Anthology Film Archives

OCTOBER 21-27

Please scroll all the way down to see all of the offerings we have this week!

HAM ON RYE
Tyler Taormina's HAM ON RYE (2019, 85 min), a coming-of-age comedy centered on the nervous excitement of youth and the strange horror of entering adulthood, boasts an expansive ensemble of over one hundred performers, including non-actors, musicians, 90s Nickelodeon child stars, and more, to explore a suburban community’s relationship with a prom-like ritual and the decay of the human spirit. It begins with the crowd-pleasing spirit of a John Hughes movie and fades slowly into an off-kilter dystopia with the energy of DAZED AND CONFUSED.

“Part coming-of-age film, part suburban fever dream, HAM ON RYE is a charming and pleasantly strange amalgam of half-forgotten childhood memories. Reflecting an adolescence spent immersed in 1990s TV culture and a more recent engagement with the international art-house pantheon, Taormina’s shape-shifting debut performs a clever sleight of hand, coming on like a slightly surreal teen comedy in the vein of early Richard Linklater before segueing into something far stranger. […] Taormina, working with co-writer Eric Berger, displays a keen understanding of this milieu, drawing on his own experiences growing up in Long Island, as well as his background in music (he currently fronts the Los Angeles indie rock band Cloud) and developing kids’ television shows. Those two very different interests inform the 28-year-old filmmaker’s first feature in unique ways and help it stand apart from the typical teen angst parable.” –Jordan Cronk, FILM COMMENT

“[In HAM ON RYE], things get strange, with an element that may or may not be science-fictional, a sidelong glance at the town’s class politics, and a vision of desolation and loneliness, of a quiet headlong leap into the void of the future, that…has the uncanny echo of a disturbing real-life dream.” –Richard Brody, NEW YORKER

HAM ON RYE is available here, for a streaming rental fee of $10.

The streaming rental also includes access to two pre-recorded Q&As with director Tyler Taormina, one moderated by actor Michael Cera (and including co-writer Eric Berger), the other by filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa.

  THIS IS NOT A MOVIE: ROBERT FISK AND THE POLITICS OF TRUTH
For more than 40 years, journalist Robert Fisk has reported on some of the most violent and divisive conflicts in the world. The latest film by Yung Chang (director of the acclaimed documentary UP THE YANGTZE among many other works), THIS IS NOT A MOVIE (2019, 106 min) captures Fisk in action – feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions. The process of translating raw experience into incisive and passionate dispatches requires the determination to see things first-hand and the tenacity to say what others won’t. In his relentless pursuit of the facts, Fisk has attracted his share of controversy. But in spite of the danger, he has continued to cover stories as they unfold, talking directly to the people involved. In an era of fake news, when journalists are dubbed “the enemies of the people,” Fisk’s resolve to document reality has become an obsessive war to speak the truth.

“Fisk is a fiery dialectician with the demeanor of a benign grandpa, arguing on behalf of nuance in both syntax and reportage, and against the ‘de-semanticization of war’ – the most egregious example being the post-9/11 tendency of journalists to reduce everything to ‘terror’ and ‘evil,’ ‘clashed’ instead of ‘killed,’ ‘settlements’ instead of ‘colonies,’ and so on. Given recent hand-wringing at The New York Times over the editors’ obsession with using bywords to avoid stating the plainly obvious – whether it’s a refugee crisis, yet another young black man murdered by racist cops or, indeed, the 44th President’s full-tilt-boogie embrace of white supremacists – Chang’s film arrives at a fortuitous time.” –Steve Macfarlane, CINEMA SCOPE

THIS IS NOT A MOVIE is available here, for a streaming rental fee of $10. AFA Members can watch for a discounted price of $8; members, please email hannah@anthologyfilmarchives.org for the discount code.

HOME TRUTHS: FILMS ABOUT HOUSING RIGHTS, DISPLACEMENT, AND THE MEANING OF HOME
One of the issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp (and dire) relief in recent months is that of housing rights. The precariousness of the lives of millions upon millions of city dwellers has been revealed more starkly than ever by a global pandemic that has rendered the struggle to keep a roof over one’s head catastrophically widespread.

Anthology’s online film series “Home Truths” will highlight a variety of films past and present that have dramatized the plight of those who lack safe and secure housing, that have unveiled the structural and economic forces underlying this crisis, and that have chronicled the efforts of activists to make change. At their best, these films bring into relief the vital importance of “home” as a source of emotional, psychological, and cultural meaning in people’s lives – and hence displacement as a force that robs people not only of the roof over their heads, but also – perhaps even more destructively – of their sense of their own identities, their individual and communal histories, and of their culture. 

The series, which began on September 16, will continue in its present form through November 3 (and will then be revived later in the fall, as other titles become available). The films that are currently available are as follows:

Nick Broomfield’s WHO CARES (1971, 18 min) and BEHIND THE RENT STRIKE (1974, 50 min) ($6 streaming rental fee for both films)
Sidney Sokhona’s NATIONALITY: IMMIGRANT / NATIONALITÉ IMMIGRÉ (1975, 70 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
Béla Tarr’s FAMILY NEST / CSALÁDI TÜZFÉSZEK (1979, 108 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
Richard Broadman’s MISSION HILL AND THE MIRACLE OF BOSTON (1978, 60 min) and DOWN THE PROJECT: THE CRISIS OF PUBLIC HOUSING (1982, 60 min) ($5.95 streaming rental fee per film)
Tami Gold & Steve Krinsky’s TECHOS Y DERECHOS (1988, 21 min) (streaming for free!)
Frederick Wiseman’s PUBLIC HOUSING (1997, 195 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
Patrick Keiller’s THE DILAPIDATED DWELLING (2000, 78 min) (streaming for free!)
Shawn Batey’s CHANGING FACE OF HARLEM (2014, 62 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s ESTATE, A REVERIE (2015, 83 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
David Schalliol’s THE AREA (2018, 93 min) ($6 streaming rental fee)
Ayo Akingbade’s STREET 66 (2018, 14 min) (streaming for free!)

Coming soon!:
From November 18-24, we’ll present an encore presentation of the program, “We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media: Turf.” Curated by Louis Massiah (Scribe Video Center) and Patricia R. Zimmermann (Ithaca College), with research and archival assistance from XFR Collective, the touring series “We Tell,” which Anthology hosted last December, chronicled the hidden histories of place-based documentaries that situate their collaborative practices in specific locales, communities, and needs for social and political change. “Turf” showcased works that dig out the complexities and politics of gentrification, homelessness, housing, and the significance of urban spaces for democratic participation. And so it makes perfect sense to bring the program back in the context of “Home Truths.” Access info will be available soon!

Full details for the series, including descriptions of upcoming titles, are available here.

“Home Truths” is presented in association with Shelterforce. An independent, non-profit publication that began in 1975 as a “how-to” magazine for tenant activists, Shelterforce covers the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization. For more info, visit https://shelterforce.org/.

For an invaluable list of Housing & Tenants Rights resources, visit this page on the New York Public Library’s website.

CULTURE VULTURE: STEVE DALACHINSKY ON SCREEN
When Steve Dalachinsky passed away last September, New York City lost not only a gifted poet and artist, but one of those too-often-unheralded figures who contributes to the cultural vitality of a city and a community in ways that can’t be quantified or easily explained. Dalachinsky’s boundless creativity was reflected in his own artistic output – his unending stream of poems, collages, record liner notes, and public performances – but he also fanned the flames of New York’s cultural life by channeling his super-powered energy into countless other people’s work. To say that Steve was a constant presence at music performances, poetry readings, film screenings, and every imaginable avant-garde cultural manifestation would be an understatement. He was a bona fide culture vulture if ever there was one! Through the sheer force of his enthusiasm and charisma, Steve did far more than his share in keeping the avant-garde alive in a changing city, bringing artists and fellow devotees together, forming numerous fertile collaborations, and sharing his (typically wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary) thoughts on the city’s cultural life through his monthly column in the Brooklyn Rail, “Outtakes”.

Steve’s devotion to the realms of poetry and experimental music are more widely acknowledged, but he was every bit as passionate about the cinema. He was a regular visitor to most of the city’s repertory cinemas, none more so than Anthology, where for decades he was one of the most beloved members of our community and a great friend of many of those who have worked at Anthology over the years. And so it’s with great pleasure that – in collaboration with Steve’s wife, poet and painter, frequent collaborator, and fellow traveler, Yuko Otomo – we present this filmic tribute to Steve Dalachinsky, highlighting his all-too-rare but indelible appearances in film and video works by a wide range of filmmakers. Encompassing documentation of Steve’s own performances and readings, short works starring Steve, as well as his guest-appearances and cameos in fictional films and music videos, this series is intended to celebrate Steve’s life and spirit, and to thank him for his untiring dedication to the cinema and to the creative life of New York City and avant-garde culture everywhere.

Last week we added an additional sixth program to the series, showcasing “The Steve Circuit”, an episodic series of videos and digital artwork dedicated to Dalachinsky that was presented this summer by ISSUE Project Room and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Developed by Steve’s wife, painter and poet Yuko Otomo, and interdisciplinary artist Matt Mottel, the project was structured around the locations – arts venues, community gardens, the New York Public Library neighborhood branch, his Spring Street sidewalk store – that comprised Steve’s daily routine. Each of the events presented as part of the project focused on a specific site, and paired videos by Otomo & Mottel with Dalachinsky’s text, recordings, and artwork, with contributions from additional artistic collaborators who were part of the Dalachinsky orbit. The online cultural map and presentation provides a “virtual polaroid snapshot” of Downtown New York’s cultural history.

For the full lineup of Anthology’s series and other details, click here. Five of the six programs are available to stream for free on Anthology’s Vimeo page, while the newly added Program 6 (“The Steve Circuit”) is available here.

SPACE DOGS
(Closing weeks – ends Nov 3)
In another co-presentation with Icarus Films, Anthology hosts the virtual theatrical premiere run of SPACE DOGS (Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter, 2019, 91 min). SPACE DOGS takes as its point of departure the story of Laika, a stray dog picked up by the Soviet space program on the streets of Moscow, who became the first living being to orbit the earth when she was launched into space on Sputnik 2. Although Laika would not survive the journey, directors Kremser and Peter trace the persistence of her memory and legacy into the present day by focusing on the present-day stray dogs of Moscow. Photographed at ground level with wandering, hypnotic camera movements, the strays are seen navigating a city that, seen from their point of view, is rendered as a strange, alien environment. With stunning cinematography and meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, SPACE DOGS is a singular work that de-centers humans in order to uncover a forgotten history.

“Totally unconventional and beyond the anthropocentric gaze, SPACE DOGS is the visionary work of someone who, at the end of History, attempts to rethink it by inventing new canons. The shifting point of view, from essential images of the past to the weight of legend and the violence of the present, sets out a new limit for asking ourselves not just about our role as spectators but also as agents of progress.” –Daniela Persico, LOCARNO

[Be forewarned, SPACE DOGS contains documentary footage that some viewers may find upsetting.]

SPACE DOGS can be pre-ordered for streaming rental by clicking here. The streaming rental fee is $12, but AFA Members can watch for a discounted price of $8; members, please email hannah@anthologyfilmarchives.org for the discount code.

Directors Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter will take part in a virtual Q&A tonight, Wednesday, October 7 at 5pm EDT; access details are available here!

Our Vimeo page continues to showcase works by Ken Jacobs & Jonas Mekas. In May Anthology collaborated with Screen Slate to premiere a brand-new work by Ken Jacobs, MOVIE THAT INVITES PAUSING (2020, 24 min, digital), and the film remains available for viewing free of charge! (As a special bonus, click here for an interview between Ken Jacobs and his son – and fellow filmmaker – Azazel Jacobs.) And several of Jonas’s films are available as well, including CORRESPONDENCE JONAS MEKAS – J.L. GUERÍN (2011, 100 min), which was commissioned by the Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona (CCCB), as part of its “Correspondence(s)” project, in which filmmakers were paired together to exchange filmic “letters”. CORRESPONDENCE JONAS MEKAS – J.L. GUERÍN is available for the low, low price of $1! Other Jonas films on our Vimeo page – all available for free – include SELF-PORTRAIT (1980, 20 min), RE: MACIUNAS AND FLUXUS (2011, 93 min), KEEP SINGING (2011, 82 min), and HAPPY EASTER RIDE (2012). And Jonas’s classic works WALDEN and LOST LOST LOST are available for online rental via Kino Lorber’s KinoNow service. The films can be streamed for $9 each, with 50% of the rental income going to Anthology, to help us weather our closure. To access both films, click here.

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Coming soon:

William Greaves’s NATIONTIME (1972)
Virtual theatrical engagement begins Wed, Oct 28!

Best known for his avant-garde meta-documentary SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM, William Greaves (1926-2014) was also the director of over 100 documentary films, the majority focused on African-American history, politics, and culture. NATIONTIME is a report on the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana, in 1972, a historic event that gathered black voices from across the political spectrum, among them Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Coretta Scott King, Richard Hatcher, Amiri Baraka, Charles Diggs, and H. Carl McCall. Narrated by Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, the film was considered too militant for television broadcast at the time and has since circulated only in an edited 58-minute version. This new 4K restoration from IndieCollect, with funding from Jane Fonda and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, returns the film to its original 80-minute length and visual quality.

Taiwan B-Movies
6-film series begins Nov 11!

This series shines a spotlight on a realm of Taiwanese cinema that has been largely overlooked abroad: the down-and-dirty genre films that proliferated in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and which marked a sharp break from the more staid and respectable Taiwanese cinema that had dominated the country’s screens up to that point. That these films are not better known abroad is due in large part to how potent and gleefully disreputable they are. Reflecting the politically and socially tumultuous events of the era, they represent an eruption onto the screen of elements of Taiwanese society that had formerly been banished, from organized crime and prostitution to the prison system and governmental corruption.

Co-organized by the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (TFAI) and Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, “Taiwan B-Movies” showcases five representative films from the period, as well as the 2005 documentary TAIWAN BLACK MOVIES, which went a long way towards re-focusing attention on this realm of Taiwanese cinema, and encompasses glimpses of several lost films.

 

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Anthology Recommends
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In addition to Anthology’s own online programming initiatives, we heartily recommend the following streaming options that are available throughout the digital realm:

• While Anthology’s comprehensive Michael Snow retrospective (intended to take place this past April) remains on indefinite hold thanks to the pandemic, we do have enormously exciting Snow-related news to share: this week brings the publication – by Light Industry and Primary Information – of a facsimile edition of Snow’s extraordinary (and long out-of-print) artist’s book Cover to Cover. This volume was originally released by the Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1975, as part of a now-legendary series of publications that included titles by Michael Asher, Dara Birnbaum, Jenny Holzer, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, Martha Rosler, and Yvonne Rainer, among others. Snow departed from the format of many of the press’ projects, however, producing not a collection of writings, but rather a book that constitutes an artwork in itself. Never bound by discipline, Snow has remarked that his sculptures were made by a musician, his films by a painter. Flipping through Cover to Cover, which is composed entirely of photographs in narrative sequence, one might describe it as a book made by a filmmaker. Snow himself has called the piece “a quasi-movie,” structured around a precise recto-verso montage. Visit the Publications page on Light Industry’s website to learn more and to purchase the book.

• Ken Jacobs has posted the entirety of his magnum opus, STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH (1956-60/2003-04, 435 min), to his Vimeo page, where it can be streamed for free! In Ken’s own words, STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH “pictures a stolen and dangerously sold-out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Racial and religious insanity, monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war oppose a Beat playfulness.” And critic J. Hoberman has described the film as “a [seven-plus-hour] assemblage of found audio-visual material ranging from political campaign films to animated cartoons to children’s phonograph records, interwoven with gloriously eccentric original footage shot mainly on the streets (and in the dumps) of late-50s New York. […] The movie is a vast, ironic pageant of 20th-century American history and consciousness. Fantastic street theater alternates with classroom hygiene films or dated studies of behavioral modification; Jacobs’s performers, notably the young Jack Smith, hobnob with Mickey Mouse, Al Jolson, and American presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush. Obsession overflows as Jacobs’s private mythology and outspoken cultural criticism merge with relentless documentation of America’s ongoing military mobilization and institutionalized racism.”

The full work is available in 4 parts (plus a new intro text) on Ken’s Vimeo page.

• CINEMA-19
Commissioned by filmmakers Usama Alshaibi and Adam Sekuler, CINEMA-19 is a collection of 190-second short films created in response to COVID-19. With new works by Sarah Ema Friedland, Matt McCormick, Kalpana Subramanian, Christin Turner, Mila Zuo, William Brown, Kelly Gallagher, Lori Felker, Courtney Stephens, Scott Cummings, Amir George, Eman Akram Nader, Alex Megaro, Mehrnaz Saeedvafa, as well as Usama Alshaibi and Adam Sekuler, the films in CINEMA-19 offer an impressive volume of imagination and resourcefulness in the face of the crisis. The works in CINEMA-19 do not attempt to summarize the pandemic, but instead focus on the personal, the political, the sensual, the distant, the abstract, and the absurd. The program will remain online throughout the fall. Click here to watch for free!

As a special bonus, Kathleen Sachs of Cine-File moderated an online Q&A with the filmmakers on August 22. A recording of that Q&A is available here.

• In partnership with Art House Convergence, the curated streaming service MUBI continues to offer 3 months of free streaming access to Anthology’s Members. Members, we sent an email in the spring with instructions for accessing this deal; if you didn’t receive or can’t find that message (and haven't already signed up with MUBI), contact hannah@anthologyfilmarchives.org. And if you’re not already a Member, consider becoming one now!

Mad. Sq. Artists Respond: Since 2004, Madison Square Park Conservancy has commissioned distinguished artists to realize public art on the 6.2 acre site in New York. Over the course of the spring and summer, Mad. Sq. Art invited their alumni artists to record their thoughts during the pandemic. Each week, a selected artist – including Anthology favorites and collaborators like Ernie Gehr, Josiah McElheny, Shannon Plumb, and others – created a short video in which they reflected on studio life during this anxious period, relayed a message they wanted to share, or considered the state of art now. The project has come to a close, but the videos are still available to be viewed on the Madison Square Park website.

Essential Cinema on the web: Though we can’t screen our Essential Cinema prints for the time being, we’re happy to share a truly invaluable resource relating to one important Essential Cinema filmmaker: Dziga Vertov. The Austrian Film Museum has demonstrated a particular devotion to collecting and preserving Vertov materials since the mid-1960s, and over the course of the past 15 years they’ve redoubled their efforts. One of the manifestations of this project is a website – Collection Dziga Vertov – showcasing a veritable embarrassment of Vertov-ian riches – everything from writings, photographs, posters, correspondence, and other documentation, to films that can be streamed in their entirety. In the Film Museum’s own words, “These activities aim at creating a network of – and for – international scholars, historians and curators, giving access to as many primary and secondary sources as possible in the interest of furthering and deepening the legacy of Dziga Vertov.”

In particular, we’d like to call your attention to the sections of the Collection Dziga Vertov devoted to Vertov’s two newsreel series: KINONEDELJA (KINO-WEEK) and KINO-PRAVDA (KINO-TRUTH). Though Anthology screens our 35mm prints of Vertov’s feature films annually as part of the Essential Cinema cycle, our own collection includes only selections from the newsreel series (which are also intended to be part of the Essential Cinema), and so we have not been able to screen these works. As part of its Vertov project, however, the Austrian Film Museum has digitized and made freely available the entirety of their Vertov newsreel holdings, comprising 14 of the KINONEDELJA films (supplemented with additional issues and fragments from the Danish Film Institute and the Swedish Film Institute), and all 22 of the surviving issues of KINO-PRAVDA. To begin accessing this extraordinary resource, click here.

• Anthology’s restoration of Lizzie Borden’s BORN IN FLAMES (1983, 85 min) is currently available for streaming via the Criterion Channel. A landmark of early 1980s American independent cinema, BORN IN FLAMES is figuratively and literally an all-out attack on our patriarchal society, a call to arms for women everywhere. This Molotov cocktail of a film became an instant classic of feminist cinema upon its premiere at the 1983 Berlin Film Festival. An unlikely underground breakout that received widespread attention and commercial distribution, it is a film whose impact has never waned. Featuring performances from Kathryn Bigelow, Adele Bertei, and Ron Vawter, and a fantastic theme song by The Red Krayola, BORN IN FLAMES examines the extremist agendas of two different feminist groups as they strategize, debate, take up arms, and form a true Women’s Army. With support from the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Anthology was able to create a pristine restoration that is a vast improvement on older exhibition copies.

• Several of the films on our list of recommended films about police brutality and civil rights are currently streaming for free, including BLACK AND BLUE (Hugh King & Lamar Williams, 1987), which chronicles the impassioned community response to decades of deadly force against people of color by members of the Philadelphia police force; Ava DuVernay’s exposé of mass incarceration in the U.S., 13th (2016); STAY WOKE: THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT (Laurens Grant, 2016); and the great playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith’s TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES (Marc Levin, 2000), a film version of Smith’s one-woman theatrical production in which she embodies numerous witnesses to the 1992 riots that resulted from the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King.

• One of Anthology’s favorite filmmakers, Danny Lyon – the subject of AFA retrospectives in 2008 and 2019, and whose film DEAR MARK we preserved in 2012 – has made the majority of his films available on his website for free! One of the finest and most enterprising of American photographers, and the author of such iconic photo-books as THE BIKERIDERS and THE DESTRUCTION OF LOWER MANHATTAN, Lyon has long devoted himself to chronicling some of the most marginalized and little-understood of American subcultures, from bikers in the Midwest and prison inmates in Texas, to Native-American communities throughout the U.S. His still under-recognized body of film work includes the extraordinary “New Mexico trilogy,” the powerful immigration-themed films EL MOJADO (1974) and EL OTRO LADO (1978), and his trilogy of family films (BORN TO FILM, TWO FATHERS, and the recent CHILDHOOD)

• Our longtime partner and supporter Cinema Tropical has launched the streaming initiatives Tropical on Demand (featuring a selection of films for streaming rental or purchase) and Daily Recommendations (gathering numerous films that are available for free!).

• “Henri” is an initiative launched by the Cinémathèque française. “Henri” features an embarrassment of riches from the Cinémathèque’s collection, including works by Anthology favorites such as Jean Epstein and Pierre Clémenti, all available for free streaming! New titles are added on a regular basis, so if you haven’t visited the site lately, we highly recommend doing so.