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The Screening Room
Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor
Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor explores the life and contributions of an extraordinary artist, a commitment which ultimately led to hundreds of public monuments and memorials spread out across the United States including the seated Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.
Alice Parker is a renown composer and conductor of choral music living in a small village in the western mountains of Massachusetts. Her career that spans over seventy years initially having found prominence as Robert Shaw’s protégé and then as an independent composer collaborating and working with subjects such as Archibald McLeish, Eudora Welty, Emily Dickinson and Martin Luther King. Alice is better known today for her adaptations of children’s folk songs, operas, and church hymns . In “Alice,” the documentary film, the composer collaborates with Eduardo Montes-Bradley in a series of intimate conversations that illuminate her artistic achievements. “Alice: At Home with Alice Parker” was produced by Heritage Film Project in association with Melodious Accord. Academic Distribution Kanopy Streaming. HD | 30 mins. English. Producer Soledad LIENDO Directed by Eduardo MONTES-BRADLEY.
The Other Madisons
The Other Madisons (The Lost History of a President's Black Family) is a remarkable contribution to American history, documenting the process by which an oral tradition preserves, with exquisite fidelity, an important social record, in spite of, or perhaps in response to, suppression or neglect by exclusion, and racism. In this documentary, Bettye Kearse traces her ancestry to Mandy, her family’s first African ancestor enslaved on American soil and who became the property of President James Madison's estate in Virginia, Montpelier. Kearse's research, her encounters with cultural institutions, and her travels to Ghana, Portugal, Virginia, and Texas provide the contextual background of this genealogical journey. The family mantra: "Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president" has now achieved a new level, that of the documentary film experience. During the process of making The Other Madisons, the filmmaker relied heavily on Kearse’s homonymous book and her own testimony at length, while also reaching out to experts on Montpelier’s enslaved community: Matthew Reeves, archeologist; Lynn Rainville, historian; Cristian Cotz, historian, Kelley Fanto Deetz, archeologist, and Elizabeth Chew, Chief Curator at James Madison's Montpelier. "The Other Madisons" is currently in production and expected to be released to the general audience and academic institutions and their libraries in June 2021. Produced by Soledad LIENDO for HERITAGE FILM PROJECT written and directed by Eduardo MONTES-BRADLEY. HD|40 min. 2/19/21
A Soldier’s Dream: The Milt Feldman Story
Milton Feldman was born in 1924 to hard-working immigrants from Russia. His parents had a candy story in Brooklyn and he vividly remembers the social transformations that followed the Great Depression, a time in which the quite Jewish neighborhood where he grew up, bared witness to the Nazi youth parading swastikas alongside the Stars and Stripes. By 1937, the echoes of Fascism in Europe were an open invitation for thousands to gather at Madison Square Garden where thousands of Hitler sympathizers cheered the speech of rightwing Nationalists. The fall of 1944 will find Milt amongst the troops of the 106th Infantry Division, on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth on his way to Europe. He was ready to do his part of the American deal, just as his father Jack and done before him in some of the major battles of World War I. Milt’s was going to be an easy ride, after all most of France and Belgium had already been liberated and it was a matter of time before the Third Reich would collapse. However, on the morning of December 16th Hitler launched a massive offensive in the Western Front in what came to be known as The Battle of the Bulge. Private Milton Feldman was capture a few days, then marched and shipped by train on a boxcar to Stalag IV-B, a POW camp deep into German territory. Now, the elderly gentleman, the veteran of The Bulge, approaching 94, becomes the subject of “Milt Feldman: A Soldier’s Dream”, a documentary by Eduardo Montes-Bradley.
White: John Borden Evans
BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM, Richmond International Film Festival 2015 | John Borden Evans works year-round in his atelier in North Garden, Va. where we discussed for the first time the idea of a documentary film about his work. The initial concept was to expose his work from the perspective of four seasons and we started production last autumn. However, the following winter I knew that the film was going to be all about cold, snow, isolation and life on the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “White” is about an artist, and a way of life; is about a farm in a place in Virginia; it is about food and God, is about love, water, trees, and the relentless relationship between time and oneself. Moreover, “White” is a film about an artist named John Borden Evans. “White: A Season in the Life of John Borden Evans, is a close look at an intriguing couple who chartered their own course and made you envious.” - Julian Bond | Washington, DC "The whole thing is so skillfully woven together -- John's quiet voice, and silence, and then the music. It creates a wonderful, wondering mood. The stars. and the cows. and trees.” - Alice Parker | Composer "The cinematography is stunning. The notion that the cinematographer can compose an artwork that includes the painting, the artist, and the artist's life is a compelling one. It sets you an artistic goal different from the artist and challenges you to balance your eye (and ear) against his so that the audience can assess your achievement. The artist we hear has a very simple voice, at the beginning it's impossible to know where this simplicity comes from, but in the end, I think, we see simplicity as a choice, especially if we know that his wife makes clothes for Tom Wolfe. So in that arc, from the beginning to the end, the voice changes because we start to hear it differently. By reaching beyond the artwork to the life Montes-Bradley also enables the viewer to consider what of the artist's life gets into the art and what doesn't—so you are questioning formalist approaches to art. Without neglecting form. There's more to be said about simplicity, about the paring down, paring down to spiritual essence, and the director´s use of the shape-note singing keeps that theme alive as the film progresses. The color? Against white the art and the scenes from South America and the hats. This one is best, I think, of the Montes-Bradley´s that I've seen, not a wasted frame." Jeffrey Plank | UVA "The treatment of each scene mirrors the austere choice of monastic life in accord with the silence of art and its spirituality. The cautiously crafted composition, and the sensible use of light blend film and theme as one. I felt the hard-work, firm abundant and serious work which makes the film a work of art in itself, a work of art within a work of art " Eugenio Cuttica | New York City "My first impression is BRAVO and my second is superb. Your camera work is exquisite and I felt you captured something important about John as well as Beth-Neville. I’m looking forward to seeing the film about the next person you chose to profile.” David A. Maurer | The Daily Progress
James Monroe on Monroe Hill
“Monroe Hill” unearths the history of the site that contains the last remaining structures of the late 18th century southern plantation. These surviving structures are silent witnesses to Monroe’s struggle as a farmer and a politician from the late 1780’s until the laying of the cornerstone at the University of Virginia on October 6, 1817. The film includes the chapter of James Monroe's life as Minister to France and his relationship with Thomas Paine, Tom Wolfe, Adrienne de La Fayette, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. “Monroe Hill” brings to the foreground a previously unexplored period of the life of James Monroe featuring extensive documentation, independent research, and interviews with experts. Rare film footage from D. W. Griffith’ “America” and “Orphans of the Storm” was used to create a sense of verisimilitude. “We were able to obtain prints of excellent quality on both of these films, and they served to portray the prevailing phenotype in colonial Virginia at the turn of the 18th century” explained director Eduardo Montes-Bradley, who also affirmed that “These early American films -shot in and around Williamsburg in the late 1910’s- are more powerful than a reenactment. The texture and the overall miss-en-scene of the period dissolves flawlessly with the narration creating a sense of documental continuity.” “Monroe Hill” is an investigation of a space stationary in time, an archeologically challenging experience that explores a place and the people that contributed to its transformation; thus, challenging the idea of a mythical birthplace of the University of Virginia. The film also explores other properties owned by James Monroe during the same period, his Ministerial affairs in Paris, family liaisons, slavery, and the overall complex relationship with many of his contemporaries including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. “Monroe Hill” was shot at the University of Virginia, and various other locations in Paris, Philadelphia, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Fredericksburg and New York. The documentary was made possible through an award from The Jefferson Trust, an initiative of the Alumni Association of the University of Virginia. Comments "With "Monroe Hill", Eduardo Montes-Bradley has produced a magnificent work of scholarship. Drawing together historical images, silent-era-black-and-white film footage, and modern commentary, the documentary persuasively argues for Monroe Hill's pivotal place in the development of the United States as a new nation. James Monroe began farming the property in 1789, the same year that the government began under the Constitution. Initially intended as a prosperous agricultural seat, "Monroe Hill" became instead a great seat of public learning. Rather than crops, the land yielded minds and knowledge, two essentials in the country's conflicted but persistent rise to prominence.” William Ferraro | Washington Papers. HERITAGE FILM PROJECT presents MONROE HILL a film by EDUARDO MONTES-BRADLEY made possible through an award from THE JEFFERSON TRUST | in collaboration with BROWN COLLEGE | CURRY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION | ASH LAWN-HIGHLAND with the support of THE OFFICE OF THE PROVOST & VICE PROVOST OF THE ARTS | THE PAPERS OF JAMES MONROE | WASHINGTON PAPERS | THE JAMES MONROE MUSEUM & THE PRESIDENTIAL PRECINCT | 52 min. | HD | 16:9
The Gillenwater Story
Jay Y. Gillenwater is a globally-respected academic and physician—and a woodland gardener with an old-school belief in family, friendship, and self-sufficiency. This portrait of a plain-spoken scientist who married his childhood sweetheart brings out the wisdom of an unassuming Southerner and the moral compass of an exemplary man. Born in an East Tennessee industrial town during the Great Depression, Jay Gillenwater has witnessed fundamental transformations in society, science, and academia, from his grandparents’ Depression-Era financial collapse to his father’s role in the creation of the Oak Ridge atomic bomb facility to his own principled support for the first women physicians to enter his specialty. “The Gillenwater Story” springs from the testimony of its protagonist, his family and friends, and from hundreds of historical photographs and documents. But it goes beyond this one story to demonstrate how biography is a distinctive tool for understanding and representing the social history of our time.
Rita Dove: An American Poet
The intimacy of the dialogue between Rita Dove and Montes-Bradley's camera provides a rare personal insight into the wide range of Dove's artistic passions. Most of these images are the results of the efforts of Rita Dove's father to record family life in the 1950s and 1960s. The documentary is composed of a series of in-depth, on-camera interviews with Poet Laureate Rita Dove—conducted and recorded between September 2012 and October 2013. These interviews were edited with hundreds of still images and several hours of home movies from the Dove family's collection in Akron, Ohio. The intimacy of the dialogue between Rita Dove and Montes-Bradley's camera provide a rare personal insight into the wide range of Dove's artistic passions. Most of these images are the results of the efforts of Rita Dove's father (Ray A. Dove) to record family life in the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Ray Dove recorded in 8mm and Super 8mm birthdays, the opening of gifts on Christmas Day year after year, holidays and family excursions. According to the filmmaker, "Rita's father is omnipresent and perhaps the silent protagonist of the film as he captured images of Rita which have become fundamental clues to the evolution of the suburban middle class African American child into the celebrated poet we know and recognize." RITA DOVE: AN AMERICAN POET is structured in eleven parts (chapters): Prologue, nine consecutive "books" - simulating the preference shown by Dove in recent works - and the Epilogue. Each book, numbered with Roman numerals, targets a different aspect in the life and whereabouts of Rita Dove, each of them introduced by the poet reading a poem significant to the theme. Cinematically, these readings are set apart from the core interview by being shot at night and in black & white, although the director continues to approach his subject through a decidedly poetic lens. The themes of the nine film "books" include Childhood in Akron, grandfather Thomas (Thomas and Beulah), Great Migration, Dove's relationship to music (with the cello in particular), her relationship to her father, being non-religious today after growing up "in the bosom of the Church", her encounter with Mexico and the Spanish culture which would eventually prompt her to write "Parsley", one of her most celebrated poems, the segregated beaches of Florida and the Deep South of some of her relatives. The 1963 March on Washington as well as John F. Kennedy's and Martin Luther King's assassinations play an important part in the film and the characterization of its subject. The ninth and last "book" covers the time spent at the University of Tübingen on a Fulbright Scholarship. It is in Germany that Rita Dove comes in contact with a number of issues of great significance in her life and influence on her work. Finally, the epilogue presents itself as a dialogue between poet and film director. Rita Dove: An American Poet concludes in the mid-seventies, right before Rita Dove returns from Europe to the United States to eventually become one of the most celebrated poets of her generation. The final credits are preceded by dedications to Kofi Awoonor and Elisabeth Viebahn. Montes-Bradley used Dove's family photos and home movies to give us snapshots of a lived life. It weaves those together with archival footage, interviews with the author, and passages from her poetry, to achieve its own kind of cinematic lyricism—a visual poetry that pays homage to Dove's own techniques. — Lawrence A. Garretson - C-Ville Weekly Filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley's thoughtful and engaging documentary profiles former poet laureate Rita Dove, exploring her life, influences, and formative experiences through on-camera interviews, still images, and home movie clips. And she reflects upon the role of the church in her life, her time in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship, and an incident in which she and other young poets were invited to meet President Nixon at the White House—only to be turned away. Offering a nicely crafted biographical portrait of a key figure in American literature, this is recommended. — T. Keogh, Video Librarian. The Video Review Magazine for Libraries. November, 2014. LOCATIONS: The principal interview with Rita Dove took place in September 2012 and was conducted at the writer's residence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Additional filming took place in Temple House of Israel and in the streets of Staunton. The inserts of Rita Dove reading were filmed at the director's house near Charlottesville. SOUNDTRACK: Three composers are credited on the film: Judith Shatin, Franz Peter Schubert, and Johann Sebastian Bach. "Tower of the Eight Winds" Music for violin & Piano by Judith Shatin has the strongest musical presence in the score. Shatin's compositions were performed by The Borup-Ernst Duo and recorded in the label of the American Composers Forum (Innova).
Calzada: Reconstructing Havana
Featuring Humberto Calzada the film looks back into the artist’s early life in Havana before the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Humberto Calzada represents the side of the Cuban-American equation on the north side of the Gulf Stream. His meticulous attempt to reconstruct the past is evident in in his attempts to reconstruct Havana-on-canvas. In many ways, Calzada epitomizes the exiled who acknowledges the impossibility of a return to Ithaca: “The Havana I used to know is just another imaginary place”, he says on this intimate portrait of a man gravitating a constant state of melancholy. Original Music by Gerardo Aguillón (violin) and José Angel Navarro (guitar). 30 min. 16:9 HD
As Julian Bond traces his roots back to slavery, the audience is confronted with a unique opportunity to observe the 20th century through the eyes of one of its key witnesses. Now in his seventies, the veteran Civil Rights leader recounts his days as a child in the segregated South, growing up in a home frequently visited by intellectuals like Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes. In an intimate conversation with director Montes-Bradley, Bond examines his role in the Civil Rights movement, his opposition to the war in Vietnam, his views on religion, and the struggle to secure a seat in Georgia’s legislature.
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