Focal Points: Rare 1969 documentaries on Wednesday


This just in from our co-presenter, the Sprocket Society:

Hi everyone —  Coming up this Wednesday night is our second program co-presented with Northwest Film Forum as part of the 69 series.  More info and links below; we hope you can make it, it’ll be a great show.

Also watch out for our mind-blowing Halloween Spook-Show Spectacular on Oct. 30!  And if you missed out on the Heavy Visuals ’69 show in September, you can download the program notes at (180kb).

FOCAL POINTS:  Documentary Shorts of 1969

One show only!
Wed. October 14, 2009 – 8:00 PM

1515 12th Ave. – on Capitol Hill, between Pike & Pine
Advance tickets available online at

In 1969 America was painfully divided by politics, culture and even aesthetics.  These rarely-seen films provide riveting glimpses of the nation at a turning point.

The program reflects the vigorous diversity of the documentary scenes at the time, with films made in the major cities, the rural Midwest, and a technocratic enclave of the US defense network.  The stories are a cross-section of a fractured culture: revolutionary protest, conservative religion, hedonist pranksters, and Dept. of Defense computer research.  The documentary styles also just as eclectic: verite, newsreel, experimental, traditional interview and narration, and scientific instructional.

All films are being shown in their original 16mm format, using a theatrical-grade projector.

Co-presented by The Sprocket Society and Northwest Film Forum as part of the year-long 69 Series, celebrating the films of 1969.
About the series:


The Kuchar Brothers (Legendary Epic Yarns and Fables, Part 4), Stephen Gebhardt’s confessional interview with the most far-out exploitation filmmakers of the decade;
Excerpt from a Kuchar film (not being shown), “The Craven Sluck” –
Stephen Gebhardt is an Ohio filmmaker and festival producer who in 1970 moved to New York to run Jonas Mekas’ new Anthology Film Archives.  He later ran Joko Films with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and made films for them, the Rolling Stones, and others. Ultimately he returned to Cincinnati to teach graduate-level filmmaking at the university there. His 1969 series, Legendary Epic Yarns and Fables, consisted of four filmed interviews with an unusual array of cinema artists.

Leo Beuerman, an Oscar-nominated portrait of a severely handicapped man in Lawrence, Kansas; made over two years during off-hours by a crew who worked for a company that produced industrial and educational films.  (Some of the same people also worked on the 1962 horror cult classic, Carnival of Souls.)
Watch an excerpt —
Beuerman, Leo and Cart – History of Lawrence, Kansas —

Testimony, Brian Patrick’s verite visit with a group of Pentecostal Christians in Athens, Ohio (his master thesis film);
Bio & filmography —

Mayday!, a radical newsreel about a Black Panther “Free Huey” rally in San Francisco;
Produced by California Newsreel, which was part of a small but nation-wide network of Newsreel film collectives. Each produced films, and helped to distribute and screen the others’ stuff. Shortly after this film was made, there was a split in the California group, with one faction forming Single Spark Films (a reference to Mao).  A number of Newsreel films have emerged recently on DVD.

Campaign, Tom Palazollo’s experimental diary-film of the protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention;
A dedicated documentary and experimental filmmaker for over 40 years, Palazzolo’s films about urban life in Chicago are regarded as classics. A number of his early films were recently preserved through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Fallout Shelter Analysis by Computer Graphics, produced by the University of Utah Computer Center for ARPA, the sensitive Dept. of Defense research unit that invented the Internet (really).
In 1969, the first “internet” was established, and the Univ. of Utah was one of its five nodes.  UU was also on the forefront of research into computer imaging and interfaces.  This documentary shows us how to use an early light-pen system to manipulate primitive electronic designs of fallout shelters.  Along the way, we get to see a whole new technology in its toddler years — one that would grow up to truly change the entire world.


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