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Images of Blacks on Film

Monday, March 12, 1979
7:30 p.m. Distance
Anthony Lover (USA,1975)

Introduction by Albert Johnson

One of the surprise critical successes of 1975 was “a small-budget film by Anthony Lover, best known for his Academy Award short The Dove. Distance is set in an Army base in Georgia during the 1950s, and it describes two couples - a black sergeant and his German wife and a young private and an older woman who have a temporary love affair. The dramatic interweaving of these lives is enhanced by some excellent performances, and one is struck by the subtlety and truth of the film. While the private and his hip mistress continue their brief, passionless involvement, the interracial duo, despite misleading outward appearances, drift into hostile estrangement. The atmosphere of the barracks life and the confined, strangely isolated mood of the film emphasize the progress toward tragedy, almost Ibsen-like in its determinism. Above all, Distance intelligently portrays the black sergeant as a man of complex but thoroughly humane impulses. The film is a major achievement in the depiction of contemporary American attitudes; it reveals the drama of interracial hopes and disillusionments.”

—Albert Johnson

• Directed by Anthony Lover. Screenplay by Jay Castle. Photographed and Edited by Anthony Lover. With Paul Benjamin, Eija Pokkinen, James Woods. (1975, 93 mins, 35mm, color, Print Courtesy of George Coe)