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Dream of a City & Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan

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

Sunday, May 26th, 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.

Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan
2006, 82m, DCP Digital
The only film in this program not centered around New York City, Tall represents the fullest expression of Kirchheimer's interest in American modernism as a democratic dream unfulfilled. Here, he tells the story of Louis Sullivan, his rival Daniel Burnham, and the invention of the skyscraper in typically oblique fashion, not through on-camera interviews, but through a collage of archival materials from vintage postcards and original photographs to architectural drawings and his own 16mm footage.

Total Runtime: 121m

Post-screening Q&A with director Manfred Kirchheimer

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

Earlier Event: May 25
Dream of a City & Canners
Later Event: May 27
Dream of a City & Claw