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Confrontation

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Film Identifier: F.2019-08-0001
Run Time
0h 18m 8s
Format
16mm
Color
Color
Sound
Silent
Date Produced
circa 1968
Abstract
A unique silent film made in the late 1960s providing an overview of the era’s pivotal social movements, from the fight for Civil Rights to the Anti-War movement. Through a series of quickly edited montage sequences, Confrontation offers prescient commentary regarding the country's stark racial divisions, governmental corruption under Nixon, and rampant consumerism, amongst other issues. 

Bailen combines footage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and protests against the Vietnam War in Chicago, IL, juxtaposing them with newspaper headlines and still image photography from different magazines or advertisements that provide sardonic commentary on the issues explored throughout the film. 
Description
Film begins with footage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28th, 1963. Protestors including a wide swath of the general public, from religious officials, representatives of the NAACP, to military veterans and police officers are depicted listening with rapt attention to various speakers at the podium. Signs "We Shall Overcome" are displayed, as are various photos - perhaps from a magazine or newsletter of some kind - depicting racial harmony. 

This sequence is followed by an anti-war protest in Downtown Chicago, where protesters are shown carrying signs of then-president Lyndon Johnson condemning him for his involvement in the Vietnam War. The Chicago Theatre at 175 N. State St. can be clearly seen in the background. The camera then focuses on two smiling army personnel who are watching the protest from the sidelines.

A movie theater in the background advertises the 1961 film, Scream of Fear, followed by a close-up of an army veteran's lapel featuring different honors he has received after combat. The veterans are shown talking in front of what might be the old store front of Pitney Bowes' shipping company in Downtown Chicago. The rest of this sequence depicts the military parade with army tanks, baton twirlers, marines, and other sections of the military apparatus marching as bystanders look on. Various religious officials also make an appearance, namely the Catholic archdioceses, bishop, and nuns, as the film then refocuses on the anti-war protest. This section is intercut with image stills such as protesters carrying signs "Free Hayden," and the front page of the Chicago Tribune with headlines like "Step Up Viet War Action."

The next sequence reveals a montage depicting violent images of war, and the election of President Nixon. This is followed by images ranging from fancy balls to a photo of the actor Omar Sharif surrounded by a bevy of topless women. Then, there is a brief glimpse of a headline from the Chicago Tribune declaring "176,000 in Hunger Walk," which is a march that may have taken place in 1972 or 1973 in Chicago. A Veterans for Peace in Vietnam march is then shown, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly at the forefront. 

The march passes the Roosevelt Theater (which used to be located at N. State St. but is now replaced by the Block 37 buildings) advertising the 1966 film One Million Years B.C. starring Raquel Welsh. 

The film ends with an ink splattered newspaper on the ground with "Watergate" written in big block letters followed by other newspapers headlining the scandal. The next few images are: rolls of Scot Tissue toilet paper, followed by a trash bin in the street, another large tin with the declaration "Help Keep Our City Clean," followed by boxes of different cleaning agents such as Tide and Spic and Span, and a smiley face with the words "It's a Beautiful Day" splashed above the image. 
 
Form
Short
Related Places
Chicago (represents)
Washington DC (represents)