Manny Kirchheimer at the MOMA

Former SVA faculty member Manfred Kirchheimer is having a retrospective of his work at MOMA February 3 – 11. Below is the complete schedule of screenings over the next week. For more information, visit:

Watch (above) A Brief History of Manfred Kirchheimer, made by student Bianca Conti when Manny was her freshman production teacher.


The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters Screening Schedule:

Claw. (1968) Manhattan’s old facades are a cornucopia of carved flora and fauna: craggy stone faces of satyrs and saints, herms, griffins, and medieval troubadours peering down at unsuspecting passerby. Kirchheimer juxtaposes this handcrafted masonry with the restless compulsion of the modern city to rise ever upwards, the jowls of a massive crane laying waste to what once stood proud. 30 min. Stations of the Elevated. 1981. Though it’s taken some 30 years, Kirchheimer’s Stations of the Elevated is now hailed as a classic of proto-hip-hop filmmaking, a plein air study of New York’s graffiti- festooned subway cars as they lumber and screech over elevated tracks in the Bronx and beyond. Set to a sampled soundtrack of Charles Mingus jazz spliced with Aretha Franklin gospel, the film is an “inner” city symphony, a celebration of the brash and defiantly anti-capitalist talents of outlaw paint- bombers like Lee Quiñones, The Fabulous 5, Shadow, Daze, Kase, and Pusher. 45 min.

Friday, February 3, 4:30 p.m. T2 Tuesday, February 7, 8:00 p.m. T2

My Coffee with Jewish Friends. (2017) MoMA presents the world premiere of Kirchheimer’s latest film, a humorous and illuminating series of coffee klatches with 20 friends that proves the old adage, “Where you have two Jews, you have three opinions.” Ranging in age from 18 to 85, and in experience from greenhorn to Pulitzer-Prize winner, the film’s subjects kibitz over all manner of concern, from Israel to tight pants, gay rights, and the place of women at the Wailing Wall. 90 min.

Wednesday, February 8, 6:00 p.m. T2

The Sun and Richard Lippold. (1966) Directed by Leo Hurwitz. Photographed by Manfred Kirchheimer. Richard Lippold’s The Sun was a kinetic sculpture of gossamer gold wire that hung over the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Persian carpets in the 1950s. Inspired by this radiant symbol of midcentury Existentialism, Hurwitz and Kirchheimer went on a walkabout in search of similar geometric patterns and spiritual delights, from the Brooklyn Bridge to a coal dumper, a sunflower, and a spider’s web. 30 min.

Discovery in a Painting. (1968/2014) Directed by Leo Hurwitz. Produced by Hurwitz, Manfred Kirchheimer. In 1968, Hurwitz and Kirchheimer cast their Kino Eye on Cézanne’s Still Life with Apples, one of the foundational works of modernism in MoMA’s collection. The result—to which Kirchheimer added a score after Hurwitz’s death—is a mesmerizing exploration of surface detail, color, abstraction, geometry, and artist’s facture that only intensifies the painting’s mysteries. 30 min.
Monday, February 6, 6:30 p.m. T3

Canners. (2014) Rummaging through city trash for hours and miles, New York’s gleaners gather and recycle soda cans for a nickel apiece. The stories they tell are full of humor, violence, tragedy, and resilience. As Kirchheimer’s documentary reveals, however, their tireless labor is ignored or scorned, but for the occasional doorman or Good Samaritan who chooses to lend his hand rather than avert his gaze. 76 min.

Saturday, February 4, 4:00 p.m. T2 Tuesday, February 7, 6:00 p.m. T2

Colossus on the River. (1963) An ode to a once-familiar ritual on the New York waterfront: the passage and docking of a transcontinental ocean liner. 15 min.

Bridge High. (1975) The allure of New York City’s bridges proved irresistible to filmmakers like Rudy Burckhardt (Under the Brooklyn Bridge, 1953) and Shirley Clarke (Bridges-Go-Round, 1958), but Kirchheimer’s contribution to this cinematic subgenre of Abstract Expressionism deserves fresh reconsideration. A 30-second car trip across a suspension bridge is stretched to nearly 10 minutes, creating an exuberant choreography of cables, girders, and arches. 10 min.

Short Circuit. (1973) A documentary filmmaker finds himself torn between his family and his art, and questioning the liberal open-mindedness he shows toward his African American neighbors. Gazing down from his apartment on 101st Street and Broadway, he drifts into a kind of reverie, a montage of city sights and sounds that offers the promise of another life—and for us today, a wistful glimpse of an Upper West Side long since lost. “Constructed reality and documentary fiction, an unclassifiable masterpiece of ideas and technique that by all rights should be considered a landmark, had it not been virtually impossible to see” (Jake Perlin, Cinema Conservancy). 45 min.

Program 70 min.

Sunday, February 5, 12:30 p.m. T3 Tuesday, February 7, 4:00 p.m. T2

Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan. (2004) America’s greatest contributions to world civilization are jazz, baseball, the musical—and the skyscraper. Using vintage postcards, photographs, and architectural renderings, Kirchheimer offers a lively account of the rise of this technological and aesthetic wonder in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, focusing on the rivalry between Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and other modernist architects to evoke the power, wealth, and progress of a newly ascendant nation in iron and steel, glass and stone. 85 min.

Sunday, February 5, 2:30 p.m. T2 Wednesday, February 8, 4:00 p.m. T2

Spraymasters. (2007) In 1970s New York (“Ford to City: Drop Dead!”), graffiti-covered subways symbolized the decline and fall of civilization. Today, graffiti is the stuff of auction bidding wars, academic dissertations, and Mall of America fashion lines. Set to a pulsating original soundtrack, Spraymasters follows four ex-graffiti artists—Zephyr, Lee Quiñones, Lady Pink, and Futura 2000—who as teenagers risked life, limb, and incarceration tagging subway cars in a fierce bid for street cred. With its Atget-like cataloging of graffiti styles long since whitewashed, Spraymasters documents a New York phenomenon that—for better or worse—has gone the way of the Automat and the egg cream. 82 min. Sunday, February 5, 5:00 p.m. T2

Friday, February 10, 4:00 p.m. T2

Art Is…the Permanent Revolution. (2012) Wielding a pen, an etching needle, or a wood-gouging tool, artists as far ranging as Goya, Posada, Kollwitz, and Grosz have depicted and decried acts of political abuse and social injustice in tones of bitter irony, outrage, and lamentation. Kirchheimer invites three contemporary artists (Sigmund Abeles, Ann Chernow, and Paul Marcus) and a master printer (James Reed) to reflect on this potent, even incendiary, aspect of printmaking and graphic arts throughout history, and on the viability of protest art today. 82 min.

Monday, February 6, 4:30 p.m. T2
Wednesday, February 8, 8:30 p.m. T2

We Were So Beloved. (1986) “A no less harrowing examination of conscience than Shoah and Marcel Ophuls’s Sorrow and the Pity” (Vincent Canby, The New York Times). In 1936, at the age of five, Manfred Kirchheimer fled Nazi Germany with his parents and struggled to make a new home in New York. Fifty years later, he draws upon interviews with family and friends (and quotes from Mein Kampf) to make this deeply personal and evocative documentary about the 20,000 Germany Jewish emigrants who similarly escaped the Holocaust and took refuge in Washington Heights, creating a thriving community known as Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson. Kirchheimer’s film is born of intimate experience and anguished reckoning, a shared sense of fear, guilt, hope, and even complacency and cowardice. 145 min.

Thursday, February 9, 4:00 p.m. T2 Saturday, February 11, 2:00 p.m. T2

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