For its 40th edition, this year’s Cinéma du Réel is bringing a fascinating retrospective on documentaries from 1968 in attempt to “deconstruct the mythology” surrounding this crucial moment in history. The year of 1968 stirred a lot of cultural and social uprising all around the world. One of the most powerful mediums reflecting those events of massive shifts in human society was cinema. Thanks to a number of young and bold artists today we have now not only a better understanding of that period but also in some of the cases extremely valuable sources of archives of the radical changes happening in places like Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, India, Eastern Europe. Rare and immediate depictions like those can sometimes prove to be unusual sources for archive footage. They can serve as a unique way cover very particular moments and places that made part of global historical processes and social movements. These are also films that can be regarded as a great proof for the powerful wave of creativity that swept a whole generation of filmmakers. In the words of the curator behind the selection, Federico Rossin: ”A social uprising always elicits on a revolution of artistic forms: we consider ’68 as the generator of the most radical and innovative documentary cinema”.
This is our selection of 5 films from the “For Another ’68” retrospective that we think should be considered as true archival treasures and which made it to our long list of exceptional documentaries to see at this year’s Cinéma du Réel.
The Shout (1968)
Directed by Leobardo López Arretche
Shots by film students, El Grito (The shout) is considered as one of the very few archives covering the clash between the students and the Mexican government in ’68. What started as peaceful student protests against the corrupted ruling elites culminated in one of the darkest moment in modern Mexican history – the massacre of students in Tlatelolco on Oct 2, 1968. 400 students were killed and many more arrested and wounded. The film was banned and unavailable to the public only until recently.
This Bit of That India (1967)
Directed by S.N.S Sastry
The film is part of a special section of the program dedicated to India. The premises of the documentary seem very straightforward at first glance – the director SNS Sastry creating an informative piece on the training and research facilities in India available to international students. The result, however, is much more profound producing a poetic visual ode to youth, personal freedom, and expression.
Mi aporte (1969)
Directed by Sara Gómez
Sara Gómez was the first female director of a feature film in the Cuban film history. In “Mi aporte” she examines the struggles of women to balance between becoming active workers in the new socialist society and preserving their traditional family role. The work has a strong feminist message that came from the unique place that Cuba was at that moment in history, making it also a precious archive source.
I am somebody (1970)
Directed by Madeline Anderson
The director of “I am somebody” Madeline Anderson is another pioneer female filmmaker included in the “Womanists” section of the program. The film is considered to be the first documentary made by an African-American woman in a film industry union. It is also one the first films showing the role of women in the civil rights movement during the 60s. Through the use of archive footage and research Andreson told the story of the strike by the 388 black female hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina that went for more than 100 days.
Break the Power of Manipulators (1968)
Directed by Helke Sander
This is a documentary by Helke Sander following the campaign of the West German New Left against the publishing house Springer accusing them of using propaganda tools and mass-manipulation tactics in their news. Sander documented the organized attack that the student movement lead in their fight with the right-wing media.
Visit the website of Cinéma du Réel for more information and the full screening schedule. If you want to dive even deeper in the world of unique archive sources you can read some of our other posts dedicated to finding the right footage here.