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Film Program: Whose Native Land?

Thursday, March 10, 7pm

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Join us for a special film program featuring award-winning documentary short Native New Yorker (2005) and classic American labor film Native Land (1942).

Frontier Film’s Native Land (1942) is the most ambitious U.S. documentary of the so-called “Red Decade,” the culmination of years of labor activism and experimentation with nonfiction form by the American left. Directed by Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand (with voiceover narration by the inimitable Paul Robeson), the film depicts Depression-era struggles for democracy by combining nonfiction footage with dramatic reenactments of organized labor under attack from reactionary domestic forces. Invoking America’s indomitable pioneer spirit and its foundational promises of liberty and justice for all, the film positions organized labor as the next step in the nation’s continuous forward march of progress. An impressive feat of earnest political commitment designed to counter contemporary fascist forces; Native Land avoids uncomfortable truths surrounding America’s foundational myths.

We pair this film with Steve Bilich’s evocative experimental short Native New Yorker (2005), which follows Shaman Trail Scout Terry “Coyote” Murphy on a transcendent journey across Manhattan through the eye of a 1924 hand-crank Ciné-Kodak camera. Shot before, during, and after 9/11, the film captures Murphy as he travels from Inwood Park to Times Square to lower Manhattan’s “ground zero,” sites infused with multiple layers of spectral temporality. Featuring an original score by composer William Susman, Native New Yorker is a haunting work that contemplates the Native American influence on the isle of Manhattan.

Interference Archive is honored to screen these two important films in conversation.

Free and open to the public; no RSVPs necessary.

For more information on Native New Yorker: http://www.nativenewyorkerfilm.com/

Learn more about Bilich’s latest project here: http://www.killingtimeintexas.com/

From Native Land:

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2 Comments

  1. Maggie Tobin

    Hope to come but really overwhelmed with Peltier activities at the moment. Several years ago, I saw Native Land at MoMA, and was appalled, as I am sure viewers will be Thursday evening, when, in his narration, Paul Robeson (of all people) intones that when the Europeans first arrived they found an “empty” land. I can’t remember the exact words but as I recall this bit of narration took place over a shot of a thick forest. I thought the depiction of the labor struggle excellent but it didn’t erase the bad taste left by that narration at the beginning. What were those filmmakers thinking? What was Paul Robeson thinking?

  2. Tanya

    Maggie-I agree with you whole heartedly and hope this pairing provokes a spirited discussion in this vein tomorrow night. I hope you will be there!

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