Sol Worth is best known for the 1966 project “Navajo Film Themselves”, conducted with the anthropologist John Adair. The project and the resulting book Through Navajo Eyes (1972) were widely, if controversially, regarded as groundbreaking contributions to visual anthropology. What has been virtually overlooked is that this project was embedded in a broader context of film teaching, communication research, film studies, and social action. Starting in 1960, Worth taught the Documentary Film Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications, and he initiated filmmaking projects with African American and Puerto Rican youth from inner-city neighborhoods in Philadelphia and New York. He encouraged the filmmakers “to show their concerns” and to represent on film “a view of themselves and the world around them.” This program presents a selection of these “bio-documentaries”, most of which are shown publicly for the first time since the 1960s. Fascinating historical documents in their own right, the films depict life in inner-city neighborhoods, medical institutions, and schools. They address issues of race, children’s psychology and psychiatry, health care, and anti-war protest from the perspective of adolescents and young adults.
The screening will be followed by a discussion.
Angela J. Aguayo (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Noelle Griffis (Marymount Manhattan College, New York)
Michael Griffin (Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN)
Henning Engelke (Philipps University, Marburg)
A film about a boy with autism filmed at the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute. Depicting the conditions of the boy’s institutionalization, the film identifies with the perspective of the child.
This film shows a group of children aged 8 to 10 from a racially integrated elementary school at play in a succession of games. Reflecting on the process of growing up, the film also confronts racist prejudices.
A film made by African American teenagers from an inner-city neighborhood in Philadelphia marked for “urban renwal” about their search for fun and adventure to fill the long summer days. The film was sponsored by the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church and supervised by Ben Achtenberg.
Combining footage shot at the draft board and induction center in Philadelphia with scenes of children playing with military toys, this film examines the “machinery for delivering young men to the military”.