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Out of the Vault 2007 – Chicago, My Town: Portraits from the Margins

Thursday, May 10, 2007 ,  6PM & 7:30PM

The Chicago Cultural Center - Claudia Cassidy Theater
78 East Washington
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Ranging from portraits of the city of Chicago to documents of radical political and social upheaval, from amateur productions to television spots, from student films to the work of industry professionals, and from experimental films to straight-ahead documentaries, these two Out of the Vault programs showcase films that are both personal and political, and which portray, in a variety of different ways, a city and people in conflict. In unique and non-commercial forms, they address the political turmoil, class segregation, racial struggle, and sexual liberation of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Out of the Vault – Chicago, My Town: Portraits from the Margins
6pm – approximate running time 64 minutes

Vignettes selected spots: “The Controllers” & “Marina City Waitress”
(Harry Mantel, 1970’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 only two of many bizarre portraits he constructed of the city and its people – other 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. These two Vignettes, both set to swinging soundtracks, are snazzy and fun-loving examinations of their subjects, yet Mantel’s voyeuristic camerawork lends them an underlying sensation of imminent doom.

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.

In The Divine Plan
(Holden Franz Aust, 1970/71, 16mm, sound, b/w, 12min)
A University of Chicago student film production and “Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival” award winner in 1971, Aust’s In The Divine Plan pits Nietzsche against Jesus in an ultimate smack-down ideological battle. Christian moralism meets Nihilism – ummm, who do you think wins this duel?!?!?! Need we even mention the towel-robed UofC students gathered on the Midway to view and film Jesus on the cross (okay, lamppost) with Super-8 cameras?

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.

(Don B. Klugman, 1965, 16mm, sound, color, 22min)
Winner of the Coupe Kodak-Pathe prize at the Cannes Film Festival and a top-ten finalist in the 1964 Amateur Cinema League and American International Film & Video Festival, Nightsong is a truly extraordinary amateur film. Featuring African-American folk sensation Willie Wright, Nightsong is a portrait of a Chicago nightclub singer (Wright) and the Near North nightlife scene of the mid-1960’s. Popular bars and clubs such as the Fickle Pickle, Kismet, Esquire, Easy Street, “Rube” Rubenstein’s, and Figaro’s serve as the backdrop for Klugman’s moody examination of social, racial, sexual, and class tensions. Directed by Don Klugman; edited by Ron Clasky; written by Marv Gold; photographed by Victor Hurnitz.

Out of the Vault – The Place and Price of Order
7:30pm – approximate running time 65 minutes

Very Nice, Very Nice
(Arthur Lipsett, 1961, 16mm, sound, b/w, 7min)
Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s first and most celebrated film, Very Nice, Very Nice, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1962 and exemplifies Lipsett’s fluid movement between the worlds of experimental and institutional filmmaking.Very Nice, Very Nice was originally made as an audio collage experiment on 1/4” magnetic tape, using sources from the holdings of the National Film Board in Canada (where Lipsett worked) and left-over trims – these include sound bites from cultural critics Marshall McLuhan and Herman Northrop Frye. The film’s dark social commentary and critical take on consumerism, pop culture, and the mass media is one in which an overwhelming pessimism about the state of the world is matched by a ridiculous and almost farcical portrayal of the human condition. A National Film Board of Canada production.

(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.

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.

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.


Supported by: Draupnir LLC and Chicago 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.

The Chicago Film Archives (CFA) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that collects, screens and conserves films that make up the visual historical record of life in Chicago and the Midwest. Founded in 2003, CFA currently houses over 5,000 films including documentaries, educational films, home movies, feature films and more. CFA conducts screenings and other film programs throughout the year. For more information, visit the CFA website at.

The Chicago Cultural Center - Claudia Cassidy Theater
78 East Washington
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Hours:6PM & 7:30PM
Additional Information:For more information call 773 478 3799