Friday, May 24th, 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.
Stations of the Elevated
1981, 45m, DCP Digital
Nearly forgotten for thirty years, this sun-soaked meditation on the graffiti that once adorned NYC subway cars during the “Drop Dead” era was at last restored and rereleased in 2014, solidifying its status as a classic of the period. Set to the abrasively soulful sounds of Charles Mingus and crescendoing with Aretha Franklin’s rapturous rendition of “Amazing Grace”, the film presents a study in contrasts. Kirchheimer juxtaposes the illegal art of Lee Quiñones, The Fabulous 5, Daze, Pusher, et. al. with completely legal billboard advertisements for fast food, liquor, and cigarettes. His percussive editing underscores the symbolic violence of this latter imagery, while his drifting pans and unmoored compositions invite us to a hip hop reverie.
Total Running Time: 84 min.
Post-screening Q&A with director Manfred Kirchheimer
This program is part of Dream of a City and Manfred Kirchheimer’s New York