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(The) Geosophist's Tears, Peter Rose
2002, 8:00

A road movie of landscapes displaced, translated, and reconstructed in perfect linear proportions and motions.

Gravel, Steven Bognar

Gravel, a short narrative shot on 16mm and Beta-SP video, weaves several relationships in one story. A mother is attracted to an ex-convict, and takes her teenage daughter on a road trip to meet him. Ambivalent, the daughter brings along her skateboarder friend. As the two weathered adults define their relationship, the memory of the girl's dead grandmother hovers over the story. Gravel is concerned with the capturing of photographs, and the importance of images in the characters' lives. Told in an elliptical manner that lets viewers assemble the events of the film, Gravel is set against the haunted, impersonal quality of Midwestern Appalachia's urban landscape.

Greetings from Out Here, Ellen Spiro
1993, 58:00

Spiro traveled for one year on the backroads of the southern United States gathering footage for this mobile video project. Accompanied by her dog Sam and a video camera, she travels from Virginia to Texas and back. Her van (which breaks down frequently) serves as office, apartment, editing suite, and runabout. From the many insightful portraits of small town gay and lesbian Southerners, to the celebratory events of the Texas Gay Rodeo, Rhythm Fest, a gay Mardi Gras ball, and the Rural Fairy Gathering, Spiro’s witty eye and spectacular footage capture the richness, vitality and courage of “out” gay Southern life. Through her adventures, she not only discovers strength in the many diverse gay and lesbian people she gets to know, but also allows spontaneous encounters with local eccentrics and mechanics to highlight her road documentary.

Courtesy of Video Data Bank

High School, Frederick Wiseman
1968, 75 min

"The most frightening thing about High School is that it captures the battlefield so clearly; the film is too true" (Newsweek). This documentary shows us that a school system exists not only to pass on facts but, ideally, to transmit social values from one generation to another. In 1968 in a large school in Philadelphia, Wiseman captures on film a series of formal and informal clashes between teachers, students, parents, and administrators through which the ideology and values of the school emerge. Spoofed in Wes Anderson's 1998 feature Rushmore, Wiseman's film is a wicked, brilliant documentary.

Highway Landscape, J.J. Murphy
1971-1972, 16mm, color/so, 6.5m

"The filmmaker describes his work as 'a single take, fixed camera meditation on a dead rabbit on Highway No. 1, outside Iowa City.' As the viewer stares at the almost still-life, the elements of composition come together in sad juxtaposition; the silence of death is set off against the impersonal whizz of passing cars, their momentary appearance in the frame creating almost subliminal flashes of bright metallic color. Otherwise the only movement in the film is provided by the dead rabbit's fur, ruffling in the wind. In the background, blue sky and brown trees, blurred and leafless. In the foreground, hard white gravel. The rabbit's body, caught in the right center of the frame, lies on the side of the highway, which is reduced by the camera angle to an almost imperceptible gray line dividing the composition in horizontal halves.

"I think Murphy's description of HIGHWAY LANDSCAPE as a 'meditation' is quite accurate, since minimal cinema allows the viewer to examine in such radically increased attention the elements of the film he is watching. Although the reality on the screen may be static, the reality in the viewer's mind is not: under the right circumstances (seldom possible in film-viewing situations), the viewer can 'contemplate' what he sees, examines, let his eyes (and mind) wander, taste the possibilities of response." - Ron Epple

Horizons, Larry Gottheim
1973, 16mm, color/si, 80m

Completed in 1973 (with assistance from CAPS), HORIZONS was released as an individual film and continues to stand as such. However, I have incorporated it as Part 1 "Overture" to the series Elective Affinities, which includes three further sound films: MOUCHES VOLANTES (1976), FOUR SHADOWS (1978) and TREE OF KNOWLEDGE (1981). For information on special rates for the entire series contact Canyon Cinema.

"This was also my fifth viewing of Gottheim's HORIZONS. (It is said, in Analects, VII:31, that 'when Confucius was pleased with the singing of someone he was with, he would always ask to have the song repeated and would join in himself.') During the first viewing of HORIZONS, in London, I just looked at it, with my eyes all open and ablaze, and I found it very beautiful. Later I listened to Gottheim talk about the film. I found out about the complex web of image rhymes and correspondences in the film. During my second and third viewings I became very absorbed in seeing and figuring out the correspondences and rhymes. But I found the film equally, if not more, beautiful. The fourth viewing was again an open eye viewing, without any special emphasis. During the Cooper Union screening I suddenly discovered its incredible richness of color. I sat close to the screen and I saw these glorious colors and I was amazed that I could look at HORIZONS four times and not notice the magnificence of its color." - Jonas Mekas, Movie Journal

Collection: Centre Beaubourg, Paris

Husks, David Ellsworth
2002, 10:00, 16mm

New barns. Old barns. Things that happen around corn. Agricultural romantism and aesthetics in the Iowa lanscape.

HYBRID: One Man's Passion for Corn, Monteith McCollum
2002, 92:00, b&w

In a rather unusual form, where animations of crawling and mating corncobs alternate with meditative nature scenes, Hybrid tells the story of one mans obsession for hybrid corn. Using dry Midwestern wit, the film describes the sexuality of corn and delves deep into one family's complex relationships with an eccentric man who finds solace in the whispers of rustling cornfields. This poetic opus says as much about the pragmatic spiritual values and emotional inhibitions of the American hinterland as it does about the archetypal Midwesterner, Milford Beeghly.

Beeghly had a passion for developing hybrid corn and appeared on early black and white television, hawking his daring new seed at a time when hybridization was considered a wicked kind of plant incest. The film is in part a history of agricultural practices during the depression and a science lesson, explaining how corn procreates. "Hybrid" takes on a fuller resonance because of the current fears about the harm that might be done by genetically engineered crops.

McCollum began this major study of American farm-belt culture (and it's loss) with an impetus to get to know his grandfather, the man who remained an enigma to his family for most of his life. The film was 7 years in the making and is far from the realm of genteel biographical inquiry. It is a rigorously inventive work that defies classification whose images challenge accepted associations of light, sound and space. McCollum set out to understand what drove his grandfather and in the process he made a tremendous film that examines what work means to the soul: a topic that is particularly American.

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Montana, 2004
Pare Lorentz prize, Pennsylvania Film Festival, 2002
IFP/Direct TV-Truer than Fiction Spirit Award, Los Angeles, CA
Fipresci Critics Award, International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam
Grand Jury Award , Best Feature, Slamdance Film Festival, UT
Awards Nominee, Best Long Form Documentary, IDA Awards, Los Angeles, CA
Best Feature Length Documentary, Nashville Indendent Film Festival, TN
Best Documentary, South by Southwest International Film Festival, Austin, TX
Golden Gate Certificate of Merit Awards, San Francisco International Film Festival
Grand Jury Award, Best Film, Ann Arbor International Film Festival, MI

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now, Diane Bonder
2001, 15:00, 16mm

If You Lived Hereis about the divisiveness over land, the relationship of public and private space in small town America, and the concept of home. Using documentary strategies, landscape stills are juxtaposed to stories "ripped from the headlines" of a small-town newspaper. The struggle over public space described in the stories, reflect universal concepts of space, privacy and property ownership everywhere.

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now, Marina McDougall
1993, 12:00

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now mixes archival and original footage to describe architectural, automotive and electronic realms that have shaped the great American nomadic experience. From mobile billboards to karaoke machines, this experimental documentary essay combines images that evoke the ether of the American sprawl, shaped by technologies which in overcoming time and space have created a vast placelessness. The film takes on a wry, dispassionate humor to cope with this human displacement.

ILLA CAMERA OBSCVRA (The Dark Room), Thomas Comerford
2001, 12:00, 16mm, b&w

Latin intertitles w/English translation. This pinhole film examines the "camera obscura"--the "dark room"--as metaphor for cinema and as site for shifts in perception and understanding perception. Part of the "Cinema Obscura" series.

" … a wonderful perceptual theory film in which theory becomes visible and lyrical … It creates really elusive, wonderful images … a brilliant film." --Jonathan Miller, 848, WBEZ (91.5) Chicago

In Progress, J.J. Murphy (Co-maker: Ed Small)
1971-1972, 16mm, color/so, 18m

"All the short movies that opened yesterday at the Film Forum make some gesture toward elaborating concepts implicit in the nature of film, concepts having to do with its existence in time and the quality of its images .... J.J. Murphy's and Ed Small's IN PROGRESS is the loveliest, most idiomatic, most responsible work in the program. "IN PROGRESS is a 20-minute time-lapse movie recording the passage of days and seasons from September through May on a bit of landscape photographed on an Iowa farm. The camera doesn't move (though there are two or three slightly different locations) and it is so nearly passive that at one point frost is allowed to form on its lens, and at another the dew turns its image into a glamorous haze. IN PROGRESS really proves nothing except that it has a subject worth sustained contemplation. The film provides an access to such contemplation, and its beauty - including its ravishing variations of color within the natural blues and greens, grays, blacks, whites, and reddish browns - is in large part the beauty of the subject in view." - Roger Greenspun, The New York Times

Awards: Refocus, 1972; Independent Film-Makers' Competition, 1972; Judge's Award, Bellevue Film Festival, 1973.

(An) Injury To One, Travis Wilkerson
2003, 53:00, Color

AN INJURY TO ONE provides a corrective - and absolutely compelling - glimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. Specifically, it chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in the state. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself.

Butte's history was entirely shaped by its exploitation by the Anaconda Mining Company, which, at the height of WWI, produced ten percent of the world's copper from the town's depths. War profiteering and the company's extreme indifference to the safety of its employees (mortality rates in the mines were higher than in the trenches of Europe) led to Little's arrival. "The agitator" found in the desperate, agonized miners overwhelming support for his ideas, which included the abolishment of the wage system and the establishment of a socialist commonwealth.

In August 1917, Little was abducted by still-unknown assailants who hung him from a railroad bridge. Pinned to his chest was a note that read 3'-7'-77", dimensions of a Montana grave. Eight thousand people attended his funeral, the largest in Butte's history.

The murder provides AN INJURY TO ONE with a taut, suspenseful narrative, but it isn't the only story. Butte's history is bound with the entire history of the American left, the rise of McCarthyism, the destruction of the environment, and even the birth of the detective novel. Former Pinkerton detective Dashiell Hammett was rumored to have been involved in the murder, and later depicted it in Red Harvest.

Archival footage mixes with deftly deployed intertitles, while the lyrics to traditional mining songs are accompanied by music from William Oldham, Jim O'Rourke, and the band Low, producing an appropriately moody, effulgent, and strangely out-of-time soundtrack. The result is a unique film/video hybrid that combines painterly images, incisive writing, and a bold graphic sensibility to produce an articulate example of the aesthetic and political possibilities offered by filmmaking in the digital age.

"An astonishing document: part art and part speculative inquiry, buzzing with ambition and dedication. Takes us from the 19th century to the eve of the 21st, from Butte as land of frontier promise to Butte as land of death and environmental destruction. He wields avant-garde graphics and archival ephemera like a lasso, and his shots of modern-day Butte are allusive still-lifes that defy time and place. This is stirring, must-see stuff." - Austin Chronicle

"Wilkerson's austere technique radically responds to the paucity of contemporaneous documentary accounts, performing a powerful act of historical archaeology and reclaiming for the working class its status as subject, not a footnote, of historical events. Wilkerson makes these ghostly historical agents palpable and vocal, asserting the relevance of their story to struggles of today and tomorrow." - Sundance Film Festival

Invisible Hand: The Deindustrialization of Southern Illinois, Greg Boozell
2001, 29:00

In the early 1920's, there were over 100,000 coal mining jobs in Illinois. Today only about 5,000 remain. While many may view coal mining as an outdated 19th century enterprise, over 56% of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal today.

Economic and political factors, as well as environmental regulations have contributed to the loss of the mining jobs in Illinois. Although some have reduced this to a choice between jobs and clean air, the actual conflict is more complex. In Illinois, the battle is between electricity generating utilities on one side and coal miners and environmentalists on the other.

The implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1990 contributed significantly to the demise of Illinois coal mining. In order to comply with the Act, Illinois power generating utilities needed to significantly reduce the sulfur emissions of their power plants. To achieve this, these corporations had several options: 1) install clean-coal scrubber technology to remove pollutants; 2) decommission the coal-fired plants and build new plants which would burn a more environment friendly fuel like natural gas; or 3) substitute an alternative lower-sulfur coal.

The latter was adopted by most Illinois power generating plants. Lower sulfur coal is mined in the western U.S., primarily Wyoming and Montana. Although burning western coal results in lower sulfur emissions, scrubbed power plants are much cleaner. Scrubbed power plants also make it possible to burn Illinois coal. "Our coalition with the environmentalists seems strange," said Joseph Angleton, President of District 12 of the United Mine Workers (UMWA). "But we're trying to get legislation passed to lower sulfur standards. By lowering sulfur standards you might be able to at least level the playing field where you had to scrub coal no matter whether it was western coal or whether it was Illinois coal. We think if that takes place we'll take our chance in the market place."

Local environmentalists prefer the installation of clean coal technologies to burning western coal. "Many of us believe the coal plants are going to be with us a long time," said John Thompson, Director of Clean Air Programs, Illinois Environmental Council. "We are not going to be shutting them down in the near future and therefore it makes sense to make them as clean as possible."

The shift to this western coal has been devastating for coal miners in southern Illinois. It has meant the elimination of thousands of mining jobs in the southern third of the state. Pres. Angleton adds, "For every coal mining job lost, the Department of Labor says there are four other jobs that are lost. When you look at high paying jobs especially in rural areas in Southern Illinois, it affects the school systems with the property tax. It affects the people who own the car dealerships, the furniture stores, it affects everything. The cumulative effect is really more than anyone would ever dream."

Marissa is one southern Illinois town directly affected by the loss of mining jobs. Incorporated in the late 19th century, Marissa grew with the coal mining industry. Once the home of miners of several area coal mines, the closing of the Marissa Mine in 2000 marked the end of coal mining in the immediate area. "These people have pride but they also had a standard of living and uh, and they can't keep that standard of living. That's just a fact. You know, the jobs around here don't pay what the coal industry does," said Mayor Jerry Cross.

While EPA regulations are often portrayed as onerous and costly to corporate America, current law exempts the oldest coal-fired power plants from the EPA's most stringent air quality standards. Because of EPA regulations, Illinois has fewer scrubbed power plants than any other state in the U.S. John Thompson, Director of Clean Air Programs, Illinois Environmental Council stated, "What most people think is that the environmental regulations that govern the operation of these plants really is designed to protect the environment. It's true to an extent but what they really do is protect the utilities. It gives them an enormous license to pollute. They emit thousands of tons of pollutants each year without having to install the kind of modern pollution control equipment that you find not only in other states but is widespread and common in Japan and Germany and Europe and in other industrialized countries. We've simply chosen a path that grandfathers these old plants and gives them a license to pollute."

Although there is a dearth of scrubbers on Illinois power plants, ironically the state of Illinois has spent millions of tax dollars developing clean coal technologies. While the technologies exist to clean the air and protect Illinois mining jobs, Federal and State officials have lacked the political will to require the implementation of these innovations in Illinois.

Support from the government has taken the form of job retraining programs for former coal miners. "Their answer is to come in and give some money to retrain people to find a different job," said Marissa Mayor Jerry Cross. "And that's good. Don't get me wrong. You know that's good that they do that. But that's not the answer--these people want their jobs. They want good paying jobs. They don't want to be trained to have to leave the area."

Ty Becker President, President of UMWA Local 2412 adds, "They are finding it very difficult now after losing their job for a lot of them, 20, 25, 30, 35 years in the coal mines. Basically, that's the only job that they have ever known. Its like they are coming out of high school all over again and having to make a decision on which way they are going to take their family to at age 50, 55 years old. Too young to retire, uh, but really too old to be employed at a very good job anywhere else."

"We knew this clean air act was coming in 1990. And in the summer of 2000 we begin to ask the question, how can we burn Illinois air coal and keep clean air? You know, we waited way too long," said former miner, Lendell Moyers, "The technology is there. I'm convinced of that. They are using it all over. I just don't understand why we are not using it here."

"Invisible Hand" recounts the decline of coal mining in Illinois and the toll it has taken on the town of Marissa. Coal mining has been a way of life in Marissa for decades and this video shows some of the social effects resulting from the collapse of the coal industry.

Is the Crown at War With Us?, Alanis Obomsawin
2002, 96:00, 35mm

Alanis Obomsawin is the leading authority on documentaries that explore the political and social struggles of Canada's Aboriginal people. As one of Canada's most distinguished filmmakers, Obomsawin's earlier works include Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, winner of the top prize for a Canadian film at the 1993 Toronto International Film Festival. Once again, in Is the Crown at War With Us?, Obomsawin takes her small NFB crew to the heart of an Aboriginal community in turmoil. She brings us the story of the Mi'gmaq fishermen from Egenoopititj or Burnt Church, New Brunswick, who have been battling with the Canadian government since the decision in 1993 to deny them fishing rights. Although the Supreme Court reversed this decision in 1999, the community erupted into violence in 2000 when the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans attacked Mi'gmaq fishermen in their boats.

Obomsawin weaves through the conflicting stories of the local and national players, yet one cannot help but sympathize with the Mi'gmaq people. Although this is a story of conflict and fierce emotions, Obomsawin still finds the encouraging moments of camaraderie in a determined community. As Obomsawin says, "It's important to show not just the turmoil, but the beauty." This film is required viewing for anyone who appreciates that Canada's future depends on coming to terms with its past. - Stephanie Socol

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Alanis Obomsawin
1994, 120:00

A feature-length, multi-award winning documentary by Native American filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin set in the thick of the armed confrontation between Native American Mohawks and Canadian government forces during the 1990 standoff in the Mohawk village of Kanehsatake near the village of Oka in Quebec. The two-and-a-half month ordeal received brief national attention when the Mohawk warriors of Kahnawake, in support of their brothers from nearby Kanehsatake, temporarily held the busy Mercier Bridge leading to Montreal, in an effort to bring world attention to the situation.

Starting with plans to construct a luxury housing development and expand a private golf course into the Pines, part of Mohawk Nation's land, tensions rose quickly and tempers flared as Mohawks were once again fighting for their sovereignty. After a police officer was killed in a raid to expel the Mohawks from the Pines, the situation spiraled out of control. In scene after startling scene the drama escalates as the Quebec police are replaced by units from the Canadian army.

With few exceptions journalists covering the crisis either evacuated or were forcibly removed. Alanis Obomsawin spent the final weeks of the standoff without a crew, shooting on video and using the slow speed on her sound recorder to stretch out her limited supply of audio tape.

Obomsawin's detailed portrayal of the Mohawk community places the Oka crisis within the larger context of Mohawk land rights dating back to 1535 when France claimed the site of present-day Montreal which had been the Mohawk village of Hochelaga. Her evocative dimension of the conflict, exploring the fierce conviction of the Mohawks and the communal spirit that enabled them to stand firm.

Awards: Distinguished Documentary Achievement, International Documentary Association Awards, Los Angeles; Special Jury Award, San Francisco International Film Festival; Best Canadian Feature Film, Festival of Festivals, Toronto; Special Jury Award, Amiens International Film Festival; Best Documentary Feature, American Indian Motion Picture Awards; NFB Feature Documentary Award, Vancouver International Film Festival; International Film Festivals: Sundance, Margaret Mead, Leeds, Santa Barbara, Amsterdam Documentary, HongKong, Brisbane, Hawaii, Melbourne, Montevideo, Haifa, Munich Documentary, London Environmental, Seattle Human Rights, INPUT '94, Montreal, St. John's Women's, Auckland, Wellington, Vermont

"The film transports the viewer to the barricades and camps, achieving a powerful immediacy and devastating logic. As each piece of her story falls deftly into place, we begin to understand who was fighting, and for what, and above all how it felt to be there. Obomsawin avoids the pitfalls of romanticizing Mohawks and demonizing whites..In short, Obomsawin has documented sympathetically yet responsibly, and from a unique perspective what history may judge to be the most significant event to take place on Canadian soil since the Second World War." The (Toronto) Globe and Mail

La Raison avant la passion, Joyce Wieland
1967-69, 82:00

"Joyce Wieland's films are among the most endearing ever seen, making her point and sealing the issue in a womanly way without any concern for ragged edges. LA RAISON AVANT LA PASSION is a whirlwind view of Canada with an anti-dialectical premise." - Douglas Pringle, ArtsCanada

"REASON OVER PASSION, then, is Joyce Wieland's major film so far. With its many eccentricities, it is a glyph of her artistic personality; a lyric vision tempered by an aggressive form and a visionary patriotism mixed with ironic self parody. It is a film to be seen many times." - P. Adams Sitney, Film Culture

"This film is about the pain and joy of living in a very large space: in fact, in a continent. It is painful, because such an experience distends the mind, it seems too large for passionate reason to contain. It is joyous, because 'true patriot love,' a reasonable passion, can contain it, after all. But what is remarkable, for me, is that all its urgency is lucidly caught, bound as it were chemically, in the substance of film itself, requiring no exterior argument." - Hollis Frampton

"Perhaps Wieland's most ambitious project, an 80-minute feature film about her homeland. As an artist, Wieland was deeply involved in the creation of this particular film, a consideration of the positive values inherent in Canadian society, as opposed to life within the relatively repressive social fabric of the United States." - program descriptions from "The Exploding Eye", Wheeler Winston Dixon

La Region Centrale, Michael Snow
1971, 16mm, color/so, 180m

This film is in five reels and requires two identical projectors for continuous projection. Instructions are included for cueing from reel to reel.

"This new, three hour film by the Canadian Michael Snow is an extraordinary cinematic monument. No physical action, not even the presence of man, a fabulous game with nature and machine which puts into question our perceptions, our mental habits, and in many respects renders moribund existing cinema: the latest Fellini, Kubrick, Buñuel etc. For LA REGION CENTRALE, Snow had a special camera apparatus constructed by a technician in Montreal, an apparatus capable of moving in all directions: horizontally, vertically, laterally or in a spiral. The film is one continuous movement across space, intercutting occasionally the X serving as a point of reference and permitting one to take hold of stable reality. Snow has chosen to film a deserted region, without the least trace of human life, 100 miles to the north of Sept-Isles in the province of Quebec: a sort of plateau without trees, opening onto a vast circular prospect of the surrounding mountains.

"In the first frames, the camera disengages itself slowly from the ground in a circular movement. Progressively, the space fragments, vision inverts in every sense, light everywhere dissolves appearance. We become insensible accomplices to a sort of cosmic movement. A sound track, rigorously synchronized, composed from the original sound which programmed the camera, supplies a permanent counterpoint.

"Michael Snow pushes toward the absurd the essential nature of this 'seventh' art which is endlessly repeated as being above the visual. He catapults us into the heart of a world before speech, before arbitrarily composed meanings, even subject. He forces us to rethink not only cinema, but our universe." - Louis Marcorelles, Le Monde

"Michael Snow's LA REGION CENTRALE can be described as heroic bordering on the apocalyptic. ... [I]t is an epochal film because of the extent of the camera movements and its transformation of space .... Gravity is destroyed ... the horizon line has been erased and forgotten and the land mass has been transformed into a whirling flat disc, a blurred flash of light with no mass or volume, rotating wildly through the sky

.... Snow's mountain landscape has become a reflection on the solar system." - Bill Simon, Artforum

"... an unimaginable film, literally like nothing you have ever seen before ...." - John W. Locke, Artforum

(The) Learning Path, Loretta Todd

Native control of education is explored in The Learning Path. Director Todd, a Metis, introduces Edmonton elders Ann Anderson, Eva Cardinal, and Olive Dickason, remarkable educators who are working with younger natives. They recount harrowing experiences at reservation schools, memories which fuelled their determination to preserve their language and identities. Using a unique blend of documentary footage, dramatic re-enactments, and archival film, Todd weaves together the life stories of three unsung heroines who are making education relevant in today's native communities.

Lessons of Darkness, Werner Herzog
1992, 52:00, 16mm

An apocalyptic vision featuring the oilwell fires in Kuwait after the Gulf-War, as a whole world burst into flames. This film is stylized as science fiction, as there is not a single shot in which you can recognize our planet.

Long Journey Home, Elizabeth Barret
1987, 58:00

"Winter, it wasn't so bad, but when it started getting spring, you'd start looking out the factory doors, wanting to go home....We went about oncet a month anyway. Load up on Friday night if I was working days...and we'd cut out, throw the kids in the back, and drive all night, with a case of beer, boloney, and cheese." -Bill Belcher

"A damn good film." -Studs Terkel, author

"Encountering prejudice against 'hillbillies' and 'briars,' difficulties in adjustment to the urban environment, the role of extended kin in easing adjustment problems, and the contrasts in men's and women's experiences are all touched on....provides excellent narration on the history of Blacks in the region. Useful for dealing with the effects of economic change, migration, and ethnic identity." -American Anthropologist

This documentary explores the ethnic diversity of the Appalachian region, the economic forces causing people to migrate into and out of the area, and the personal choices individuals make to stay, to leave, and to come back. European immigrants recall the ethnic variety that existed in Appalachia during the first coal boom of the 1910s and '20s. African-Americans whose families left sharecropping in the deep South to build the railroads and work in the mines talk about the transition to life in the coal camps, and their later dispersal across the country as automation in the mines during the 1950s took their jobs.

Eventually, 3.3 million people left the region in search of work. Many went north to build the appliances, automobiles, and other consumer goods that symbolize the golden age of American consumerism. Members of these families, people with deep roots in the mountains, talk about riding the "hillbilly highway" home on weekends and holidays, and struggle to find a way to move back and still make a living. Long Journey Home is an important film for anyone contemplating the past and future of the American economy and the toll industrial capitalism takes on individuals, families, and communities.

Louisiana Story, Robert Flaherty
1948, 79 min

Nominated for an Oscar and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for its musical score, Robert J. Flaherty’s last masterpiece is a visually stunning, lyrical tribute to a land and its people. Flaherty’s poetic vision of nature and the human spirit fills every frame of this amazing film. Through the eyes of a young Cajun boy living on the Bayou, Flaherty tells a story of disruption and change when an oil rig brings industry into his pristine world. Listed on the National Film Registry as a national treasure, Louisiana Story has finally been restored to its original glory.

DVD includes:

  • Letters Home, a Reading of Cinematographer Richard Leacock's letters with images from the production
  • Digitially Remastered from a New High Definition Transfer
  • Flaherty and Film, a filmed discussion between Frances Flaherty and Robert Gardner about the making of Louisiana Story
  • Hidden and Seeking, a documentary excerpt in which Frances Flaherty reflects on her life and work with Robert Flaherty
  • The Land, an excerpt from a 1940 film directed by Robert Flaherty for the United States Department of Agriculture
  • Study Film, commentary by Richard Leacock and Frances Flaherty over the famed opening sequence

My Name is Kahentiiosta, Alanis Obomsawin
1995, 30:00

Arrested after the 78-day armed standoff during the 1990 Oka crisis, Kahentiiosta, a young Kahnawake Mohawk woman proud of her centuries-old heritage, is detained four days longer than the other women. Her crime? The prosecutor representing the Quebec government will not accept her aboriginal name. From the perspective of Kahentiiosta, we witness the arrest and detention of those who withdrew to the Treatment Centre after the Canadian Army advanced, and we learn why Kahentiiosta was prepared to die to protect the land and trees sacred to the Mohawk people of Kanehsatake.

(The) Naturalist, Doug Hawes-Davis
2001, 32:00, color/b&w

Kent Bonar, who has been called the "John Muir of the Ozarks," is one of America's great naturalists. Living without modern amenities in the tradition of Thoreau, Leopold and Muir, Bonar has spent his life observing and recording the natural history of the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. The Naturalist documents the work and philosophies of this extraordinary modern-day woodsman.

"The film unfolds like a long walk through the woods, to show the remarkable depth of this strange man's knowledge, and his obsession with living things, from the birds that he calls up, to the tiny insects and the mosses beneath the log he sits on to rest at the end of the day. The Naturalist is the story of a man, but its larger story is that of that rare creature, the inhabitant, intimate with all that is around it, deeply entrenched, thoroughly dangerous to modern notions of carelessness and frenzied mobility." Read full review from the Mountain Gazette

North on Evers, James Benning
1991, 16mm, color/so, 87m

"... NORTH ON EVERS charts the cross country ride by master framer of landscapes and is subtitled in handwritten text that moves across the frame. Benning overturns the notion of an easily consumable product at the outset, as he forces the viewer to take in all the sounds and images .... What finally emerges is an extremely evocative picture of what's happened and is happening in this country from someone who would clearly like to feel patriotic today but finds patriotism very difficult. I would venture that Benning's filmmaking is directly connected to the sense of overload: he forces us to take in both the shots and the subtitles, the past and the present, the sounds and the images. This is a country defined by such overstimulation and excess, and one of the best things about Benning's narrative scrapbook is that it never allows us to imagine that either one of the texts is sufficient to encompass his subject's complexity. To make this film Benning had to make the same trip twice. To watch it once is to be distracted, but in an evocative and resonant manner - to be drawn away from Benning's travels and alienations and reminded of one's own." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Papapapa, Alex Rivera
1995, 28:00$tapedetail?PAPAPAPA

An experimental video about immigration. Looking at the potato (which was first cultivated in Peru) Papapap† paints a picture of a vegetable that has traveled and been transformed-following the migrating potato North where it becomes the potato chip, the couch potato, and the french fry. Papapap† simultaneously follows another Peruvian in motion, the artist's father, Augusto Rivera. The stories of the two immigrants, the potato and Papa Rivera, converge as Augusto becomes a Peruvian couch potato, sitting on an American sofa, eating potato chips and watching Spanish language television.

Patu, Merata Mita
1983, 110:00, 16mm

Performing the Border, Ursula Biemann
1999, 42:00

An experimental video essay set in the Mexican-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, where U.S. multinational corporations assemble electronic and digital equipment just across from El Paso, Texas. This imaginative work investigates the growing feminization of the global economy and its impact on Mexican women living and working in the area. Candid interviews with Mexican women factory and sex workers, as well as activists and journalists, are combined with scripted voice-over analysis, screen text, scenes and sounds recorded on site, and found footage to give new insights into the gendered conditions of the high-tech industry at its low-wage end.

Personal Belongings, Steve Bognar

"One of the best of the underground films currently making the festival circuit." - Amy Taubin, Village Voice

Personal Belongings debuted at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival

Bognar's work chronicles the profound displacement of Steven's immigrant dad, Bela Bognar. The film is a home movie gone awry, a funny and painful backyard epic about tumultuous change in one family's life.

In 1956, young Bela Bognar took up a rifle against Soviet tanks in his hometown Budapest. He fought alongside thousands of other women and men. But their revolt failed. With no time to spare, Bela fled Hungary, walking across the border with only the things he could carry.

Decades later, Bela finds himself a middle class American, married, with two kids, a ranch home and an increasing sense he made the wrong decision. Unflinchingly told by his confused, concerned son, Bela's story is at once humorous, heartbreaking and all too relevant to the present changes in Eastern Europe.

Steven Bognar spent eight years making his first film, PERSONAL BELONGINGS. An intimate documentary about his father, the film debuted at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. PERSONAL BELONGINGS went on to play at South by Southwest , the inaugural Gen Art Film Festival, and to air nationally on the PBS documentary series P.O.V. The film won the Audience Award for best film at the 1996 Atlanta Film and Video Festival, a Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Best First Film at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and has aired on national television in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Poland, Hungary, Finland, Taiwan, Quebec and Estonia. Bognar has written for indieWIRE and The Independent.

(The) Plow that Broke the Plains, Pare Lorentz
1936, 49:00

Filmmaker/critic Pare Lorentz was the creative force behind the landmark documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains. The project was underwritten by the United States Resettlement Administration, a New Deal organization. Lorentz' film accomplished visually what President Roosevelt's radio speeches had been doing orally: serving as a wake-up call to those Americans unaware of the deprivations of the "Dust Bowl." The film details the ecological causes for the natural disasters befalling farmers in Oklahoma and Texas. It then illustrates in up-close-and-personal fashion the devastating effect those disasters had on the farmers and their families, who were already reeling from the Depression. Lorentz concludes his film on an upbeat note, showing the efforts made by the Resettlement Administration to improve conditions for the unfortunate farmers, and to make certain that environmental reforms are put into effect to prevent another Dust Bowl. The Plow That Broke the Plains was followed by the Tennessee Valley Authority-sanctioned The River, likewise assembled by Lorentz. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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