The Harvard Film Archive was founded in March, 1979 by an extraordinary trio – documentarian Robert Gardner, philosopher Stanley Cavell and film scholar Vlada Petric. Together the three successfully established the Archive as the center of film study at Harvard and the heart of university film culture by launching a cutting-edge cinematheque and laying the foundation for a superb film collection. During their respective careers Gardner, Cavell and Petric each left their indelible mark upon the HFA and the intellectual and artistic communities that if fostered. A pioneer of poetic ethnographic cinema, Gardner defined nonfiction cinema - documentary as well as avant-garde and animated film - as a central focus of HFA programming and collecting, bringing treasures into the Archive’s collection and establishing important relationships with a great number of major filmmakers and artists from around the world. One of the great American philosophers of today, Cavell is also celebrated as one of the very first to champion and insightfully argue for the place of cinema within the academy, through a series of now legendary classes on film and philosophy that would give way to such classic works as The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1971) and Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981). Cavell’s teaching and work in the cinema gave vital support to the mission and project of the Archive - and of film studies in general - during a period when the study of film was looked down by many as an unworthy pursuit. Petric, meanwhile, brought his tremendous energy and fathomless knowledge of film history and aesthetics to his years as the curator of remarkably creative cinematheque programs and an indefatigable and famously inspirational instructor of film history.
To commemorate and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the HFA we have invited the Archive’s founding fathers to present a program of their choosing, on three consecutive evenings. And to close our program and calendar we welcome a dear and loyal friend of the Archive, Steve Livernash, who served as the HFA’s Senior Projectionist from the very beginning, to join us for an evening of films and reminiscences.
An evening of films that might have been. I will try to explain why they were undertaken and why they were abandoned. It could be a lesson in how (or why not) to make films. – R.G.
All films directed by Robert Gardner.
This event has been postponed. It will be rescheduled - please check back soon for an update.
Professor Emeritus Stanley Cavell joins us for a talk reminiscing and reflecting upon his early years as a passionate movie-goer, recounting how he became one of the first to champion the serious study of cinema at Harvard and within the academy in general. A surprise screening will follow Cavell's lecture.
Renowned film scholar and founding curator of the Harvard Film Archive from 1979 to 1998, Vlada Petric presents two film and video works that bracket his long and extraordinarily active Harvard years.
Directed by Vlada Petric and Ljubomir Radičević.
Yugoslavia 1964, 35mm, b/w, 16 min. Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles
One of Petric’s first filmmaking experiences, this government-commissioned experimental short warns about the dangers of alcohol, using a jazz score and minimal dialogue to capture the strange kineticism of a dipsomaniac’s final moments.
Directed by Vlada Petric with Anthony Flackett.
US 2002, video, color, 90 min. excerpt
During his twenty-five years teaching and curating at Harvard, Petric amassed thousands of images that reflect his passionate pursuit of "cinematic artifacts." Made in collaboration with video artist Anthony Flackett, Wall of Memories uses an essay form to offer both a reflection on Petric’s theory of film aesthetics and a nostalgic examination of a life devoted to cinema. Petric will screen selected sequences from this four-hour long work.
Steve Livernash, who retired this summer after twenty years as the HFA’s chief projectionist, will reflect on his four decades working in Boston and Cambridge, taking us from the Carpenter Center to the porn theaters of the notorious “Combat Zone” and back again, illustrated with a handful of Steve’s treasured oddities and rarities, as well as Robert Fulton’s documentary about the Carpenter Center, “Reality’s Invisible.”