Anthology Film Archives


December 16 – December 23

Although an entity called ‘anarchist cinema’ is almost impossible to define, anarchists with an interest in film have long been preoccupied with two interrelated strands: historical films that excavate a submerged anarchist history and films that synthesize an anti-authoritarian political impetus with innovative formal strategies. In this series, Jean Vigo’s ZERO FOR CONDUCT perhaps best embodies the latter tendency. In addition, Peter Watkins’s LA COMMUNE (PARIS, 1871) merges a powerful chronicle of the Paris Commune’s anti-hierarchical legacy with a similarly egalitarian effort to democratize the film’s casting and production process. Other major directors adopt their idiosyncratic perspectives to matters of anarchist import: Alain Tanner’s CHARLES: DEAD OR ALIVE combines the director’s characteristic brand of playful leftism with an awareness of Switzerland’s anarcho-syndicalist tradition while Pere Portabella’s clandestinely shot EL SOPAR is a rigorous response to the execution of anarchist militant Salvador Puig Antich, the same man whose fate inspired Joan Miró’s famous painting, “The Hope of a Condemned Man”. Yvonne Rainer’s JOURNEYS FROM BERLIN/1971 and Lizzie Borden’s BORN IN FLAMES crystallize many of the concerns of both the burgeoning Anarcha-feminism of the 1980s and motifs popular with that era’s experimental filmmakers.

Since a pedagogical imperative has always been an important component of anarchist theory and practice, many of the films in this series are especially intent on shedding light on little-known or misunderstood historical events – whether biopics or documentaries exploring the lives of heroes and martyrs (e.g., Giuliano Montaldo’s SACCO AND VANZETTI; LIVING ON YOUR FEET, which profiles Cipriano Mera, an anarchist ‘general’ of the Spanish Revolution) or documentaries focusing on contemporary events (e.g., Razsa and Velez’s BASTARDS OF UTOPIA). Želimir Žilnik’s THE OLD SCHOOL OF CAPITALISM (a NY premiere) is both a mordantly funny example of anarchist pedagogy in the age of globalization and a film that inventively blends fictional and documentary elements with great finesse.

Organized in collaboration with Richard Porton, author of FILM AND THE ANARCHIST IMAGINATION (Verso), who will be here to introduce selected screenings. The series is co-presented by Cineaste Magazine,

--BASTARDS OF UTOPIA co-director Pacho Velez will be here in person for both screenings.
--Annette Michelson will be here to introduce the screening of JOURNEYS FROM BERLIN/1971 on Sunday, December 18.
--Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher will be here for the Evening with Pacific Street Films on Thursday, December 22.

Special thanks to Richard Porton, Steven Fischler & Joel Sucher, Pere Portabella, Maple Razsa & Pacho Velez, Martin Scorsese, Želimir Žilnik, Kitty Cleary (MoMA), Helena Goma (Films 59), Jonathan Howell & Cindi Rowell (New Yorker Films), Paul Marchant (First Run Features), Sarita Matijevic (Playground produkcija), Mark McElhatten (Sikelia), Jonathan Miller & Livia Bloom (Icarus Films), and Daniel Wagner & Daniel Bish (George Eastman House).

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