F.I.L.M. Series

Scott MacDonald

Fall 2013 Schedule

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

9/29:  Penny Lane, in person, with Our Nixon (2013)

During the Nixon presidency, three of his top White House aides—John Ehrlichman, H. R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin—documented their experiences with Super-8mm home-movie cameras from 1969 to 1973. Young, idealistic and dedicated, they couldn’t have imagined that a few years later they’d be in prison. Inadvertently they provided us with a window into a turbulent moment in American history.

“This ingenious documentary…honors Nixon’s peculiar place in the American psyche, rendering the pathos and villainy of the era in a comic, intimate way”—A. O. Scott, New York Times.  Event co-sponsored by the Kirkland Endowment.


10/13:  The Act of Killing (2012) by Joshua Oppenheimer. Screening followed by discussion with professors Lawrence Chua and Scott MacDonald

This chilling, powerful, controversial and award-winning documentary confronts one of the most horrendous crimes of the 20th Century: the murder of hundreds of thousands of alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals during the year after Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president and the leader of a national revolution against Dutch colonialism, was deposed by General Suharto. Oppenheimer interviews the men responsible, who reenact their crimes for the film. “You’ve never seen anything like this”—Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle. 159 minutes plus optional discussion.

10/27:  Lucien Castaing-Taylor, in person, with Leviathan (2012)

Leviathan is a category-confounding feature—an “avant-doc”—that is, on one hand, a riveting documentary about the sensory world of commercial fishing out of New Bedford, Massachusetts; and is at the same time, a virtually hallucinatory experiment.” Co-produced and shot by Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel (Foreign Parts), Leviathan “looks and sounds like no other documentary in memory…filmmaking at its most immersive—Dennis Lim, New York Times. This Leviathan may swallow you up! Castaing-Taylor is the director of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. 90 minutes.

10/30 (Wednesday: 7:00 p.m.) Bernard Dew, in person, with selected adaptations of Ezra Pound poems

Emergency-room physician in Toronto by day (and night), Bernard Dew also has an aesthetic calling and artistic gift: he is a devotee of experimental poetry, and Ezra Pound in particular, and is fascinated with avant-garde film, especially the work of Stan Brakhage. In recent years Dew has brought these fascinations together in a series of remarkable cinematic adaptations of selections from Pound’s epic Cantos. This evening, Professor Steven Yao will join with Dew to discuss Pound and present Dew’s films.

Event co-sponsored by the English and Creative Writing Department.

11/3 (1:00):  David Gatten, in person, with The Extravagant Shadows (2012)

Guggenheim Fellow, David Gatten—F.I.L.M.’s first guest—returns to Hamilton to present his first high-definition digital work, an epic cinematic visual poem, described by one critic as “starkly economical in technique but utterly labyrinthine in meaning…. A historical narrative of love separated across space and time is embedded in various codes and correspondences, all of it pocked by ellipsis and obscurity, never unfolding so much as digressing, disclosing, doubling back. The Extravagant Shadows is a curious combination of the language poets and Victorian novels.” 175 minutes.
(Gatten will join Scott MacDonald’s History of Avant-Garde Cinema course on Monday, 11/4, at 1:00 to discuss the film in detail and present other work. All who see the film are invited to join this discussion.)

11/10:  Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, in person, with La Clé des champs (“The Field of Enchantment,” 2011)

Among the most accomplished nature filmmakers in all of film history, Nuridsany and Pérennou brought the nature film back into first-run theaters with their remarkable Microcosmos in 1996. They work for years on each of their films, designing ways of filming nature in-close so that the life forms they record have “the stature of real characters,” living in a strange and fabulous environment.
Nuridsany and Pérennou are making a rare visit to the USA, and their first visit to central New York, to present their newest film, half-narrative/half nature-film (they call it a “natural fiction”) about a young boy’s discovery of the beauty and magic of the natural world. 81 minutes.

11/17:  Peter Hutton, in person, with Three Landscapes (2013)

Ken Burns once called Peter Hutton “a national treasure,” and that he is—one of America’s greatest landscape and cityscape artists. Hutton believes filmmaking should offer viewers “a reprieve” from the distractions of contemporary day-to-day life and a chance to look carefully, deeply, at both the familiar and the exotic. In Three Landscapes, he explores Detroit, the Hudson Valley, and the Afar Depression in Ethiopia (the lowest point in Africa). All of Hutton’s films are gloriously silent. We’ll introduce the new work with a Hutton classic. Total program 75 minutes.


11/21 (Thursday, 7:00):  The Alloy Orchestra accompanies He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Terry Donahue (accordion, musical saw, junk, vocals), Roger Miller (keyboards), and Ken Winokur (clarinet and junk percussion)—“the best in the world at accompanying silent film,” according to Roger Ebert—return to Hamilton with their Wall of Junk and their brand new score for Victor Sjöström’s silent classic (based on the play by Leonid Andreyev), starring the amazing Lon Chaney as a man whose humiliations are beyond epic. This early MGM film may be the strangest story you see this year.  81 minutes.

12/8:  Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, in person, with Manakamana (2013)

Stephanie Spray, veteran of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, returns to Hamilton with her filmmaking partner, Pacho Velez, to show Manakamana, their portrait of modern Hindu pilgrims taking a cable car to visit the Manakamana Temple, the sacred place of the Hindu goddess Bhagwati, in the hope she will grant their wishes. Velez and Spray, who has spent years doing musical and cinematic research in Nepal, offer a fascinating panorama of the goddess’s devotees and an experience of a place few of us will have the opportunity to visit. 118 minutes.