Robert Kramer Retrospective:
Director: Norman Fruchter & Robert Machover
USA / 1966 / 56 min
Live Screening introduced by Jon Goff, Executive Director of The Flaherty.
Robert Kramer’s political career began with the Newark Community Union Project (NCUP), which was part of the Students for a Democratic Society’s (SDS) Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP) to organize Black and impoverished urban communities in the North. Early Kramer collaborators Norman Fruchter and Robert Machover chronicled these experiences with an observational style from September to November 1965 and then fashioned them into this landmark 1966 documentary. As opposed to “radical cheerleading,” the film provides a sober assessment of organizing’s at times agonizing realities. Investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities for its purported role in the 1967 Newark riots, hailed by Black Power advocate Stokely Carmichael because it “graphically points up the dilemma which powerless people face when they try to solve their basic problems of daily life,” and praised by the New York Film Festival as “the best film of the new American left,” this self-described “film about organizing people for change” is significant not only as an ingress into Kramer’s life and work but also for the fact that the problems it depicts persist so clearly into the present.
This film was preserved in conjunction with Flaherty Preservation Initiative and National Film Preservation Foundation, by Bill Brand and graduate students in the Film Preservation class of New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program (MIAP), part of Cinema Studies Department, Tisch School of the Arts.
Lead students: Caroline Gil, Shahed Dowlatshahi, Laurie Duke, Jonathan Farbowitz, Caroline Roll
Laboratory: BB Optics, Colorlab
Thanks: Norman Fruchter, Robert Machover, Anita Reher