Projectionists of the World Unite: The Prairie Trilogy Screens Mar. 2 at Chicago Filmmakers in 16mm!

Chicago Filmmakers – 5720 N Ridge Ave., Chicago, IL 60660
Tickets: $8

Saturday, March 2 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by John Hanson and Rob Nilsson • 1977 – 1980
With 21st century politics forged along a highly polarized, seemingly intractable red state-blue state divide, it’s easy to believe that American society is static and organizing futile. But coalitions, parties, ideologies, and loyalties continually shift, decouple, and evolve, as demonstrated by the oft-neglected radical history of North Dakota, site of the Nonpartisan League, established as a farmers’ counterweight to eastern monopolies and trusts in 1922. John Hanson and Rob Nilsson’s trilogy of documentaries, funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council and the North Dakota AFL-CIO, is a lively act of recovered history on 16mm. A companion to Hanson and Nilsson’s remarkable feature Northern Lights (1978), the Prairie Trilogy pivots on the memories of 97-year-old League veteran and self-described optimistic socialist Henry Martinson, who maintains, “You can’t find a better color than red. It’s like the blood flowing in all the people’s veins and we’re all alike in that respect. That eventually will become the universal flag.” In Prairie Fire (1977, 30 min), Martinson’s reminiscences are interspersed with contemporaneous footage of North Dakota shot by Nilsson’s grandfather, Frithjof Holmboe. In Rebel Earth (1980, 49 min), Martinson tours the sites of his youth and comments on the state of stagflation-era America. Survivor (1980, 28 min) finds Martinson still working and opining as recording secretary for the Fargo-Moorhead Trades and Labor Assembly. (KW)
107 min • CineManifest / New Front Films • 16mm from Citizen Cinema, Northern Pictures, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, permission from The Metrograph

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701  W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, March 6 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by William Greaves • 1968
Responsible for hundreds of documentaries primarily focused on African-American history and culture, William Greaves is probably best known to contemporary audiences for a trippy, bizarrely titled film about the making of a film about the making of a film that was never intended to be a film. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One finds the Actors Studio-trained Greaves at work in Central Park hauling around a bulky 16mm rig to shoot an absurdly written argument between a couple that will soon be repeated by numerous performers in numerous cadences. Meanwhile, Greaves’s young, bedraggled crew, seemingly left in the dark by the director, begin directly addressing their grievances with the project to another crew filming concurrently. Collapsing boundaries between on- and off-screen action and calling into question the documentary veracity of his own film, Greaves whittled down untold hours of footage collected by the exacerbated women and men working alongside him into a 70-odd-minute avant-garde crowd-pleaser that’s as exuberant as it is confounding. A dormant cult item, Greaves’s would-be landmark languished under the radar for years, playing sporadic one-off screenings before being officially released decades after it was shot and becoming a touchstone for a generation of adventurous cinephiles. (CW)
75 min • Take One Productions • 35mm from Janus Films
Short: “Wealth of a Nation” (William Greaves, 1964) – 21 min – 16mm from National Archives and Records Administration

Check of the rest of the season here!

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