F.I.L.M. Series

Scott MacDonald

Fall 2014 Schedule

Unless otherwise indicated, events are scheduled for Sunday afternoons at 2:00 in the Bradford Auditorium—Room 125, in the Kirner-Johnson Building


9/21: John Paul Sniadecki, in person, with The Iron Ministry

F.I.L.M.’s old friend J. P. Sniadecki returns to Hamilton with his brand-new film, The Iron Ministry, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival this past August and will have its official American premiere at the New York Film Festival in October. A veteran of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (he is now teaching filmmaking at Cornell University), Sniadecki has visited Hamilton three times, first with Songhua (2007), then with Foreign Parts (2010, co-made with Véréna Paravel) and again, in 2013, with People’s Park (2012, co-made with Libbie Cohn).

Iron Ministry is the official name of the Chinese national railroad system, which Sniadecki has traveled for many years, filming on many different trains in a wide variety of situations. He’s ready to take us on a journey through time and across China. The train boards at 2:00, don’t be late!


9/28: A Benshi Event with benshi Ichiro Kataoka, composer Gabriel Thibaudeau and musicians from Japan, Canada, and France.

During the silent era, Japanese films were often accompanied not only by music, but by “benshi performers,” who lectured, narrated, and performed dialogue alongside films in movie theaters. For years, Hamilton’s Professor Kyoko Omori has been researching the benshi phenomenon, and today will present a two-part “benshi event.”

First, Ichiro Kataoka, Gabriel Thibaudeau, and the assembled musicians will perform a couple of scenes from their accompaniment-in-progress for Buntarō Futagawa’s Orochi (1925), a short Japanese feature, starring Tsumasaburō Bandō, famous for its influential samurai fight sequences.

After an intermission, Omori will present a short documentary made by Hamilton students and faculty about ESL students at Utica’s Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, taking English/Art classes at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. The screening will be accompanied by Hamilton students’ benshi narration and music provided by the international ensemble.


10/12: Josh Fox, in person, with Gasland II (2014)

If you’ve seen a home-owner lighting his water spigot on fire, you’ve been impacted by Josh Fox’s filmmaking. A political-activist, Fox played a role in building the resistance to hydraulic fracturing in Gasland, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and continues to update his concern about the environmental impacts of fracking.

The expansion of the shale gas industry in the wake of the G. W. Bush administration’s deregulation of big oil and President Obama’s confirmation of Bush/Cheney’s claim that shale gas extraction will make the US “energy independent” has made fracking the most crucial environmental issue facing New York State, which has not yet allowed the fracking industry to gain a foothold. Gasland II is one man’s understanding of the various reasons why he believes New York State is on the right side of this issue.

This event is co-sponsored by Environmental Studies.


10/26: Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra, with films by Ken Brown

Between 1966 and 1969 Ken Brown produced motion-picture imagery to be projected with the Road Show Light Show at the Boston Teaparty, the Boston area’s premiere rock club at the time. The films illuminated the stage for Jimi Hendrix, BB King, and The Grateful Dead.

Brown’s remarkable imagery (for a sample see vimeo.com/93166266) has been revived by Ken Winokur (of the Alloy Orchestra) and his colleagues Jonathan LaMaster (Cul de Sac) and Dana Coley (Morphine), who have designed a brand new soundtrack for Brown’s work. A cine-feast for the eye and ear.

A cine-feast for the eye and ear, and a window on another time.


11/2: Scott MacDonald presents Eyal Sivan’s The Specialist (1999)

On April 11, 1961, Adolf Eichman went on trial in Jerusalem for his role in the Holocaust. The trial lasted the better part of a year, and was broadcast on TV—many bought televisions for the first time to follow the trial. Inspired by Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem; A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), a book based on Arendt’s controversial New Yorker articles on the trial, Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan decided to research the video records of the trial and was the first person in 37 years to see the coverage of Eichmann during the trial (the television broadcast focused almost entirely on survivor stories).

In The Specialist, the focus is not on victims but on an important perpetrator as he responds to the charges against him. Sivan: “My point in focusing on Eichmann was to break with the conventional way Nazis are portrayed. . .the Hollywood image of the Nazi may be the biggest success of Leni Riefenstahl and the Nazis.” An edited transcript of a recent discussion with Sivan about The Specialist at the 2013 Flaherty Film Seminar will be available at the screening. 128 minutes.


11/16: Carolee Schneemann and Marielle Nitoslawska, with Breaking the Frame (2013)

Canadian filmmaker and cinematographer, Marielle Nitoslawska has made a film with and about pioneering painter, performance artist, body artist, collagist, installation artist, book artist and filmmaker Carolee Schneemann (Fuses, 1967), who has been “breaking frames” and shattering taboos for half a century. Schneemann work has been strong enough to survive both patronizing film critics and puritanical feminists during the 1960s and 1970s, to become recognized as one of the canonical contibution to the visual arts.

After receiving an MFA in cinematography, Nitoslawska remained in Poland for ten years, filming the upheavals that led to the fall of Poland’s communist government. In more recent years she has made a variety of documentaries and cine-essays and has shot for many directors; she teaches film production at Concordia University in Montreal, where she is an award-winning teacher. 

Thanks to the Kirkland Endowment for supporting this event.


12/4 (Thursday, 7 p.m.): Lucia Small with One Cut, One Life (2014)

When filmmaker Ed Pincus discovered in 2012 that he had a virulent form of leukemia (in addition to Parkinson’s), he did what he always did in order to face up to challenge: he committed himself to the making of a film. Pincus first made a name for himself with Black Natchez (1967), an observational documentary about the struggle within the Mississippi civil rights movement for an effective strategy to combat American apartheid; then, with a pioneering personal documentary, Diaries (1971-1976) (1980), about his open marriage with Jane Pincus (one of the founding members of the Our Bodies Ourselves Collective). Diaries inspired a generation of filmmakers.

In One Cut, One Life Lucia Small and Pincus explore the complexities of family and the difficulties and excitements of being creative artists as mortality looms.

Black Natchez will be shown in Scott MacDonald’s History of Documentary class on 9/30 (Tuesday) at 2:30; Diaries (1971-1976) will be screened on 11/3 (Monday) at 7:00. You are welcome to join the class for these screenings.