Artists' Television Access

ATA @ SFPL (screening at Noe Valley Library)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 6:30 pm, Free

This evening’s films are all film festival prize-winners that parlayed awards acclaim into successful dispersal to schools and libraries in the era of 16mm documentary distribution. The films are loosely organized around the theme of “home”, and each subtly invites us to question the thin line between non-fiction and fiction.
 Sewing Woman (Arthur Dong, 1982)
On the surface this is a straightforward account of the life story of one of the many women working in Chinatown garment factories 35 years ago. A narration delivered over images of her workspacce as well as an array of archival photographs tells us the alternately harrowing and heartwarming details of her life growing up in pre-Communist China, her arranged marriage into a “Gold Mountain family” and subsequent emigration to San Francisco. But the final moments of this Oscar-nominated short made by a San Francisco State University student (who’d later go on to create many documentaries & the book Forbidden City, USA) raise more questions than answers about this woman’s life.
 Before the Foliage Falls (Władysław Ślesicki, 1964)
Since its 1949 founding, the Warsaw Documentary Film Studio has been key in making Poland one of Europe’s non-fiction filmmaking hotbeds & helping launch careers of directors like Krzysztof Kieślowski. This beautifully black-and-white slice of cinéma vérité follows one of Poland’s last traditional Roma caravans, compressing months of shooting into what feels like a short hitch onto their wagons. Though the film’s minimal dialogue is left unsubtitled, reminding viewers of our outsider status, we feel nonetheless welcomed by the inviting intergenerational campfire, the joyful music and dances, and the wide smiles of people living living a lifestyle that seems ripped out of a storybook.
Spaceborne (Philip Dauber, 1977)
This wordless film made by a UC Berkeley physicist compiles some of the most breathtaking NASA footage of its era (including Saturn V, Apollo & Skylab technologies) and marries it to a wonderful electronic music score by San Francisco’s Doug McKechnie and John Lewis. An opening title card promises that no special effects were used in its creation, but there are hints contradicting these claims, including a “thank you” credit to local legend Jordan Belson, who’d conjured countless illusions for his own cosmic films and would soon do the same for Hollywood’s The Right Stuff. The film was nominated for an Oscar in the live-action short rather than documentary category.
Artists’ Television Access
992 Valencia St, SF, CA 94110
(415) 824-3890

Leave a Reply