd Bites Wolf, Guerrilla Vision 2001, 30 min
A Very Big Train called the Other Campaign, Chiapas Media Project, 2006, 39 minutes
What Would It Mean to Win?, Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, 2008, 40 min, US Premiere

7:30 Dinner and One More Movie
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Alanis Obomsawin,  1993, 119 min

About the Films                                  

A Very Big Train Called The Other Campaign / Un tren muy grande que se llama: La Otra Campaña 
(2006, 39:00 minutes, Chiapas Media Project, Spanish with English subtitles, courtesy of Chiapas Media Project/Promedios)
This video was produced by indigenous video makers from four of the five Zapatista Caracoles in Chiapas, Mexico. It documents the 2006 planning and organizing of the Other Campaign. This was a campaign by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation to build a self-governing national infrastructure. For over a decade, the Chiapas Media Project has partnered with indigenous and campesino (farm worker) communities in Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico to provide video production and computer equipment and training.

Crowd Bites Wolf
(2001, 22:00 minutes, Guerillavision, NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0)
Part fictive-narrative, part protest-documentary, Crowd Bites Wolf tells the story of the protest against the 2001 meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Prague, Czech Republic.

Finally Got the New
(1970, 55:00 minutes, 16mm, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman and Peter Gessner, courtesy of the American Friends’ Service Committee)
A Newsreel crew heads to Detroit to document the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The League decides to take the means of production into their own hands to represent themselves and their struggle. The League of Revolutionary Black Workers came out of the autonomous organizing of Black unions in Detroit-based automotive plants which included DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) and CRUM (Chrysler Revolutionary Union Movement). The League critiqued the racist practices of the United Auto Workers and called for an analysis of the role of the Black working class in revolutionary struggles in the United States.

Five Days for Peace (US Premiere)*
(1973, 37:00 minutes, Nils Vest, courtesy of Christiania, Copenhagen)
In Five Days for Peace, the members of SOLVOGNEN — the theater collective from the squatted free town of Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark — dress as North American Treaty Organization (NATO) troops and perform “military” operations in Copenhagen during the NATO Summit.

Fourth World War
(2003, 76:00 minutes, Big Noise Films, courtesy of Big Noise Films)
This documentary takes viewers around the world--Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Palestine, Korea, Italy, Afghanistan, and Iraq--to reveal people fighting against war and corporate domination. Big Noise Films is a volunteer media collective that was first established to document the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico and has continued making social movement media ever since.

Happy Anniversary, San Francisco, March 20-21, 2003*
(2004, 4:30 min, 2004, Benj Gerdes)
This  video was shot part of a collective effort to videotape anti-war direct action protests in San Francisco during the first two days of the war on Iraq.  Most of the video shot over this two day period was initially used as documentation for legal rather than media/documentary purposes.  In this edit, every clip is the same length.  They are shown in the order they were recorded in order to challenge more common activist editing techniques that imitate mainstream television pacing, and thus ask something different of the audience.

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
(1993, 01:59:00 minutes, Alanis Obomsawin, courtesy of Bullfrog Films)
This documentary covers the two and half month armed stand-off between members of the Mohawk Nation, the Québec police, and the Canadian army. The Mohawks are fighting to keep their land as a commons against the development interests of a private golf course.

(4:05 min, 2005, Victor Muh Precarity DVD -Magazine Made  In collaboration with: P2Pfightsharing Crew, Greenpepper Project, Amsterdam, and Candida TV, Roma
McDonald's workers go on strike in Paris, occupying their workplace (a McDonald's restaurant) for six months.

Movement Media: Radical Form/Radical Politics
The Movement Media program will include selections from:

Solanas and Getino
  Hour of The Furnaces
Adam Curtis             The Power of Nightmares
Chris Marker
            Grin without a Cat


Narita: Peasants of the Second Fortress / Sanrizuka: Dainitoride No Hitobito
(1971, 02:23:00 minutes, Shinsuke Ogawa/Ogawa Productions, Japanese with English subtitles, courtesy of the Athénée Français Cultural Center)
Introduced by Sabu Kohso, Japan-born writer and activist, and Barbara Hammer, filmmaker.
'In Japan, guerilla film activity reached high intensity during the war (Vietnam).The use made of Japan as a conduit for Vietnam war supplies generated strong anti-government feelings and many 'protest films.'...It now saw such powerful films as the Sanrizuka series- three feature length films. The heavy air traffic through Japan-swollen by the war-hap prompted a 1966 decision to build a new international airport for Tokyo.The area chosen, Sanrizuka, was occupied by farmers who were determined to block seizures of their lands. For four years, the film maker Shinsuke Ogawa documented their struggle, which reached its climax in the third film, The Peasants of the Second Fortress. Here we see resistance turning into a pitched battle with riot police as farm women chain themselves to impoverished stockades, and students join the struggle for anti-government, anti-war motives. Ogawa, patiently recording the growth of resistance...achieved an extraordinary social document, and one of the most potent of protest films' - Erik Barnouw, Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film, (Oxford University Press, 1974)
Ogawa Productions was a Japanese filmmaking collective that was founded in the 1960’s, It was directed by Ogawa Shinsuke. After making films about the student movement, the collective moved to Sanrizuka to cover the struggle against the building of the Narita Airport. While there, they made eight films covering the struggle.

Port Huron Project 4: Ceasar Chavez, Mark Tribe, 2008,  5 minutes
Part of a series of re-enactments of "New Left" speeches from the late 60's and early 70's, this video documents a performance by Ricardo Dominguez of an important speech made by Ceasar Chavez, the leader of the United Farm Workers Union, in 1971. Organized by Mark Tribe, this project seeks to call attention to the resonances between past political action and protest speeches and contemporary political situations.  The re-enactment took place in July of 2008 at the original site where Chavez delivered his speech in which he connected the war in Vietnam to the struggles of farm workers and issues of domestic violence in the United States.

Queen Mother Moore Speech at Green Haven Prison
(1973, 17:00 minutes, People’s Communication Network [co-founded by Elaine Baly and Bill Stevens], courtesy of Chris Hill and Bob Devine)
Think Tank, a self-organized group of prisoners at Green Haven Prison, coordinated a community day with outside activists. This tape captures a powerful speech by one of the guest speakers: Queen Mother Moore, a follower of Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). People's Communication Network, a community video group founded by Bill Stevens, documented the event for cablecast in New York City.

Stronger Than Before
(1983, 27:00 minutes, the Boston Women’s Video Collective, courtesy of the Boston Women’s Video Collective)
This film documents the militant actions and creative activities of the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice in Seneca, New York in 1983.
Although the Boston Women’s Video Collective was formed specifically to document this encampment, they continued producing video projects after it closed.

What the Fuck are These Red Squares?
(1970, 15:00 minutes, Kartemquin Film Collective, courtesy of Kartemquin Films)
Documentary of students during a "revolutionary seminar" at the Art Institute of Chicago during the 1970 national student strike that was call in response to the invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students at Kent and Jackson State Universities. The students raised questions related to artists' roles in a capitalist economic system, such as: "Is it possible not to be co-opted, as ‘radical’ as one’s art may be? What are the connections between money and art in America? Between the ‘New York Scene’ and the rest of the country?” Kartemquin Films, best known for its award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams (1994), was once known as Kartemquin Film Collective. The collective made social and politically charged films about various issues in Chicago including labor, gentrification, and student protests. They also collaborated with members of Newsreel.

What Would It Mean to Win?
(2008, 40:00 minutes, German and English, Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler, courtesy of
the artists) (US Premiere)
This film — shot at the G8 Summit protests in Heiligendamm, Germany in June 2007 — asks activists in the counter-globalization movement to answer the question: 'What would it mean to win?' Featuring interviews with protestors and with John Holloway, whose 2002 book Change the World Without Taking Power was influential to the movement.

Winter Soldier
(1972, 96:00 minutes, Winter Film Collective)
Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) organized the "Winter Soldier Investigation" in the winter of 1971.  Veterans from all over the United States came together in Michigan to talk about their experiences in Vietnam and to give eye-witness testimony of the war crimes and atrocities that they witnessed and participated in.  This film captures the discussions before, during and after the official "hearing" and displays the impact of the war's brutality on the American GI's.  A document of the Anti-War movement, the film chronicles some of the difficulties that the organizers faced and the film itself had a hard time finding an audience in the US at the time of its production. In collaboration with the VVAW, a number of filmmakers came together to document the "Winter Soldier Investigation" and to make a film, the group called itself Winterfilm. Collectively and anonymously, they filmed the proceedings and then edited their footage into a powerful piece that was conceived as an organizing tool. The film screened at a number of film festivals in Europe as well.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan
(2008, 30:00 minutes, Big Noise Films, courtesy of Big Noise Films)
In 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) restaged the Winter Soldier hearings to testify to the world the injustices of the war.