Jun 9th 2021

Comfort Film Presents an outdoor screening of:

Nothing Is Too Small for a Revolution: Anarchist Films by Nick Macdonald
Co-sponsored by South Side Projections.

In the early to mid 1970s, Nick Macdonald made several political essay films in and around his New York apartment. Influenced by anarchism, the films are unique, personal projects that eschew traditional documentary footage in favor of a sort of bricolage technique in which Macdonald used narration, newspaper cutouts, knickknacks, photographs, guerrilla skits, and wordplay on a letter board to explore such topics as the Vietnam War, Palestine, the Attica uprising, women’s liberation, and the antiwar movement. Never before shown in Chicago, these films are not historical artifacts but surprisingly relevant object lessons in using personal art to address current political issues.

Break Out! (1970, 25 min.) is “a self-criticism, self-analysis” in which Macdonald struggles with his own status as a self-declared “armchair radical.” Wondering what real effect making films and attending demonstrations can have, he wrestles with the idea of violence and examines his own excuses (protecting his family, protecting his life) for not “being radical as opposed to talking radical.” In a section that introduces the letter board and bricolage technique that would become so prominent in his filmography, he lays out a radical 12-point program for the attainment of a more decent society; a coda proposes a halfway point between armchair radicalism and bomb-throwing. Macdonald lays out his theory of anarchy—in its purest sense of a rejection of hierarchy—in the seriocomic No More Leadershit (1971, 4 min.), which argues that protesters, police, and soldiers alike are not the perpetrators of violence but its victims at the hands of leaders—even the ones you agree with. Macdonald’s magnum opus—or at least the film that’s been written about the most—is The Liberal War (1972, 33 min.), staged as an attempt to explain the Vietnam War to members of a future anarchist society. Along with a voiceover that emphasizes that this story is just “my own view, the way I see it” and visual wordplay on a letter board, Macdonald’s bricolage technique uses odds and ends lying around his apartment to literalize the metaphors of invasion and occupation: the puppet government of South Vietnam is a sock puppet with Ngo Dihn Diem’s face glued onto it; dominoes and then plastic army men are set up and knocked over on a map of Vietnam; Macdonald’s own Harvard diploma is cut into paper dolls to illustrated the prevalence of the war’s architects at that esteemed institution. The film rejects the widely held belief that the war came about through a series of accidents and well-intentioned but misguided decisions by the “best and brightest,” arguing instead that it was the necessary outcome of American exceptionalism.

Runtime: 62 mins
Media: Digital Projection
This is a Free Event.

Co-presented with Michael W. Phillips Jr.
Director/Founder, South Side Projections.

Covid Safety protocols:

The following measures will be required by any person in the area and monitored by attending staff/volunteers:

All persons must wear a mask/face covering (covering both the nose and mouth) in order to enter and leave the viewing area. Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet) between individuals not within your household or otherwise identified group. While enjoying the program, please self monitor, be aware of your surroundings, be courteous, and be responsible. Masks are not required while sitting on the lawn. The restroom inside Comfort Station will be available for use during the program but mask must be worn inside

the building and only 2 people inside at once while using the bathroom. When the film is over, please be conscientious when leaving the premises, make sure your mask is on, and take care to maintain social distancing from other groups.

Thank you for keeping our neighbors and community safe.

We are excited to welcome everyone back!

Programmed for Comfort Station by Raul Benitez, Nando Espinsoa, Emily Perez, Matthew Tapey.

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