How is masculinity performed? A screening of films by William Greaves, Nathan Silver and Mike Ott, which use dramatization, role-playing and self-presentation to investigate the American male, now and then.
Programmed by James N. Kienitz Wilkins as part of the upcoming UNDOING podcast series.
On the heels of the US premiere of Nathan Silver and Mike Ott’s ACTOR MARTINEZ (2015) at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, and last year’s premiere of Silver’s group therapy drama, STINKING HEAVEN (2015), come two new short films in conversation with a vastly under-seen mid-length film by William Greaves, whose innovative use of psychodrama as both subject matter and tool in filmmaking resonates to this day.
In Silver’s RIOT (2015), a white Jewish boy enacts a largely African-American riot occurring in real-time across the country, conflating among many things, directorial frustrations with state violence, and the desire for a sort of power which eludes even grown men. Mike Ott’s LANCASTER, CA (2015) is a funny and manipulative portrait of a late adolescent ne’er-do-well who may or may not be performing a confession about his complicated maleness. Greaves’s IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1969) “uses psychodrama to help bridge the communication gap between a group of the so-called ‘hard-core unemployed’—largely Black and ‘underclass’—and the men who hire, train and supervise them—mostly white and middle class.” Originally commissioned by Newsweek and the recipient of many film festival awards, In the Company of Men is a management training tool, social documentary and absorbing experiment.
RIOT / Nathan Silver / 4 min / Video to HD / 2015
Screenings: Locarno IFF 2015, New York Film Festival 2015, Rotterdam IFF 2016, True/False 2016
LANCASTER, CA / Mike Ott / 12:30 min / HD / 2015
Screenings: Vienalle 2015, AFI Fest 2015, Reykjavik 2015
IN THE COMPANY OF MEN / William Greaves / 52 min / 16mm to DVD / 1969 /
Screenings: Chicago IFF 1969 (winner), Atlanta IFF 1969 (winner), San Francisco IFF 1970 (winner), Melbourne IFF 1970, Blue Ribbon American Festival 1970 (winner)
In the Company of Men and images courtesy Louise Archambault and William Greaves Productions.
About the filmmakers:
Nathan Silver graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2005. Since then he has written and directed five short films and six feature films, including Soft in the Head (2013), Uncertain Terms (2014), and Stinking Heaven (2015). His films have played in countless festivals around the world, including Locarno, New York, Rotterdam, Viennale, Vancouver, AFI, Torino, Munich, and BAFICI and venues including MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City.
Mike Ott studied under Thom Andersen at Cal Arts where he received his MFA degree in Film/Video. Mike’s films have won numerous awards including, an Audience Award at AFI Fest, a Gotham Award and an Independent Spirit Award for “Someone to Watch.”
William Greaves (1926 2014) began his career as a featured actor on Broadway and in motion pictures. His work behind the camera earned him over 70 international film festival awards including an Emmy and four Emmy nominations. In 1980, he was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. A longtime member of The Actors Studio in New York, William Greaves was honored by the Studio in 1980 as one the first recipients of its first Dusa award. From 1969 to 1982, he taught acting for film and television for the late Lee Strasberg at the Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York. His directing and producing work includes the pioneering network television series Black Journal, classic documentaries in African American history such as Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice (1989) and From These Roots (1974), as well as innovative feature films such as Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968) and Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2 (2005). Retrospectives of William Greaves work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
About the programmer:
James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a filmmaker and artist living in Brooklyn. His work has been presented at international film festivals and venues including the New York Film Festival, Rotterdam IFF, CPH:DOX, MoMA PS1, Edinburgh IFF, BAMcinématek, and many more. Past movies includes the experimental documentary feature, Public Hearing (2012), and the short, Special Features (2014), which won the Founder’s Spirit Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival 2015 and a Grand Prix at the 25 FPS Festival 2015. He is the 2016 recipient of LICHTER Art Award from the LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International.