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A Windy City: Songs of Dissent and Unrest

January 21, 2016 at 7pm

Michelle Puetz, the Block Museum’s new Curator of Media Arts, presents and discusses a selection of her personal favorites from the Chicago Film Archives. This program of five short works (including one made by documentary filmmaker and Kartemquin associate Peter Kuttner while he was an undergraduate at Northwestern), focuses on the turbulent period of the 1960s. In unique and non-commercial forms, these films address the political turmoil, class segregation, and racial struggle of this decade, and give voice to the experiences of everyday Chicagoans during the era of the Vietnam War. (Description courtesy of Block Cinema.)

Program Lineup:

Cause Without a Rebel (1965) Directed by Peter Kuttner, 16mm, 9 min.
Funded by the Northwestern University Film Society, this experimental documentary is an exploration of political apathy amongst college students during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Social Confrontation: The Battle of Michigan Ave. (1968) Produced by the Film Group, 16mm, 11 min.
Social Confrontation captures the havoc of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention firsthand. The Film Group, a Chicago-based production company set up to create industrial films and ads, found a new purpose in late August 1968. On a lunch break from shooting a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial, founding member Mike Gray and his crew were shocked by police violence on the very streets where they lived and worked. Radicalized, they filmed the chaos. Social Confrontation juxtaposes the events inside the convention hall with those on the streets, connecting the brutality of police with the oppressive tactics of the Democratic leaders.

Cicero March (1966) Produced by the Film Group, 16mm, 8 min.
Robert Lucas, an unemployed African American postal worker, lead 300 marchers across the city line and into Cicero, Illinois. “For an instant,” the Film Group wrote, “the attention of the country is focused on the incredible hysteria created by the sight of blacks marching down the main street of an all-white middle-class northern city.” Shot in blunt cinema verité style, Cicero March is raw and relentless, showing the emotional confrontation between marchers and protesters, separated only by a thin line of police and erupting from time to time into scuffles, screams and jibes.

Super Up (1966) Directed by Kenji Kanesaka, 16mm transferred to digital, 13 min.
Kenji Kanesaka, one of the founding members of the “Film Independent” group and the Japan Filmmakers Co-op in Tokyo, was commissioned by Chicago producer Marv Gold to direct Super Up in 1965. The film is an exceptional and striking critique of 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.

Nightsong (1964) Directed by Don Klugman, 16mm, 22 min.
A portrait of the Chicago Near-North nightlife scene in the mid-1960s, centering around the struggles and romantic desires of an African American singer played by long-forgotten folk sensation Willie Wright.

Total program running time: approximately 80 minutes.

Preceded by a reception in the main lobby.


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