Events

As part of a day-long symposium centered on the work of American filmmaker William Greaves, the Program in Visual Arts is proud to present the premiere of Greaves’s newly restored 1972 film: Nationtime—Gary. The film will be introduced by documentary filmmaker Louis Massiah.

Despite his historical and contemporary significance, under-representation has meant that few of Greaves’ films are restored and available. This screening, symposium, and exhibition share Greaves’ work with a new generation and give access to some of his films that have rarely been screened. The events are organized by artists Fia Backström and Martine Syms.

The screening — and all symposium events — are free and open to the public.

Learn more about William Greaves and view the schedule of events at arts.princeton.edu/william-greaves

ABOUT THE FILM

100017729_NationtimeGary_1972_RT090_Trailer_H264_20200121 from IndieCollect on Vimeo.

Best known for his avant-garde meta-documentary Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, William Greaves (1926–2014) was also the director of over 100 documentary films, the majority focused on African American history, politics, and culture. Nationtime—Gary is a report on the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana, in 1972, a historic event that gathered black voices from across the political spectrum, among them Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Coretta Scott King, Richard Hatcher, Amiri Baraka, Charles Diggs, and H. Carl McCall. Narrated by Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, the film was considered too militant for television broadcast at the time and has since circulated only in an edited 60-minute version. This new 4K restoration from IndieCollect, with funding from Jane Fonda and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, returns the film to its original 79-minute length and visual quality.

Until its recent discovery in a Pittsburgh warehouse (amidst thousands of films abandoned when the WRS laboratory went bankrupt), William Greaves’ original cut of Nationtime—Gary (1972) was assumed to have been lost. Found and restored by IndieCollect forty-seven years after the National Black Political Convention took place in Gary, Indiana, the original full-length film documenting the historic event can now be seen. Filmmaker Greaves (1926-2014), the producer/director of Nationtime, was approached by Amiri Baraka about the possibility of filming the convention. Baraka, along with Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr., and Mayor Richard M. Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, co-convened the convention. There was no money available in the budget but recognizing the significance of the event, Greaves took up the challenge, put together a three-camera crew, and spent three days covering the event, which he later edited.

FILM STILLS

NEWS

Read a recent review of Nationtime—Gary for The New Yorker by Richard Brody.

ABOUT WILLIAM GREAVES

william greaves serious expression in black jacket

Filmmaker William Greaves. Photo courtesy William Greaves Productions

Until its recent discovery in a Pittsburgh warehouse (amidst thousands of films abandoned when the WRS laboratory went bankrupt), William Greaves’ original cut of Nationtime, Gary (1972) was assumed to have been lost. Found and restored by IndieCollect forty-seven years after the National Black Political Convention took place in Gary, Indiana, the original full-length film documenting the historic event can now be seen. Filmmaker Greaves (1926-2014), the producer/director of Nationtime, was approached by Amiri Baraka about the possibility of filming the convention. Baraka, along with Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr., and Mayor Richard M. Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, co-convened the convention. There was no money available in the budget but recognizing the significance of the event, Greaves took up the challenge, put together a three-camera crew, and spent three days covering the event, which he later edited.

The film is part of an important and extraordinarily diverse body of work that Greaves produced over the course of a 50-year career.  It includes Emmy-nominated breakthrough films such as Still a Brother, Inside the Negro Middle Class (1967),  as well as sponsored documentaries like In the Company of Men (1968) which used early innovative techniques such as psychodrama.  In the Company of Men is being shown in conjunction with the symposium at Princeton. Greaves’ pioneering work earned him numerous national and international film festival awards, including a 1968 Emmy as executive producer of Black Journal, the first Black-produced nationally broadcast TV series in America.

Unable to get into the industry that was closed to African Americans, Greaves left America in 1952 and spent almost a decade in Canada. He worked for many years on the staff of the National Film Board, where he eventually became chief editor of the internationally recognized award-winning Unit B and, in 1958, produced, directed and edited, Emergency Ward, one of the earliest cinema verite films ever made. But by 1963, the Civil Rights Movement was beginning to open doors to African Americans in the media. Greaves had always planned to return to the United States. The time had now come for him, as a filmmaker with years of training and experience, to play role in telling the story of the African American’s centuries-long struggle for freedom and equality. He returned to America in 1963 and set to work documenting the struggles that were taking place at a critical period in American history.  Out of this came the films The First World Festival of Negro Arts (1966), Still a Brother: Inside the Negro Middle Class (1968) and From These Roots (1973).  From These Roots, the first documentary about the Harlem Renaissance, is considered an African American Studies classic. He is best known for his early use of  cinema verite, psychodrama, and split screen techniques — all of which are exemplified by Symbiopsychotaxiplasm:Take One (1968), which is now listed in the Registry of American film at the Library of Congress.

Map + Directions

The James Stewart Film Theater is located on the first floor of 185 Nassau Street in Princeton.


ALEXANDER BRIDGE CLOSURE

Alexander Street, between Lawrence Drive in Princeton and Canal Pointe Boulevard in West Windsor, will close for about six months beginning on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, for road construction.

Construction makes traveling to campus more time consuming. Traffic congestion from all routes to campus during peak times (weekdays, 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) will be higher than normal. Drivers traveling to campus along Route 1 will see the greatest delays.

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Presented By

  • Program in Visual Arts