click here for photos and article etc

a screening of 'Milestones'
a Tribute to Robert Kramer
at the
GREEN MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL
Montpelier,Vermont (26mar00)

 


 

THE PIONEER THEATER
155 East 3RD ST. at Avenue A
NEW YORK, NY 10009
(212)-254-3300

two pieces written for the Pioneer Theater Screenings (2-8MAR00)
biography and filmography

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 2
7:00pm

Peoples War (1969, 40 min)

Robert Kramer, Norman Fruchter, John Douglas US l969 - 40 minutes, 16 mm, B/W English - In the summer of l969, Newsreel went to North Vietnam. This film moves beyond the perception of the North Vietnamese as victims to a portrait of how the North Vietnamese society is organized. It shows the relationship of the people to their government-how local tasks of a village are coordinated and its needs met. It deals with the reality of a nation that has been at war for 25 years, that is not only resisting US aggression and keeping alive under bombing, but that is also struggling to raise its standard of living and to overcome the underdevelopment of centuries of colonial rule. Amid much publicity, the footage was confiscated upon its return to the US. . Despite this attempt at suppression, PEOPLES' WAR has become one of the most sought-after films on Vietnam. Blue ribbon at U.S.A. film festival in Houston, Texas. and the Golden Bear Award, Moscow, USSR.

Starting Place (1993,

Robert Kramer- France ,83 min. 35mm, color English/French/Vietnamese English Subtitles - In Starting Place, Robert Kramer revisits Hanoi, two decades after the end of the war and his making of People’s war. He succeeds in creating an impressionistic portrait of a country dealing with it’s haunting past while struggling to build a competitive economy. The film becomes a powerful testimony about the ones who struggled for a right cause and who nowadays remain with the 'leftovers' of their struggle, as well as it’s absence. Kramer films the workers, their movement and their effort, he encounters his former guide, as well as a tight-rope walker in the national circus, a former ballerina, and also his friend Linda Evans, activist, who’s been sentenced to 40 years since 1985. Linda was part of the trip in 1969 when People’s war was made ; she was fighting daily against racism and terrorism and she was charged because she bought a weapon under a false name and helped a friend to escape. "You can think of my film as a mourning for the ideas for which Linda is in prison. My ideas are in prison." (Robert Kramer, Paris, June 1993)

Saykomsa (1998, 20 min) FIRST NY SCREENING

Robert Kramer France 1998 French - This shorter piece is a free digression by Robert Kramer and his wife, Erika, as they look back upon the last ten years of their life together, and which leads them to question each other with the desire to always move forward as much as they can.

30 min. discussion

10:00 pm

In The Country (1966, 70 min. )
Berlin (1990, 60 min) FIRST NY SCREENING

Robert Kramer France/US - In 1990, Robert Kramer receives a grant from the Ford Foundation. He goes to Berlin for 6 months, where he makes an hour single video shot in the bathroom of his appartment. Facing the camera, the filmmaker thinks, alone, about the fall of the Berlin wall. "I’ve already spent 6 weeks here. With all the events in eastern Europe, it was like a hurricane. Berlin is a city were you feel the biggest changes, where you meet Polish imigrants, or others, escaping. Berlin will become a very violent city. What happens in eastern Europe is a bit like the end of the civil war in the US. The North, and all it’s power stimulated by years of war, took over the South, who has lost everything. And there is this german past, the war, on all levels. I was really not prepared. I always thought I had received an european education. In Berlin I discovered I had been raised in a very german way. Although my mother’s family is originaly from Russia and my father’s family from Poland, they raised me like a german middle class kid. When I visited the Berlin Philarmonic, I was transported back to my childhood at the New York Philarmonic. This brought me to rethink about my own past." (Robert Kramer to Liberation - 01/16/91)

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 3
7:00pm

Ghosts of Electricity (1997, 20 min) FIRST NY SCREENING

Robert Kramer France 1997 - One of Robert Kramer’s latest work, Ghost of Electricity appears as a reflexion on technology and thoughts, where Kramer imagines a world in which both cinema and the sciences share a humanist interest in the bettering of our lives. It is also a declaration of love to his wife Erika and daughter Keja.

Doc’s Kingdom (1987, 90 min)

Robert Kramer France/Portugal 1987, 1h30, 35mm, color English/Portuguese With Paul Mc Isaac, Vincent Gallo, Joao Cesar Monteiro - Doc’s Kingdom is the first film to introduce the character of DOC, played by Paul Mc Isaac, old friend and alter ego of Robert Kramer. Doc is an american doctor who lives in the suburbs of Lisbon, behind the city, where th Tage enters into the sea. Doc hasn’t been back home and hasn’t seen his wife Rozie nor ever met their son, and hasn’t seen his friends in over 15 years. In those days Doc was fighting against the Vietnam war; then he travelled to Africa as a doctor. From this collective adventure, he finally ends up alone in Portugal where he now lives a painful existence, between his warehouse, his long and lonely walks and the hospital where facing other’s suffering allows him to escape his own. Loneliness and alcohol have taken over. Slowly, the past is catching up with him : his son Jimmy finds him, and as they are almost ready to kill each other in a fight, Doc will finally understands that Jimmy is his son. They will talk, and the son will slowly understand why the father left abruptly to pursue his ideals and utopias. With Doc’s Kingdom, Kramer exposes with subtlety all the themes that are dear to him : alienation and return, his activist and filmmaker life in the US, the father-son relationship, and he succeeds in mixing the present with the past again, where generations confront each other and learn from one another. When the son returns home, Doc can start to think about going back to the US as well, where he will meet Kramer in another film, along Route One.

30 min. discussion

9:00 pm

Walk The Walk (1996, 105 min.) FIRST NY SCREENING

Robert Kramer France 1996, 1h46, 35mm, color French with English subtitles With Laure Duthilleul, Jacques martial, Betsabee Haas - Walk the Walk is maybe one of Kramer’s only true european films, as it attemps to portray the life of 3 members of an interracial family that lives in the south of France. When the daughter decides to go into the world to make her own experiences and travels across Europe. the organic balance within the family shifts. The father, a sport teacher, will leave as well and embark on a boat, while the mother, a biologist, experiences absence and desire for another man. These three parallel stories allow Kramer to further experiment with his style and play with fragmention. He juxtaposes documentary and fictional elements as a cross between his own diary notes, a travelogue, and family drama, and creates a deep sense of the relationship between place and emotion. This work could be seen as a letter from a father to his daughter where he exposes his fears and worries, as well as his trust and admiration. It is also the tale, once again, of one generation confronted to the next generation and how they question each other. The film is dedicated to his daughter Keja, who once told him : "If you talk the talk, you better walk that walk".

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 4
2:00 pm

Ghosts of Electricity (1997, 20 min) - repeat showing
Doc’s Kingdom (1987, 90 min) - repeat showing
30 min. discussion

5:00 pm
The Edge (1967, 102 min.)

7:30

Milestones (1975, 195 min.)

Robert Kramer, John Douglas US 1975, 3 hours and 15 minutes, 16mm, B/W and color English - This epic film represents an essential landmark within the political, intellectual and artistic entreprise of the 60's and 70's, following the Vietnam War. Milestones cuts back and forth between different story lines and features over fifty different characters, from Vietnam veterans to ex-convicts, parents and kids, native americans.... In 3 hours and 15 minutes, Kramer and Douglas expose the 'tribe' where all the alternatives of this generation are experimented. The film questions those experimentations's success and failures, as well as the directing methods of Newsreel cinema. In 1976, Serge Toubiana wrote in Les Cahiers du Cinema: "If in Milestones one deals with new relationships between human beings and with a new way of life which also integrates the vegetal world as well as the biological world, one also deals primarly with cinema, with a new form of cinema, as if Hollywood would not exist. Kramer doesn't make Milestones against Hollywood, he shoots as if Hollywood doesn't exist."

30 min. discussion

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 5
2pm

Route One - USA (240 min., 1989)

Robert Kramer 1989, 4 hours, 35mm, color French with English subtitles ROUTE/ONE USA is the story of a journey, of a friendship, and of a distant as well as present past. It's Robert Kramer's second epic where both documentary and fiction coexist in one single style. The film features Paul Mc Isaac, long time friend and alter ego. Together they travel along the East Coast of the US , all the way from the Canadian border to Key West. Robert Kramer moves through the terrain of his country of origin, but also it's history, as well as his own past and his own imaginings. Through this extrordinary piece, he attempts a film portrait of "a people, but not the masses", focusing on particular people in particular circumstances to get beyond generalizations about "the American public". ROUTE/ONE USA is a movie which enables the film language to open itself : along this happy as well as worried journey, and through the various encounters, Kramer composes a cinematic landscape in order to understand the world were he and we move, and in order to act as well. Kramer is reinventing the world, and the light in the world, the music, the sounds. His eye is constantly aware and at the same time surprised by what it discovers every day. With this film, Kramer finds a style which will lead to his following work, and multiply the free and creative approaches of reality and history.

30 min. discussion
7:00pm

Milestones (1975, 195 min.) repeat showing

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 6
7:00pm

Walk The Walk (1996, 105 min.) - repeat showing

9:00 pm
(From the private collection of Erika Kramer -
personal memoir videos and unreleased shorts)

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 7
7:00pm

Films from The Newsreel Years
(These films are credited “by the Newsreel Collective”
not Robert Kramer)

Columbia (1968, 50 min.)
America (1969, 30 min.)

9:00pm

ICE (1969, 135 min.)

Robert Kramer US 1969, 2h05, 16mm, b/w - This pioneering work is the first film by Kramer which blurs the boundaries between fictional and documentary style and which Kramer will pursue in the rest of his film work. An underground revolutionary group struggles against internal strife which threatens it’s security and stages guerilla attacks against a fictionalized facist regime in the US. Throughout the narrative, Kramer intercuts rethorical sequences that explain the philosophy of radical action and serve to restrain the melodrama inherent in the thriller genre. Jonas Mekas said that 'Ice' was "the most original and most significant American narrative film of the late sixties. (From Harvard film archive bulletin)

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8
7:00pm

Route One - USA (240 min., 1989) repeat showing

 

 

 

 


 

 

at the HARVARD FILM ARCHIVES, Cambridge. MA
harvardfilmarchive.org

Man with a Movie Camera: Robert Kramer

Robert Kramer—who, according to Vincent Canby of the New York Times, "seems incapable of shooting a scene, framing a shot or catching a line of dialogue that isn’t loaded with levels of information one usually finds only in the best, most spare poetry"—died unexpectedly in France this past November at the age of sixty.

He left a singular body of work—as far from Hollywood as it was from underground or experimental films—that eventually, he felt, would "make up one long film . . . one ‘story’ in a continual process of becoming." A committed leftist who emerged radicalized from his studies in philosophy and Western European history at Swarthmore and Stanford, he worked as a reporter in Latin America and organized a community project in a black neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, before founding the Newsreel movement, an underground media collective which made some sixty documentaries and short films about radical political subjects and the antiwar movement between 1967 and 1971. Kramer made his mark in the 1960s as the great filmmaker of the American radical left with films like The Edge and Ice.

Embraced by the European intelligentsia, he eventually moved to Paris in the early 1980s, where he continued to produce fictionalized and documentary films on a range of subjects from Portugal’s April Revolution and post-independence Angola to the Tour de France—all the while maintaining his "uninterrupted dialogue with America." Our series offers the opportunity to sample a range of Kramer’s rarely screened work and to pay tribute to this unique cinematic personality.

complete listings and schedule etc. at:
http://harvardfilmarchive.org/janfeb2000/kramer.htm#docs

 


 

at the MUSEUM of MODERN ART, NYC
www.moma.org

Robert Kramer: The New World, 1965–77
February 5-February 12, 2000

Robert Kramer (1939–99) was active as a community organizer in Newark, N.J., before making his first films in the mid-1960s; he soon became one of America’s leading independent filmmakers, with works that were at once politically committed and radical in form. In 1980 he moved to Paris, where he continued to make films. In memory of the late filmmaker, the Department of Film and Video presents a program of seven films from MoMA’s Circulating Film and Video Library.

In 1989, Kramer commented on his oeuvre for the Library’s catalogue: “Eventually, all these movies I make will make up one long film. One ‘story’ in a continuous process of becoming: the detailed account of a consciousness moving through time and place, trying to survive, to understand, trying to find an appropriate home, and throughout it all living with images, with film-form, as the one continuous practice that unified this project. The Museum of Modern Art has Chapter One: ’The New World.’ I hope some day you will acquire Chapter Two (eight movies made abroad between 1980 and 1987): let’s just call it ‘Running’ for now. And Chapter Three? I suppose by the year 2000, if all goes well, this new chapter will have its various meanings.”

Robert Kramer: The New World, 1965–77 was organized by Laurence Kardish.

complete listings and schedule etc at:
http://www.moma.org/filmvideo/db/program/brief/58.html
and details on each film

 

opening | snap shots | biography | filmography | letters of rejection | description of a movie | hideyuki miyoka | quests | timeline | ways of seeing | letter of life | creating doc | cities of the plain | lust for life | for yamagata | hiroshima city | SayKomSa | poloroid | sortie