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Only Librarian in World Included in Facets Survey
Story Posted by Blake <http://www.eblake.com> on Wednesday June 05 2002,
@ 03:22PM -- Read 359 Times.
from the Video-Guide dept.
Steve Fesenmaier <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> writes " Facets
Multimedia, arguably the world's highest quality distributor of videos
and DVDs, has published its second Movie Movers Video Guide. This year
they asked eighty people around the world - "filmmakers,
cinematographers, writers, artists and movie buffs" to send them their
list of their "ten most influential films". I was one of those people -
here is the list I gave them...
1. WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Makavejev)
2. Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci)
3. Chulas Fronteras (Blank)
4. Matewan (Sayles)
5. Roger and Me (Moore)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. Weekend (Godard)
8. Communications from Weber (Gates)
9. Dancing Outlaw (Young)
10. Brothers Quay shorts
These films, during my near thirty years professionally exhibiting
movies, here and in Minnesota, affected my life - they were more than
films, they became landmarks for my life - emotionally, ethically,
spiritually. "WR" caused me to enter a whole New World, one of amazing
humor and clarity. To me Dusan Makavejev was St. Paul in person,
preaching the new Gospel. "Tango" has become the film that emotionally
changed my life, showing me that other people feel the great despair and
elation that I do. I have been in Paris several times, once on New
Year's Eve, by myself, lost in a world of strangers from Africa. I know
how Marlon felt...."Chulas" gave me back America. More than any film, or
even any trip, it made me see how exotic and exciting my own backyard
is. After I first showed it, I had to see more films by Les Blank, who
now is a friend. I helped him make his great polka film, "In HeavenThere
is No Beer?" Blank's films, more than any filmmakers, has opened my eyes
to the gigantic worlds each person inhabits.
The Brothers Quay also do this - their sheer pantheism literally shows
the world as it really is...totally alive, totally active, totally
beautiful. I once looked into a coke bottle and saw a whirling universe
- both Blank and the Quay Brothers visualize this sense of total aliveness.
"Matewan" changed my life - I worked on it for years with Sayles and his
producer Maggie Renzi. Since working on the script, the production, the
WV premiere, the exhibitions around the state and country, writing about
it on and off for ten years in Graffiti, this film represents the
positive things I have been able to do while living in West Virginia.
One labor historian I know told me that the film was a powerful force in
motivating a coal mine strike in Southern WV and northern Virginia about
a decade ago. This film, along with "Harlan County, USA" (which almost
made my list) has shown the people suffering in the coal fields, and
people all over the world that their suffering is real - and caused not
by God, but by fellow, merciless, greedy human beings. "Roger and Me"
also shows this incredible class warfare that does exist in this
country. It beat out "Harlan County" because it shows many of the same
things that "Harlan" does, but does it with great black humor. Michael
Moore has also created my favorite TV series of all time, "TV Nation".
"2001" and "Weekend" are my two favorite fantasy films of all time. It
is interesting to juxtapose them - one using the ultimate special
effects, the other creating the greatest car wreck in history, and
throwing in Little Beau Peep on top of it. "Weekend" was the first
foreign film I ever saw at a theater --after seeing "I Am Curious
(yellow)". Both were shown at a former porno theater in Minneapolis,
rented by the distributor to show the first commercial film with real
nudity in it. I saw the director on the Johnny Carson Show, and was
excited. But I was even more excited when I saw "Weekend" a few months
latter - it was a film, which showed the horrors of modern living just,
as I saw them. Of course, "Weekend" carries the horror into the realm of
fairy tale and excess - just as "2001" carried the Apollo program off
into the stars. Most people, after they watch either film, will say,
"What the hell does that thing mean??!!" This is the indication that
they are really working...undermining our belief in daily reality.
Finally, I had to include two films made in West Virginia by West
Virginians - "Weber" and "Outlaw". I had to chose "Weber" over "Outlaw"
because it is about ten times denser, ten times more Godardian. The
wonderful letters on the screen, the jumpcuts, the montage - very
Godardian, very exciting. "Outlaw" is more like a Les Blank film....all
of Les' films are full of humor and life, just as "Outlaw" is. One
friend called "Outlaw" "the worst film I have ever seen...." She just
hated its portrayal of a real WV hillbilly. She is like many West
Virginians, a "Greenbrier Wvian", loving the extreme wealth and beauty
of the Greenbrier Resort. On the other side is the "Deer Hunter" Wvian -
and both WV films show that super intense side of the state. "Weber" was
shown at the NY Gay & Lesbian Film Fest, and called "the best film that
year". It also toured England as part of a series. I often show it at
presentations because it only exists in 16 mm and always gets a great
reaction. "Outlaw" is the best selling WV produced film, and certainly
the best known. All of the "Different Drummer" films are great, starting
with Jacob Young's first one in the series, "Point Man for God". I wish
that I could have included Gates' "In Memory of the Land and People",
John Nakashima's "Mountaineer", and many other films. I should do a "Top
Ten WV Film List" - which would have to include "The Night of the
Hunter" and the films by Pare Lorentz of Clarksburg.
During my very first week in the film exhibition world in Minneapolis, I
was assigned the job of "sprucing up the foyer" at the Bell Museum where
we ran films. Recently a British film magazine, "Sight and Sound", had
just released its global film survey done once each decade, asking film
critics for their list of "Ten Greatest". I blew up the pages, and
mounted them on a wooden frame. For years people milled around the
triangle, looking at the six pages of vastly different lists. None
seemed to overlap, but indeed, there was some consensus. "Citizen Kane"
almost made every list...and a few other classics. This publication from
Facets was based on this survey, and likewise shows that every person
loves mostly different things - but there are some things that are near
universal. I am proud to be the only librarian in the world to be asked
to share their list for Facets. "
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