DER Documentary

Screening Room with Hillary Harris

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From the Screening Room series
by Robert Gardner
color, two DVDs, 75 min/76 min, 1973 & 1979/2005

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This DVD is also available as part of the Screening Room series Documentary Collection.

Over the years, the work of Oscar-winning filmmaker Hilary Harris moved steadily from abstraction to social commentary. In answer to his question, "Why make films at all?" he responds, "To give a richer vision of surrounding reality. My aim is to lift people out of their preconceptions." His pioneering films include Longhorns, Highway, Seawards the Great Ships, Organism, The Nuer, and Nine Variations on a Dance Theme. In addition to his work as a filmmaker, he lectured extensively, taught film editing, designed filmmaking and sound mixing equipment, and practiced sculpture.

In March 1973, Hilary Harris visited Screening Room to screen and discuss his films:

  • Longhorns (full film, 4:32)
  • Highway (full film, 4:56)
  • Seawards the Great Ships (full film, 14:12)
  • • long lens test and demo (footage with commentary, 3:18)
  • New York, work in progress (footage, 2:36)
  • New York, work in progress (footage, 9:13)
  • New York, work in progress (footage, 6:05)

He returned to Screening Room in January 1979 to screen and discuss:

  • Organism (full film, 18:59)
  • The Nuer (excerpt, 6:31)
  • • sound editing tool demo (footage, 7:09)
  • • image generator demo (footage, 2:57)
  • • oscilloscope imagery (footage, 3:22)

"...Hilary Harris was one of the great cameramen of cinema..." — Jonas Mekas

About the Screening Room series
In the early 1970s a group of idealistic artists, lawyers, doctors and teachers saw an opportunity to change commercial television in Boston and the surrounding area. It would require years of litigation up to and including the Supreme Court, but the case was won and the Channel 5 license was given to WCVB-TV. Screening Room was one of several programs offered in an effort to provide alternative television viewing. The idea behind Screening Room was to give independent filmmakers an opportunity to discuss their work and show it to a large urban audience. Nearly 100 ninety-minute programs were produced and aired between 1973 and 1980.

Screening Room was developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, who at the time, was Director of Harvard's Visual Arts Center and Chairman of its Visual and Environmental Studies Department. His own films include Dead Birds (1964), and Forest of Bliss (1986).

Other films from the Screening Room series
Bruce Baillie
Les Blank
Robert Breer
James Broughton
Emile de Antonio
Ed Emshwiller
Hollis Frampton
Robert Fulton
George Griffin
John & Faith Hubley
Peter Hutton
Derek Lamb
Standish Lawder & Stanley Cavell
Ricky Leacock
Caroline Leaf & Mary Beams
Jan Lenica
Alan Lomax
Jonas Mekas
Suzan Pitt
Yvonne Rainer
Richard P. Rogers
Jean Rouch
Michael Snow
John Whitney Sr.

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts