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Remembering 1968 At SILVERDOCS
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Saturday, June 21-----In celebrations being held around the world, the events and repercussions of that pivotal year in world history, 1968, are being discussed, remembered and even eulogized. The events of that turbulent year in political and social history are best experienced and explained through the music of the times and the films of the era.
At SILVERDOCS, the Festival is presenting a sidebar program entitled 1968 AND BEYOND that offers several seminal films from 1968 that give as accurate a picture as can be gleaned of what we were thinking, feeling and hoping for during the mixed bag that was the "summer of love" and the "events of 68". The films on tap capture the spirit of the times. The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones created the social soundtrack of rebellion. Pioneering filmmmakers such as Emile de Antonio, Charlges Guggenheim, Albert and David Maysles and Frederick Wiseman caputred the stories on film.
GENERATION 68, a newly produced one-hour long film from France is making its North American premiere at the Festival. Directed by Simon Brook, an English filmmaker who has wored extensively in France, the film takes a raucous look at the pivotal year as they played out in cities like London, Paris, New York and Prague. Not just a chronicle of the major events of that year (flower power love-ins, political assasinations, the suppression of dissent, the anti-war demonstrations), the film is most interested in the youthful exuberance that bubled to the top to challenge the placid social status quo. The film confronts the mainstream attitudes twoards racial injustice, sexual politics and generational change.
Blending interviews with artsits, directors, DJ and fashion designers, the film gives an overwhelming look at how the times stimulated some of the most creative minds of the decade. Those participating in the film via insightful interviews include such 1960s icons as playwright Vaclav Havel, filmmaker Milos Forman, designer Mary Quant, artist Ed Ruscha and actor Dennis Hopper. For those who lives through the era or want to understand its mythology, this is a good start.
Some of the key films from the era that will be screened include GIMME SHELTER (1970), the enduring concert film about the Rolling Stones by David and Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin. Capturing their dynamism on stage and their rock-n-roll lifestyle off, the film is a milestone account of the "world's greatest rock-n-roll band", which continues to draw capacity crowds in their fifth decade of performing.
IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG (1968) by iconoclastic director Emile d'Antonio was the first important fim to question America's involvement in Vietnam. Capturing the anger of the younger generation an showcasing the ineptitude and moral corruption of the government and armed forces bigwigs, the film was a banner for the growing anti-war movement.
Veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman, whose film career began with the controversial (and banned) film TITICUT FOLLIES, an examination of intolerable conditions in a Massachussets state hospital for the criminally insane, has made a career of exposing the true conditions inside governmental and institutional hierarchies. In LAW AND ORDER (1969), Wiseman exposed the everyday world of the common policemen in Kansas City, Missouri who spent their days patrolling the streets to catch criminals in the act of committing crimes. Riding with his subjects in police cars for almost two months, Wiseman was able to record a mix of police kindness and cruelty, helpfulness and indifference and the racial divide that continues to polarize neighborhoods to this day.
On Monday, the Festival is presenting a special program called ROBERT KENNEDY REMEMBERED at the Newseum, the newly-opened museum devoted to the art and process of journalism. Marking the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's assasination in a Los Angeles hotel hours after he had won the California presidential primary, the 30-minute film by veteran documentarian Charles Guggenheim was screened at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, less than three months after Kennedy's murder. The film is a moving tribute to a man who had hoped to win the presidency by creating a historic movement (in a fashion similar to this year's presidential campaign by Barack Obama). The rarely-seen film is a poignant eulogy on the spirit, quality and commitment that Kennedy brought to his life and work, and makes one only wonder how the history of the past four decades would have been different if he had been elected President. The special presentation will also include a series of political commercials for the candidate and a panel discussion exploring Kennedy's life, lessons and influence.
Sandy Mandelberger, SILVERDOCS Dailies Editor
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