Jim Jennings

Prague Winter (2006) 16mm, b/w, 8 min

Genre: Experimental

Jennings is best known for his portraits of New York City street life, and with good reason; his patient eye and deft camera-stylo approach represent one of the key contributions to the "city symphony" genre since its heyday in the 1940s. Jennings, along with Ernie Gehr and Ken Jacobs, is one of the preeminent urban film-poets. He does regularly stray beyond this mien, sometimes exploring the domestic interior (as in his 2004 masterpiece Close Quarters) but also packing up the Bolex and filming urban doings abroad….So part of what's so surprising about Prague Winter is that it feels so lived in, so thoroughly grounded. It's not so much that Jennings makes Prague look like Manhattan (although there are commonalities in terms of architecture and the gaps of light between it). But the film restricts itself to sights on and around the tram, which provides an uncharacteristic linearity to the film. What’s more, Jennings' status as a guest observer seems to bring out a humanism in his work, as he fixates on the elderly and, implicitly, the history to which they’ve been subjected. The post-Communist malaise hardens into grim acceptance, and this, along with the physical traces of Prague's history as manifested in the built environment, is what fascinates Jennings here. His camera is tender and unobtrusive, as you would expect from a filmmaker of his sensitivity. -Michael Sicinski, "The Academic Hack" "In this essential visualist's work, the comings and goings of the city, its street cars, and its people are seen through the lens of a noted filmmaker of the avant-garde. Unassuming yet haunting, black and white cinematography reveal a candid portrait of the Czech Republic’s Capital. Prague's checkered history seems to resonate as the filmmaker rides, among other conveyances, the rails of the tram system, which includes the Nostalgic Tram no. 91." "Jennings' 'Prague Winter' has its own formal dynamics but offers up a solemn and compassionate view of physiognomy and fate, exploring a city speckled with snowfall and populated with elderly hibernal figures moving along their well-worn paths." -Mark McElhatten, notes from The New York Film Festivals' "Views from the Avant Garde," 2007

16mm Rental: $30.00

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