UC Berkeley Library

Documentary Celebrations of the City

Los Angeles Plays Itself

A video essay about how movies have portrayed the city of Los Angeles. The film looks at Los Angeles from three perspectives: first, as a background for movies, second, as a character in movies, and third, as a subject for a movie. Research/text/production, Thom Andersen. 2003. 169 min.

My Winnipeg (Canada, 2007)

Directed by Guy Maddin. My Winnipeg is a documentary (or docu-fantasia) about Guy Maddin's hometown. Equal parts mystical rumination and personal history, city chronicle and deranged fantasy, My Winnipeg blends local myth with childhood trauma. Special features: "Winnipeg" animated video, featurette, three short films by the director: Spanky, to the pier and back, Berlin and Odin's shield maiden. 80 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

New York City "Ghetto" Fish Market

(Edison, 1903) Program 2 of an anthology of films from American film archives. In addition to rare silent-era features, includes cartoons and animation, documentaries and newsreels, earliest American movies, pioneering sound and color experiments, serial episodes, trailers for lost films, advertisements, avant-garde shorts, ethnographic footage, films of ethnic communities, and other film types invented during the first four decades of the motion picture.

Of Time and the City: A Love Song and a Eulogy (UK, 2008)

Directed by Terence Davies. Terence Davies lifts viewers up into the world of fantasy and collective emotion as he presents popular and classical music, voices, radio clips, and a powerful poignant voiceover of his birthplace Liverpool. Includes themes such as Catholicism, homosexuality, violence, death, loss, the glory of cinema, outsiderness, and childhood. 74 min. ; also (PAL) Credits and other information from the Internet Movie DatabaseSee also:

Paris a  l'aube (France, 1960)

Directed by Johan van der Keuken. A lyrical ode to Paris filmed at dawn, made in collaboration with James Blue and set to music by Derry Hall. 10 min. web web sites: Johan van der Keuken web site

Paris, je t'aime (I Love Paris) (2006)

The world's top directors and some of America's top stars create a panoramic portrait of Paris in these 18 short films about the City of Lights. Each filmmaker brings their own personal touch, underlining the wide variety of styles, genres, encounters and the various atmospheres and lifestyles that prevail in the neighborhoods of Paris. Disc 1: Behind-the-scenes featurette; previews ; Disc 2: 18 behind-the-scene featurettes; video & split screen; storyboard.

Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988)

Directed by Godfrey Reggio. This visually spectacular film calls into question everything we think we know about contemporary society. By juxtaposing images of ancient cultures with those of modern life, this experimental film masterfully portrays the human cost of progress. 97 min.

Robinson in Space

A sequel to Patrick Keiller's, Robinson, the enigmatic, unseen hero returns with his travelling companion and researcher. Robinson is commissioned to investigate the unspecified "problem of England." The narrator describes his seven excursions, with the unseen Robinson, around the country. He goes to the country's familiar historic landmarks and grand estates, but also to the suburban malls, industrial parks, landfills, factories, and phone booths choking the landscape. 1997. 78 min.
Reviews and articles:

Rotterdam Europoort (1966)

A film by Joris Ivens. "After more than thirty years of work abroad, Ivens was invited by the municipality to make a film in Rotterdam again, where he had shot his well-known The Bridge (1928). Rotterdam-Europoort, whose production took two years, became a layered hybrid of fact and fiction, poetry and legend: a modern interpretation of The Flying Dutchman. Not devoid of critical remarks, it was a challenging way to promote the port. Besides its imagery, the film is also special for its sound, and Ivens subsequently encouraged soundman Tom Tholen to direct films himself.

The City (1939)

Credits: original outline, Pare Lorentz; scenario, Henwar Rodakiewicz; commentary, Lewis Mumford; music, Aaron Copland; film editor, Theodore Lawrence. Dramatizes the transformation of the United States from a country of small towns to a highly urbanized and industrialized society. Originally shown at the 1939 World's Fair, this classic documentary film comments on four types of cities: the New England town, the unplanned industrial community, a crowded metropolis and the decentralized community.