cine16 Roadshow

22 - 23 / and 29 - 30 / 10 / 99
Presentation / Screening

cine16 Roadshow / Film program
from Geoff Alexander

22 / 10 / 1999
'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.

cine16 roadshow

29 / 10 / 1999 aaa

Astounding Films of Science
The most significant era of the American educational film, from a cinematic perspective, began with the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957. This event caused massive ripples throughout Washington, as the need to overcome the 'Communists' perceived superiority in math and science forced the U.S. government to begin funding educational programs that would, it was hoped, soon give the United States a competitive edge educationally and militarily. Billions of dollars were given to schools for the purpose of educational materials, much of which ended up in the coffers of educational film companies, allowing the to produce a much more refined product for distribution to an increasingly wealthy customer base. Although all educational film genres experienced growth due to this largesse, the Science realm was the initial driving force. Tonight, we'll investigate some of the better science films that made their way to the American classroom, from roughly 1960 to 1985, when videotape technology began replacing film.

Volcanoes: Exploring the Restless Earth
Prod.: Bert Van Bork
18 min (1973)
In addition to being perhaps the most daring cinematographer ever to work in educational film, Van Bork also probably burned through the most shoes, having melted two pair alone while getting too close to lava while filming volcanoes in Hawaii. Van Bork's volcano films are some of the most outstanding geological titles ever produced, including this one, in which, from Vesuvius to the newly-formed Surtsey, Van Bork takes us on an increasingly terrifying and beautiful excursion to lava streams, fountains, and fumaroles.
Carnivorous Plants
Dir.: Thomas Stanton
10 min (1979)
This insidious film was made by cinematographer Ken Middleham, who causes us to stop and wonder what's going on at our windowsills while we're asleep at night...
A Magnet Laboratory
Dir.: Richard Leacock
21 min (1960)
In the hands of another director, the inner-workings of a magnet laboratory could have caused a whole classroom to fall asleep of boredom. No so when this master of cinema-verite was hired to produce this twenty-minute version of lab mayhem. Try this: six researchers in a lab at MIT in the 50's show how powerful electro-magnets are, and in the process set the experiment on fire. Or this: half way through the film the phone rings off screen, and host Francis Bitter says "tell 'em I'll call 'em back later" while he's looking at the camera, discussing bus bars. Leacock's fleshed out all the personalities here, from "Beans", the improbable name of the guy who gets to crank up the generator to nearly explosive proportions, to the mysterious Chinese scientist who barely peeks over his shoulder at us, whether in mockery, disdain, or curiosity.
Imaging the Hidden World: the Light Microscope
Dir.: Bruce Russell
20 min (1984)
It's difficult to pick only one Russell film, because they're all so good. This film shows students how to set up a microscope so they can do all sorts of psychedelic things with it, using light and colored filters, thereby showing us the technology he himself uses to make his visually arresting films. Trust me: this is the only known workable alternative to the hysteria-based drug programs found in many U.S. schools. What are you going to do when a new friend invites you to a Bruce Russell film showing in your neighborhood? "Just Say Yes"...
Dir.: Peter Chermayeff
12 min (1984)
We figure there are several schools of zoological films. There are the ďanimals sure are silly, gosh darn it' people, who coordinate stupid music (bassoons for lumbering beasts, flutes for birds) with movement, as epitomized by Walt Disney. Then there are the Jane Goodalls and Jacques Cousteaus of the world, who attempt to attribute human characteristics to the animals in order to impart a dramatic effect to a story. There are the old-world academics, who either torment or program animals in order to get a reaction, like our old imprinting buddy Konrad Lorenz. Some of our favorites are people such as Peter Chermayeff, whose films are almost ethnographic in their non-narrated, completed-action approach. Making two expeditions to Kenya's Ngorongoro Carter (1971, 1984), the filmmaker returned with difficult-to-shoot footage of a host of fauna, and chose as sound accompaniment nothing more than a solo guitar, which, at least initially, seems somewhat out of place. Interestingly, it fades in and out at will, and by the end of each film is barely noticeable. The films themselves are wonderful works of art, simple, yet powerful. This one features the eating habits, dancing, and mating rituals of the ostrich. And unlike many of the 'cine16' filmmakers we've showcased, Chermayeff is still in the public eye... as perhaps the world's best-known architect of municipal aquariums (aquaria?), including those of Lisbon, Boston, and Baltimore.
Congruent Triangles
Dir.: Bruce & Katharine Cornwell
10 min. (1976)

silent snow
Play > Film
What's the best way to describe geometrical concepts in a film? How about abstract design, third stream jazz, and Klee-like animation, in which the Cornwell's make a showpiece out of a seemingly mundane subject.
Bate's Car
Dir.: Tony Ianzelo
15 min. (1974)
Harold Bate is an eccentric British inventor whose old car runs on 'the material', which we soon find to be chicken droppings (the engine compartment is full of weird gauges, hoses, and pumps invented by him, and the damn thing actually runs...) Bate also showcases his perpetual-motion bicycle, which the filmmaker rides but cannot stop (oops, Bate forgot to install brakes). Ianzelo's portrayal of this brilliant and ultimately odd inventor is funny, whimsical, and intelligent, and one of the more memorable films ever produced by the National Film Board of Canada.