The Walker Art Center continues the monthly film series Cinema of Urgency with a free screening of Best of Enemies on Thursday, April 21, at 7 pm. Walter F. Mondale joins University of Minnesota professor Lawrence Jacobs in a post-screening discussion.
Responding to the tumultuous climate in contemporary American politics, the Cinema of Urgency series features films posing critical questions about today’s most pressing social, political, environmental, and economic issues. Each screening is followed by a discussion with filmmakers, local community leaders, and other guest speakers.
The Walker’s Cinema of Urgency series is programmed in partnership with Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an annual event in Durham, North Carolina that is dedicated to the presentation of contemporary nonfiction cinema.
All films are free and screen in the Walker Cinema on the third Thursday of each month through October (except in June):
– April 21: Best of Enemies
– May 19: Trapped
– June 23: Zero Days
– July 21 TBD
– August 18 TBD
– September 15 TBD
– October 20 TBD
Free tickets available at Hennepin Box Office one hour before screening.
Best of Enemies
Thursday, April 21, 7 pm, Free
Post-screening discussion with Walter F. Mondale and University of Minnesota professor Lawrence Jacobs
Directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville
In the summer of 1968, television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley, Jr. was a leader of the new conservative movement. Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, they each believed the other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America and their explosive exchanges devolved into vitriolic name-calling. It was unlike anything TV had ever broadcast, and all the more shocking because it was live and unscripted. Viewers were riveted. ABC News’ ratings skyrocketed. And a new era in televised political discourse was born.
2015, DCP, 87 minutes.
About the Film’s Subjects
William F. Buckley, Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr. was a pillar of the modern conservative movement. He founded National Review magazine in 1955, and under his editorial direction it quickly became the brain trust of the political right. His newspaper column, “On the Right,” was widely syndicated for four decades. William F. Buckley’s style of conservatism reached its greatest expression with the Reagan presidency.
Buckley was an early appreciator of television’s reach and hosted his own popular interview program Firing Line for over 30 years. He was both magnetic and provocative, with guests from across the arts and political spectrum. He reached a broad audience, and his quirky mannerisms were as celebrated as his sesquipedalian vocabulary.
He coalesced a conservative movement based on traditional Christian thought, a social tendency toward the Libertarian, and laissez-faire economic theory. He was, however, an early “big government conservative,” recognizing the need for a large military during the Cold War, and accepting its ramifications. In his personal life, Buckley was a practicing Roman Catholic who rejected Vatican II and attended a Latin mass. Throughout his life, Buckley was not afraid to rethink his ideas, welcoming integration after initially arguing against it and, later in life, opposing the Iraq War after supporting it.
Bill Buckley came to national renown with his first book, God and Man at Yale, published in 1951 when he was 25. He criticized the liberal bent at his alma mater, arguing for a stronger basis in Christianity. He wrote over 50 books, including a series of popular espionage novels. He died in 2008 at age 82.
Writer Gore Vidal was an iconoclast, smashing gender and political preconceptions in books, theater, essays, movies and political campaigns. Always outside society’s mainstream, in 1948 he shocked even the literati with his third novel, The City and the Pillar, which featured an unapologetic homosexual relationship. Two decades later, his Myra Breckinridge, a paean to pansexuality, shocked the nation and sold millions of copies. On Broadway, in his 1960 play The Best Man, he wrote with biting insight about the deception of America’s political conventions. The play was made into an Academy Award-nominated movie and revived on Broadway in 2001 and 2012, winning major awards both times.
In his childhood, Vidal read to his blind grandfather T. P. Gore, who was serving in Washington DC as the first senator from Oklahoma. Gore ran for political office in 1960 and 1982, an underdog in both races and losing each time. His seven-book US history novel series, including )Burr_ and Lincoln, has been called the biography of our nation. He was a step-brother to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and a White House regular until a row with Bobby Kennedy limited his access.
Traditionally associated with Democrat liberals, Vidal was vociferous in his criticism of both parties, in later years finding little to differentiate the two. A longtime political commentator, Vidal died in 2012 at age 86, saying not long before his death, “If you cut me open, there is ice water in my veins.”
Thursday, May 19, 7 pm, Free
“Riveting, powerful, and timely as hell.” —Flavorwire
This Sundance award-winning documentary chronicles the fight for American women’s reproductive rights. Focusing on front line clinics subject to TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), which limit access to abortion, director Dawn Porter masterfully exposes real-world ramifications of this ideological battle. 2016, DCP, 90 minutes.
A discussion follows the screening.
U.S. reproductive health clinics are fighting to remain open. Since 2010, 288 TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers) laws have been passed by conservative state legislatures. Unable to comply with these far-reaching measures, clinics have taken their fight to the courts. As the U.S. Supreme Court decides in 2016 whether individual states may essentially outlaw abortion (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), Trapped follows the struggles of the clinic workers and lawyers who are on the front lines of a battle to keep abortion safe and legal for millions of American women.
Director Dawn Porter
Dawn Porter is an award-winning filmmaker whose 2013 documentary, Gideon’s Army, won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award, the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. The film broadcast on HBO in July 2013 and has been used to engage local communities about indigent defense, the U.S. justice system and socioeconomic influences on crime.
Dawn’s other films include Spies of Mississippi (2014, PBS) and Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper, a documentary film chronicling President Obama’s program to help young men and boys of color succeed. Dawn interviewed President Obama for the film, which aired nationally on The Discovery Channel and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2015.
Dawn is a Keppler Speaker. She has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and was a returning guest on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show.
Prior to her work as a filmmaker, Dawn was director of standards and practices at ABC News and vice president of standard and practices at A&E Television Networks. She graduated from Swarthmore College and Georgetown Law Center and practiced law at the firm of Baker & Hostetler for five years.
Producer Marilyn Ness
Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy, DuPont, and Peabody Award-winning documentary producer. Most recently, she produced Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s feature documentary E-TEAM that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix Originals. Marilyn also produced Johanna Hamilton’s feature documentary 1971, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2014 and broadcast on Independent Lens in 2015. Marilyn also directed and produced the documentary feature film Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale that broadcast nationally on PBS in 2011 and was the centerpiece of a campaign to reform blood donation policies in the U.S. Prior to that, Ness spent four years as a producer for director Ric Burns, collaborating on four award-winning PBS films: Ansel Adams; The Center of the World; Andy Warhol; and Eugene O’Neill.
Thursday, June 23, 7 pm, Free
“[A] topical and thoroughly gripping documentary formulated with forceful urgency.” —Film Stage
Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney delves into the hushed threat of cyberwarfare with his newest film. Zero Days is a fast-moving international thriller involving espionage, classified operations, and sneak attacks on foreign nuclear facilities. Based on documents and interviews with members of the intelligence community and military sources, the film reveals the power of the laptop as a modern-day weapon. Using a digitized human facsimile to present testimony too sensitive for sources to reveal, Gibney presents an extraordinary and unnerving analysis of an under-regulated and “classified” technology. 2016, DCP, 116 minutes.
A discussion follows the screening.