Right to the City #1

Next Monday marks the first of a series of film screenings that I think everyone should check out. Red Channels AV has curated an impressive list of hard-to-see films about New York’s built environment to be screened at the Brecht Forum. Anyone with an interest in how the analysis and representation of New York’s built environment has changed in the past century should not miss this three-part event.

In the first evening, film actualities from the Edison labs’ early investigations of street life will be screened alongside such canonical city films as Helen Levitt’s beautiful evocation of postwar Harlem In The Street and Strand and Sheeler’s iconic Manhatta. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s classic New York poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Manhatta is arguably the first city symphony film. It provided much of the formal cinematic vocabulary that would be further developed in the following decade by film artists such as Joris Ivens, – whose Regen (1929) chronicles a rainy day in Amsterdam  Walther Ruttmann, – whose Berlin: Symphony of a City (1927) is the most famous example of its eponymous genre – and Dziga-Vertov – whose Man with a Movie Camera (1929) is one of the most fun movies to watch ever (according to, well, me). Dziga-Vertov’s brother Mikhail Kaufman was a filmmaker in his own right, and as a special treat, after taking in some beautiful New York city films, stay for part two to check out Kaufman’s 1927 film Moscow.

And save the dates of the second and third installments. On August 3rd, come see Bridges and Tunnels: Art and Efficiency and on August 12th, come see Occupied Territories, the Space Race, and the Public Domain.

First, on Monday 20 July 2009 – Broadway Boogie Woogie: A City Unfinished

Brecht Forum
451 West Street, New York, NY 10014
$6/$10/$15 sliding scale suggested donation
– New York City “Ghetto” Fish Market – James Blair Smith, 1903, 2 minutes
– Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River – James Blair Smith, 1903, 3 minutes
– Manhatta – Paul Strand & Charles Sheeler, 1921, 6 minutes
– A Bronx Morning – Jay Leyda, 1931, 11 minutes
– Footnote to Fact – Lewis Jacobs, 1933, 8 minutes
– In the Street – James Agee, Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, 1948, 16 minutes
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 46 minutes | Digital Projection
– Moscow – Mikhail Kaufman & Ilya Kopalin, 1927, 59 minutes
TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 59 minutes | Digital Projection
With live musical accompaniment by Citizens Ontological Music Agenda: David Brahinsky, trumpet; Sten Hostfalt, mandolin; Andy O’Neil, drums; Lex Samu, coronet; Ken Silverman, guitar & percussion; Blaise Siwula, reeds.

Cassim Shepard served as the founding editor of Urban Omnibus from its inception to 2014.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.