Wednesday, August 14, 2019 (7:30pm)
5213 Grays Ave. Rm. 228
Filmed on low-budget 8mm after his camera was borrowed and then stolen, The Sky Socialist is Ken Jacobs’ vision of a chamber piece, an intimately personal work shot on the streets around, and on the roof of, his home overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. The film is a mythic allegory where Anne Frank can survive to adulthood to marry the similarly deceased surrealist Isadore Lhevinne. And where the blond figure of “Nazi Mentality” stabs the air with a knife trailing a ribbon of American flags opposed by the “Muse of Cinema” and “Love’s Labor”.
Featuring such luminaries as Flo Jacobs and filmmakers Robert Cowan and Joyce Weiland, Jacobs’ film is by turns city symphony, with some of the most ecstatic images of the Brooklyn Bridge on record, and a fantasy that takes place there. While tracing the romance of Anne and Isadore in stunning tableaux vivants, the film features Jacobs’ juxtaposition of supremely exaggerated performances among the living city, described by Jonas Mekas as “the staged, the invented and the real in perfect unity.” While intertitles attempt to explain the narrative and the trash of modern society is strewn everywhere, this fragile order feels closer and closer to falling away.
As one of the great political moralists of American cinema, Jacobs’s title refers both to the bridge’s designer John Roebling and to Jacobs’ version of a truly benevolent god who would not have allowed to Holocaust to occur. The Sky Socialist is acutely concerned with the power of cinema and socialist art generally to confront and redeem the post-Holocaust capitalist world, not only by documenting his neighborhood that will soon be destroyed by development but by correctly predicting that when the new Nazis arrive they will be clad not just in swastikas but in American flags.
Philadelphia premiere of new restoration by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.