Metro Retro Movie Love In Conversation

The Metrograph Guide to Kevin Rafferty

July 10 2019

Who is Kevin Rafferty?

Kevin Rafferty, who will be present at all of our screenings alongside his collaborators, is one of the major innovators of the American documentary. If you were a moviegoer in the 80s, you might’ve seen his movie The Atomic Cafe at a midnight screening. But if you’re new to Kevin Rafferty, all his movies are irreverent, tongue-in-cheek docs about the morbid obsessions underneath American culture, and he has plenty of inside knowledge about it. (His first cousin happens to be President George W. Bush.) He has often been found behind the scenes of some of the best documentaries of all time: Rafferty was a cameraman on Roger and Me and The War Room, and Michael Moore says he was an important mentor.

Where do I start?

Most folks would single out Kevin Rafferty’s modern classic, The Atomic Cafe: a painfully hilarious found footage film about the postwar American fixation on nuclear warfare. But Rafferty has covered an astonishing array of subject matters.

In Blood in the Face, Rafferty and his collaborators got unprecedented access to the white supremacist fringe. Feed is a farcical deconstruction of presidential politics at the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle. The Last Cigarette returns to Rafferty’s found footage roots to explore the history of tobacco advertisements. And if you’re into the unexpected intersections of film history and sports, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 looks at the famous 1968 Ivy League football game and interviews 50 players, one of whom happens to be Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones.

Why now?

We can’t seem to get nuclear weapons under control, white supremacist groups are all over Twitter, and we’re about to see how another presidential campaign season plays out on and off camera. Rafferty always chose subject matters that stubbornly remain in the public consciousness, and he repurposes the information we all share and forces the audience to look at it in a new way.