Reading 1974: Portrait of a City
DVD NTSC, color, 56 min
Genre: Documentary, Experimental
Produced and directed by: Gary Adlestein, Costa Mantis, Jerry Orr. 30th Anniversary Edition.
A documentary (in the city symphony tradition begun by experimentalists in the 1920's) that captures the essence of Reading, PA in 1974 at the height of the urban renewal era, when the centers of many mid-sized American cities were gutten and redesigned to make way for the "the future." The film captures its subject at exactly the point when what seemed unique and special about this rather old-fashioned, Pennsylvania Dutch, urban center was rapidly disappearing. This 16mm portrait - the first film to receive a production grant from the PA Council of the Arts - was shown at film venues (eg., MoMA's "What's Happening" series) and festivals throughout the country. As the years have passed, the makers of the documentary have observed it evolve into both a fascinating 1970's time capsule and a poignant cinematic elegy. (According to the 2010 Census Bureau data on cities with a population of more than 65,000, Reading had the "largest share of its residents living in poverty, barely edging out Flint, Mich." - New York Times 10/26/11).
So exotic and oozing with character, I forgot I was looking at my own culture. Unforgettable and beautifully bizarre. (Mike Kuchar)
Very impressive - one of the best of its kind that I've seen. - Bill Judson, Film Curator, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute
One of the most original and most interesting American independent feature-length films of 1975. - Film Comment, May/June 1976
DVD NTSC Rental: $30.00
DVD NTSC Sale: $35 individual/ $50 institutional
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