A few months ago, I described the efforts to preserve the 1972 film “The Man” as a “Peoples Preservation Campaign“. The work of preservation is born of knowledge, technical skills, and a passionate appreciation for essential truths, events and innovations in our material culture. Preservationists are more than just history detectives. But what makes a “Peoples Preservation Campaign” different from what some associate with traditional preservation?
This weekend (June 17 at 1 PM), LakeArts Foundation in Chautauqua, New York will feature “The Man” as part their film festival series “Politics Goes to the Movies.” “Milk,” “All the King’s Men,” and “The Chautauqua Choice” (a local favorite), round out the thematic schedule. The festival, now in its 3rd year, is the creation of Bonnie Nelson Schwartz and Margaret Johnson. Clayton LeBouef, who is partnering with eclectique916.com to present “The Man” and other events will be one of the featured speakers after the film. The Rod Serling Memorial Foundation is also participating in the event.
As this blog has mentioned before, there are only a few 16 mm copies of the film known to be in existence. The original 35 mm version has yet to emerge. The LakeArts Foundation’s description of “The Man” screening event mentions the film is in the “process of being restored.” For people who see film preservation in its traditional role, that description may be overreaching or wishful thinking based on efforts made to date. For a Peoples Preservation Campaign, it’s accurate. As I wrote in my notes for the panel:
“The Man” has been restored in terms of public programming. Restored in the sense of presenting [the film] in public venues where people can see it. Otherwise, it would still be lost. As this story builds, we are changing a way of thinking about “preservation.” We are not restricted to “the vault,” the lab or even the institution. At least that’s my definition of a “peoples preservation campaign.” Even word-of-mouth — if people are talking about Serling and “The Man” – that’s preservation.
This is not being badass with institutions, the film industry, or preservation. We have licensed “The Man” for public viewing from the copyright holder, Disney. “The Man” was a production of ABC and Lorimar with ABC as the official copyright holder. ABC merged with Cap Cities and was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995. We’ve taken “The Man” to Busboys and Poets, a multi-purpose gathering space for food, drink, arts, and thought. Institutions like National Geographic, LakeArts Foundation, and recently an inquiry from UCLA for an upcoming event on the work of Rod Serling (screenwriter for “The Man”) signals that the time has come to take a new look at the film. The Library of Congress holds a 16 mm copy of “The Man” and the original copyright card file for ABC. We’ve passed this information to Disney realizing it takes time and staffing to sort through company libraries and files from an acquisition. We all want to set the records straight.
Martin Scorsese‘s “Hugo” (2011) is also showing at the LakeArts Festival. Silent film director and innovator George Méliès is the basis of the “Hugo” story. “Hugo” is also one of the best 3-D experiences thanks to a director who used the technology as an artist tool and not gimmick. If there was any champion of film preservation for our time, Scorsese is its shining star advocate. He has his own institution, The Film Foundation, to support film preservation starting with the films that touched his creative soul. We are proud to have “The Man” follow “Hugo” which champions the preservation theme. But even Scorsese’s efforts must have a peoples “This is important” stamp of support for films to be preserved, screened and appreciated by the generations. The industry, large and small, has the resources to distribute content to a wider public. The institutions have the tools and resources to keep these treasures safe even if that means we can only visit every once in a while. As they told us in film class, it’s a “collaborative effort.”
Clayton LeBouef is creating a list of “lost films.” This “Peoples Preservation Campaign” selects a work on the basis of its talent, story merit, and how the stories connect with hearts and minds, and reflect our on-going struggles and triumphs in our human relations. In other words the film’s ability to “make the people conscious.” But that’s the next step. More on the MTPC Project later.
Introducing the MTPC Project -
MENACE THE PUBLIC CONSCIENCE/
MAKE THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUS Project
Saturday, May 26 (12noon – 4 PM)
No Admission Fee
The Martin Luther King Memorial Library
901 G Street, (Lower Level)
Washington, DC 20001
“THE MAN” stars James Earl Jones who through the law of succession, becomes the first Black President of the United States. Janet MacLachlan, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meridith, also star. The film directed by Joe Sargent, is based on the book by Irving Wallace with a screenplay by Rod Serling.
“UPTIGHT” stars Julian Mayfield, Roscoe Lee Brown, Max Julien, and Ruby Dee (who co-wrote the screenplay). Based on the 1935 film “THE INFORMER” by John Ford, this 1968 release deals with the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and was directed by Jules Dassin.
MTPC is the name of a new project led by actor Clayton LeBouef (“Something The Lord Made,” “Homicide, The Wire”) and taken from a quote by Rod Serling.
“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle for social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”
Mr. LeBouef, is partnering with eclectique916.com to reintroduce films reflecting a storyteller’s willingness to roll the dice and deliver a message about the human experience. The MTPC project includes a “people’s campaign” to bring lost works back to life through public screenings and re-releases on DVD or video streaming. You can get involved.
MTPC project is presenting “The Man” June 17 at 1 PM with the LakeArts Foundation Film Festival “Politics Goes to the Movies” in Chautauqua, New York. More information is available here.
More information about the MTPC Project will be available at the May 26 event. Email events[at]eclectique916[dot]com And Stay Tuned!
It’s been awhile since the last Eclectique Interview. This will be the second interview with a poet. That’s Sarah Browning, director of D.C. Poets Against the War and Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Sarah is also author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007), and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). She’s an active community organizer and poet (often at the same time). The Split This Rock Poetry Festival is coming up March 22-25, 2012. For 4 days the festival engages poetry as activism in community building, justice and social change. Yes, Virginia, and Maryland and all the states that surround the monumental colony we call, Washington, D.C. – the city is a poetry capital.
SPLIT THIS ROCK POETRY FESTIVAL: POEMS OF PROVOCATION & WITNESS
WHAT: Four days of readings, workshops, panels, open mics, youth programs, and activism, bringing poetry into public life and exploring the role of poetry in social change.
WHEN: March 22-25, 2012
WHERE: Washington, DC – Multiple venues in the U Street Corridor and Columbia Heights. Visit the website at www.SplitThisRock.org for details.
CONTACT/INFO: info[at]splitthisrock[dot]org, Tel. 202-787-5210, blogthisrock.blogspot.com, @tweet_this_rock
E916: What inspired Split This Rock Poetry Festival?
SB: Split This Rock emerged from DC Poets Against the War, part of a national movement founded in response to President Bush’s drive to war with Iraq in 2003. Our local group united poets working in a variety of styles – across differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, and sexual orientation – to speak out for alternatives to war and for a radical reorganization of our nation’s priorities.
As I discovered when I moved here, DC poets had always written with this clear-eyed. But they did not always have a platform from which to speak these truths. There were few institutions supporting and promoting this kind of poetry, poetry that bears witness to the injustices of the world and, through compelling and powerful language, provokes change.
We designed the first Split This Rock Poetry Festival to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq in March, 2008, and put out the call nationwide for poets and activists and dreamers to join us.
The response was so phenomenal. Hundreds of people from our city, our region, and throughout the country found the festival so necessary, that we went to work building a permanent home for socially engaged poets. In addition to presenting a biennial national festival (which is equal parts festival, conference, and political action), Split This Rock now also presents readings, workshops, and discussion series year-round, publishes poetry of provocation and witness in electronic forums, sponsors an extensive program for youth, including the DC Youth Slam Team, and spearheads campaigns to integrate poetry into public life.
E916: How did poetry become so popular in Washington, DC? What makes DC a poetry or a poetic city?
It’s no coincidence that most of these poets are African American, of course. Our city’s Black writers and artists have always nurtured and supported one another, developing a strong cultural voice that has been critical to the survival of the District’s Black community.
Today is no different. Older poets mentor younger ones, communities of poetry form and dissolve and re-form. DC becomes a living center for oral poetry – the oldest of poetic forms – newly named “Spoken Word.”
The District of course is also home to the federal government, an institution endlessly dissected and analyzed by the press and the popular imagination. Those of us who live here, in contrast, are often forgotten. We claim our place in the world, therefore, with poetry. Here is our story, our poems declare. Pay attention.
E916: When did you become a poet?
SB: I come from a family of poets and English professors, so it took awhile for me to accept that I had no alternative but to be a poet. I was busy differentiating myself by becoming a community organizer. But I discovered that I couldn’t do one without the other. I needed a creative life, a language with which to explore the complexities of the world, my relationship to the society in which I found myself, all the ways that history shapes us and frees us. I was almost 30 before I began calling myself a poet and found a way to put poetry at the center of my life.
With first DC Poets Against the War and now Split This Rock, I have found a way to unite these two commitments, to be a poet and an activist, to be undivided.
E916: Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival? Give us a few highlights. Who’s coming to the event?SB: Split This Rock 2012 features a spectacular line-up of poets! DC favorites Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Kim Roberts, Venus Thrash, and Naomi Shihab Nye will be joined by poets new to most of us: Homero Aridjis, a leader of Mexico’s environmental movement; Sherwin Bitsui, a Navajo poet devoted to keeping Navajo language alive among the next generation; spoken word superstars Carlos Andrés Gómez and Rachel McKibbens; Khaled Mattawa, a Libyan who lived in exile in the United States for decades and now divides his time between his home country and the country that gave him asylum for so many years; Douglas Kearney, who’s both a hip hop head and an opera librettist; and more.
We’re also paying tribute to the life and work of poet-activist-essayist-teacher June Jordan during the festival, as 2012 will mark the 10th anniversary of her death. Several sessions will reflect on Jordan’s legacy, focusing on her writings on environmental justice, sexual violence, and creative resistance.
E916: How do we appreciate poem? Does a poem make its best impression when read on the page or read aloud?
SB: When we attend a live reading, we hope that several of our senses will be excited: the language will delight our ear (even if the topic is a difficult one); the music of the poem will tickle our rhythmic sense; and the eye will receive gifts from the poet himself. We also have the pleasure of a live, communal experience, the kind whose magic we know from musical and theatrical performances. We are both alone and in a crowd as we listen and watch.
When reading poetry on the page, on the other hand, we have the pleasure of solitary communion with the poem. We can take all the time we want with it, reread it, read it aloud, yell at it. The eye is the most essential organ to this experience: The poem’s form should inform its meaning. Every mark on the page asks a question, suggests a possible reading. Which is why poets are so meticulous, can struggle for years with a single poem. The possibilities are endless; English in particular has a huge vocabulary compared to many other languages. And so the poet seeks and keeps seeking the language, the form, to carry her vision into the world.
This year’s festival’s tag line is “Poetry by and for the 99%.” When and where does poetry occupy public space?
Poetry is everywhere! Poets have been occupying and occupiers have been writing poetry. A new anthology, Liberty’s Vigil: 99 Poets Among the 99%, has just been published by Michael Czarnecki’s FootHills Publishing. Split This Rock poets have led open mics and given workshops and slept out and marched alongside and been beaten alongside as well. We carry lines of poetry through the streets during demonstrations, we hand out poems, we recite poems into mics.
Yesterday, the cashier at the grocery store was moved to tears when I told him of reading poems in front of his country’s embassy, drawing attention to its repression of poets and activists. I cannot help him go home. I cannot help his family join him here. But on a busy day at Trader Joe’s, we will shake hands, and our tears will tell of the power of words, the essential place of poetry in making a better world.
Yesterday I attended the opening ceremonies of the Smithsonian Institution’s annual Folklife Festival which the attention of returning back to my desktop by 2 PM. I didn’t get back until 5. There was no way I was going to miss the Funk Brothers, the Motown studio sessions band. Where do you think the Motown sound came from?
The Funk Brothers are part of the Rhythm & Blues living exhibition co-presented with the National Museum of African American History and Culture which has curated pop up exhibits leading up to the completion of its final home in 2015. “Why wait?” is the programmer’s mantra these days, especially where culture’s concerned. Two of the original Funk Brothers are in wheel chairs. Time flies.
Rhythm & Blues is one of 3 focuses on the mall. The Peace Corps is celebrating their 50th anniversary. The Folklife Festival is serving as a reunion of sorts for former Peace Corps volunteers. The program was started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy who appointed his brother-in-law the late Sargent Shriver as its first director.
Colombia is the country feature on the mall covering its diverse regional and ethnic cultures. If you’re a salsa fan, not a bad place to be. Don’t forget the cumbia. See, hear, experience what you didn’t get in the press when the only running stories were about drug lords and guerillas, unless you were reading the magical realism of Gabriel Garica Marquez. Like a Marquez novel, the exhibit emphasizes how nature influences culture. It was two years ago I noticed Colombia making a major marketing push for tourism.
On the foodways, R&B has a barbeque stand; and Colombia has a Colombian chef from the Casa Oaxaca in D.C.’s Adams Morgan. The Peace Corps exhibit has the most extensive foodways with cooking demonstrations and two concessions offering South Asian and African food from local restaurants. Washington Post food critic (and self described snob) Tim Carman pretty much nails it when it comes to foodways at the Folklife Festival. Demonstrations do not include sampling, but you can sniff to your heart’s content. Imagine what the Food Network will be like when they introduce aroma-vision.
What makes this one of the best Folklife Festivals is more music. How many years have the kings and queens of R&B have left? This is not to be missed. And CDs are available for sale in the Market Place.
The festival runs through July 4 then reopens July 7 – 11. It’s located on the National Mall facing the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Castle.
Full schedule here.
Too much, too much. June must be the final push on the event scene before people begin dispersing to the vacation scene. Again, just scratching the surface:
ITVS COMMUNITY CINEMA PRESENTS – “TWO SPIRITS”
June 5 at 3 PM (Washington DC Jewish Community Center)
June 12 at 5 PM (Busboys and Poets)
FREE – For reservations click on this link or call 202-939-0794.
Other FREE preview screenings nationwide
Filmmaker Lydia Nibley explores the cultural context behind a tragic and senseless murder. Fred Martinez was a Navajo youth slain at the age of 16. But Fred was part of an honored Navajo tradition – the nadleeh, or ‘two-spirit,’ who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits. In relating Fred’s story, Nibley reminds us of the values that America’s indigenous peoples have long embraced. Visit www.communitycinema-dc.org for more information.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOURNALIST HELEN THOMAS, FIRST LADY OF THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS
Sunday, June 5 at 5 PM, Busboys and Poets, 5th & K Streets, NW
Known as “the first lady of the White House Press Corps,” Thomas covered every President of the United States from the last years of the Eisenhower administration until the second year of the Obama administration. She was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club.
Busboys and Poets’ owner, Andy Shallal will interview Thomas about her life and work — including the controversial interview with blogger and Rabbi David Nesenoff that led to her resignation/retirement as a Hearst columnist. Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent, has written six books; her latest, with co-author Craig Crawford, is Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009).
EATONVILLE RESTAURANT CELEBRATES CARIBBEAN [CULINARY] HERITAGE
June 12 – 17
Eatonville Restaurant, 2121 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009
June is Caribbean Heritage month. Eatonville Restaurant is devoting a week to Caribbean Heritage cuisine. Guest Culinary Artist Chef Oji Jaja of Kingston, Jamaica will add a Caribbean flare to the restaurant’s brunch, lunch, and dinner menus including June’s Food & Folklore event, “Caribbean Connections.” Special focus on Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica with steel drum music and guest DJs. Eatonville’s mixologists will be serving delectable libations featuring rums of the Caribbean and Jamaica’s signature Red Stripe beer. Reservations required for Food & Folklore prix fixe dinner. For information call 202-332-9672
STEP AFRIKA! HOME PERFORMANCE SERIES
“The Migrations: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence”
June 15 – 26, Atlas Performing Arts Center
Step Afrika! teamed up with the Phillips Art Collection for a special collaboration involving their “Migration” series of paintings by the American artist Jacob Lawrence. Lawrence’s paintings, depicting the lives of African American who left the South for northern cities in the early 20th century, have been the inspiration for numerous performance works. Step Afrika! will bring their interpretation of this historic era in dance as only Step Afrika! can.
SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival
June 20 – 26 – AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD
This is year 9 of the documentary festival featuring the work of U.S. independent filmmakers. THE SWELL SEASON, directed by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins and Carlo Mirabella-Davis opens the festival on June 20th. THE SWELL SEASON follows musical artists Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who captivated audiences and earned an Academy Award for their musical collaboration in the film, ONCE. REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR will close the Festival. The documentary, directed by Chris Paine, explores the triumphant reemergence of the “clean car,” focusing on four dynamic entrepreneurs dedicated to creating an environmentally friendly automobile. THE INTERRUPTERS, by HOOP DREAMS director Steve James, will be part of the festival. I’ve heard good things about this film. And the honorees for this year’s Guggenheim symposium are Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker (DON’T LOOK BACK, THE WAR ROOM, Al FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE, MONTEREY POP, KINGS OF PASTRY). Thanks to them, I have no desire to be a french pastry chef. Festival passes are on sale now.
“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”
Through August 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall
This exhibit of the late British designer Lee Alexander McQueen’s fashions has been up for some time. And I hope to pay homage in NYC this month. It doesn’t get any better than Bill Cunningham’s commentary, “McQueened” for the New York Times. Well, actually the museum videos narrated by curator Andrew Bolton of the Met’s Costume Institute are pretty good. The exhibit, just on the pieces alone, cannot escape what was the beauty, complexity, and tragedy that was Lee Alexander McQueen who committed suicide in 2010 at age 40.