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Norm Ferguson and the Latin American films of Walt Disney

Pilling, Jayne John Libbey Publishing ePub


One of the most unusual chapters in the history of the Walt Disney studio began in 1941, when Disney was approached by the United States government to make a goodwill tour of South America. The United States had not officially entered World War II at that time, but the government noted with some concern a growing Nazi influence in South America and was seeking to counter that influence by promoting friendly ties between the Americas. Disney did make the trip, along with a group of his artists, and thus began a chain of events which eventually produced two feature-length pictures, Saludos Amigos (1943) and The Three Caballeros (1945), along with a variety of Latin American-influenced short subjects. (These dates represent the United States releases of the films, but it should be noted that they were both released in other countries first. Saludos Amigos opened in Brazil and Argentina in, respectively, August and December 1942; The Three Caballeros had its world premiere in Mexico City in December 1944.) In selecting the artists who were to make the South American trip, Disney appointed the distinguished animator Norm Ferguson as unit producer. Fortunately for anyone interested in documenting the story of that tour and the films that later emerged from it, Ferguson took literally hundreds of photographs along the way – and kept the photographs, along with other mementoes of the occasion. Today, these materials survive in the collection of the artist’s daughter Bonnie Ferguson Brown. By combining them with other papers in the Disney Archives and with the memories of other participants in the project, we can reconstruct a fascinating and quite complete account of the tour and of subsequent production.

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Chapter 16

Tony Grey John Libbey Publishing ePub

On the way over to the Headquarters tent Kang asks Marcus to explain to his superiors the Roman custom for celebrating a victory. When they enter the grand structure, as large as Jir-Jir’s he introduces him. Gan says;

“Yes I remember you. What have you got to say?”

“Kang Guiren asked me to tell you what happens if Romans win a big battle. If we do that, the commander is awarded what we call a Triumph. He’s allowed to march his entire army through the city to a sacred hill on top of the forum – our market place. Along the way the troops carry pictures of the victory and the crowd applauds.”

“Protector – General”, Kang says, “This is what I was telling you about. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to have an artist paint pictures of our victory and send them to the Emperor?”

“What an excellent idea,” Chen says. “It would impress the Court and help persuade the Emperor to pardon us. Nobody has ever done this sort of thing before.”

Somewhat sceptical, Gan says, “Do we have an artist who can do it?”

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Chapter 8 Los Angeles Film Festival

David E James John Libbey Publishing ePub

Jack Hirschman*

Something more than a report of the second Los Angeles Film Festival has to be given, for in a very important way the festival did not end in the early morning hours of 13 February with the choice of a winner of the $250 first prize, but it continued for a couple of days more, unofficially.

As for the actual competition, some forty films were entered. Screening began at 7 p.m. on Lincoln’s birthday, and nearly nine hours later, less numbed and bloodshot than we thought we’d be, John Fles, Stan Brakhage, and I went off for breakfast to choose the winning film.

The choice we made was a fifty-minute work by Stan Kaye called Georg. The decision was a majority one, with Brakhage holding to his preference for a cameo (Jess-like) work by Larry Jordan, while at the same time fully in agreement with the other judges that Georg is a work of authority, imagination and prodigy (it is the twenty year-old Kaye’s first film).

Made on a shoestring of between three and four thousand dollars (for the most part up in a Topanga Canyon location overlooking the Pacific), Georg was written by Kaye as well, who also plays the part of the title-hero’s voice. I say voice, because there is an intentioned Pirandello device in this film which works marvelously well. The film purports to be a record (in moving pictures, stills, and tapes) of the life of an “unfortunate creature”. What happens is that the film opens with Kaye’s (Georg’s) voice announcing the record to come, but what we subsequently see is that record actually being filmed. Georg in fact is the director of the film, or so the illusion is given. The Georg we see is played by actor Mark Cheka, and Georg’s wife by Lynn Averil. Microphone and cable punctuate many of the scenes. In one scene Georg-Cheka puts a microphone in front of his wife and says, “Say something”. Moreover, as the film develops, the camera and microphone, i.e., the obsession of Director Georg to record his life, become another aspect of the sellout “outside” world intent upon crushing the simple relationship between the couple. When the wife gets sick of the camera, of its directions, the suggestion is that she is sickening of the “visual” Georg. In a memorable stop-action scene, Georg-Cheka attempts to seduce his wife (in the very late months of her pregnancy); and this scene is paralleled with another in which the wife is seen trying desperately to escape from the camera, scurrying behind shack and bush, as though the camera were no less her seducer-husband, which, in fact, by extension it is.

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Chapter 1 The Matter of Vision

Peter Wyeth John Libbey Publishing ePub

Modern society3 has been the prisoner of three stern gaolers, Language, Consciousness and Reason. Each member of the troika has succeeded in imposing an image of its hegemony upon the mind of modern culture. The result has been the incarceration and repression of their opposite number, the target of this relentless campaign; Vision, the Automatic4 and Emotion.

The task of those images is to boost the prestige of their masters at the expense of their opposite numbers, and in that they have been remarkably successful. Jealously painting-out the real role of their opponents, they have consistently sought to reduce their status.

Language, Consciousness and Reason (LCR) are seen here in terms of their status as cultural5 artefacts, that is not things themselves, but the ‘ideology’ attached to each of them that reifies them above their real status. The question is not of their real relationship to their opposite numbers but the ideological ones that have developed around them.

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Chapter 18 For Love and/or Money: Exhibiting Avant-Garde Film in Los Angeles 1960–1980

David E James John Libbey Publishing ePub

Alison Kozberg

Between 1960 and 1980, avant-garde film exhibition in Los Angeles enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and collaboration.1 This brief history takes these exhibitors as its primary objects of study, and identifies curatorship as a critical juncture where the entanglement of capital and cultural values is visible. During the 1960s and 1970s, public exhibitions were the primary mediator between experimental film and the public, and consequently taught viewers how to engage with and appreciate non-narrative, abstract, and artisanal cinema. However, many of these exhibitors were also businesses, and their curatorial strategies reflected the objectives of audience cultivation and financial sustainability. Accordingly, this history traces how cultural values, capital, and institutional resources shaped curatorial practices and public perception. By revealing notions of value and quality as constructed rather than innate, this deliberately anti-nostalgic project advocates for the ongoing revision of artistic paradigms, and seeks to work through avant-garde film’s past in order to encourage a challenging and heterogeneous future.

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