|The Sensitive '70's: Empathetic Self-Help and Social-Problem films from the Disco Decade
in the series Oddball Ephemera
Personal and societal ills have long been fodder for small-gauge cinema. Nestled between the faux-clinical health films of the '50's and earlier and the overly simplistic "just say no" school of '80's didacticism, the films of the '70's stand out for their aptly sensitive approach to sensitive problems. Whether through free-form discussion, improvisation, or full-on narrative, room is given for real life to assert itself and introduce messy, complex, even contradictory subcurrents into these works. We'll view films about alcohol abuse, drug dependence, and suicide that situate these issues within the dynamics of family and friendship, often raising more questions than answers. Along the way we'll take a light-hearted detour into the emotional lives of children. Underlying all these works is a rare sense of empathy and humanism.
(1976) by Larry Elikann 47 min. Color 16mm|
Like the quietly devastating The Summer We Moved To Elm Street
, this ABC After School Special couches its message in domestic melodrama. Burdened with a tippling mother and a traveling father, poor Francesca must take on the role of materfamilias, and her social life crumbles under the burden of hiding her problems from schoolmates. Posterity has accorded this episode camp classic status, but we dare you to remain unaffected by the emotive force of its mise-en-scene. You'll need a drink after this one. And keep an eye out for Large Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Due to this film's length, we will start the evening with part 1 and conclude with part 2. In between...
|The Drug Scene
(1970) by Justin M. Purchin 17 min. Color 16mm|
From the studio behind The Flintstones
comes this unlikely live-action drug scare film featuring a rogues gallery of sleepy-eyed reformed dopeheads engaged in a dynamite bull session about their sordid pasts. Bookended by amazing psychedelic music montage sequences that seem to promote a contrary agenda.
|Your Self Image
(1971) by Jim Gable & Jerry Greenberg 8 min. Color 16mm|
When young James can't find a play partner, he goes into his closet to discover a very peculiar man dressed in what appears to be a costume prototype from TRON
. Fortunately, he's there to help, and James will learn that even if he can't catch a ball, that's OK since he can tie his shoelaces just fine.
|I'm Feeling Scared
(1974) by Larry Klingman 8 min. Color 16mm|
From wandering dark alleys, to meeting people at parties, to losing ones mother at the playground, this film delivers a taxonomy of childhood phobias in the lyrics of a charmingly melancholic ditty. Though our fears are oft unfounded, sometimes it does pay to be afraid. A delightful entry in the Feelings
|Suicide: It Doesn't Have To Happen
(1976) by Peggi Chute 21 min. Color 16mm|
After she downs a fistful of downers, Sharon's drama teacher convinces her to join a group where she can rap about her feelings with fellow travelers on despair's grim highway. Intimate camerawork frames the raw emotion on the faces of these teen actors. The improvisatory performances, "based on actual case histories", are almost too
good: as anguish is born of the seemingly mundane iniquities of teenagehood, you may find yourself reaching for your shaving implements. Also featuring interpretive dance and mime performances, for good measure.