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Apr 3, 2012 at 7:30 pm

The Cambridge Turn in Documentary Filmmaking with Scott MacDonald

With Scott MacDonald.

We will be showing rarely seen work by John Marshall, Miriam Weinstein, Alfred Guzzetti, Robb Moss, and Stephanie Spray.

For several years Scott MacDonald has been working on a pair of projects relating to documentary filmmaking in Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Cambridge Turn, a critical history of the development of ethnographic film and of personal documentary in Cambridge and A Critical Cinema 6 (The Cambridge Turn), interviews with filmmakers who have taught and made films in Cambridge and/or have studied filmmaking there. During this process MacDonald has discovered or re-discovered a good many accomplished, but under-appreciated films and videos. MacDonald will be with us to present a 90-minute program of this work.


We will be presenting the following films:

Program runtime 80 minutes


Living with Peter by Miriam Weinstein, USA 1973, 21 minutes

Living with Peter is an early personal documentary in which Weinstein struggles with her desire to be married. She knows she wants the security of marriage, but also feels that marriage is, in some sense, about her fear of freedom. A rarely seen premonition of Ross McElwee’s work.

A Joking Relationship by John Marshall, USA 1962, 13 minutes

Over the course of his career, filmmaker John Marshall shot more than one million feet of film and video (722 hours) of the Ju/’hoansi (!Kung Bushmen) of Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. Marshall produced twenty-three films and videos and one multi-part series from his extensive footage archive.

A Joking Relationship depicts a moment of flirtation between N!ai and her great-uncle Tikay. The two share a “joking relationship,” a Ju/’hoan kin relationship which provides opportunities for casual intimacy, emotional release, and support.

A Group of Women by John Marshall, US 1961, 5 minutes

In this short film, Ju/’hoan women rest, talk and nurse their babies while lying in the shade of a baobab tree. This film is a good illustration of “collective mothering” in which several women support each other and share the nurturing role.



Monsoon Reflections by Stephanie Spray, USA 2007, 22 minutes

Drawing its title from a poem by the Nepali poet Lekhnath Paudyal, who depicts the monsoon season as sublime and blissful, this video focuses instead on the melancholy and grit of two female Nepali field hands as they carry out their monsoon routines in Lekhnath, Nepal.


Air by Alfred Guzzetti, USA 1972, 17 minutes

Alfred Guzzetti combines academic and filmmaking careers. He has been working as an independent maker of documentary and experimental films and tapes for more than 35 years. His film Air won first prize in the experimental category at the 1972 Chicago International Film Festival.

Riverdogs by Robb Moss

Moss’ idyll about a group of river guides navigating the Colorado River has rarely been seen -ironically because its candidness about the body seemed to offend audiences in the early 1980s. Now, it seems a breath of fresh water!

  Scott MacDonald is author of the on-going series, A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, now in five volumes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2005). His Avant-Garde Film/Motion Studies (Cambridge University Press) was published in 1993; Screen Writings: Scripts and Texts by Independent Filmmakers (California), in 1995; and The Garden in the Machine: A Field guide to Independent Films about Place (California) in 2001).

In recent years, MacDonald has published three books on institutions that have kept alternative cinema alive: the companion volumes Cinema 16: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society and Art in Cinema: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002, 2006), and Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor (California, 2008). His articles and interviews have been published in Film Quarterly, The Independent, Artforum, October, The Chicago Review, American Studies, ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment), Feminist Studies, and other journals. His newest book, Adventures of Perception (California), a collection of essays and interviews, was published this year.

For thirty years MacDonald’s passion has been introducing students and public audiences to the worlds of alternative cinema. In 1999 he was an Anthology Film Archives Film Preservation Honoree for his service in helping to preserve the history of alternative cinema. He has curated film events at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), at Anthology Film Archives (New York), at the Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), at the Chicago Historical Society, and at many other venues. He has taught film history, American literature, and American studies, and programmed film events, at Utica College of Syracuse University (where he is Professor Emeritus), and at Hamilton College, Bard College, and Harvard University.


This project is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (www.NYSCA.org www.eARTS.org).


Apr 3, 2012
7:30 pm – 11:00 pm

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