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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Previewing Robert Kramer’s Long-Unseen MILESTONES (5’30”)

“Icarus Films, a leading distributor of documentary films since 1978, is proud to have acquired two landmark films by the radical leftist filmmaker Robert Kramer. A founder of the storied 1960s Newsreel collective, Kramer (1939-1999) traveled through Latin America and Vietnam, and later lived for many years in France, where he enjoyed his greatest appreciation as a filmmaker. The subject of 2009 retrospectives at Anthology Film Archives and Harvard Film Archive, Kramer’s concerns about the intersection between the personal and political take viewers to the 1960s and 70s with vivid intimacy.”

MILESTONES (1975, color, 195 minutes, by Robert Kramer and John Douglas) is a lilting, free-associative masterpiece that follows dozens of characters–including hippies, farmers, immigrants, Native Americans, and political activists–as they try to reconcile their ideals with the realities of American life. In intimate discussions of subjects from communal living to parenting, pregnancy to family, Vietnam to Cuba, city life to country life, and the workplace to the bedroom, the film’s diverse protagonists negotiate jealousies, relationships, and the logistical challenges of their rapidly changing world. Shot in vivid color 16mm, using innovative layered sound design and editing techniques as well as slides and archival footage, Milestones tracks its subjects through scripted and unscripted moments. It follows them as they share their emotions and dreams, their idealism and disillusionments, their triumphs and defeats of the past, as well as the possibilities for the future.”

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“Why put it in a box? This is the number one problem I have—by the way it’s a fair question, I’m not saying that—with this kind of festival situation is that there’s always this temptation to classify the movie immediately and if you look at it—and I’ve tried to warn my fellow jurors of this—directors and movie critics are the worst people to judge movies! Directors are always thinking, “I could do that.” Critics are always saying, “This part of the movie is like the 1947 version and this part…” And it’s like, “Fuck! Just watch the movie and try and absorb it and not compare it to some other fucking movie and put it in a box!” So I think the answer’s both and maybe neither, I don’t know. That’s for you to see and criticize me for or not.”
~ James Gray

“I have long defined filmmaking and directing in particular as just a sort of long-term act of letting go,” she said. “It’s honestly just gratifying that people are sort of reapproaching or reassessing the film. I like to just remind everyone that the movie is still the same — it’s the same movie, it’s the movie we always made, and it was the movie we always wanted to make. And maybe it just came several years too early.”
~ Karyn Kusama