pain is… (stephen dwoskin, 1997)

Pain Is…’ (1997) unflinchingly examines the role of pain within society. Attempting “to make an image of pain”, Dwoskin’s film is practical and philosophical.

“Pain Is… combines interviews, archival footage and Dwoskin’s thoughtful voice-over to arrive at a scrupulous anatomy of pain (encompassing disease, dental work and sadomasochism). The interviews range from those who suffer from chronic pain to those who find pleasure in wilfully inflicting pain.” (Dennis Lim, director of Film at Lincoln Centre NYC)

first sounds – humanity’s first recordings of its own voice (1857- )

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville was the first person to record his voice and send it into the future. David Giovannoni recounts how First Sounds discovered and played back these recordings 150 years later. This is a fascinating documentary! Goosebump-inducing.

harun farocki – inextinguishable fire (1969)

“(1) A major corporation is like a construction set. It can be used to put together the whole world. (2) Because of the growing division of labour, many people no longer recognize the role they play in producing mass destruction. (3) That which is manufactured in the end is the product of the workers, students, and engineers.”

“When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you’ll shut your eyes. You’ll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you’ll close them to the memory. And then you’ll close your eyes to the facts.” These words are spoken at the beginning of an agitprop film that can be viewed as a unique and remarkable development. Farocki refrains from making any sort of emotional appeal. His point of departure is the following: “When napalm is burning, it is too late to extinguish it. You have to fight napalm where it is produced: in the factories.”

Harun Farocki, rest in peace.

stories we tell

Go and see this at the Encounters Documentary Festival, on right now in Cape Town and Jo’burg: the brilliant Sarah Polley‘s genre-defying examination of the workings of memory and narrative related to her own family’s secrets. It’s a gentle yet unflinching interrogation of how truth is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves when making sense of the things that happen in our lives. Humorous, poignant, profound… highly recommended.

rock and roll heart – lou reed documentary

Rock and Roll Heart traces Lou Reed’s career from the formation of the Velvet Underground to rock icon to his more recent artistic endeavours. Includes lots of rare and vintage footage along with interviews with David Bowie, John Cale, Patti Smith, Thurston Moore, David Byrne, Jim Carroll, Maureen Tucker, Suzanne Vega, Dave Stewart and Philip Glass. Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders for American Masters and screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998.

Lou Reed Creem

screening tonight: emma goldman – an exceedingly dangerous woman

Tonight at 20h00, Bolo’bolo in Observatory presents a free screening of a documentary about the life and ideas of Emma Goldman: anarchist, feminist and lifelong rabble rouser.

emma goldmanFor nearly half a century, Russian emigrant Emma Goldman was the most controversial woman in America, taunting the mainstream with her fervent attacks on government, big business, and war. To the tabloids, she was “Red Emma, queen of the anarchists,” but many admired Goldman for her defense of labour rights, women’s emancipation, birth control, and free speech.

Goldman’s life was indelibly marked by two violent acts: the attempted assassination of anti-union industrialist Henry Clay Frick by her comrade and lover Alexander Berkman (he spent 14 years in prison for the crime) and the 1901 slaying of President William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, a young anarchist who claimed he had been “set on fire” by Goldman’s exhortations to political assassination and martyrdom. McKinley’s assassination led to widespread condemnation of Goldman and other anarchists. Fearing for her life, Goldman went underground.

In 1906, she reemerged as founder and editor of Mother Earth, an anarchist magazine devoted to politics and literature. Once again a public figure, she returned to the lecture circuit. Her talks on the struggling revolution in Russia, on the rights of workers, on civil liberties — even on anarchism — drew large, sympathetic crowds. For almost a decade, Goldman maintained a grueling schedule, spending nearly half of every year on the road. In one six-month period, she delivered 120 lectures in 37 cities.

An outspoken opponent of America’s entry into World War I, she was arrested and imprisoned for demonstrating against the draft. In 1919 she, Berkman, and 247 others were deported to Russia, just two years after the October revolution replaced the Czarist regime with Bolshevik tyranny. After two dispiriting years, Goldman and Berkman left the Soviet Union and dedicated themselves to revealing the truth about a revolution gone wrong.

“The State is the altar of political freedom and, like the religious altar, it is maintained for the purpose of human sacrifice.” – Emma Goldman

PS: Non-alcoholic drinks and vegan snacks will be on sale. You may bring your own beer or wine if you’d like. The screenings are free, but donations are welcome.