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"Anarchism on Film"

A brief overview of the series opening today at Anthology Film Archives in New York.
The DailyLa Commune (Paris, 1871)

Anthology Film Archives introduces its series, Anarchism on Film, opening today and running through December 23: "Although an entity called 'anarchist cinema' is almost impossible to define, anarchists with an interest in film have long been preoccupied with two interrelated strands: historical films that excavate a submerged anarchist history and films that synthesize an anti-authoritarian political impetus with innovative formal strategies. In this series, Jean Vigo's Zero for Conduct perhaps best embodies the latter tendency. In addition, Peter Watkins's La Commune (Paris, 1871) merges a powerful chronicle of the Paris Commune's anti-hierarchical legacy with a similarly egalitarian effort to democratize the film's casting and production process."

At the top of another fine roundup, this one on La Commune, Alt Screen notes that this "ultra-rare opportunity to see Watkins's 345-minute experimental documentary, which showed up on many recent Best of the Decade lists, on the big screen is one to be savored."

From Ryan Wells's overview at Cinespect: "While none of the films selected directly address the current global economic meltdown or take a particular hard look at the financial industry à la Occupy Wall Street (although Maple Razsa and Pacho Velez's Bastards of Utopia (2010) does capture the personal disgust and confusion in building a new leftist economy in Croatia by a team of young anarchists; while Želimir Žilnik's The Old School of Capitalism (2009) smartly addresses the conflicts of transitioning to a capitalist economy in Serbia), the series does explore microcosms of political and economic unrest in history, with a particular nod to Europe, especially the Central and Eastern fronts. (This is also somewhat disappointing considering the rich history of anarchist movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America that have been captured on camera but not properly represented here in an otherwise robust cinema exhibition.) 'Although this [series] was in the planning stages long before Occupy Wall Street (OWS) became a news story, the agendas of most of the films in the series are certainly congruent with the aims of OWS,' said Richard Porton, an editor at Cineaste Magazine and co-curator of the series, in a recent interview with Cinespect. 'It couldn't be much more pertinent to recent spurts of insurrectionary fervor.'"

Looking for more on this series — and really, there ought to be more on this series — I happened to come across an entry at Post-Modern Humanist entitled "Academic Anarchist Film Critique: Some Sketchy Details." Sketchy they are, and no matter what you end up thinking of the piece, you've gotta love this sentence: "Utilizing the tools of the auteur theory, first the whole lot of films can be divided into those produced by Anarchists and those not produced by Anarchists."

Related topic in the Forum: "Truly Anarchic Films." For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.

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