Films for Social Change: Revisited and Expanded

Poster by Matt McKinzie.

Join us throughout February, March, and April, at various venues across New York City, for FILMS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE: REVISITED AND EXPANDED! This multi-program series reflects on films that emerged from Leonard M. Henny's 1960s/1970s activist and distribution organization "Films for Social Change," in addition to contemporaneous, adjacent, and related newer works from the Film-Makers' Coop's collection and beyond.

The collection of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative is known for its strong holdings of work from the American Avant-Garde and encompasses significant subfields: the poetic, subjective and the diaristic; modernist films that explore the very nature of cinema (its material qualities, its illusionism); mass and pop culture-oriented work that parodies, interrogates, and emulates the culture of dominant cinema. A less well-explored arena is the world of nonfiction filmmaking from the collection, especially films made in the context of the 1960s counterculture and the emergence of the New Left.

Taking its title and inspiration from another film distribution and advocacy group, Films for Social Change, Revisited and Expanded, offers deep dive into the Coop’s and other distributor’s holdings, unearthing some classic and little-known works of militant, verité, agitprop, and essay filmmaking. Split into eight programs and shown in collaboration with colleagues at Brooklyn’s Light Industry and Harlem’s Maysles Documentary Center, the season highlights a range of important and by-now obscure films from one of the richest veins of independent and underground film history.

Program notes and links will appear on this site as they come live, and we will be offering a zine-style publication on the series with an extended essay and program notes later on in the season.

The catalog of Leonard M. Henny’s 1960s/'70s activist and distribution organization Films for Social Change is the inspiration for this multi-program series, which will run throughout February, March, and April.


The Films of Leonard M. Henny (Light Industry, February 20th)


Absent from the footnotes of even the most granular histories of nonfiction cinema and radical art, the films of Dutch sociologist Leonard M. Henny are compact windows onto the capacious concerns of the Left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Made in collaboration with a range of activist and artistic groups in the United States—from the Black Panthers and the Committee for Draft Resistance to The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the St. Louis collective Black Artists Group—Henny’s American films explore, often presciently, topics like antiwar and antinuclear activism, the afterlife of soldiers following the war in Vietnam, racial capitalism, and environmental inequity. Their style combines the immediacy of vérité with moments of dialectical montage reminiscent of Santiago Álvarez; at the time, Henny would advocate for ‘Films as Weapons in the Struggle to Liberate the American Mind,’ as stated in the title of his 1970 contribution to the journal Insurgent Sociologist. Henny produced some sixteen documentaries during his lifetime, each one expanding upon his ongoing theorization of film as a form of ‘visual sociology.’

Beyond his own film practice, Henny realized the potential of cinematic sociology by fostering an ecosystem of film production, distribution, and exhibition that would privilege what we might more accurately class as militant leftist filmmaking. Henny spearheaded the nonprofit distributor Films for Social Change, which supported the efforts of dozens of filmmakers, including Barry Bialik, Les Blank, Jeff Nye, and Warren Haack. Headquartered in St. Louis and then later New York City, Films for Social Change also had a European operation running out of the University of Utrecht, where Henny taught. Henny’s work with Films for Social Change was central to a nexus of institutions that appeared around this time in the Netherlands, including Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms (Freedom Films) and Amsterdam Newsreel, outfits that were modeled in part on Newsreel and The Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York. Henny would continue to teach at Utrecht and advocate for radical cinema throughout his career, paying particular attention in later years to the promotion of Indigenous filmmaking.

The films presented here will soon undergo preservation as part of a collaboration between the Coop and the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.

  1. Peace Pickets Arrested for Disturbing the Peace, 1967, 16mm, 7 min.
  2. The Resistance, 1968, 16mm, 16.5 min.
  3. Black Power, We're Gonna Survive America, 1968, 16mm, 15 min.
  4. Dead End Street?, 1970, 16mm, 11 min.
  5. Vietnam Veteran, 1973, 16mm, 17 min.


Before Newsreel – Documenting Antiwar Protest on the East Coast (The Film-Makers' Cooperative, March 4th)


In the Fall of 1966, a group of activists and antiwar political figures met in Cleaveland to form an organizing committee to demonstrate publicly and apply pressure politically to end the then-raging War in Vietnam. The committee would eventually be renamed The National Mobilizing Committee to End the War in Vietnam (or The Mobe). The group counted among its members and associates key and transformative figures and groups in the antiwar, civil rights, and the burgeoning New Left movements: James Bevel, Stew Albert, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Robert Greenblatt, Tom Hayden, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Fred Halstead, Bradford Lyttle, A. J. Muste, Sidney Peck, Charles Owen Rice, Jerry Rubin, Dr. Benjamin Spock and SANE, Vietnam Summer, Karen Wald, and Eric Weinberger.

 On April 15, 1967, according to contemporary reports, some 400,000 people gathered in the Sheep Meadow on the Western side of Central Park and marched to the U.N. to decry the War. They heard speeches from James Bevel, Harry Belafonte, and Martin Luther King Jr. A simultaneous march occurred in San Franciso with speeches by Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver and Julian Bond, founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was the first major public demonstration against the US’s involvement in Vietnam. The events were soon overshadowed nationally by the later March on the Pentagon, but the event in New York was more substantial, and like its later counterpart, began to firm up the alliance between cultural expression and pollical dissent. Three months before the April march, the large, New York-based collective The Week of Angry Arts had already staged scores of events, including the screening of a 60-film compilation of responses to the war by a range of prominent experimental filmmakers and artists entitled For Life, Against the War, and the unveiling of an equally ambitious Collage of Dissent, a ten by six foot mural of collages by 150 artists at the Loeb Student Center at New York University. Continuing this tradition of cultural activism, Harry Weisburd’s Saturday 4/15/67 documented the March, but instead of offering up direct unexpurgated footage, he precedes his in-person account with a quicksilver collage of news coverage and politicking that places the film in a dada-esque agitprop tradition much like the efforts of his colleagues in The Angry Arts group (who coincidently can be seen marching with a banner in the second part of the film). 

Though perhaps better known in the wider culture as the backdrop of Norman Mailer’s nonfiction novel Armies of The Night (1968), the Mobe-organized March on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967 also spurred such hippie-era cliches as National Guard rifles being plugged by flowers, and saw a mass chant led by Allen Ginsberg; soon-to-be Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and the Fugs to exorcise the miltary-industrical complex from the American psyche as well as ‘levitate the Pentagon’. The demonstration is considered a significant turning point in the history of dissent against the war, with the incorporation of artistic and cultural gestures coming to the fore, but also a more staunch and violent resistance from the authorities, setting the stage for clashes that would begin to dominate the divided body politics in the coming years. As the evening progressed and a gap in the police and military line guarding the Pentagon was breached, the protests turned violent. According to Todd Gitlin, Executives at CBS had captured footage of the heavy-handed police actions against demonstrators but stopped the footage from airing and encouraged other networks to do so. Due to the sheer number of artists and filmmakers in the antiwar movement, there was a significant amount of on the ground, eyewitness footage shot of the events.

A number of these individual figures quickly came together in New York at the then offices of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative to form a group that would provide an alternative to the occlusion and sanitizing of such events in the mainstream media. They called themselves Newsreel. Their film No Game compiled footage by filmmakers including Marvin Fishman, Norm Fruchter, Peter Gessner, Robert Kramer, Robet Machover, Masanori Oe, and Allan Siegel. Work on the film that edited together the disparate footage was completed by Fishman and Oe. The film’s raw collision of sound and image gives the work a rough-hewn feel that is as much aurally cacophonous as it is visually dynamic. The film uses sound in a noteworthy way as a dense form of collage that privileges not one singular voice but a multitude of shouts, chants, calls, and responses to both give the effect of verisimilitude but also render in cinematic form the collective nature of the struggle at hand. This is the result of the films being made quickly and cheaply, without quality synch-sound equipment, but also fed the agenda of Newsreel in their commitment to making films ‘from within the situations they present from the point of view of the people’.

The Coop’s collection also contains two further films that bear witness to the events of that day that have been rarely screened and were not incorporated into any later compilations: David Ringo’s March on the Pentagon and Harry Weisburd’s Pentagon Protest. Weisburd’s film mainly depicts the very early afternoon of the rally outside the Lincoln Memorial and captures on its soundtrack the majority of comedian and civil rights activist, Dick Gregory’s impassioned speech. The loose quality of the film sets it apart from the more rigorous dualistic composition of Weisburd’s film on the New York protests earlier in the year. Ringo’s film is an incisive document of the day; it has an intriguing, people-less opening that almost abstractly displays the streets of a deserted New Haven, CT. Ringo cuts frantically between shots of wheatpasted bills advertising the Pentagon March to the City’s student body (in many instances these notices are defaced, rendered illegible by markings and tearings, reflective of the then-ambivalent public feeling towards antiwar sentiment among young people); on the film’s soundtrack we hear a group of protests aboard a bus as they begin to prepare for the events of October 21st. This more formally audacious opening is followed by impromptu verité footage of the rest of the day. Unlike the other films presented here, Ringo insisted that the work was a humanist portrait, that sought to demonstrate that the citizens who vehemently opposed the war were everyday people, not militants or leftist insurgents: ‘It is not a news film’ he wrote in the film’s press release, ‘it is not a propaganda film, it is not an objective or analytical film. It was made with the conviction that the people of the demonstration, their feelings, faces, and reactions are as important as the events of the day’. This genteel perspective is perhaps undercut by the reality of the protests and the birth of a new era, telegraphed by the March on the Pentagon, that saw new waves of oppression and violence meeting the resistance. These are actions that will be explored in two later programs in this series: The Elysian Park Love-In and The Destruction of the People’s Park and Chicago 1968.


  1. Harry Weisburd, Saturday 4/15/67, 1967, black and white, sound, 27 min.
  2. David Ringo, March on the Pentagon, 1967, black and white, sound, 21 min.
  3. Harry Weisburd, Pentagon Protest, 1967, black and white, 13 min.
  4. Newsreel, No Game, black and white, sound, 16 min.


The Elysian Park Love-In and The Destruction of the People’s Park (The Film-Makers' Cooperative, March 11th)


The out and out escapist utopianism of the first ‘Love-In’ of 1967 (a banner year for hippiedom that ushered in the first ‘Summer of Love’) saw some 15,000 attendees to Elysian Park in Los Angles on Easter Sunday embrace in a sensory and hedonistic revelry seemingly miles away from the uprisings, rebellions, and turmoil that had marked the city in previous years (LA, in the wake of the Watts uprising, became a synonymous with the much-touted phrase ‘urban crisis’). Flanked by performances by some well-known (Strawberry Alarm Clock) to now largely-forgotten psychedelic rock outfits (The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, presumably playing cuts from their soon-to-released debut album The Peanut Butter Conspiracy is Spreading), complete with facepainting and lubricated with choice substances, the event was amongst the most innocent and archetypical of early marquee events for the counterculture. The LA-based Love-In is less well chronicled than the Timothy Leary- and Allen Ginsberg-led ‘Human Be-In’ in San Francisco that took place in January of the same year and was decidedly less explicitly political in its advocacy for the emancipatory potential of psychoactive substances. Antiwar sentiment is also curiously muted at the Los Angles festivities, with a prominent appearance from the satirical character General Hershey Bar (actor and dancer Bill Matons, in excessive military garb offering a parody of the then head of the Selective Service System U.S. General Lewis B. Hershey) but no rallies or speeches. The more hedonistic, free-form nature of the event is captured as a panoply of wonderstruck idealism in Les Blank’s early film God Respects Us When We Work But He Loves Us When We Dance. The film offers a patchwork overview of the festivities rendered with deep hues of saturated color which underline the polychromatic explosion of the hippie aesthetic against the staid fashions and visual culture of the first half of the decade. Accompanying Blank’s idyll here is a virtually unseen film Vagabond by West coast filmmakers Bob Mulqueen and John Simons (often working together under the moniker ‘Cultural Expansion’). Their short document overlays a titular poem, composed for the film, that further underscores the innocence of the communitarian endeavor and gestures also to the naiveté of this seemingly isolated Valhalla.

The conception of community-driven public space as a slice of heaven on earth was realized for a fleeting period in the Spring of 1969 by a group of residents, students, professors, and activists who transformed a disused and vacant piece of land some 350 miles to the North of Los Angeles in the beating heartland of the counterculture: Berkeley. The plot had sat empty after being razed a year before by the University of California who still owned the property. The group began to appropriate the space, utilizing it as a community garden, a location for ecological pedagogy, and public space built on sweat equity. In the words of architectural historian Sabrina Gabrielle Richard, the park "quickly became a space for the reimaging of property ownership, urban land use and the relationship between the human and non-human world" and is seen by historians of the New Left as an early pivot toward ecological and environmental concerns for the movement.

Due to events transpiring shortly after its opening, the space would also become a central site of contention, symbolic of the wider, and soon to be common, violent suppression of dissent and rebellion in the United States. The University, along with the office of the Governor of California saw the use of the park as an illegal occupation. An architecture possessor at Berkeley, Sim Van der Ryn, who focused on the integration of architectural design with social justice and later self-sufficient ‘eco buildings’ was a key proponent of the park and advocated on its behalf in negotiations with the University and Governor Ronald Reagan’s deputies. Clashes between local police and the park’s users and creators quickly escalated after the University’s Regents erected a fence around the park. Students, following a demo, vowed to take it back. The National guard was enlisted to clear the park on May 15. State and federal troops soon occupied the city and a student, James Rector, was fatally wounded by a shotgun blast to the back; the painter Allen Blanchard was left blinded in the pandemonium and scores more were injured. Three years before the fatal shootings of four students striking against war in Vietnam at Ohio’s Kent State University, ‘Bloody Thursday’, as the day became known, represented one the few instances of unarmed civilians being killed for dissent in the U.S. (the other, less well-remembered instance, also from 1968, was the killing of three Black students attempting to desegregate a bowling alley at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg). It is the only instance in history of people being shot for attempting to bolster and improve the urban environment.

Lenny Lipton, the filmmaker, poet, and pioneer of three-dimensional image projection, was resident in Berkeley at the time and contributor to the noted underground newspaper The Berkeley Barb. His filmic record of the park and its fate, Let A Thousand Parks Bloom, is the best known of his early 16mm films and the most holistic record of the park during this time on film. The film is broadly split into two competing sections, the first is aligned with the vision of Elysian Park espoused in the first two films: it is bucolic and utopian. Containing footage of other parks, Provo Park (Berkeley, CA) and Speedway Meadows (San Francisco, CA) that are complete and being enjoyed by the public, the first section acts as a counterpoint to the second part of the film that captures the action and labor necessary to bring the People’s Park to fruition; it also depicts the park’s constant surveillance by authorities; and the symbolic protests of the park users’ ritualistic burning and ceremonially burying a pig. The stark juxtaposition of children at play amongst see-saws and jungle gyms and the pleasure taken by groups of people in making the park against the reality of the park’s destruction and the heavy-handed removal of its public is striking—it is a eulogy cast as a blunt and affecting dialectic. Other than various shots of the police and troops circling the city there is a lack of direct clashes depicted in the film, the murder of Rector is present almost subliminally with a haunting whisper of his name overlaid on the soundtrack part way through.

Less lush and certainly impossible to label utopian, Newsreel’s film People’s Park is in keeping with their raw aesthetic. Opening after the fact, the film recounts through a central on-screen narrator, the events around the park’s formation and the quashing of the student rebellion against the University on Bloody Thursday. The presence of a cohering interlocuter gives the film a grounding that is lacking in other early Newsreel efforts but the visceral battle footage, with filmmakers in and amongst the tear gas and lobed missiles, lends the film a violent realism. It is during these cataclysmic action sequences that the film’s soundtrack settles into the denser, layered non-synch sound expected from a Newsreel production. Beyond this the film also contains more uninterrupted and legible perspectives from observers, one of whom is completely in favor of the use of deadly force. The use of montage is also here more pronounced with a satirical presentation of the Regents of university (represented by their official portraits and interspliced with cartoon dollar bills and mugshots of Mickey Mouse). The film closes with a sober institutional critique of the role of University as a corporate actor in the state of California ensconced with the agribusiness industry and various environmentally detrimental institutions. This diatribe is quickly expanded to advocate for coalition building and intersectionality across the frontlines of unionism and racial equity, seeing the issue of the People’s Park in Berkeley as a sweeping microcosm of the problems in America more broadly. 

As Bloody Thursday ended, Governor Reagan established martial law in Berkeley. Beginning on May 16, three National Guard battalions, with supporting units under the tactical direction of Alameda County Sheriff Frank Madigan, occupied the city, erecting barricades and clearing the streets. Although he limited their mission on May 25, Governor Reagan did not recall the troops until June 2. The park operates to this day as a semi-public space though its formal ownership is still contested. A mural depicting the events of the day (and other aspects of the park’s history) designed by Osha Neumann was unveiled in 1976 along Telegraph Avenue, acting as a permanent monument to the park’s radical history. 


  1. Les Blank, God Respects When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance, 1968, 16mm to digital, color, sound, 15 min.
  2. Bob Mulqueen and John Simons, Vagabond, 16mm, 1967, color, sound, 6 min.
  3. Let A Thousand Parks Bloom, 1969, 16mm, color, sound, 27 min.
  4. Newsreel, People’s Park, black and white, sound, 23 min.


Portraits of Trans Lives c. 1970 (Maysles Documentary Center, March 22nd)


With the Cinema Verité movement well underway, and gay liberation on the horizon, the late 1960s and early ‘70s saw a trickle of documentary filmmaking on queer subjects. Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967) and Frank Simon’s The Queen (1968) are the best known among these works, but many more young independent filmmakers and experimenters in the nascent technology of portable open-reel videotape made their own forays into documenting queer and trans life. The works in this program, each a portrait of one or more trans women or transfeminine individuals, exemplify the confessional mode that characterized much of both documentary filmmaking and queer/trans activism at this protean moment in the history of both movements.

Behind Every Good Man, produced while director Nikolai Ursin was an MFA student at UCLA, uses a combination of unobtrusive observation, staged tableaux, and narration to offer a glimpse into the daily life of an unnamed Black trans woman. It's A Camp, in keeping with documentary depictions of drag ritual in The Queen and the much later Paris is Burning (1990), depicts a queen getting dolled up while her voiceover narration reflects on the societal reception of homosexuality. These shorts don’t identify their subjects by name, pronouns, or gender, so the assignment of identities like “trans woman”–a turn of phrase not commonly in use until the 2000s–and “drag queen” is speculative and perhaps teleological. As the subject-narrator of Behind Every Good Man explains, “I don’t think about which [rest]room to go into; I have my choice.” 

The parsing of terminology does appear in the second two documentaries, a result not only of their more capacious runtimes but also of the battle lines queer and trans activists were beginning to draw by the early ‘70s. Interviewed at a protest by the directors of Transsexuals, the famed activist Sylvia Rivera distinguishes her identity from that of trans people who seek genital surgeries, explaining that she is satisfied with hormone replacement. Paula, the subject of All Women Are Equal, defines herself as a “transsexualist” because she wants to “go whole hog”–transition socially and perhaps biomedically, rather than cross-dress recreationally as so-called “TVs” do. 

Yet despite the datedness of much of the language in these documentaries, familiar subjects for members of today’s trans communities arise too. Paula and the women featured in Transsexuals–Deborah Hartin and Esther Reilly–express frustration at the transphobic bureaucracy that creates barriers to their healthcare and discuss the ways sex can be both alienating and affirming. “It’s a fact of life that homosexualism and transsexualism are with us,” Reilly says toward the end of Transsexuals, “and have been since the beginning of time.” 

– Lucy Talbot Allen


  1. Nikolai Ursin, Behind Every Good Man…, 1966, 16mm, black and white, sound, 8 min.
  2. Barry Pollock, It’s a Camp!, 1969, 16mm, black and white, sound, 5 min.
  3. Susan Milano, Transsexuals, 1971, video, black and white, sound, 25 min.
  4. Marguerite Paris, All Women Are Equal, 1972, 16mm, color, sound, 15min.


Three by Sheila Page and the Miss America Protest (The Film-Makers' Cooperative, March 27th) **RESCHEDULED, NEW DATE TBA**


  1. Testing Testing, How Do You Do?, 1969, color, sound, 4 min.
  2. Newsreel, Up Against the Wall Miss America, 1969, black and white, sound, 6 min.
  3. A Film on Street Harassment, 1977, color, sound, 12 min.
  4. All in Favor, 1979, color, sound, 15 min.


The Draft (The Film-Makers' Cooperative, April 3rd)


  1. Hillary Harris, The Draft Card Burner, 1966, black and white, 7 min.
  2. Warren Haack, Selective Service System, 1970, 16mm, color, sound, 13 min.
  3. Anthony Bannon, Greg Borland, J.T. Doran, Bob Lehman, Citizen of What Country, 1973, black and white, sound, 36 min.
  4. Neil Reichline, David Harris - Political Prisoner, 1969 (?) black and white, 26 min


Chicago 1968 (Maysles Documentary Center, April 12th)


Of all the events and historical cataclysms explored in Films for Social Change: Revisited and Expanded, the protests, police crackdowns and later conspiracy trial resulting from the Democratic Convention in Chicago in the summer of 1968 are some of the most analyzed, remarked upon and taught about of all the seismic moments of upheaval in the 1960s. Unlike many of the other events and phenomena covered in the series, the brutal, mass-media-distributed violence and the political and legal furor of the convention and its aftermath are represented copiously in mainstream media, from contemporaneous television news coverage to several narrative films, ranging in quality from the New Hollywood classic Medium Cool (1969) to more recent Aaron Sorkin-helmed The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). The shocking events of the Convention Week saw peaceful protest rallies; humorous political stunts (The Yippies infamously nominating Pigasus J. Pig for President) and stunning, nation-shaking political violence (especially on August 28, the night of the nominating votes in the convention hall, in what came to be called ‘The Battle of Michigan Avenue’: the bloodying and beating of protesters that would be seen by a nationwide audience of 90 million households, as well as by delegates watching monitors at the convention hall). The moving-image was umbilically linked to the unfolding events, so much so that protesters coined a chant to remind heavy-handed police that their behavior could be seen by a broad audience, meeting their skull-bashing and tear-gassing with the shout: "The whole world is watching!"

Beyond the immediacy of the television accounts and the postmortem fictionalization of the trail, more experimental and activist visions can be found on film by The Yippies themselves in their satirical and rage-filled Yippie from 1968 (distributed by Newsreel at the time) and in the work of local filmmaking collective The Film Group whose seven-part educational film Urban Crisis and the New Militants (1966-1968) is now considered a classic of New Left filmmaking. Five of the seven films in the series utilize footage from the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, while the other two (Cicero March and Black Moderates, Black Militants) are concerned with similar issues of civil rights and civil disobedience.

In this screening we will be showing two related films that chime with both Yippie and the work of The Film Group. The first is a near-feature length pedagogical film produced by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Political Science Department in the immediate aftermath of the DNC Convention. Conventions: The Land Around Us was originally distributed by Films for Social Change. The film possesses a tone that slips between formally academic and sober—offering sequences of sociological and political contextualization and analysis of the events—interspersing these with a more free-wheeling, and decidedly of-its-time posture that embraces the Dada-esque, put-on-style political performativity that saturated the moment. Described by its makers as a "documentary film essay," the work is presented as "bringing to life the emotional and ideological dynamics of that historical moment, it also places it in the dual context of interactional analysis and the history of American Utopian movements." The objective stance of this description notwithstanding, the film often veers off into a zany mode of address that leaves little doubt as to the filmmakers’ position on the events of that week in August. In an accompanying note for educators, Swatex and Miller extol the variety of spectacles the film offers:

"Listen and watch while leaders of the anti-government demonstrators discuss their plans for responding to violence. Learn how meditation and unconscious responses to stress were hoped to stop the war in Vietnam and bring peace and justice to the world.

See Chicago Police Battle America’s Youth!

Hear Mayor Richard J. Daley Talk Dirty in Public!

Hear Bing Crosby and Abbie Hoffman point out with song and practical demonstration that the ideals of the Yippies! were the same as those of earlier American Utopian Movements, like the Mormons, the Socialists, and the Pilgrims.

See Yippies! get married in public!

See the Democratic National Convention sing 'Happy Birthday To Lyndon Johnson' while hundreds of demonstrators tell him what they really think of him.

See an American Senator encourage police violence!

Experience American politics in the late ‘60’s as an LSD trip while Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention play “The Return of Son of Monster Magnet.”

Hear Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians play the Democratic National Party’s theme song, 'Happy Days Are Here Again.'

Hear Hubert Humphrey prophesy the coming of the New Age, while Yippies! vote for pig!"

Following Conventions is another film that can be placed squarely in the tradition of what art historian Craig Peariso has called the ‘radical theatrics’ of 1960s cultural activism. Richard Brick summarizes his film The Conspiracy and the Dybbuk as a "political documentary of the religious exorcism of the evil spirit or dybbuk possessing Federal Judge Hoffman, trial judge of the notorious conspiracy trail of the so-called Chicago Eight." The trial, in 1969, was an attempt to convict Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale of organizing a conspiracy to cross state lines and incite the violent "riot" that occurred during the convention. The film depicts an exorcism ceremony performed by the Radical Jewish Union of New York on the steps of the federal courthouse at Foley Square in New York. This public ceremony, that seriously and pointedly decries the actions of the judge (who notoriously chastised and gagged the defendants in the courtroom, especially the Black Panther Seale) is intercut with coverage of rallies with addresses by Hoffman, Rubin; their defense attorney William Kunstler and the French writer and activist Jean Genet. The contrasting political discourse sounds potentially fractious but the clash of these modes of address hinges well together to form a unique and powerful statement on the trial and its foibles.

  1. Gerald Swatex and Kaye Miller, Conventions: The Land Around Us, 1968, 16mm, black and white, sound, 67 min.
  2. Richard Brick, The Conspiracy and the Dybbuk, 1971, 16mm, black and white, sound, 25 min.

Total Run Time: 92 minutes.


Jon Jost’s Speaking Directly: Some American Notes (The Film-Makers' Cooperative, April 17th)


  1. Speaking Directly: Some American Notes, 1974, color, sound, 110 min.