January 2013, living archive

This Month's Public Screening – Films from the Newsreel Collective

Still from Wilmington


On January 8 the next public screening takes place. At the request of Angela Melitopoulos a selection of films from the Newsreel Collective from the Arsenal archive will be shown and discussed. Established in December 1967 as Newsreel, an activist filmmaker collective, this NY group grew to become a network with chapters across the US. Its different chapters produced and distributed short 16mm films covering the anti-war and women's movements, civil and human rights movements. In the mid-70s the New York Newsreel became Third World Newsreel (TWN).

"NEWSREEL is a group of independent filmmaking and distribution organizations around the country. Since the first meetings of filmmakers after the October, 1967, Pentagon demonstration against the Vietnam War, the various NEWSREEL groups have made over sixty documentaries. All the films are made in conjunction with grass-roots organizers – in the community and on the job. And it is in the communities and workplaces of the U.S. that the films are primarily shown, hopefully serving as a catalyst for social change. In NEWSREEL films it is the people who speak out, and they speak out strongly against economic exploitation, racism, sexism, and U.S. military aggression in Southeast Asia." (NEWSREEL distribution catalogue 1972)

Robert Kramer, member of the Newsreel collective, comments on their work: To all filmmakers who accept the limited, socially determined rules of clarity, of exposition, who think that films must use the accepted vocabulary to 'convince', we say essentially: your sense of order and form is already a political choice – don't talk to me about 'content' – but if you do, I will tell you that you cannot encompass our 'content' with those legislated and approved senses, that you do not understand it if you treat it that way. There is no such thing as revolutionary content, revolutionary spirit, laid out for inspection and sale on the bargain basement counter. We want to make films that unnerve, that shake assumptions, that threaten, that do not soft-sell. (Afterimage, London, 1/1970)

On January 8 we will screen and discuss a selection of films from the Newsreel Collective from the Arsenal archive. Some of them were presented at the Forum in 1972, some entered the archive at a later point.

WILMINGTON, USA 1969, 16mm, OV/GeS, 15 min This documentary is about a "company town." The DuPont family controls the state of Delaware as if it were a private kingdom through the giant DuPont Corporation. Their normal image as benevolent, philanthropic liberals is challenged when they called the National Guard into Wilmington after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to occupy the city for ten months.

JANIE'S JANIE, Geri Ashur, USA 1971, 16mm, OV, 24min Produced by The Newsreel collective, JANIE'S JANIE is an extraordinary document of the early 1970's women's movement. In this personal documentary, Jane Giese, a working class woman in Newark, comes to realize that she has to take control of her own life after years of physical and mental abuse.

ONLY THE BEGINNING, USA 1971, 16mm, OV, 20 min In April 1971, thousands of G.I.'s came to Washington, D.C., to protest the Vietnam War. They stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and threw away their medals. Told from the veterans' point of view, the film examines some of the conditions that led many decorated but disillusioned veterans to such dramatic displays of non-collaboration.

Screening courtesy of Third World Newsreel (TWN).

Free admission.