Tonight’s program explores renowned direct-cinema pioneer D. A. Pennebaker’s earliest years in film with two highlights: his very first film and the first film made with his longtime collaborator and wife, Chris Hegedus.
1953. USA. Directed by D. A. Pennebaker. 5 min. Pennebaker was invited to an early Flaherty Seminar, when it was held at the Flaherty Farm in Dummerston, Vermont. Tucked under his arm was his first film, Daybreak Express, shot on a New York City subway train with a Duke Ellington score.
Town Bloody Hall
1971. USA. Directed by D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. 82 min. On April 30, 1971, a standing-room-only audience of local literati and feminists packed New York City’s Town Hall to watch Norman Mailer, who had just written The Prisoner of Sex, grapple with a panel of passionate feminists on the subject of Women’s Liberation, an issue on which Mailer seemed like the devil’s own advocate. There to test him was a fearsome panel of feminist representatives, among them journalist and lesbian spokeswoman Jill Johnston; legendary literary critic Diana Trilling; president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Jacqueline Ceballos; and possibly his toughest match, the glamorous and razor-tongued author of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer. The event, produced by Shirley Broughton and her Theater for Ideas, turned into true theater for the celebrity-stuffed audience, who vigorously offered opinions and roared their approval and disdain throughout the raucous affair.