Home       Events       Mission       FOFFBlog       FOFFGames       Film Calendar       Sign Up for More Information       Make a Donation       Film-Friendly Links   

FOFF Programs

May 15, 2010: 8:00pm
Oddball Films
275 Capp Street
San Francisco

Bricks in the Wall: Humans and Their Built Environment
in the series Oddball Ephemera
In this program we explore how we construct our urban milieu... and how it constructs us. It is said necessity is the mother of invention and the converse is just as true. We are shaped by and made dependent on the environment we build around us. First Lewis Mumford sets the tone with his as-relevant-as-ever views on urbanism. Then we examine methods of construction from the ultra-primitive to the super-modern. After a personal and poetic detour into lyrical city-history by future Oscar-winner István Szabó, we conclude with a couple of films delving (somewhat ham-fistedly) into the psychological fallout of our urban obsession.
Heart of the City (1963) 28 min. BW 16mm
Lewis Mumford, one of the 20th century's canniest and most well-spoken intellectuals, shares his thoughts on livable, human-scale cities in this outstanding National Film Board production. With brilliant narration and some of the most stunning urban photography from around the world you're ever likely to see, evoking the best of classic European art cinema.
Building a House on the Niger (1967) by Hermann Schlenker 7 min. Color 16mm
Bozo tribesmen of Mali build a simple house with the tools and materials at hand: namely hands, and spindly tree limbs and rushes. This beautifully simple ethnographic film features no voiceover, just the images and sounds of men at work, adapting their environment to their needs.
Building a Skyscraper... and the Careers Involved (1970's) 11 min. Color 16mm
We move on from the sparse African hinterland to a dense metropolis and that modern symbol of urbanism: the skyscraper. Pitched at gradeschoolers, this film takes us on a whirlwind tour of all the various trades involved in this massive construction project. The lively jazz/funk score will set your toes tapping.
A Dream About a House (1972) by István Szabó 21 min. Color 16mm
Part of Szabó's trilogy Budapest, Why I Love It, this bizarro poetic paean to his birth city starts out with a fish-eye travelogue of classic edifices before happening upon a strangely choreographed street scene. Time and space are compressed and the distinction between indoors and outdoors eradicated as assorted personages eat, sleep, marry, die, and chop wood, all out in the open. The camera pans and zooms fluidly to follow various figures, who not infrequently turn to wave back at us.
Walls and Walls (1973) by Ben Norman 10 min. Color 16mm
After a brief history of walls ("they keep undesirables out, or they keep undesirables in"), the concept is abstracted and extended to the social and ideological walls we build. Metaphors and psychoanalyses are stretched to an absurd degree until it seems pretty much everything is some sort of wall. All this is made quite palatable by an inventive and entertaining presentation, including a charmingly precious interpretive dance sequence.
Our Cities Must Fight (1951) by Anthony Rizzo 9 min. BW 16mm
From the people who brought you Duck and Cover comes this classic scare-propaganda piece that trades on our addiction to urbanism. Thinking of heading for the hills when the bomb drops? Think again. That's tantamount to treason, and in the Army you'd be court-martialed! This film aims to guilt and shame you into sticking around to help defend your hometown and rebuild its infrastructure. And after all, nuclear contamination will dissipate after a day or two. "Have you got the guts?"