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M0nday, March 23, 2015

RUN OF LIFE: The Otolith Group

Babbit_Blast

 

BABBIT RESERVE MINING BLAST - an industrial film from our Jack Behrend Collection –  gets the live soundtrack it deserves at this month’s installment of  Run of Life - an experimental documentary series presented by Chicago’s favorite micro-cinema, the Nightingale.  More info below via Run of Life:

THE RADIANT and PEOPLE TO BE RESEMBLING
by The Otolith Group
Screened in association with LUX

Preceded by BABBIT RESERVE MINING BLAST by Jack Behrend
Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives
With minimalist synth improvisation by Nick Broste, Kent Lambert, and Seth Vanek

Program Details
THE RADIANT(2012, HD video, 64 min)
Commissioned as part of dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012, The Radiant explores the aftermath of March 11, 2011, when the Tohoku earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed many thousands and caused the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan. A film essay burdened by the difficult task of representing the invisible aftermath of nuclear fallout, The Radiant travels through time and space to invoke the historical promises of nuclear energy and the threats of radiation that converge in Japan’s illuminated cities and evacuated villages in the months immediately following the disasters. The Otolith Group’s cinematic document offers glimpses into the shape and presence of an unseen entity and its abstract manifestation through visual phenomena.

PEOPLE TO BE RESEMBLING (2102, HD video, 22min)
People To Be Resembling can be described as a five sided portrait of the methodologies of the post-free jazz, pre-world music trio Codona, founded by multi-instrumentalists Collin Walcott, Don Cherry, and Nana Vasconcelos in 1978. Consisting of stills by renowned photographers Roberto Masotti and Isio Saba, newly filmed and archival footage and original music performed by musician Charles Hayward, People to be Resembling reimagines the poetics of permutation that informed the sonic geography of the first Codona album recorded with ECM in September 1978. People to be Resembling returns to 1978 in order to redream the recording process at Tonstudio Bauer as a meditation upon the relations between visual anthropology, anti-colonial choreography, nuclear annihilation and Weltmusik. In its arrangement of positive and negative with colour and black and white and still and moving imagery, The Otolith Group’s People to Be Resembling stages an experiment in mnemonic cohabitation inspired by the visionary music of Codona.

The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun who live and work in London. During their longstanding collaboration The Group have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials. They explore the moving image, the archive, the sonic and the aural within the gallery context. The work is research based and in particular has focused on the essay film as a form that seeks to look at conditions, events and histories in their most expanded form.

Location:

3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL
go to map

Hours:

7PM

Admissions:

$10

45 years ago….the Chicago Apollo 11 Parade

As Collections Manager at CFA, I love finding connections among our collections, or better yet, finding documentation of the same event spread across various collections. Whenever this happens I admittedly find myself daydreaming of filmmakers crossing paths…possibly chatting with each other, comparing cameras and stocks. 

In the context of our collections, having multiple films shot on the same day of the same subject is a fairly common phenomenon for big and notable public events. Examples of this include the ’33 Chicago World’s Fair, the tumultuous 1968 Democratic Convention, or more generally, rowdy Chicago parades. One of my favorite Chicago “same day” subjects is the Apollo 11 parade, which took place 45 years ago this month (August 13, 1969 to be exact) in downtown Chicago. Thousands gathered to get a glimpse of the first humans on the Moon aka Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, Jr. To celebrate this sapphire anniversary, here are stills and films of the parade found across genres and collections…plus one special guest appearance courtesy of Tom Palazzolo!

Our first example is a social-issue documentary by Dewitt Beall….

LORD THING (DeWitt Beall, 1970, 16mm.; found in CFA’s DeWitt Beall Collection)

This Thursday, CFA is delighted to premiere the 16mm restoration of LORD THING as part of the Gene Siskel Film Center’s 20th annual Black Harvest Film Festival. The film chronicles the genesis and transformation of the Conservative Vice Lords, one of Chicago’s oldest street gangs. In one particular scene, an “LSD” (Lords, Stones & Disciples) coalition marches on city hall during the Apollo 11 parade festivities. Along with LSD protests at various Chicago construction sites, the march took place to encourage the hiring of black youth for city sponsored construction projects. Unlike the other examples highlighted below, LORD THING doesn’t attempt at capturing the astronauts or parade as a whole, but rather keeps it lens tight on the LSD and their colorful berets.

Now from social-issue documentary to unedited B-Roll….

APOLLO 11 PARADE (Rhodes Patterson, 1969, 16mm.; found in CFA’s Rhodes Patterson Collection)

Chicagoan Rhodes Patterson wore many professional and artistic hats during his lifetime; he was a designer, cinematographer, photographer and writer. In the mid 1950s, Patterson started working for the Container Corporation of America (CCA), writing much of their advertising material, designing internal publications, and documenting various aspects of the corporation and its activities. The diverse subject matter and style of Patterson’s films reflect the interconnected communities of industrial and graphic design, commercial and industrial film production, fine art, and architecture in Chicago. Whether made “just for fun,” as documentation, or for commercial purposes, his films reflect his humor, interest in art and design, imagination and creativity. One unedited reel in his collection captures the Apollo 11 parade from various vantage points. Here it is streaming in full below:

+ my favorite shot of the film…a girl with her 8mm camera:

and now from B-Roll to home movie…

ASTRONAUTS PARADE 1969 (Carl Godman, 1969, 8mm.; found in CFA’s Carl L. Godman Collection)

CFA recently acquired the Carl L. Godman Home Movie Collection- a collection of films documenting the Godman family of Chicago and Evanston from the early 1960′s to mid 1970′s. It contains a whopping 95 reels of 8mm film, the majority of which were shot when 8mm Kodachrome was at its most saturated prime – the early to mid 1960′s.  Included among birthday, holiday and vacation films was a single reel documenting the family’s experience at the parade as well as attempts at capturing the famed three – Buzz, Neil and Michael. Stay tuned as we begin to publish streaming films of this exciting new home movie collection on our site. In the meantime, here are stills from the aforementioned reel appropriately titled “Astronauts Parade”:

and now from home movie to educational film…

THE METOOSHOW: “Where Does My Street Go?” (Gordon Weisenborn, c. 1969, 16mm.; found in CFA’s Jack Behrend Collection)

The MeTooShow was a Chicago produced educational program, focusing on children’s interactions and interpretations of the world around them. It was made by Chicago-born Gordon Weisenborn, a prolific director of educational and sponsored films (and creator of a CFA favorite, MURAL MIDWEST METROPOLIS). CFA is lucky to have a handful of Weisenborn titles in our Jack Behrend Collection, including two episodes of the Meetooshow. Unfortunately, though, both episodes are severely color faded. In the show’s  “Where Does My Street Go?” episode, footage of the city and its people are intercut with children at play within the classroom, providing real-world examples of their imaginative play. One of these city scenes features footage of our topic at hand, including shots of the astronauts and a streamer-lined LaSalle Street (pictured below with the show’s opening title card).

and now from educational film to experimental documentary…

YOUR ASTRONAUTS (Tom Palazzolo, 1970, 16mm.; courtesy of  Tom Palazzolo)

Chicago filmmaker (& legend) Tom Palazzolo generously offered us permission to stream his 1970 film YOUR ASTRONAUTS, which captures his distinct and witty perspective of the parade. During a recent phone conversation with Tom, he described the parade as “just one of those electric days.” He found it most intriguing that the majority of the crowd schlepped in from the burbs. To emphasize the strangeness of this suburban takeover, Tom added a soundtrack of cafeteria noise over footage of parade attendees (interpret as you will). Here it is in full courtesy of Tom:

+ one of my favorite shots from the film:

 

For the time being, that’s it for Apollo 11 Parade footage at CFA. We’ll continue to add to this post as we come across any additional footage. And this may be stating the obvious, but loads and loads of photographs and films (especially home movies) of the parade exist outside of our vault. I recommend checking out the Chicago Tribunes collection of photos here (the bunnies!).  

 

Behrend’s ‘Babbit Blast’ to Screen at the Iowa City Doc Film Fest

Next Friday (the 13th..eek!) at 7PM, Patrick Friel will present Jack Behrend’s “Babbit Blast” (1961) as part of the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival’s “Portraiture, Performance, and Industry: The Documentary Fringe and the Avant-Garde” program. Patrick is managing editor of Cine-File Chicago (a weekly Chicago guide to independent and alternative cinema), founder of the White Light Cinema series and festival director of Chicago’s Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival.

“Babbit Blast” was originally a sponsored film Jack made for the Reserve Mining Corporation, who mined Tachonite in the surrounding area. According to Jack, they would ” drill holes 50 feet deep every 10 feet for a quarter of a mile, fill them with explosives and then blow them in a sequence to loosen a huge amount of rock which would be hauled to a rock crusher and made into pellets.” They hired Jack in 1961 to shoot an explosion at high speed (10,000 frames/second) when they presumed that one of their explosives was defective. It took the company two months to set up an explostion, so a lot was riding on Jack to successfully capture it in one go. What resulted were two 16mm. films, one unfortunately color faded and the other (which Patrick is screening) in good shape.

CFA first screened the film back in 2007 as part of “The Big Picture” series at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center (series curated by Michelle Puetz and Andy Uhrich). This was the first time the film was recontextualized as an experimental or “accidental” avant-garde film. The film’s slow motion explosion has meditative qualities that at times resemble a far-distant nebula coming into existence via supernova explosion. We’re super excited that Patrick has chosen Jack’s film for his program, and that he too is placing this film into new frameworks. When I asked Jack if he ever thought this film would be screened as an experimental film, he replied, “No, I would never have thought it would be the least bit interesting to anyone.”

For more information on the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival’s schedule, click here.

& for more information on CFA’s Jack Behrend Collection, click here.

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