As we all struggle to face the new political and social reality represented by the 2016 presidential election, Anthology offers several different cinematic methods of coping with the inauguration. We’ll mark the weekend with a variety of politically-relevant films, including dystopic alternate-reality or cautionary tales such as IT HAPPENED HERE, PUNISHMENT PARK, and A FACE IN THE CROWD; a special presentation of the seminal underground compilation film, FOR LIFE, AGAINST THE WAR (commissioned in 1967 for a festival organized in opposition to the Vietnam War); and rare screenings of Stan Brakhage’s 23RD PSALM BRANCH and THE GOVERNOR, the first a (Vietnam-inspired) meditation on war, the second the result of Brakhage’s experiences touring Colorado with the state’s then-governor.
Now that the alternate reality of a certain strand of ‘paranoid’ political films has, to a degree few of us thought possible, come to pass, perhaps it’s time to re-watch these films from our new, disillusioned perspective. Along with other films embodying various strategies of political opposition, they serve to remind us that the struggle to maintain a humanist, progressive society is a perpetual one, that civil liberties and social justice are ever-fragile, and that the cinema represents an important means of grappling with, creating a dialogue around, and at least striving to change the status quo.
For further, and more contemporary, explorations of the cinema’s capacity to embody political protest and resistance, see details about the series DISRUPTIVE FILM: EVERYDAY RESISTANCE TO POWER, taking place February 15-17.
Special thanks to Dennis Doros & Amy Heller (Milestone Films), Ken Eisen (Shadow Distribution), Oliver Groom (Project X Distribution), Kristie Nakamura & Nicki Woods (WB), and MM Serra (Film-Makers’ Coop).