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Chicago, My Town: Portraits from the Margins

Sep 20 & 21, 2007 ,  7PM

LaSalle Bank Cinema
4901 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois

CFA presents
Chicago, My Town: Portraits from the Margins

A reprise of this spring’s Out of the Vault program (with a few new surprises!) Chicago, My Town: Portraits From The Margins provides a delightful glimpse into Chicago Film Archives’ holdings of unique and often overlooked films, each poking around Chicago’s corners with a slightly skewed lens. These extraordinary 16mm films explore lives we lived in our town from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Supported by Draupnir LLC and the Illinois Film Office

This project is partially supported by a City Arts Program i grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Vignettes selected spots:
(Harry Mantel, 1970-80’s, 16mm, sound, color, 8min)
Funded in part by Encyclopedia Brittanica, these short spots were directed by local cameraman, producer, and journalist Harry Mantel – most likely for television broadcast. These films are a few of the many bizarre portraits he constructed of the city and its people – some of the subjects Mantel explored include the various manifestations of fire, square dancing, circus and zoo animals (featuring some very talented dancing dogs), and an arts and crafts fair complete with many a macramé’8e booth.

Chicago: The City To See In ’63
(Margaret Conneely, 1962, 16mm preservation print, sound, color, 12min)
Produced and exhibited to encourage members of the Photographic Society of America to visit Chicago for the society’s annual conference in 1963, award winning amateur filmmaker Margaret Conneely’s portrait of Chicago is one in which the city is both an omniscient narrator and a living, breathing, speaking, all-seeing organism. Watch out for the creepy voice-over as Conneely’s seemingly cheery portrait of the Windy City reveals a darker side of Chicago. This screening is the premiere of the Chicago Film Archives’ new preservation print of Chicago: The City To See In ’63. Funding for the preservation of this film was generously granted by the Womens Film Preservation Fund and Colorlab. Produced, edited, and directed by Margaret Conneely; narrated by Dr. C.F. Cochran; filmed by Joe Domin, Donna Johnson, and Margaret Conneely.

Super Up
(Kenji Kanesaka, 1966, 16mm, sound, color, 14min)
Kenji Kanesaka, one of the founding members of the “Film Independent” group and the Japan Filmmakers Co-op in Tokyo, is an experimental filmmaker and photographer who organized an experimental film festival with Takahiko Iimura at the Sogetsu Art Center in Japan (probably the most important exhibition space for alternative and avant-garde art in Japan in the 1960’s), and documented Fluxus happenings – art performances by collectives such as Hi-Red Center – and the vibrant, often chaotic, underground art scene in Tokyo at the end of the 1960’s. Kanesaka visited the States frequently in the 1960’s, and while little is known about his time in Chicago, he was commissioned by local producer Marv Gold to make Super Up while he was visiting here in 1965/66. The film is an exceptional critique of the structures of racial and class segregation, consumerism and lust, sexual energy and desire, and the domination of (and link between) advertising, consumption, sexuality, and the police. Super Up’s exuberant energy, hodge-podge portrayal of the beauty and decay of the city, and its interjection of race, sexual desire, and consumerism into the form of experimental cinema make it a unique and powerful document. Directed by Kenji Kanesaka; produced by Marv Gold; edited by Ron Clasky; photographed by Dick McConnell.

(Jeff Kreines, 1971, 16mm, sound, b/w, 9min)
Another first film, Ratamata was shot by filmmaker Jeff Kreines (who went on to work with Chicago favorite Tom Palazzolo) on Veterans Day in 1970 when he was only 16 years old. In 1971, the film showed at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and was selected as a “Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival” award winner; Kreines left high school not long after its completion to focus on making films full-time. Ratamata is a portrait of the diverse opinions of Chicagoans (ranging from high school students to mayoral candidate Lar Daly) as they reflect on the general state of affairs in America, the war in Vietnam, social and racial conflict, freedom and personal liberty, happiness, and social justice.

Cause Without A Rebel
(Peter Kuttner, 1964, 16mm, sound, b/w, 10min)
Made immediately after Kuttner (a member of the Kartemquin collective) graduated from Northwestern University, Cause Without A Rebel was commissioned for a symposium held in 1965 on the Northwestern campus which examined the “price and place of order.” Created in the wake of the “Mississippi Burning” incident and the growing civil rights movement, Kuttner’s first finished film is a radical call to arms and was intended to stir the largely apolitical Northwestern campus into action. A wonderfully sincere film, Cause Without A Rebel marks the beginning of Kuttner’s development both as a filmmaker committed to social change and as a political activist, and the end of a period of political apathy on the University campus. Directed by Peter Kuttner; photographed by Sheppard Ferguson; funded by the Northwestern University film society.

8 Flags For 99 Cents
(Chuck Olin, 1970, 16mm, sound, color, 35min)
Commissioned by Gordon Sherman to make a film that would be broadcast on local television (in half-hour time slots purchased by Sherman and the “Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace”) to counter the conservative and pro-war bent of the news media, Chuck Olin’s 8 Flags For 99 Cents was originally conceived as a propaganda film which would juxtapose horrific news footage of the violence and destruction in Vietnam with conservative, pro-war interviews of suburban Chicagoans. To Olin’s surprise, the “responsible” and middle-American working people he interviewed (dubbed by Spiro Agnew the “silent majority”) were reflective, conflicted, and resolutely against the United States’ continued involvement in Vietnam. 8 Flags For 99 Cents resonates profoundly with our contemporary political situation, and serves as a reminder that the current disaster in Iraq is just the latest chapter in a history of self-serving US military invasions under the guise of liberation and democracy. Produced by Chuck Olin and Joel Katz with Mike Gray Associates; photographed by Mike Gray; audio recording by John Mason.

Program and notes by Michelle Puetz

The Chicago Film Archives is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s local and regional film heritage by protecting and providing access to films that make up the visual and historical record of life in Chicago and the Midwest. Ranging from student film productions to Academy Award nominated shorts, from industrial spots to documents of Chicago neighborhoods from a by-gone era, the films in this screening showcase the archive’s outstanding collection of rare celluloid treasures.

LaSalle Bank Cinema
4901 West Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois
Parking:Parking and entrance to the theater at the back of the bank.
Additional Information:For more information call 773 478 3799