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September 25

A Visit with Jim McBride

In the midst of the counter-cultural fervor sweeping through the film and popular arts in the U.S. during the late 1960s, the early films of Jim McBride (b. 1941) signaled an important shift in the American cinema with their authentic and still valid auto-critique questioning the goals and limits of the search for truth through a supposedly liberated camera. Seen today, McBride’s first two films – David Holzman’s Diary and My Girlfriend’s Wedding – are an incredible testament to the experimental zeal and adventure of cinema verité and to the brilliance of one of its youngest pioneers. Fresh from New York University Film School, McBride unraveled the verité project with his eccentric first film, David Holzman’s Diary, only to follow-up with a genuinely touching experiment in first person filmmaking that transformed the camera into the most intimate of interlocutors. The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to welcome Jim McBride for a rediscovery of two classics of experimental non-fiction cinema.

Special thanks: Richard Lorber, Kino Lorber Films; the Film Study Center, Harvard.

Special Event Tickets $12
Saturday September 25 at 7pm

David Holzman's Diary

Directed by Jim McBride.
With L.M. Kit Carson, Eileen Dietz, Louise Levine
US 1967, 16mm, b/w, 73 min.

Among the most influential works of Sixties counter-cinema, McBride’s remarkable debut film – made when he was a mere twenty-five-years old – stretches and ultimately subverts the cinema verité project to which the wunderkind director zealously pledged his, and his lightweight camera’s, allegiance. David Holzman’s ambitious plan to capture the 24-times-per-second truth of his own life ignites his confrontational narcissism and naive faith in camera truth, imparting the film with a nervous energy and abandon. A vivid evocation of 1960s Manhattan often sweeps the film away, rupturing the long, ruminatory scenes in Holzman’s cramped apartment with dreamy, gliding passages through the city streets.

My Girlfriend's Wedding

Directed by Jim McBride.
US 1969, 16mm, b/w, 61 min.

McBride’s rarely screened follow-up to David Holzman’s Diary is a stunning example of unflinchingly direct cinema that offers a fascinating response to the questions of authenticity and performance so masterfully raised by the earlier film. A candid and boldly spontaneous portrait of a willful young British expatriate in the twilight of her twenties and on the eve of marriage to a New York “yippie” she has only known for one week, My Girlfriend’s Wedding gradually expands to partially reveal, but never explain, the intimacy between director and subject explicit in the film’s title.

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