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Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08
Pages 24 and 25
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Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Pages 24 and 25. July 1980 - August 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 30, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/278.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(July 1980 - August 1980). Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Pages 24 and 25. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/278

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08 - Pages 24 and 25, July 1980 - August 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 30, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/286/show/278.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough 1980-07 - 1980-08
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date July 1980 - August 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 33 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Pages 24 and 25
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_562au.jpg
Transcript A FAREWELL I am appalled at the thought of a world without James Blue. f/i ■/fw -BY GERALD O'GRADY- James Blue, filmmaker and teacher, died of cancer in Buffalo, New York, on June 14. He was a director of the Rice Media Center from 1970-1977. Since that time he was an associate professor with the Center for Media Study, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. The following talk was given by Dr. Gerald O'Grady, Director of the Educational Communications Center and the Center for Media Study, SUNY at Buffalo, at a Memorial Service held for James Blue at Media Study/Buffalo, on June 16. "This concept, to find man in his countryside, is for me a basic operating procedure. My entire background is documentary. . . .1 was thinking of the first little short I did, a burial, a cemetery, all out of rocks—a Moslem cemetery—and these rocks had been brought to the cemetery from the eroded land around the village where the people lived and died. Partly, then, death had come from the fact that their land was eroded." James Blue, talking about Amal in Film Comment (1963) We know we belong to the land, And the land we belong to is grand! And when we say: Ee-ee-ow! A-yip-i-o-ee-ay! We're only saying,' "You're doin' fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma, O.K.!" Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma (1942) You, James Blue When my friend James Blue died at Roswell Park Memorial Hospital on Saturday morning, June 14,1 sat there quietly appalled at the thought of a world without him. When his brother Richard had flown him home to Buffalo from University College Hospital in London for emergency treatment two weeks earlier, I thought of the poem Archibald MacLeish composed as he flew from Egypt to Illinois to bury his father. Richard had been in Indonesia when the British doctors discovered the terminal cancer in his brother, and his flight to London had taken him over some of the same lands above which MacLeish had mourned "The always rising of the night." You, Andrew Marvell And here face down beneath the sun And here upon earth's noqnward height To feel the always coming on The a/ways rising of the night: To feel creep up the curving east The earthy chill of dusk and slow Upon those under lands the vast And ever climbing shadow grow And strange at Ecbatan the trees Take leaf by leaf the evening strange The flooding dark about their knees The mountains over Persia change And now at Kermanshah the gate Dark empty and the withered grass 24 And through the twilight now the late Few travelers in the westward pass And Baghdad darken and the bridge Across the silent river gone And through Arabia the edge Of evening widen and steal on And deepen on Palmyra's street The wheel rut in the ruined stone And Lebanon fade out and Crete High through the clouds and overblown And over Sicily the air Still flashing with the landward gulls And loom and slowly disappear The sails above the shadowy hulls And Spain go under and the shore Of A frica the gilded sand And evening vanish and no more The low pale light across that land Nor now the long light on the sea: And here face downward in the sun To feel how swift how secretly The shadow of the night comes on. .. The sounds and images with which MacLeish documented his feelings about death, the sun projecting a picture of "the withered grass" of Iran, reminded me of James Blue's filmmaking. It also reminded me of an early sentence—"The meaning of the dust storms was that grass was dead" (Fortune, November 1935)— that MacLeish had provided for Pare Lorenz's famous film on erosion, The Plow That Broke the Plains. James Blue emulated its narrative track in some of his own works. But the association primarily arose because I connected its rollcall of places—Ecbatan, Persia, Kermanshah, Baghdad, Arabia, Palmyra, Lebanon, Crete, Sicily, Spain, Africa—with the spirit of James Blue. I had once told him the story of Archibald MacLeish's final appearance before the students of the largest public university in his home state, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. It was in 1962 and MacLeish had recited parts from his latest piece, a son et lumiere composition which was to be performed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 4 where John Kennedy would give his speech on the new American interdependence. He then asked that the audience pay careful attention to his final and lasting message to that school and all its future students: "Do not define America. Definition excludes." That had become one of James Blue's favorite stories and he asked me to repeat it often. The House That James Built James Blue was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 10, 1930. He became an independent documentary filmmaker with few peers in America, and his radical transformation of the American heritage which he cherished was so quiet and so thorough that it went unnoticed. Wis early training gave him strong commitments to the Protestant church and the American nation, but he fully engaged in our generation's journey from nationalism to inter-nationalism, and from the denominational to the interdenominational. His own films increasingly explored new ways of inter-action with his subjects and, most recently, with his audiences. His second legacy was a body of inter-views with other directors; he was the best inter-viewer in the field of film. His whole mode of life was inter-rogation. His concerns were ecumenical.His films, on soil erosion in Algeria and later on the world's food resources, engaged him first in ecological studies and, later, in the economic means needed to support the world's peoples. Ecumenical, ecological, economic—all have roots in the Greek oikos (house)—all were forces for his making of the world a home and relocating his religious impulse in new grounds. Filmmaker His first feature, The Olive Trees of Justice (1962), was a sensitive, even-handed treatment of the conflict then raging between the French and Arab communities, and he was aware of the parallels between blacks and whites in his own country at that time. It was awarded the Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the magnitude of that early achievement is perhaps best reflected by the fact that the next American to win the Critics Prize was Francis Ford Coppola with Apocalypse Now'm 1979. His first professional films on his own continent were made in Colombia for the United States Information Agency. In The People's Films: A Political History of the U.S. Government in Motion Pictures (1973), Richard Dyer McCann concluded his commentary on James Blue's career with that agency by discussing his later film on Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights March on Washington: Another film by James Blue is probably the most memorable one of the George Stevens, Jr. era at the U.S.I.A. The March (1964) has something of the epic quality of Pare Lorenz's 77?e River, and in the manner of that poetic government documentary it reflects the sharp excitement of a great contemporary issue. His masterpiece for the Agency was yet to come, and Basil Wright, the pioneering filmmaker of John Grierson's British documentary film unit is its best witness. In his comprehensive international history of film, The Long View (1974), Wright devoted a chapter to films made about The Third World. Out of all these one, for me, remains outstanding. James Blue's modestly titled A Few Notes on Our Food Problem (1966-68) has good claim, through the force of its message and its cinematic beauty, to be regarded as one of the few really great documentaries.. . .Blue, having possessed himself of all the facts and statistics and arguments, constructed his film from original shooting in Africa, Asia and the New World in the form of a poem infused with passion and compassion, anger How swift how secretly the shadow of the night comes on and hope, and above all a feeling for the real goodness to be found everywhere in ordinary folk. A Few Notes on Our Food Problem received an Academy Award nomination. In 1974, James Blue went back to Africa for the third time to make the observational film, Kenya Boran, with his friend David MacDougall. Its theme was development, modernization, and environmental equilibrium in a rural society. When it was shown at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. in 1977, Dr. Margaret Mead pronounced it the best ethnographic film that she had ever seen. Despite such appreciations, James Blue's reputation as a filmmaker was never really acknowledged; in fact, it was somewhat obscured. His feature had been made in a foreign language and treated a problem which had little resonance at American box offices. Legislation forbids films made HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH Archibald MacLeish for the United States Information Agency to be shown at home; they are made solely for exhibition abroad. That The School of Rincon Santo won a Silver Lion Prize at Venice, was judged the Best Documentary Film at international festivals in Bilboa and Amsterdam and was translated into 56 languages, was entirely irrelevant to its appreciation by the American public at home. His interest in the problem of third-world countries under the pressure of technological development-the bringing of waterpumps to Kenya, for example—was not widely shared by many of his countrymen. His most recent works, Who Killed Fourth Ward? and The Invisible City were ground-breaking experiments in a form he was inventing, the complex urban documentary, an audacious mixture of classic narrative genres with cinema verite and observational aspects of the documentary; they explored the filmmaker's interacting with his sub- JULY/AUGUST jects before the camera and his audience before the television set in entirely new ways; they were shot with'a mixture of small - format equipment — sound - synch super-8 film and % inch videotape; they attempted to link telephones and public television to a process of on-going community education; they were aired in Houston, shown at research conferences in several countries, but had not yet been accepted by a broader public. It had gone unnoticed that his career was unique in the history of American filmmakers in that he had produced works of excellence in an unprecedented variety of forms—the fictional feature, government information film, ethnographic cinema, and the complex documentary. A Man of the World By the time James Blue came to Buffalo, he had already made films on all five continents. He thought of the First, Second and Third Worlds in the same way that Jean-Luc Godard, whom he admired, thought of traditional cinematic narrative structures. "Films have a beginning, middle and end," said Godard, "but not necessarily in that order." In 1979, James Blue was the featured speaker at the First International Ethnographic Film Conference in Canberra, Australia and, at home, helped to organize the First Conference on Contemporary Directions in the Public Affairs Documentary, insisting that our frame of reference be world-wide. We were organizing the second conference as he died, and invitations had been extended to filmmakers in Lebanon, Italy, Brazil and Canada. He had already set the stage for a set of continuing interactions with Canada. He was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Inter- ^\ national Super-8 Festival, was showing 2] the features of Quebecois filmmakers for