Protest, as an Expression of Patriotic Duty is a 16mm-film program that includes four independently produced films from 1960s: Bruce Baillie’s “Quixote,” Abbe Borov’s “Let It Shine,” Peter Gessner’s “Time of the Locust,” and Aldo Tambellini’s “Black Plus-X.” Much of this program was presented together at The Gate Theater’s Angry Arts in Underground Films, which was affiliated with the Village-wide arts festival Angry Arts Against the War.
Bruce Baillie’s “Quixote” (1965, 45 min) is a black and white with color film that depicts a cross-country trip through North America shot over the course of 16 months between 1965 and 1966. The inclusive view of America recalls Robert Frank’s legendary photographic series, taken a decade earlier. The film includes scenes from Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, Michigan, and New York; the Blood Indian Reservation in Alberta, Canada; and the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. Its soundtrack includes Charles Ives, Ramon Sender and Bill McGinnes, Falcon Quartette, the Las Palmas Café Band, Acoma Song by Natai, and Apache Mountain Spirit Dance.
Abbe Borov’s “Let It Shine” (1968, 22 min) is a black and white film that follows a group of anti-Vietnam War demonstrators to the March on Washington, which took place on November 27, 1965. The national demonstration was organized by Students for a Democratic Society and drew crowds of an estimated 50,000 people to the capitol. The film is shot as a descriptive survey of the event, sharing the thoughts and concerns of participates and functioning as a filmic teach-in. It features the young men and women discussing and debating their political positions during their bus ride to the march, scenes of performances by musicians at the event, and excerpts from speeches by Coretta Scott King, SANE co-chairman Dr. Benjamin Spock, and SDS president Carl Oglesby.
Peter Gessner’s “Time of the Locust” (1966, 12 min) is a black and white film that blatantly critiques America’s activities in Vietnam through the combination of American newsreel footage, combat footage shot by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, and film footage taken from Japanese filmmakers—all overdubbed with pop music.
Aldo Tambellini’s “Black Plus-X” (1966, 8.5 min) is a black and white film with sound shot in New York City and Coney Island. By expressing black in terms of light rather than in terms of color, Aldo Tambellini encourages the possibility a new era that recognizes black power as a positive force. In an interview for arts/canada, Aldo Tambellini described his intention: “Black is one of the important reasons why the racial conflicts are happening today, because it is part of an old way to look at human beings or race in terms of colour… Blackness is the beginning of the resensitizing of human beings.”
Protest, as an Expression of Patriotic Duty is part of THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019, a week-long, 16mm-film festival that is taking place Tuesday, September 24, through Monday, September 30, from 7 to 9 pm at filmfront.
FILMFRONT is a community-based cine-club founded in July 2015 by Malia Haines-Stewart and Alan Medina. Dedicated to collaboration and open dialogue, filmfront—like The Gate Theater—is a place where audience members are not expected to have any previous education in, nor even exposure to, institutionalized fine arts.
THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019 is presented by curator and writer AMELIA ISHMAEL, as a tendril from her book manuscript The Black Gate Theater: Aldo Tambellini, Independent Film and Intermedia Performance in New York City’s Lower East Side 1965-1968; A Historic Revaluation of Experimental Arts Venues, Including The Bridge Theater and The Gate Theater.
THE GATE THEATER FILM FESTIVAL 1966/2019 is partially supported by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Projection and 16mm equipment supplied by Chicago Film Society. Archival film prints are from the Film-makers’ Coop, Harvard Film Archives, and Janus Films.
Advance reservations accepted at filmfront, Sunday 1-4 pm and Monday 1-8 pm. Individual tickets are available for $10; Festival passes are $45. At the door, suggested sliding-scale admission will be $5-10.