22 - 23 / and 29 - 30 / 10 / 99
Presentation / Screening
cine16 Roadshow / Film program22 / 10 / 1999
from Geoff Alexander
'Choice of films'23 / 10 / 1999
'Humanities and the Educational Film'29 / 10 / 1999
'Astounding Films of Science'30 / 10 / 1999
'Animation in the Educational Film'
Between 1900 and 1990, approximately 103,000 educational films were distributed in the United States. A great number of these were based on historical subjects. Tonight, we'll investigate different approaches, themes, and genres of the historical film.
23 / 10 / 1999 aaa
Humanities and the Educational Film
If any one sub-species of the animal called educational film can be considered to be the fittest, from a longevity perspective, it would have to be the Humanities film. Working within the subject areas of literature, philosophy, and the Arts, many of the films are masterworks that stand the test of time, and will, we feel, be revived and appreciated to a greater extent than ever before, within our lifetimes. Today, they are hidden at best, and at their worst, forgotten and undistributed. The films on tonight's program share the traits of being both great and disturbing, illustrating that beauty and terror are commonly two sides of the same coin. More than any other program in this year's 'cine16 Roadshow;' the individual films presented tonight may be extremely difficult for the viewer to forget.
Discussions in Bioethics: Happy Birthday
Dir.: Jefferson Lewis
14 min (1985)
Producer of remarkable body of work consisting of 159 films for the National Film Board of Canada, Wolf Koenig was described by filmmaker John Spotten as "the most brilliant mind at the Film Board, who could have more original film ideas in thirty seconds than others might have in years". Koenig was born in Dresden in 1927, but his parents moved to Canada in 1937 when it became apparent that life would be unbearable in Nazi Germany. Joining the prestigious Unit B film cooperative in the mid-1950s, he joined with Film Board luminaries such as Roman Kroitor, Colin Low, and Stanley Jackson to participate in some of its most significant films. His work at the Board is catholic in scope and includes involvement in titles such as 'Glenn Gould' (On & Off the Record), 'City of Gold', 'Corral', and his pioneering use of lightweight camera gear for his 'Candid Eye' series of television programs. Koenig's 'Discussion of Bioethics' is a series of eight films dealing with ethical questions faced by scientists, biologists, and medical personnel, as they face situations in which human life is, or could be, at stake. We assume to know the easy answers to issues such as a patient's right to die, abortion, biological warfare, and deciding which of two ill patients will get the one hospital bed, but Koenig's eight directors challenge our beliefs, as we question our formerly smug definition of what social responsibility really is. Director Jefferson Lewis' 'Happy Birthday' is a remarkable drama: broke but happy, the parents of a two year old stage a party. Two older guests show up, with good news about a job offering to the out-of-work chemist father: a job that pays well, working for Uncle Sam. Not a very happy birthday any more, as mom confronts the truth of her husband's lucrative-but-discomforting career path... Silent Snow, Secret Snow
Dir.: Gene Kearny
15 min (1966)
Alienation, angst, and schizophrenia are the themes addressed subtly and powerfully by Kearny in this subtle and unfortunately forgotten masterpiece. From a story by Conrad Aiken story. Canaries to Clydesdales
Dir.: Eugene Boyko
28 min (1977)
We agonized over this choice, as it meant supplanting two other films that were very good in themselves. Ultimately, this film, which is at the same time a vocational film, a Western film, and a business film, was so powerful that it couldn't be ignored. An award winner at two festivals, 'Canaries' is a "day-in-the-life" visit with country veterinarians Vic Demetrick & Reg Maidment as they make their appointed rounds. Think you've seen everything? Trust me, you'll need a strong stomach for this one: castrating a sheep, sawing out a still-born calf, removing porcupine quills from a dog's muzzle, and sticking an arm up a cow's butt are all in a day's work for these two. A fascinating film, not the least of which is the playful personal interaction between these old friends at work. Iran
Dir.: Claude Lelouch
18 min (1971)
Far more than a travelogue with pretty pictures, this little-known film is among the best of its type ever made. 'Iran' consists of spectacular geographical and archaeological footage interspersed with "slice of life" shots, with the best juxtapositional editing we've ever seen. So who paid for the film? We suspect the Shah was involved, judging by the heroic equestrian footage toward the end of the film; one could guess that international dissatisfaction with the excesses of the Pahlevi regime negatively affected the distribution of the film, a shame, because few films treating similar themes are its equal. The musical score by Francis Lai is priceless, with heavy early-70s euro-pop wah-wah guitar. An intriguing, beautifully crafted, and dynamic film, surprisingly moving as well... The Portable Phonograph
Dir.: John Barnes
20 min (1977)
With thousands and thousands of educational films filling the market between 1960 and 1985, it would be difficult to state authoritatively that find any one film that could be called the greatest educational film ever made, but so far this one is at the top of the list. Here, a Debussy piece played by Gieseking becomes the vehicle by which four lovers of the humanities hover together in a cold post-apocalyptic shack of sandbags to mourn weekly over lost art and loves gone by. Barnes, who must be considered among the greatest filmmakers ever to work in the educational world, forcibly illustrates, through flashback sequences and close-up shots, how the humanities --- music, painting, literature, and theatre --- are perhaps the most enriching of all human endeavors. Their ultimate and devastating loss may have never before or since been shown with such terrifying passion. This, Barnes' final film, would have benefited from general theatrical release; if it had, it certainly would have picked up some well-known awards. It one of the most powerful short films ever made, and one which bears as much, if not more, value for adults than children.