Monday, March 14, 2011

Cine Soiree - Movie Mike presents. . . "Turn on, Be-in, Freakout"

The first of a series of guest-curated parlor-screenings took place, with film archivist and programmer Movie Mike. 

The invite announced:
Movie Mike presents a special screening of a newly struck print (with material previously unseen) of his 16mm film footage of the Human Be-In in Central Park, shot by Mike himself in 1967, paired together with his "Stoner's Night Out" antidrug PSA reel.

About Movie Mike
Mike Olshan (Movie Mike) is an archivist of 16mm film whose collection explores the underside of cultural history, from politically incorrect racist and sexist musical numbers, to Red Scare hysteria, pulp fiction genres, and early animation. He finds gems among the scrap-heap of commercial film production that range from the merely puzzling head-scratchers to the mind-blowingly wack. As a film collector and archivist Mike is a true polymath of para-cinema!!

Mike has produced film screenings from his collection for Lunacon, Anthology Film Archives, Millennium Film Workshop and the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, and has hosted shows at various colleges, museums, art fairs and pub back rooms.

The fifteen-minute reel of black and white footage had been shot by Mike with a Bell & Howell with the hope of selling it to the local television news.  (They weren't interested in it.  But, as he explained to us after the screening, he did eventually sell some footage to the local news of a Yayoi Kusama happening.)

Up until this point Mike's screening copy of the Human Be-In footage was a not-so-great one-light workprint.  I persuaded him to get a timed print, which meant footage that had been very washed-out without much detail (overexposed material that just needed to be printed down) could now be clearly seen (44 years later!)

The 16mm footage included the early morning gathering at Central Park's Belvedere Castle by the reservoir; the larger gathering later that day at Sheep Meadow; the police taking someone away with the crowd throwing flowers on the hood of the police car (and everyone chanting "We love cops! We love cops!"); a person who took all his clothes off, shouting "Love! Love! Love!" carried aloft by the crowd; a young man wearing an army helmet with "LOVE" written across it, who later changed his name to Wavy Gravy; and everyone in the meadow forming a huge circle and rushing together, all at the same time, into the middle.

The highlight of "Stoner's Night Out," was of course, the antidrug PSA narrated by (a rather stoned sounding) Sony Bono, who appears on camera at the end in satin nehru jacket and matching pants.


At the last minute we decided to have the soiree be a fundraiser for the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

Movie Mike introduces the show
Mike's footage from the 1967 Human Be-In
Q and A with the audience after the 1967 Be-In footage

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