Newly restored 35mm prints!
Robert Gardner's vision — situated in a sometimes uneasy place between ethnographic and artistic traditions — has made him one of the most original, as well as controversial, filmmakers of the last half century. Deeply admired by many filmmakers, Gardner has been equally challenged by anthropologists, who have criticized some of his work for lack of both socially scientific documentation and context. Gardner refuses to hold the viewers hand, trusting his audience to find their own way into his films and make their own conclusions. In the 21st century, what endures is the distinctly lyrical style and arresting cinematography Gardner brought to his enigmatic portrayals of disappearing cultures. These are powerful poetic reflections on human experience which warrant new and renewed consideration.
Dead BirdsSep 23, 2010 7:30pm
Made during a particularly tense period of the Cold War, Dead Birds stemmed from Gardner's feelings about human involvement in waging war, and in warlike sentiments. The film is about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem, high in the mountains of West Papua. At the time the film was shot, in 1961, the Dani had a classic Neolithic culture. The film documents their dedication to an elaborate system of ritual warfare. (1964, 83 min, 35mm)
Rivers of SandSep 26, 2010 2:00pm
Here Gardner focuses on the Hamar, a people dwelling in the thorny scrubland of southwestern Ethiopia, about one hundred miles north of Lake Rudolph, Africa's great inland sea. Their geographical isolation resulted in their having retained a highly traditional way of life, one that exemplified the worst in male behavior with regard to women — an open, even flamboyant, observance of male supremacy where men are masters and their women are slaves. (1974, 85 min, 35mm)
Forest of BlissSep 30, 2010 7:30pm
Forest of Bliss is an unsparing yet redemptive account of the inevitable griefs, religious passions and frequent joys that punctuate daily life in Varanasi (Benares), India's most holy city. The film unfolds from one sunrise to the next without commentary, subtitles or dialogue. It is an attempt to give the viewer a wholly authentic (though greatly magnified and concentrated) sense of participation in the experiences examined by the film. (1986, 90 min, 35mm)
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