Chinese Typewriter, The
16mm, color, 27.75 min
Keywords: Political / Social Activism
The Chinese Typewriter is about education and language, and the way a society is shaped by them. Exemplifies the politically committed film that defies the strict rubric of avant-garde. Barnett seems less interested in challenging traditional form than in exploding his own occidental vision. He transforms cyclonic cutting among a character-filled Chinese printing shop, a school, and street life into a visual poem that extracts the country's fierce mechanistic energy while leaving the fragrant residue of humanity. The film is compositionally meticulous and rhythmically arresting, as Barnett goes beyond facile, formalist, dehumanization of post-Mao China imagery. Contrasting a stop action view of a schoolgirl doing a cartwheel with contemplating, pointillist, high-angle shots of sidewalk life. The repeated sloganeering of public-school apologists, spiced with oriental music and street beat forms a soundtrack with the haunting quality of a Davis Byrne/Brian Eno experiment. Red objects, from scarves around necks to newsstands draped with crimson like a shroud-pull the eye to what become found object vanishing points. despite the multitude of images-over 3000 on 28 minutes, the film never seems capricious or ostentatious. -- Gregory Solman ; BOSTON PHOENIX 2/26/85 ... THE CHINESE TYPEWRITER... provoked me to rave for days.... and alarming, funny, gorgeous work. -- Susan Orlean ; BOSTON PHOENIX 5/84 Barnett is a modern Vertov; wiser, reflective, and without the naive trappings of a prophet. Mary Badger ; Bromfeild Gallery Notes
16mm Rental: $65.00
DVD_NTSC, color, 42 min
Genre: Documentary, Experimental
Keywords: political_social activism
On August 19, 1991 Mikhail Gorbacheve was overthrown in a coup, and ABC news sent Gary Henoch to Moscow to cover the events that followed. Henoch had been ABC's Moscow cameraman in the early 1980's and he was astounded at the changes in Russian Society following the collapse of Communism in the intervening yeasrs. He responded by asking his friend and Russian scholar Harlow Robinson to join him in Russia to document the impact of change. Upon his return,
after weeks of filming interviews and street scenes in Moscow, Yoroslavl, and Rostov Veliky, he turned the footage over to a well-known PBS series, but the rough-cut that emerged appalled him and he pulled the footage. Some months later I was editing an industrial that Henoch had shot. He stopped by the editing room and we fell into a conversatioin. I was impressed that such an experienced hand would show up and ask if there was anything I needed that he failed to get, was there anything he could have done better? In fact there was nothing. He was by far the best cameraman whose footage I had the honor to work with.
He told me the story of his trip to Russia and asked if I wanted to see the material. There was forty hours of it, and it blew me away. I saw in it the results of a civilization that had had its belief system knocked out from under it. He saw that my passion for the footage was genuine and offered to give it to me to do with as I pleased. Over the next eleven years, in my spare time, and in between other jobs I would work on the footage, solving one structural problem after another, until I finally became satisfied that I had caught the essence of the story.
An Anagram is an essay in changing parts. It trades in what Paul Auster calls "a syntax of the eye, a grammer of pure kinesis". It wears the soul of historical disappointment on its sleeve.
VHS NTSC Rental: $175.00
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