10YEARSAGO


Dear Newsreelers...


John D, Roz and I (Paul), have been thinking about connecting Newsreel
people for some time now. Several years ago John built a Newsreel page
with Roz (http://www.artvt.com/nr_bw.htm which eventually became www.newsreel.us) on his great web area ArtVt
( http://www.artvt.com ). No one seemed to really read it very closely, at
least no one objected. I guess it was just nice to know it was there.
Since 1998 is thirty years since "that Year", (THIRTY YEARS!), some of
us, (not primarily Newsreel people), starting talking about some sort of
exchange. At the end of this document you will find a section called
FILMMAKERS DIALOGUE-'68-'98 which updates that effort.

This DIALOGUE idea has generated some interest from Newsreel types..Alan
S. thought it was a good idea, Peter G. agreed, Robert K. was at first
reluctant.

I was not pushing to hard to get this going because if there is to be any
worthwhile on going exchange I think we have to have an automated
listserve. (I am only now on the verge of getting a free one!)

Then last week Robert took a close look at the Newsreel site and "flipped
out". What follows is just a bit of a long series of emails--anyone that
wants to read the whole deal can contact me or Robert for copies. Any way
he started by quoting from the web site...

 

>"ICE:


> A film made by Newsreel member Robert Kramer with a production team made up of Newsreel members. A story of a time in the future when the US is at war with Mexico and the Americans are living in a police state. The film includes a kidnapping, a murder, prison break, takeover of an apartment house for political education, sex, nudity, and violence. and much, much more. - 150 Minutes


and it's true, i flipped out. in a sense, all that for that: and apparantly it was friends who did it and thought it was a good idea? "The film includes a kidnapping, a murder,prison break, takeover of an apartment house for political education, sex, nudity, and violence. and much, much more.150 Minutes " (not to mention "a time in the future...and the americans are living in a police state," or something.) i mean, sounds good: might even be "two thumbs up" and why not, if that will get them to see it: them...those...well, however we think about them.
anyway.
who wrote this and why?
what were we, and why?
why did each of us belong? what did we want?
why bother?

is it just about ego? (i/we did this).
what lessons are there if any?

(n-r in history: variety of the filmmaking in the early days distinguishes the experience absolutely from ALL historical examples of "revolutionary" or "propaganda" filmmaking: nobody ever let 100 flowers bloom from the start, and saw "political line" as the evolution of the internal debate inside the organization as manifest in its films. crucial arrival of feminism marxism-leninism as paying our dues worker n-r, george depew & m-l, something tells me something important here: it's worthwhile to sift through the history alittle.

what did you(or me and you and us, who were into it) feel at the time?
lessons about "stalinism" or how hard it is to not be bound to the binding like pages in a book: "being serious."
(i was struck by a relation between new world order and the "ice" blurb: "americans living under fascism," as if this formulation was as wierd as all the rest of that far-distant trip!)

so after reading this ICE blurb i wrote to the page custodian:

"hi roz,
i personally hate this description of ice, and wish that you would either rewrite it, or remove it.
furthermore, as you may remember, THE NEWSREEL refused to distribute ICE because it did not correspond to their ideology.

it was NOT a newsreel film, nor should it be appropriated by newsreel now, as it was not then.
this belongs to a conversation that i tried to have with you in paris,
but found that there was little possibility of making it happen then.

(and now?)

as you can see, we have some things to talk about.

robert here

keja not far away

matt in the kitchen

paris is cold

and erika is in the flowerbeds!

love"

 

ROZ WROTE BACK:

"I'm not sure what description you are talking abt. and I never said that Ice was a NR film. Newsreel folks worked on the film and it was hundreds of times rented out as a film that Newsreel distributed, like the cuban films, troublemakers etc. Yippie was also turned down as a NR film and was/is one of the most distributed films. I know that Ice is your film and I have no intentions of selling . I do like to show it to folks since it is us. It was our politics and that is why NR worked in it and on it. Why don't you rewrite the describtion to your liking and send it to me. I took the description from an old catalog if my memory servers me right. You are talking about the list on the web? That was done abt 3 years ago and I haven't looked at it since. Im off to Brattleboro in a few minnutes for a conf on believe it or not Johnson Pastures and the movt in southern Vt. And , it is nice hearing from you. Roz"

yes indeed. or no not at all. or everything's cool since there are so few of us. or whatever. anyway, oh my god, yup: hey! conserve the films. who cares. or what if there is something here to talk about?

anyway my friend, i'm right here with these little pieces. i don't know if i'll have a chance (or the inclination) to dig into the texts (you remember about the texts, right?), or get this into some form, but these are some things i am thinking about right now: and all of them prompted by you

raising the matter and starting a certain number of wheels turning.

i have another tangent.
where are all the people?
let's make a bigger list and really create a MESS. let's get 'em involved, no?

yeah, let's make a list and see.

ROBERT

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Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998
From: robert kramer

"the early newsreel films of the late '60's

They called themselves NEWSREEL.

Working in decentralized film collectives in several cities, the produced many, many films, mostly shot on l6 mm. Most were in black and white, as gritty and realistic as the subjects they depicted. These were films of civil rights and civil wrongs, of uprisings in communities and on campuses, about the Vietnam War and the war at home against it. They are in some cases angry films, as alienated from the forms of traditional newscasts as anything that has been produced in our country. Some of the films were produced in the spirit of similar work underway in Cuba and Vietnam. Some were American originals--bringing the voices of change and changemakers to the social movements of the era. These films were revolutionary in spirit and commitment.

" These are films that deserve to be seen and learned from. They are part of a dissenting tradition of American film-making. They are also a record of the emotions that made the 60's what they were. Some were agit-prop. Some captured important moments of history. Most were populist in spirit--while others were more intellectual but not in the sense of the "intellectual property" everyone talks about today. These film makers did not seek individual credit or promote themselves as Hollywood wanabees--although some did end up making commercial films. They preferred anonymity and a democratic approach to film making that may seem naive in world where production is characterized by craft unions and a star system." - Danny Schechter

ok. why not?

yeah but.... i had the strong sense that i should get in there with the words and try to figure out why i had this persistant sense that it was appologetic somehow, and therefore... well, condescending. in the way so much (all?) of the talk seems to be, because it is being produced there (yes, "in the belly of the beast"), in an environment totally dominated, penetrated, infused, absolutely suffocated by another idea, and therefore another reality, and one which excludes the idea that what we were doing was rather effortless and natural: was as obvious as the nose on your face.

i didn't do this work of language, but i went on, and later i found

ICE:
A film made by Newsreel member Robert Kramer with a production team made up of Newsreel members. A story of a time in the future when the US is at war with Mexico and the Americans are living in a police state.
The film includes a kidnapping, a murder, prison break, takeover of an apartment house for political education, sex, nudity, and violence. and much, much more. 150 Minutes

and it's true, i flipped out. in a sense, all that for that: and apparantly it was friends who did it and thought it was a good idea? "The film includes a kidnapping, a murder,prison break, takeover of an apartment house for political education, sex, nudity, and violence. and much, much more.150 Minutes "

(not to mention "a time in the future...and the americans are living in a police state," or something.)

i mean, sounds good: might even be "two thumbs up" and why not, if that will get them to see it: them...those...well, however we think about them. anyway.

who wrote this and why?
what were we, and why?
why did each of us belong? what did we want?
why bother?
is it just about ego? (i/we did this).
what lessons are there if any?

(n-r in history: variety of the filmmaking in the early days distinguishes the experience absolutely from ALL historical examples of "revolutionary" or "propaganda" filmmaking: nobody ever let 100 flowers bloom from the start, and saw "political line" as the evolution of the internal debate inside the organization as manifest in its films.

crucial arrival of feminism marxism-leninism as paying our dues worker n-r, george depew & m-l, something tells me something important here: it's worthwhile to sift through the history alittle.

 

what did you(or me and you and us, who were into it) feel at the time? lessons about "stalinism" or how hard it is to not be bound to the binding like pages in a book: "being serious." (i was struck by a relation between new world order and the "ice" blurb: "americans living under fascism," as if this formulation was as wierd as all the rest of that far-distant trip!)

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From: PAULMCI@aol.com
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998

Hi.. I am responding to Roberts email that went to you all, (see below). Robert has jumped in and wants us ALL to dig around in this mulch...hey, all right! Between John and Roz I think we can get a good list together. I'd say that this is really a Newsreel---and family, exchange. Not really for others, "interested" in '68-'98 stuff.

I seem to have a listserve lined up..but I'm thinking we should "process" our stuff a little before bringing it to the rest of the world. I say that mainly because we would have to be explaining so much.

So before I toss in my 6 bits about the many questions R raises, let me see how we can proceed. Tomorrow I'll see how big a Newsreel list we can put together..forward R's email with some introduction about how this all got started and then we can all join by just CC-ing one another..does this make sense? It's nice to think of all of you somewhere out there. Paul.

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From:windwalk@imaginet.fr (robert kramer)
To:PAULMCI@aol.com (paul mcisaac)

yeah, probably.
i mean: i don't think i realized exactly where i was headed. "fanshen?"
aren't we alittle old for this?
maybe not. let's see.

(what allan wrote is precisely the area i was feeling in.)
so yeah sure, if you think CC is the best let's do it that way. it sure
is alot less imposing and formal than "THE PAGE OUT THERE."
i'm going to be away, paul, until around the 20th, but i's here!
love

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From: robert kramer
maybe the best way to really dialogue with another generation (with young people today) is to start out by being clear who we were and who we became: seems like we have to share ourselves, for better or worse that what there is to share.

for example, peter gessner put it this way:

"I think 60/90's would be a good discussion to have. I was thinking
about it today as I drove through the heat to Santa Rosa on a mundane
detective mission. Thinking that we are as distant from the sixties as
the old CP was from the thirties when we tried or didn't try to hear
their stories. Of course, few of them wanted to talk truthfully -
imagine what it might have been like to be in Pa Gessner's hollywood
cell, what did they talk about, how did they see themselves, and how did
they assess the good and the bad. I think the dialogue never happened
because of mutual arogance. Tom Brandon, Leo Hurwitz were not very
forthcoming men who had a lot to hide. Nor were they role models in
any sesne. On our side, we tended not to want to hear whatever they
might have to say. Not to say that we could have dragged the truth out
of them - probably not, they were self-invested in their righteousness
- but it would have been interesting."

oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly, because the origins of that experience
probably did happen with peter, and leo and brandon and bob gessner, etc.)
this same story happens the same way in "Snap Shots," that thing i wrote for the book.

which is not so say that we hang out all intimate laundry or something, but:
maybe stirring in the mulch and compost is not really either "preliminary" or "beside the point."

oh, definitely add Josh Breitbart to the list: i don't have his @ but i bet eric or lynn phillips do.
bye

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From: PAULMCI@aol.com
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 10:31:28 EDT

....email from Paul about this exchange Robert has kicked off. The three of us we tried to get a dialogue started among Newsreel-ers for sometime--and guess when it erupts--about a description of ICE--that's been on the site forever. Makes sense.

I don't think there is any reason to rush cause RK only CC: Alan and Peter. I will try to pull these various email together so they make some sense to people coming in late. If both of you can look at my Newsreel list below and see who is missing, who's address is wrong--or who should NOT be there.

Then I'll try to "instruct" everybody to on how to CC; the whole list and warn them that if they want an email to go just to one person they must say "PERSONAL". People are quoting each other, which is fine, just be aware of that.

Try to get back to me today so we can get this out in some order., OK?

Love you, Paul.

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From: RozNews@aol.com
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998

Note

All descriptions of the NR films (made or distributed ) by newsreel were taken from old catalogs or reviews etc. I did not do any of the writing. There should be a note above the list that says that the descriptions are from the 60/70's. If anyone wants to change the historical writing that is a discussion. I spoke to John about. this and he said he may have left out the above. None of this is a big deal to me, nor am I interested in redoing the historical list. If it bothers someone out there re write it. I don't care.

Im off until Sept. 15.

We will be having a entire day of NR films and talks abt. NR at the Burlington Film Festival. Please think abt. coming here. It will be held Sat. Oct. 24 10 am to 10 pm at the Firehouse Gallery. We have room for folks to stay at Jane's, Roz, John house. Please let me know. Love to all of you out there.

Roz

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From:Lichtmanr@aol.com

Dear Paul,

This is the last Detroit survivor speaking. No heart attack yet. Just spoke to Peter Gessner who said you might be involved in some kind of Newsreel reunion. I'd be interested. In particular I'm looking for Allan Siegal, in Chicago I was told? Do you know? I have seen Stu Bird. Understand Melvin Margolis no longer with us -- wish someone had informed me. Melvin was one of our lower east side crazies and we spent a lot of time together. I've thought about him often. Uof Michigan just received a Huey Newton birthday film and want to know if we'll give them permission to use it? Also young researcher studying early Newsreel films, that's why I want to find Segal.

Best

Rene

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From: john

glad we gathering. have tried to pull http://www.artvt.com/NEWSREEL.htm together a bit so that this is a starting point for something that we all want to see. some frame work eventually for serious streaming video? what?

paul roz and i met to piece together something for the VT filmfest. more on that later. does the show (this piece) travel? and so on. let's sketch something out together..... again. and find ways to make a (the) NR site. in the midst of all these e-mail addresses/people ... paul mentioned something about marking things 'personal' when we are gathering the collective together ... hmmmmm . a roomful of people is sorta like the complete mailing list. ah, but you can always go out for a cup of something with someone. a cup of someone with something. happy that we at least as together as this still J>

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Date: 08/18 3:35 AM
From: Rene Lichtman, Lichtmanr@aol.com

Dear Paul,

You can add my name and email address to the list with short bio: Rene Lichtman (lichtmanr@aol.com), still in metro Detroit area. Working for large hospital, making educational videos, print material for patient, staff education. Also completing Ph.D. dissertation in Instructional Technology. Heavily involved with Hidden Children/Child Survivors of the Holocaust, since I was a "Hidden Child" in France during W.W.II. Vice-Chair of Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust. Plan to go back to painting as soon as dissertation is completed.

Best regards,
Rene

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From: "Beverly Grant"

Hi John: Thanks for the info and work you're doing. I want to add David Wallace to the list. His e-mail address is videodav@aol.com. I forwarded the stuff I received to him. I bet he has some idea of where some of the other "third world" folks are. I'm in touch with Juan Julian Caicedo and will see if he has e-mail and forward that to you as well. There are so many other people that aren't on the list, mainly folks that came after the founders and kept it going: Florie Summergrad, Carol Michaels (now Foresta), Heather Archibald (now Lewis), Susan Robeson, Fro ? I forget her last name whose money floated us while she worked at Gimbles Department Store to better understand what it meant to be working class. I think it's important that the total history be represented, because in many ways the changes we went through reflected the changes the movement as a whole was going through. And, as far as El Pueblo Se Levanta is concerned, the film that Tivo, Florrie and I worked on, we cut negative, baby! It would be kind of nice to know what everybody is doing now - maybe we could all submit short summaries. What do you think? Take care. Bev

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From: Marvin
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998

Thanks for sending me the NR communiques.

As long as people are summoning up names from the past, let me add a few. I guess that nobody has heard from or about Norris Eisenbrey - a peripheral member of NR as a whole, but an active member of an early affinity group. An adventurous guy, Norris was a professional freelance cameraman. Rene may remember Norris.

I'm embarrassed to say that I long ago lost touch with my old partner, Masanori Oe ("Masa"). My last contact with Masa was some 28 years ago when he left to return to Japan. His ancestral home there was Kyoto.

Then there was Ken Kaiser, who hung in with us until some time after the Columbia University uprising. I last saw Ken shortly after the Columbia footage, which several of us, including Ken, were assembling in my studio on East 3rd St., was transferred over to Lynn Phillips after my back had broken down and I could no longer work. I don't remember if Ken continued on working with Lynn or if he dropped out at that point.

Has anybody heard from Danny Shafferman?

I think the correct spelling is Lacativa, as in Bob Lacativa.

Marvin

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from:fppf@together.net (Kenneth Peck)

Dear Paul,
We are going to go two days with the Newsreel Show. Saturday 12 noon till 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon till 5:00 p.m.
I had the idea of a little tape loop of the rat-a-tat-tat flashing Newsreel logo and putting it on a 13" screen facing outwards onto Church Street throughout the whole 15 hours of the show. It would add a little something, even without audible audio rat-a-tat-tatting onto the street. Then again, Joey could probably hook up some external speaker. John liked the whole idea and will put it together when we all do the editing weekend in October.
Here is the Newsreel list we discussed last week at the meeting:

Full-length screening (approx. four-to-five hours)
Amerika
Columbia Revolt
Garbage
No Game (maybe)
Off the Pig (Black Panther)
Richmond Oil Strike (maybe)
People's Park
People's War
Pig Power
Up Against the Wall, Miss America
Yippie
Young Puppeteers of South Vietnam

And in the grand montage of clips and fragments (about one-to-two hours):

El Pueblo Se Levanta (The Young Lords Film)
Free Farm
Ice
Inciting to Riot
Make It Real
Mayday (Black Panther)
Milestones
No Game (maybe)
Only the Beginning
Richmond Oil Strike (maybe)
ROTC
Seventy-nine Springs of Ho Chi Minh
She's Beautiful When She Is Angry
Strike City
The Woman's Film
Troublemakers
Venceremos
You Don't Have to Buy the War, Mrs. Smith

Roz has some issues about the wording of things in VIFF marketing materials. I will be having Gordon Rainey (intern) and/or Rob Koier (volunteer) contacting you all with prose to edit and approve. Don't want to disgruntle anyone, of course. Editing by collective decision, however, is somewhat, well, you know . . . .

Kenny

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From: Lichtmanr@aol.com
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998

Dan Shafferman from the "Free School" on 14th St., where Allan Siegal was teaching film and Rene and Stu Bird were "students," and George De Pue was there somewhere because my old friend Frank Gillette introduced us. Dan used his truck to show films in Washington Park and empty lots on the Lower East Side. Dan and Vicky moved with the Detroit Collective, then to Flint Michigan, I believe, or maybe Ann Arbor. Any old SDS/RCP types from the Detroit/Ann Arbor area in Vermont? I know one person was there years ago and called me about an NR reunion. But forgot his name. How about the High School Movie people who worked I believe on the upper west side, Fenton was one? Also came to Ann Arbor/univ. of Michigan? Any last memories of Melvin Margolis? I've been told he died. Yes, Marvin, I do remember the filmmaker you mentioned, Norris, cause we worked on a couple of films together (for money), one was Ed Downey's Putney Swope, he was Ass. Camera. I also remember Dick Pike, with his numberous cameras.

Rene

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From: PAULMCI@aol.com
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998

Does everyone getting this message know that "this" refers to the URL in the subject line? Can everyone get on the web to look at this material? Do we need to put all messages on email for people that can't get on the web?

Is any one out there? Since no one, except Josh B. & Marvin, have responded to any of these messages about NR...I assume they're on vacation, don't check their email--or don't care. Hmmmmmm. Paul.

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From: "Beverly Grant"

I think we're all out here. I'm reading my e-mail and appreciate John's work on the site, although, I must admit, I don't always understand the cryptic messages that are going back and forth. I used to have the same problem in Newsreel meetings years ago. "Hmmm", as Paul would say. My response to the site - I think it looks good design wise. It's simple, attractive, and easy to follow. I would like some acknowledgement that Newsreel extended into the 70's, instead of referring to it as a late 60's organization (at the top center). I was there from 1968 until 1972 and probably at my most productive in the 70's when most of you doing the current corresponding had left. I know there were others like me who carried on the work, went through the struggles, and felt it was an important part of their political and artistic development but who either didn't find their voice or didn't join the organization until the 70's. I know that the "women's struggle" the "working class struggle" and the "Third World struggle" ended Newsreel for many of you, but the organization did continue for quite a while and I think the story of the ascension of those who once felt powerless to positions of power and how that kept happening is an important story, and Newsreel continued to play an important role in the movement as a whole while all that was going on. Being one of those who felt powerless and out of the loop in the beginning years, but who later found her voice, it's important to me, as it is important for those of you whose voices were prominent in the late 60's, that my (our) story be told. So, what do you think???

I suspect that some of you may be snickering, or am I being defensive and cyncial? Anyway, another thought - It would be nice to get the dates on all the films. Thanks to John and Paul and Roz for your care in preserving our history. Bev

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From: gdolgin@igc.apc.org (Gail Dolgin)
Subject: Yes Virginia

Hi John,
Been away...watching the grass grow in Oregon. Strange to find myself in Oregon - of all places - trying to dry out my mildewed mind and lift the fog! Warm and sunny days, bike rides on gravel roads, and, yes, Virginia, there are still stars in the sky!
So finally home and had a chance to check out emailz, website, etc. Great job - loved the "newsreel" along the top and the annotated archival film list. Are copies of all those films still available???? Brought back many memories. Design-wise I had a little (!) problem with the print size of the two side columns on the home page - might be a problem with aging eyes but...hey...these eyes have looked at a lot of films since 1968 and they're not alone!!! Picky picky...so what if I have to squint and use a magnifying glass!!!! More important as a problem is the omission of original San Francisco Newsreel folks. Many SF Newsreel films on the but no Newsreelers on the email list (except me - and I'm a cross-over!) Sooooo....I'll put some attention to trying to network addresses. my email address says "pop" - no "pop" needed.) Thank you and Roz and Paul for putting this in motion. Roz and I have talked often of trying to get the Pacific Film Archives to sponsor a Newsreel retrospective out here.

Maybe I'll put some attention to that too.

Much more to write about but emailing makes me feel guilty - should be working instead of writing...or if I'm writing it should be as in "proposal writing". Didn't get the ITVS money - too bad. Came very close but close as in one number away in the lottery can feel like an even bigger disappointment!!! So it's back to the funding drawing board. Will send you a copy of our sample. Maybe you'll have an idea or two. At any rate, I'd like you to see it...especially since it looks like that might be there is to see for a while.

That's it for now. I'll be in NY next week...computer and all.

A big kiss to you and Bobbie too.

XOXO...ggggg

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Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 07:27:53 -0400
From: Lynn Phillips
Subject: more finishing touches...

Nice site, john.

Helvetica is a little corporate, but I've always liked it anyway.
Was Ella (once Ellin) Hirst's name on there?
And what about that guy who shot Al Lowenstein (was that his name?) a
Dennis maybe? From Cal.? I met him when I interviewed draft dogers n
California for NBC's doc, "We Won't Go." He hung around with Harris, I
think his name was, who was Baez's squeeze at the time and an anti-draft
agitator. Then he showed up in NR. Small world. Then at some point, as I
recall, the CIA implanted speakers in his molars that told him to kill
Al... and he did.

Is Machover tuned in? What were the names of the Atlanta people again? I
remember their faces, their living room couch -- which I slept on for weeks
-- and their attic -- which I graduated to when I moved in with Mac... He
was the first guy I'd ever met who routinely wore his belt below his butt
cleavage. It drives me crazy that I can remember that and not his name!
As Michael Falk once said to me -- I thought writers were supposed to
REMEMBER things! We, the Atlanta team, took some amazing road trips
showing the films in bayous, swamps and psychedelic-blacklight-antiwar-homosex-sual
coffee houses showing films about armed revolution to people who were
afraid they'd be killed by cops if they went over the speed limit. It was an education.

Rene -- What was pretty-boy Ffloyd's last name -- he was one of the editor-trainees
on Columbia Revolt. Speaking of forgetting people's names -- Here's an old list I had..........

Clarissa Ainsley (Now Dalrymple)
Nancy Attas
H. Babeuf
Stu Bird
Eric Breitbart
Vicki Breitbart
Miriam Bosker
Jane C.
Dan Brown
? Calcedo
? Castellano
Randall Conrad
? Costello
Michael Dannenberg
George DePue
Gail Dolgin
John Douglas
Michael Falk
Gay Falk
Ray Fei?enbaum
Mark Fisher
? Friedman
Jaimie Friar
Manny Frishberg
Norman Fruchter
Mavis Gawant
Peter Gessner
Beverly Grant
Tom Griffin
Jack Hirshfield
Ellin Hirst
Bob Hipkins
Alan Jacobs
Martin Janal
Jim Jones
?
?
Hugh King
Janet Kranzberg
Robert Kramer
Jane Kramer
Rene Lichtman
Llyana Landes
Robert Machover
Larry Mead
Karen Mitnik
Jack Milton
Melvin Margulis
Jeannie Morrison
Steve Packard
Roz Payne
Lynn Phillips
Gail Porer
Marcia Rizzi
Steve Rose
Joanna Homer
Henry Saveth
Stephen Sbarge
Harry Schreibman
Allan Siegal
Mike Singer
David Stone
Barbara Stone
Cynthia and John Swinborne
Pat Tan
Eric Taub
Nancy Toby

Memory loss is so humbling.

 

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Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998
From: "Beverly Grant"
Subject: Re: feed back

Hi John and others:

It keeps getting better. Small typo in middle column where it says
"They saw film as a weapon to put a (should be at?) the service...
Also, I'm pretty sure Fructer spells his name without an "h". I
liked the e-mail messages on the site because they were more complete
than the ones I've gotten through e-mail, and thanks for including
the "early 70's".

What Dave Wallace said about the influence of Newsreel in terms
of personal direction I have to echo as well. Although I didn't go
on to make films or videos (except for a short job related video
which I did with Dave in '94) the NR philosphy of cultural work
has stayed with me for the 27 years or so that I've been doing
music, informing who and what I stand for. What I've been doing
lately is working with another woman in presenting a women's labor
history show, which uses slides, narration and music to tell the
story of our contribution to the labor movement. It's called "We
Were There", lasts about an hour, uses local people to read the
parts of the 10 heroines we present, and I provide a combination
of traditional labor songs, in addition ot some contemporary ones
that are relevant to the story. We perform it mainly for unions
in the northeast, although we were in New Orleans in July at the
national AFT convention. We'll be at the Bread & Roses Festival
in Lawrence on Labor Day if any of you are around and in Portland,
ME the day before. It's been a wonderful and almost always
emotional experience because of the response of the audience
and participants to what has largely been an untold story. The
fact that there are now more women in positions of power within
the AFL and the local unions has given us access which we wouldn't
have had several years ago. I'm also directing a community
women's chorus in Brooklyn, which doesn't hold auditions but
welcomes anyone who wants to sing. The amazing thing is that
anyone can learn to sing (I found that out over the last 5 years
or so while directing another chorus in New Jersey),so there
are many grateful singers in the chorus who were told to mouth
the words when they were kids and now have been given a voice,
and they sound GOOD! Aside from these activites, I work full-time
at a not for profit criminal justice agency doing alternative
to incarceration advocacy and programs (i.e. substance abuse),
and other programs for ex-offenders, prisoners and their families.
Igood work...albeit, bandaid work...but some lives get transformed
and that always feels good. Sure is better than the corporate
clerical jobs I had for years. I also do some music on the job
so my life feels somewhat integrated in ways it never did before.
I've got two girls - 16 and 26 - been a single mom most of it and
am almost through the worst of it with the younger one. Personally,
life is getting better and I feel happy, even though the present
world situation is extremely alarming. What do you make of that??

What's everybody else doing??? Bev

 

>>> john douglas 08/28 10:00 AM >>>

"i have a dream" mlk .... 35 years ago! today
gail, lynn, marvin, bev, rene, roz, paul, robert ... others
so glad to know you out there. really. and thanks for the kind words and
thoughts. have tried to keep up with suggestions etc. and get the list of
folks consolidated. check it out.... quite amazing
have made the tiny fonts a little larger. tossed in a little courier. and
mentioned 'streaming video' .... in the process of getting this upcoming NR
screening together for the VT film fest will set up some clips (compressed
digital video) to a number of the titles. using this site as a framework
for the future of this past.

bill floyd was in la as a postal worker with some rev faction, last i heard
and allan and chris.... where are the negatives?
rene... dave dellinger lives up north of here a bit. and grace paley a bit
south. sds types? hmmmm
and robert: much of the print material on the site came from work that roz
had been gathering for a CD-ROM project with Voyager. hence Danny
Schechter's authoring. it is possible to think of the NR website as a CD.
or for that matter DVD. now that would be a serious collective project for
us at this point. hmmmmm. but any writing, history, reflections etc. can
all begin to find some relation to this current framework. thoughts?
suggestions? and how much has our relationship to POWER changed in these
last many years.... collectively? individually? is there a peculiar cosmic
stasis? where are we now, and how much has it changed? i'm still in
vermont, though haven't taken apart a seimens projector for many years.
and.... way back. after my first/2nd NR meeting (after one where jonas
spoke) in the basement at UofStreets? i stated to robert and norman that
"we have just wasted 100 MAN-HOURS...." yes, there were women in the room.
roz sat beside me in a tight fitting suit. some things have changed.

best to you all J>

----------------------------------------------------------------------


Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 15:31:04 -0700
From: "Robert K. Machover"
Subject: Still more....

Hi folks,
I can't keep up this eves-dropping without adding a few words.
Lynn: Atlanta Trot of below-the-belt reknown was surely "Jack" and I
think the surname may have been Walsh but I'm not sure. As for her, his
"girlfriend", I can't remember her name. Funny, I liked her and not
him. Apparently my memory for names doesn't care about my tastes. But
then what about the guy who came down from NY with me, Martin? Has
anyone mentioned him? Anyway, Atlanta NR adventures were memorable:

1. The back road trip outside of Jackson, MS to the shores of Lake
Ross Barnet (ex-racist gov.) with the local rock band, Bob Rusk & Dean
McNamara of the underground paper, "Kudzu" and asst'd kids. We had a
generator to power the projector and the rock band's amps. Somewhere in
the middle of the woods in the middle of People's Park (or was it
People's War?) headlights came down the road towards us and we (I)
started to tremble inside. Three or four "working class youth" (we
called them rednecks) popped out of the car, shared beers with us,
watched the movies and engaged in provacative "dialogue" about the state
of things. Talk about feeling relevant!

2. The cafe in the middle of the very rural south black neighborhood
of Greenville, MS run by a local white gay "artist". Screening NR films
to a mixed audience of blacks, hippies, well-to-do liberal litterati(!)
and undercover cops. I remember the decor: black light, strobes, sofas
and chairs upholstered in material covered with phosphorescent images of
Greek Gods & male body-builders (watch where you sit). Maybe it was the
setting but I remember it as THE most stimulating post-films discussion
of the era. And then coming out into the parking lot of the cafe and
seeing the half dozen crew-cutted Mississippi Bureau of Investigation
characters writing down license plate numbers. We made it safely out of
town without incident despite our car's trunk full of subversive
material.

There was more.

I think Joanie's squeeze and Al L.'s killer was Dennis Sweeney.

I've been friends with old High School Student Unionists, Howie
Swerdloff and Robbie Newton for years now. I co-made a movie in 1980
called "Shop Talk" about Howie and the printing plant he worked in
(still works in). Robbie is studying to become a geologist after
quitting Sullivanianism and life as an insurance co. exec. They both
(Howie & Robbie) have twin teen-age daughters and hadn't known it (or
seen each other in ages) until they bumped into each other a few years
back on a lonely hiking trail in the Catskills.

The bedroom scene with Ella and Bill Floyd is one of my favorites in Ice.

Enough for now. Keep it up John.

Machover

------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: PAULMCI@aol.com
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998

Rene...when you ask, "Who is the historian?", the glib answer is also
true..we all are. You mentioned at least one story I don't know and would
love to hear...

>Test: who were the women who came to Detroit to "officially" disband
>Detroit NR for what offenses? Who was the woman who came to Detroit with
>NR, then moved back to Chicago? We do have a complicated history.

However I imagine reliving the past for the Testimonial Archives will be
filling your memory for now. Do they give you a video copy of =your
interview? Paul.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

griffin is supposed to show up here this evening... for a bit

----------------------------------------------------------------------


From: Lichtmanr@aol.com
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998
Subject: Re: feed back - 2

More thoughts:
Anyone considered including the written material on Newsreel activities, for
example, does anyone remember "HIPPIES INVADE CHANNEL 13," NY Daily News
headline, 1968, maybe, and can you list the individuals/invaders on TV? And
who our lawyers were? Also, the interviews/articles in Variety, Cineaste,
where else?

As regards Detroit Newsreel, see the book "Detroit: I do mind dying" by Dan
Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers,
including the history of Detroit Newsreel and the making of "Finally Got the
News (how our dues are being used!)" and relationships to SDS, Black Panthers,
Weatherman.

To raise an interesting point: Should "Finally Got the News" be considered a
NR film? I would say a loud YES, since it WAS made with NR approval, by a NR
group, and frankly, today it's an orphan, no one claims credit for it or is
even interested in it, except for the Wayne State University Walter Ruther
Archives (Although my labor historian friend Steve Smith, ex Union Stewart at
Chrysler, now teaching in North Carolina, still insists it's the best labor
movie he's ever seen, and he still shows it to his friends and students). So
if no one wants it, NR should claim it with great pride, since frankly, in
retrospect, the League seems so much more significant than the Panthers (maybe
I should not have said that, but why did we come out to do it)? And Black
Star Production (who took credit for film) no longer exists, never has,
although they had a role for Jane Fonda, playing Rosa Luxembourg. Can we
believe all this really happened?

How soon we forget?

Rene

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Lichtmanr@aol.com
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998
Subject: Re: more

On the end of Detroit Newsreel:
My recollections only, but I think I was the only one left in town (Detroit).
Gessner? Bird on vacation?
A large number of women (maybe there were men also, from SF) held a special
meeting in Detroit to discuss the state of DNR and the League film, disbanded
the DNR group, on the charges of racism and sexism (?) and decided to take
FGTN back to SF for final editing (they told me quietly that I could come), at
which point a large contingent of large League members walked into our
editing basement (I was only one there) and simply unplugged the equipment
and walked out with it.

Later Gessner, Bird and I were invited by League to finish it as a Black Star
Production film. For a fuller explanation see "Detroit: I do mind dying -- A
Study in Urban Revolution," pp 136-148.
Thirty years later, this very morning, I have had a very emotional 3 hours
with the local Spielberg crew reliving my childhood years in Nazi-occupied
France, for Spielberg's Archives. (I am dating myself, as they say). Yes,
Paul, I will get a copy. So it's been an interesting day.
In warm friendship to all my "liberal" and/or "leftist" friends (Anarchists,
Feminists, ex-commies)

Rene

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998
From: robert kramer

this here wants to be a contribution to the stuff bubbling up,
i hope you are all well.

AS FOLLOWS:
I would say that each one of the major experiences, the major zones or territories of activity that followed one another, and made up what I did between 1960 and 1980, were (of course, among other things as well) battlegrounds. These were places where unfamiliar things happened and happened to you. Old structures were called into question, challenged again and again from different angles and in unexpected ways, and where the world, or a picture of that world kept getting reconstructed in different ways.

(Just for reference, some of my territories were:
--The Newark Community Union Project, an organizing project connected with SDS.
--Blue Van Films: independent filmmaking in NYC and the life that goes with it.
--Newsreel.
--Free Vermont
--Portugal, Angola, Native American Solidarity Committee, San Francisco, family-children-earning a living, a sort of early warning announcing the dispersion and return to scarcity of the 80’s.)

These “territories” can be caracterized as communities, as almost closed-systems with their own rules and practises and a rather complete and largely shared description of the world. The communities were in evolution, each one, in a process of development in relation to things happening around them. But they were also self-sustaining, like a train roaring through the night, and at a certain point, if you didn’t want that trip, you just had to get off the train. Like Wavy Gravey or Ken Kesey said, “you’re either on the bus or off the bus.” You could argue all you wanted, but once you hit your limits (a very important idea this thing about “limits”) maybe the best thing was just to jump.

Also because these situations-contexts-communities were not necessarily comfortable. Comfort was not exactly one of the main themes (something that pleases me very much in my memories of those times): on the contrary. Neither physical comfort, nor mental, not to many assurances or reassurances. They functioned as such rich places of learning also because conditions were so difficult and demanding.

The process that went on had as much to do with tearing down as building up. It had a lot to do with establishing or discovering (arbitrary?) bottom lines, those “limits” I was writing about: I won’t go there, I won’t go any farther here, I have to push myself to do or accept that, etc. Differents limits for different people, different fears. Too much acid is going to push me to too much insanity; too much violence, too much or too different sex, too much ridgidity and control, too much responsibility, too much accountability,etc.

And other kinds of limits also. Priviledge wasn’t an abstraction: it was a daily bread and butter question. How much control do I want to (or have to) give up over my tools (bank account, car, camera, apartment, etc.). How much control do I want to or have to give up over my abilities, my thoughts, my feeling, my vision, my independence. How to think (really) about this individualism? How to think (really) about this white skin. About being a man (or a boy). How does it feel to go to the country for the weekend when…. Who am I going to let tell me how to shoot a movie or cut a scene and why? Arguments and strong feelings on all sides, much reason on all sides: no way to dodge the questions, debilitating but also useful and crucial questions, whereas today….

The demands of the different territories made it much easier to see the (not necessarily pleasant) contures of oneself (or of a self) evolving, and therefore to establish relations between oneself and this larger process going on, a world in the midst of a rapid adjustment, a shift, a hint of social revolution on a global scale. Each one of the questions about “one’s limits,” or “the changes necessary to realize these goals/dreams,” rebounded from the personal to the public, from the interior to the exterior, from personal choice to Unavoidably.

For me, Newsreel was from the fall of ’67 until 1970. But there was the shooting & editing of ICE in 1968-69 (which happened moreorless outside Newsreel), the trip to North Vietnam and PEOPLES’ WAR in late ‘69—no, the Newsreel time was really very short for me, much shorter than for most of you, and of course not only did Newsreel continue to flourish, but it is still there, in the form of Third World Newsreel, yes, but also (perhaps a more “linear descendance”) San Fransciso Newsreel too.

(to be continued I guess)

---------------------------------

 

Fri, 7 Aug 1998

 

 

 

 

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