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Anarchist and Film

the portland alliance

Alliance sponsors "Anarchists and Film"

In our era of accelerating global capitalism, where constant upheaval of every kind-political, social, economic, cultural, environmental-is the rule, the search for a social system that brings prosperity with justice has never been sought by so many people. The history of anarchism, which dates back to mid-19th- century France and Russia, is based on “utopia,” the ideal of mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, in lieu of control by the state or private concentrations of power.
Perhaps better known for the means (or perhaps failures, in achieving its goals) rather than the ends desired, anarchist philosophy nonetheless lies at the heart of numerous activist causes (left and right) worldwide and has shaped our popular and political culture in countless ways. Today, both in terms of internal structure and external goals, much of our approach to social change is indebted to the anarchist imagination. Yet for a broader public, the spectrum of anarchist ideals remains outside the confines of common understanding, ignored as outmoded, equated with failed Marxism-Communism, thought to be the dangerous (terrorist) passion of the underclass or simply the nihilism of the young. But the continuing inquiry by writers, historians, artists, activists and filmmakers into the subject suggests that its relevance to our globalist present continues. We hope this series offers insight into the revolutionary desire for a better world.
Special thanks to series curator Pietro Ferrua, founder of the International Center for Research on Anarchism. This festival is cosponsored by The Portland Alliance.
—Bill Foster

MAY 2 FRI 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
An Injury to One
U.S. 2001
DIRECTOR: Travis Wilkerson. Wilkerson’s captivating portrait tells the inter-twined stories of the town of Butte, Montana, the notorious Anaconda Copper Mining Company, and a long-forgotten event the lynching of Wobbly union organizer Frank Little. As it delves into a complex history, An Injury to One tells a story of modern capitalism, turn-of-the century labor organizing and enviornmental destruction that still scars the land today. Using archival documents, images of present-day Butte, miners songs, the music of indie band Low, and Littles speeches, Wilkerson expertly interweaves his material to fashion his own hybrid vision an experimental documentary that connects past to present and is both a lament and a call for action. (53 mins.)
shown with:

Lucy Parsons Meets William Morris
Britain 2000
DIRECTOR: Helena Stevens. “Lucy Parsons was one of the first emancipated women in the history of the American progressive movement, along with Voltairine de Cleyre and Emma Goldman. She was also one of the first Afro-American anarchists. One year after the Chicago Martyrs were wrongly hung in 1878, Parsons was invited to visit William Morris in London to deliver a series of lectures on the Haymarket affair and other anarchist topics. Morris was, at the time, a utopian socialist who frequented the same socialist club in Hammersmith visited by George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Louise Michel and Peter Kropotkin. Recreating the events, the acting seems a little contrived at times, but the set design is based on the actual William Morris apartment and the research is scrupulous. A gem that must not to be missed!” –-Pietro Ferrua. (20 mins.)
also shown with

US 1922
DIRECTORS: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton. In his most famous short film, Keaton is accidentally fingered as a terrorist after an “anarchist bomber” (Cline) throws a bomb at the police department’s annual parade. Soon the whole police deparment is after Keaton in what is one of the classic chase sequences in the movies. (18 mins.)
Cosponsored by Four Wall Cinema.

MAY 3 SAT 4 & 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
Emma Goldman: The Anarchist Guest
Canada 2000
DIRECTOR: Coleman Romalis. Canadian sociologist and filmmaker Coleman Romalis fondly portrays the feisty Jewish woman whose disdain for authoritarianism was best expressed by the attributed phrase “If I can’ t dance, it’s not my revolution.” Exploring her political career as well as her remarkably liberated private life, including her often stormy relationships with younger men, the film provides a spirited portrait of one of the 20th century’s most colorful and inspirational activists. J. Edgar Hoover pronounced Emma Goldman “the most dangerous anarchist in this country,” after deporting her to Russia in 1919. (42 mins.)
Following the film’s 4pm screening, series curator Pietro Ferrua will lead a panel discussion with guests including Richard Porton, author of “Film and the Anarchist Imagination”; Alon Rabb, Portland Alliance; and Morgan Miller, Portland IWW.

MAY 3 SAT 8:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
Living Utopia
Spain 1997
DIRECTOR: Juan Gamero. Made for Spanish television, LIVING UTOPIA consists of 30 interviews with survivors of the 1936-1939 Spanish Revolution, plus the recorded voices of former dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, of his son José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Falange (the equivalent of the Fascist Party of Italy and the Nazi Party of Germany) and that of known anarchist militant, Juan García Oliver, who became the Minister of Justice of the Republic.Their memories are interspersed with songs by El Cabrero, photographs, film clips and images of key documents from the era. (96 mins.)

MAY 4 SUN 7 P.M.
Guild Theatre
The Wobblies
U.S. 1979
DIRECTORS: Lance Bird, Deborah Shaffer. A flow of familiar union tunes sung by popular folk performers Utah Phillips, Mike Seeger, and others sets the pace for this extraordinary documentary about the International Workers of the World. First to organize the Northwest lumberjacks and the Eastern waterfront, The Wobblies were feared by the politicans, but cheered by train men. Bird and Shaffer combine rare footage of America laboring in the 1930s with art, political cartoons, early anti-union animation and interviews with old-timers to recreate the Wobbly dream-and its demise. (89 mins.)

MAY 8 THU 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
The New Babylon
USSR 1929
DIRECTOR: Grigorii Kosintsev, Leonid Trauberg. In 1929 the Soviet antiformalist backlash swept through Leningrad’s art world. Caught in the politics and bureaucracy was the celebrated antiwar history of the Paris commune. The story is set in the 1871 Paris and centers around a posh department store modeled after that found in Emile Zola’s novel Ladies Paradise,which in turn satirized the circus of consumer fetishism represented by the Paris emporium Le Bon Marché. (85 mins.)

MAY 9 FRI 7 P.M.
Double Feature
Guild Theatre
SPAIN 1999
DIRECTOR: Jose Luis Cuerda Cuerda’s moving film is the tender saga of a young boy’s coming of age on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. It is the winter of 1936. Moncho, about to begin school in a small Galician village and struck with fear by the imposing reputation of his new teacher, runs away. Don Gregorio seeks him out, brings him back and soon forms a bond with his young student. A kind, gentle man in love with life, Don Gregorio introduces his students to the mysteries of nature by spending the spring class days in the glorious countryside. But one day in early summer, the world of butterflies, friendship and ideals are crushed forever by the reality of war. Betrayal, both national and personal willsoon conume everyone. One of the rare films whose anarchist protagonist is portrayed as a completely positive character, the story reflects the moral, political and psychological siutation in Spain after the fall of the Republic, and an aftermath of revenge and repression that lasted for another four decades. Spanish Goya Award for Best Screenplay. (95 mins.)
shown with:

Mexico 1977
DIRECTOR: Marcela Fernandez Violante Cananea recalls the first of a series of strikes against the regime of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz in 1906, which culminated in the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Organized by the Mexican Liberal Party, founded by anarchists in190 in conjunction with the Western Federation of Miners, the story charts the heroic efforts to throw off the yoke of economic and political oppression by the landowner who ruled the country. (90 mins.)

MAY 10 SAT 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
1919, Cronica Del Alba
Spain 1983
DIRECTOR: Antonio Jose Betancor. Adapted from Ramon J. Senders autobiographical novel, Cronica Del Alba provides moving testimony to the price of idealism and self-sacrifice as it recounts the coming of age of a young Spanish anarchist. In 1939, José Garcés is in French prison camp after the defeat of Spain’s Republicans. To entertain and inspire his fellow prisoners, and keep his own hope alive, he tells the story of becoming a man in 1919, the year he realized that learning to live is the same as learning to die. After his father loses a fortune in German war bonds, he leaves his son on his own in the small town of Zaragoza to finish high school. While apprenticing in a pharmacy, José courts his beloved Valentina via letters, experiences his first sexual awakening with Isabel, who shares his ideas of free love, and falls under the influence of El Checa, an anarchist and gentle teacher who introduces him to the realities of class oppression. Deftly weaving an adventurous personal story with Spanish social and political history, Betancor provides an eloquent story of a transition from adolescence to adulthood marked by the conflict between bourgeois background and revolutionary ideals. (98 mins.)

MAY 11 SUN 7 P.M.
Guild Theatre
Italy 1999
DIRECTOR: Enzo Monteleone. Monteleone’s comedy-drama is based upon the true story of Horst Fantazzini, Italy’s “gentleman bandit,” who robbed banks with a toy gun and saw his mostly nonviolent crimes as a way of emulating his father’s anarchist exploits during the fascist era. Focusing primarily on a hostage standoff that develops during one of the outlaw’s attempts to break out of jail in 1973 (with a real gun), the movie recalls DOG DAY AFTERNOON, but with touches of gentle humanity. Stefano Accorsi plays the would-be escapee-who quotes Brecht when he tells his hostages that it’s “more of a crime to found a bank than rob one.” (91 mins.)

MAY 14 WED 7:30 P.M.
Whitsell Auditorium
Trinity Sees Red
Spain 1971
DIRECTOR: Mario Camus. Camus European western, also known as Rage of the Wind, is not your average cowboy film. Terence Hill stars as Marcos,a hired assassin who travels to Valencia in southern Spain with his brother on assignment from Don Antonio (Fernando Rey), a wealthy landowner. His mission is to assassinate a troublesome anarchist who is organizing the peasants to rebel against their repressive living conditions. Complications and enlightenment ensue, not the least of which is falling in love and solidarity with the beautiful Soledad (Maria Grazia Buccella), and Marcos soon turns against his patron to take up sides with the workers. Camus explores the efforts of the workers to develop collective organization and barganing at the end of the 19th century and the awakening realization among some landowners that blind greed and feudal oppression were not in anyone’s best interest. (105 mins.)

MAY 15 THU 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
US 1987
DIRECTOR: John Sayles. In 1920, the small sooty town of Matewan, West Virginia was the scene of a bloody shoot-out between company union-busters and coal miners trying to organize for better working conditions. Sayles’ powerful, textured film recreates the town, the time and the events that became known as the Matewan massacre, an incident that set off a powder keg of conflict in mining towns throughout the eastern U.S. A story of hard work, poverty, scab-labor, racial tension and tragic violence in the struggle for justice, Matewan features a talented ensemble cast, led by James Earl Jones. (132 mins.)

MAY 17 SAT 7:30 P.M.
Guild Theatre
Spain/Italy 1996
DIRECTOR: Vicente Aranda. July 19, 1936: the revolution has just started in a town near Barcelona. Maria, a young innocent nun escaping from her convent, which is being ransacked by revolutionaries, finds refuge in a brothel, where she runs into a group of “Libertarias” intent on freeing the prostitutes. Befriended by the group, she joins up with its leader, Pilar, a spiritualist named Floren and a prostitute called Concha, on their way to the front. Within the brutal realities of war, Maria experiences love with a reformed priest and companionship through those she is fighting with, and soon she begins to doubt almost everything she once held to be true. Aranda’s (TIME OF SILENCE, LOVERS) film is an epic, emotional story of six women’s fight for freedom, their struggle for justice and their passionate cry for a better world. (125 mins.)

MAY 18 SUN 2 P.M.
Guild Theatre
La Commune (Paris 1871)
France 2000
DIRECTOR: Peter Watkins. “Any new work by Peter Watkins is automatically an event, but nothing can compare with his vast, audacious, and exhilarating film about the revolutionary euphoria and civil war that engulfed Paris after the monarchy of Napoleon III collapsed. In 1871, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, common Parisians rose up against the National Assembly and forced it to flee to Versailles. The Paris Commune established itself as a populist government, its members devoted to various ideologies and leaders, but all committed to the insurgent regime. Before their proposals for social reform could be effected, the communards were attacked by troops sent by the exiled assembly to suppress their revolt. The bloody struggle that lasted for more than a month, and the massacre that ended the utopian experiment, left a suppurating wound on the body politic of France that still has not healed. (The revolts of May ‘68 looked back to the Commune as an inspiration.) Shot in beautifully spare black and white, and acted by a cast of fiercely committed non-professionals LA COMMUNE is at once celebration and lament, history lesson and media critique. (345 mins.)
Cosponsored by Four Wall Cinema