We have selected a handful of our favorite Chicago-centric shorts to share with you! From vintage sponsored films to 1950s women’s wrestling, this program highlights the varied (and often delightfully bizarre) scope of CFA’s unique film collections. AND on top of that, we’re even going to throw in a recently commissioned short by Kent Lambert and local neo-Krautrockers CAVE (Drag City) .
This is the first time CFA has teamed up with Catalyst Ranch (a whimsical meeting/event space located in Chicago’s West Loop), and we’re pretty excited about it! This screening is part of CR’s “Local Feature” film series, which highlights the innovative stories and talented filmmakers of Chicago. Did we mention food trucks will be there too?!!!
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1. Pabst Brewing Company “Old Milwaukee” (from the Mort & Millie Goldsholl Collection), Goldsholl Associates, 1964, 16mm., color, sound, 4 min.
A sponsored film made by Morton Goldsholl Associates for Pabst Brewing Company. Morton & Millie Goldsholl ran Morton Goldsholl Associates, one of Chicago’s leading graphic design studios in the 1950s. The studio became recognized for their animations, progressive hiring practices and developing corporate branding packages for various companies. This particular sample gives a taste of the firm’s playful design aesthetic.
2. June Byers vs Penny Banner (from the Russ & Sylvia Davis Collection), 1950s, 16mm., b&w, sound, 14min.
An episode of a syndicated wrestling show shot at Chicago’s International Amphitheatre. Shot live on film with three-camera coverage, it features a witty and entertaining narration from announcer Russ Davis (who always seems to be less enthused to announce a “gals match” over a men’s match). This one-fall bout features the then world’s women’s wrestling champion, June Byers, versus the platinum blonde Penny Banner. Fringe and sequence abound!
3. Air Traffic Controller (from the Harry Mantel Collection), 1970s, 16mm., color, sound, 2 min.
A short film made by Harry Mantel that documents the chaotic air traffic control tower at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Harry Mantel (1923-2007) was a Chicago cameraman, producer, and journalist. This title is part of Mantel’s series “Vignettes,” which was funded in part by Encyclopedia Britannica for television broadcast.
4. The New World of Stainless Steel (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), Made by Wilding Studios for Republic Steel, 1960, 16mm., color, sound, 15 min.
Originally found in a film can labeled “Iran,” The New World of Stainless Steel is a wonderful example of the industrial film genre that flourished with the creation of 16mm film gauge. Chicago’s Wilding Picture Productions provides us with an introduction to the wonders of stainless steel in all of its various forms and applications.
5. Mister E (from the Margaret Conneely Collection), Margaret Conneely, 1960, 16mm. (preservation print struck in 2007!), color, sound, 11min.
Chicago movie-maker Margaret Conneely (1915-2007) was active in amateur filmmaking both locally and internationally for nearly half a century. Her domestic “black comedy,” Mister E, expresses some of the edgier mischief and discontent that women of the 1950s could rarely express openly. This short film narrates the revenge acted out by a young wife, left at home while her husband is at a card game; by staging a rendezvous with a mannequin, this woman provokes an eruption of jealousy and violence before bringing about the desired marital tenderness. Thanks to the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, this film (along with two other Conneely shorts) were preserved back in 2007.
6. Chicago World’s Fair 1933 (from the David Gray Collection), 1933, DVD projection, b&w, silent, 6min.
A home movie of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair in all its troubled splendor. Highlights include an animatronic tyrannosaurus rex, that crazy Radio Flyer sculpture and a building titled “Infant Incubators – with living babies.”
7. Super Up (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), Kenji Kanesaka, 1966, DVD projection, color, sound, 13min.
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.
8. Close to You by the Carpenters (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 1971, DVD projection, color, sound, 5 min.
A Chicago high school student’s take on a 1970 Carpenters’ classic. This stop-animation film went onto win an award from the “Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival” back in 1971. CFA has 14 other Young Chicago Filmmakers Festival award winners from the years 1971-1974. All reside in the Chicago Public Library Collection.
9. UNTITLED, Kent Lambert & CAVE, DVD projection, color/B&W, sound, 5 min.
As part of our recent fundraiser, CFA MEDIA MIXER, we asked 3 local video artists and 3 musicians to team up and create 3 video pieces made up of CFA footage. This “strobe-tastic” video is the result of one of those collaborations.