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Films on Filmmakers

Thursday, September 20, 1979
7:30 p.m. I Remember, I Remember plus The Train Rolls On
John Grierson(1972)
Chris Marker (France,1972)

John Grierson - renowned documentary filmmaker, theorist and first master of the British Social Documentary film movement of the thirties, founder of the National Film Board of Canada - helped define and create the art of documentary filmmaking and gave it the push it needed to be accepted by the public.
To Grierson, the purpose and art of a documentary was “to look at ordinary things as if they are extraordinary” - the celebration of the everyday. In his first film, Drifters, the unique camera angles together with the rhythmic flow of action achieved through editing created a stirring visual impression which excited many. The camera had given not just a new language, but a new poetry. In later documentaries, music and spoken poetry were integrated with the visual poetry of the camera. By the use of film clips from some of his best documentaries, and the on-camera commentary of Grierson himself, I Remember, I Remember manages to give a convincing demonstration of Grierson’s importance and continuing relevance in classic and contemporary documentary cinema.

• With John Grierson. (1972, 56 mins, color, Print from Films Inc.)


The Train Rolls On
Before making Happiness (see tonight’s second program), Alexander Medvedkin organized and directed the famous Cine Train, a Russian revolutionary film studio on wheels that for three years went to the worst-organized areas, filmed what was going on and would contrast this to what was happening in better organized areas. Each screening would be followed by discussion. In 1972, Chris Marker interviewed Medvedkin, and intercut materials from the Cine Train experiment. The result is The Train Rolls On, a moving homage of one of the cinema’s great agitational filmmakers.

“Three things combine to make this film a little masterpiece. The first is the commentary, which is Marker (I think) at his best. Second is Marker’s ability to make a man talking to the camera into a real and sympathetic, even beautiful, human being. In Le Joli Mai he managed to do this with characters whose point of view he was far from sharing. Not that he is in total agreement with Medvedkin - precursor or not, he is viewed by Marker with a critical eye, and this is the third thing that makes the film so good.”
—Richard Roud

• Directed by Chris Marker. With Alexander Medvedkin. (1972, 33 mins, English titles, Print from New Yorker Films)