San Francisco Public Library

ATA @ SFPL: Experience Reel Cinema

6:30 - 8:00

Noe Valley/Sally Brunn

Noe Valley Meeting Room

451 Jersey Street

Artists' Television Access (ATA) teams up with SFPL to mine the treasures in the Library's 16mm film archive. That's real film, not video!

This month they are showing the documentary Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968. Grove Press Films, 1968, 60 min. B/W. Directed by Thomas Reichman 

A portrait of a genius in a moment of turmoil, this unpolished but dynamic documentary follows jazz bassist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus on the eve of his November 1966 eviction from his Lower Manhattan sublet, which he’d hoped to turn into a music school.
A small crew of young New York filmmakers, energized by the immediacy of the era’s cinéma vérité filming innovations such as the use of smaller, more mobile cameras, visit Mingus at his loft.  With the power cut off and his possessions in disarray, an understandably ornery Mingus brandishes a shotgun, then tenderly plays with his daughter Carolyn. These scenes, as well as shots of the maestro out and about in Harlem and elsewhere, are intercut with future WOODSTOCK auteur Michael Wadleigh’s gorgeous chiaroscuro footage of an intimate performance with saxophonist John Gilmore & pianist Walter Bishop among more regular Mingus collaborators. Director Reichman’s sometimes combative relationship with his subject is not concealed in the editing process. Paul Arthur would later write that the film is “conscious of a voyeuristic undertow that other portrait films are at pains to disguise”.
Mingus’s mindset during this period might be summed up by a reworked version of Martin Niemöller’s famous quote, “one day they came and they took the communists, and I said nothing because I was not a communist…” playing on the soundtrack as he and his fourth wife Sue are shown at an anti-war protest. After the film shoot/eviction, the composer took a three-year hiatus from recording and performing. It’s hard to blame him.

Upcoming Events

Video as Art
Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 6:00 pm
North Beach, North Beach Meeting Room
Film: Play Misty for Me
Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 6:30 pm
Park, Park Meeting Room
Thursdays at Noon Films: Disturbing the Peace
Thursday, January 17, 2019, 12:00 pm
Main Library, Koret Auditorium

More related events