Un-American Films
Sunday, July 4th, 2004

8:30 - Live Music by Marathon (details below)
9:00 - Short films explode over the Hudson River.

At the River Project, Pier 26 on the Hudson.
Dress warmly (it's cooler by the river than in the streets).
In the event of rain the show is indoors at the same location.



Un-American Films
Of late, we at Rooftop Films—among patriots and ex-patriots the world over—have been forced to question what exactly it means to be "American." To some, to be American means the freedom to practice any religion or art, and to find a community of like-minded—or politely disagreeing—folks. To others, it means to spew evangelical rhetoric about unending war. To still others, it means Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and ubiquitous GMOs. Or, perhaps to some, it means trading a brutal dictatorship for a brutal military state.

On this day, Independence Day, we are forced to question our government, to question what is done in the name of Americans or with our government's support. With a few exceptions, our 4th of July program takes you abroad, to see the effect of America's many and far-reaching tentacles. Because to question, to examine, is to be patriotic, democratic, to be American. Tonight we will show you a film that expresses solidarity for the French, the benefactors of one of the most iconic and American symbols of liberté, but who are ridiculed and vilified in this era of preemptive wars and freedom fries. We will take you to the broken buttes of Arizona, where, mostly forgotten by the rest of the country, Native Americans still fight for what few sacred sites have survived the bulldozers' teeth—and still lose. We take you also to the broken streets of Kabul, where people—forgotten here, as well—continue to rebuild from the fragments of their city, on scales small and large. We bring you an American summer love story from the crumbling streets of Gaza, and a film about the reach of American imperialism into distant future galaxies.

In watching tonight's films, you, too, question. In questioning, in watching, filming, creating, we resist the pull into consumerism and complacency. We learn that to fight the bulldozers in our neighborhoods and the unjustified war that has scandalized us all, we may come out in one piece, with a face of human compassion.


THE FILMS:
Diplomacy (Sean Lees, 1:30)
A brief celebration of those snarky French, in our own neighborhood's swimming hole.

Vision Test (Wes Kim, 6:00)*
Who would you feel most comfortable with as CEO of a Fortune 500 company? What begins as a routine eye exam turns into an examination of people's subconscious attitudes towards race, gender and power. Vision Test is based on a study of racial bias conducted by The Committee of 100 , a national nonpartisan organization that targets important issues that concern the Chinese-American community, as well as issues affecting U.S.-China relations.

Sixth Section (Alex Rivera, 8:00) *
Sometimes the "American Dream" is realized on foreign soil. During the cold winters of upstate New York, a group of immigrants work together to give a baseball field, an ambulance and whatever else they can manage to their hometown of Boqueron, Mexico.

Flashbacks From My Past: "Starry Night" (Irra Verbitsky, 3:46)
Verbitsky remembers and recreates, in oil paint animation, her memories of being a child in Kiev. She recalls fireworks and films, but knows now that those were not innocent spectacles.

Forbidden to Wander (Susan Youssef, 35:00)
In this hypnotizing home movie, a young woman returns to explore her native Gaza. Without judgement, Youssef documents the daily lives of people in an occupied land—the difficulties of buying groceries, following your favorite film stars, passing mail from town to town. Along the way, Youssef is harassed at a protest, witnesses the horror of a bombing, and helps a friend flea the country. But it is the crush she develops on one of her hosts which sets the tone for the film, a lush and melancholy love letter.

INTERMISSION

Sixth Section (Alex Rivera, 8:00) *
Sometimes the "American Dream" is realized on foreign soil. During the cold winters of upstate New York, a group of immigrants work together to give a baseball field, an ambulance and whatever else they can manage to their hometown of Boqueron, Mexico.

Esmeraldas: Petroleum and Poverty (Josh Holst, 9:00)*
Esmeraldas documents the intense human suffering that occurred when a Texaco oil refinery exploded and destroyed an Afro-Ecuadorian community. In November of 2002, after seeing this film and other data, a court ruled a sizeable amount of money be awarded to the town. Texaco has rebuilt the pipeline that was damaged in the refinery's explosion, bringing more petroleum and more risk. Meanwhile, access to safe food, potable water, and healthcare is still nonexistent in Propicio Uno.

In the Light of Reverence: Hopi (Christopher Mcleod, 22:00)
A devastating look at the ongoing destruction of the Hopi's sacred sites in Arizona. "The Gift of the Magi" on a larger scale, whose consequence is the destruction of sanctity and cultural memory.

Kabul: Reconstructions (Mariam Ghani, 6:24)
A glimpse into Kabul, which regenerates itself a piece at a time. Three different takes on the idea of "reconstruction," from small to large.

Terra (Aristomenis Tsirbis, 6:45)
In a peaceful and distant future world, a strong young alien woman named Mala asserts her independence by looking through a telescope, questioning a slowly approaching visitor. Some call it a god. However, as Mala watches, it is revealed in all it's horrifying glory. God bless America and her thousand points of light.

THE MUSIC:
When government tightens its grip on the people, underground music usually responds fiercely with a backlash of dissent. A quick look at the current state of the underground reveals not a latent progressive sensibility surfacing, but rather an obsession with heartbreak and sweet melodies. As a result underground music is facing the threat of being totally irrelevant. MARATHON is standing up to resist the current stream of irrelevance. With a message combining progressive vigilance with a wise self-wariness, MARATHON's songs are questions, not answers. Steeped in the traditions of live performance as community, they bring an energy that transforms any space into a neighborhood dance party. Lyrics and ideas are served up on a bed of blistering hardcore guitars, passionate singing, and thunderous drums. MARATHON is composed of ex members of NYC politicos DE LA HOYA, Rochester hardcore heroes STANDFAST, furious punk band THE DISASTER, and Syracuse legends SPARK LIGHTS THE FRICTION. Their debut EP deals with everything from insurgent graffiti, to local dictators, to the very idea of sexuality. When MARATHON play, the idea of dancing for change is ushered into the public consciousness.


* Curated by Media Rights.