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Dream of a City & Claw

  • Maysles Cinema 343 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Monday, May 27th, 7:30 PM

Dream of a City
2018, 39m, DCP Digital
Shot between 1958 and 1960 with Walter Hess, largely on black and white film, this long gestating project is Kirchheimer’s most concentrated work yet. Documenting the gradual progress of a high-rise construction site, the film expands concentrically to embrace the thrumming life and resplendent grandeur of mid-century New York from the waterfront to Hell’s Kitchen. An alternately harmonious and cacophonous collage of Bach, Debussy, and Shostakovich plays against the sounds of street life and heavy industry, as the film moves between center and periphery and back again. Surreal flights of fancy mix with hard doses of reality. A Whitman-esque excursus to the natural environs of the Delaware River abruptly gives way to the maze-like canyons of Wall Street. Less city symphony than symphonic suite à la Duke Ellington’s “Asphalt Jungle”, this opus comprises a personal valediction on a bye-gone era.

1968, 30m In wistful tones, Kirchheimer paints a multi-layered picture of urban progress. The hand-carved gargoyles of New York’s pre-war buildings stare gauntly at the streets below, while the claw of a crane demolishes brick and mortar, making way for a future in glass and steel. Kirchheimer’s long lens compositions resemble reliefs, flattened out pile ups of form and texture. Adrift within this congested space, the people his camera discovers feel like shipwreck survivors, castaways on a sea of time.

Total Runtime: 69m

This program is part of Dream of a City and Manfred Kirchheimer’s New York