In this wide-ranging talk, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green will explore a history of the commingling of performance and cinema, ranging from the early 20th century Japanese Benshi tradition of live narration, to the travelogue genre, to the work of artists such as Jack Smith and Warren Miller, to the Expanded Cinema scene of the 60s and 70s, to contemporary practitioners of live cinema— with many fascinating detours along the way. Special emphasis will be placed on the conceptual and kinesthetic issues raised by combining film and performance. How does one reconcile the timelessness of cinema with the ephemeral nature of performance? What is to be made of the fascinating tension between cinema’s basic mechanism of ‘transport’ — the magic of being subsumed by a world within the screen – and performance’s radical insistence on presence and the here-and-now? All of this, of course, is a slippery exercise as terms and boundaries between genres and disciplines eventually blur and break-down, however the goal of the evening will be to trace a rich and sprawling history of an impulse as well as to gain a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the complexity and nuance of this work.
Sam Green received his Master’s Degree in Journalism from University of California Berkeley, where he studied documentary with acclaimed filmmaker Marlon Riggs.
His most recent projects are the “live documentaries” The Measure of All Things, (2014), The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller (with Yo La Tengo) (2012), and Utopia in Four Movements (2010). All of these works are performed live, with Green narrating in-person and musicians performing a live soundtrack.
Green’s 2004 feature-length film, the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Weather Underground, tells the story of a group of radical young women and men who tried to violently overthrow the United States government during the late 1960s and 70s. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was broadcast on PBS, included in the Whitney Biennial, and has screened widely around the world.
Green’s previous long documentary, The Rainbow Man/John 3:16, follows the bizarre rise and fall of a man who became famous during the 1970s by appearing at thousands of televised sporting events wearing a rainbow wig. The film premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and has screened at festivals worldwide. “More than an exploration of life, The Rainbow Man is a parable about alienation, the media, and the meaninglessness that often defines American life.” – Trevor Groth, Sundance Film Festival
Green’s short documentaries include lot 63, grave c, Pie Fight ’69 (directed with Christian Bruno), N-Judah 5:30, and The Fabulous Stains: Behind the Movie (directed with Sarah Jacobson).