Jed Rapfogel, the chief film programmer at Anthology Film Archives in New York, contacted me in the fall, after the release of The City Symphony Phenomenon, to consult on a new program he was putting together on city symphonies. I was thrilled that Anthology was considering such a series. One of the goals of the book had been to create a resource that would be of great use to scholars, archivists, and programmers, and here, already, there was evidence that this goal was being realized. Jed ended up putting together an impressively comprehensive program of films, one that tracked down dozens of films from the city symphony’s “classical era” (1920-1940), and combined them in provocative ways with a number of post-World War II that continued with this earlier tradition of filmmaking, or expanded upon it.
I was invited by Jed to come down to New York to introduce some films on the opening weekend of the new program. I ended up introducing 4 programs of films on Friday, January 11 and Saturday, January 12:
"A Day in the Life of..." (Jan 11, 7pm)
Anson Dyer A DAY IN LIVERPOOL (1929, 23 min, 35mm, silent. Archival print courtesy of the British Film Institute.)
Wilfried Basse MARKT IN BERLIN (1929, 18 min, 35mm, silent. Archival print courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.)
Otakar Vávra WE LIVE IN PRAGUE / ŽIJEME V PRAZE (1934, 13 min, 35mm-to-DCP, silent. Courtesy of the National Film Archive, Prague.)
Gordon Sparling RHAPSODY IN TWO LANGUAGES (1934, 11 min, 35mm. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.)
Total running time: ca. 70 min.
2. Alberto Cavalcanti's Rien que les heures (1926) + Joris Ivens's Rain (1929) (Jan 11, 9pm)
3. André Sauvage's Études sur Paris (1928) (Jan 12, 5:45 pm)
4. "By Night" (Jan 12, 8pm)
Svatopluk Innemann PRAGUE BY NIGHT / PRAHA V ZÁŘI SVĚTEL (1928, 22 min, 35mm-to-DCP, silent. Courtesy of the National Film Archive, Prague.)
Eugène Deslaw LES NUIT ÉLECTRIQUES (1930, 13 min, 35mm. Restored print courtesy of CNC – Direction du patrimoine.)
Ian Hugo JAZZ OF LIGHTS (1954, 16 min, 16mm)
William Klein BROADWAY BY LIGHT (1958, 12 min, 35mm. Print courtesy of the Walker Art Center.)
Rudolph Burckhardt SQUARE TIMES (1967, 6.5 min, 16mm)
Total running time: ca. 75 min.
The screenings are taking place in the Maya Deren Theater, and the turnout was excellent for all four of the opening programs. For the most part, the films looked incredible, too—the highlight being a newly restored 35mm print of André Sauvage’s Études sur Paris (1928).
The response to the films was enthusiastic, and I had a bunch of great conversations about the phenomenon with some of the people who turned out.
And I also got a chance to lead the audience in a prayer at one point.