Children's film series

Almost all of the movies included in the fourth cycle of Little Histories of Cinema were created during the Cold War as didactic tools for young children that taught them about the situation in their own country, be it the United States or Russia. This period, which ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, was characterized by the arms race between the respective governments to feed worries of imminent attack from the other side, which allowed both fear and false confidences to develop. The fear was of the effects of the Atom bomb, which were assuaged by the faulty belief that the government could protect its own from harm.

This series shows how authorities informed and misinformed its citizens, and how the movie industry and its artists interpreted that in the name of conscientiousness and entertainment. Distance gained through time passed has turned these films into very useful historical documents, not only for the information that they give us about certain aspects of daily life in each society, such as their fears and trends, but also because they show the mechanisms of mass propaganda developed after WWII, which actually created these trends and fears that are evident even today. The chosen films are appropriate for young children, though older members of the audience will benefit from a more critical and complete reading of the material that, today, mostly sits in archives collecting dust.

The concept of Little Histories of Cinema arose from the idea of fusing two "histories." In the 1930s Walter Benjamin wrote A Little History of Photography; a brief, written illumination of an era in which a true story of the new cinematic medium had yet to consolidate itself, but that greatly influenced the 20th century. More than half a century later, in the 1990s, Jean-Luc Godard proposed his Histoire(s) du cinema, a truly "other history of cinema" that was, at the same time, a way to construct histories. The history of the technological arts of the 20th century is one of positions; of winners and losers; of those that are remembered and those forgotten; of big and small. The true history is essentially a story and is, therefore, never true.

These cinematic histories are little in two ways. In the first place, they propose hypotheses about other possible histories that have remained marginalized within the larger story of 20th century film. Secondly, they are meant for children; the little ones; in order to seriously and respectfully explain that film has been the most important art of the 20th century.

Curated by Carolina Caballero


Screenings begin at 5.30 pm.

Saturday, October 6

The first session compares animated films of WWII propaganda, which preceded those of the Cold War. Beginning the early 1940's, both the United States and the USSR produced these films for a heterogeneous audience made up of families, soldiers and students. Some of them are, today, forgotten or have been banned due to political incorrectness, but they will all help the viewer to understand the way in which stereotypes and propagandistic proclamations filled the silver screen in times of conflict.

The Vultures, P. Sasonov, 1941. 2'11" (USSR)
Kino Circus, L. Almalrik, O. Khodataeva, 1942, 3'34" (USSR)
Germany Calling. Schichlegruber Doing the Lambert Walk, 1940, 3' (Great Britain)
Revolt of the Toys, Hermina Trvola, 1945. 8' (Czech Republic)
Daffy the Commando, Friz Freleng, 1943. 7' (USA)
Bury the Axis, Lou Bunin (Prod.), 1943. 5' aprox. (USA)
Private Snafu: Spies, Chuck Jones, 1943 (USA)
Mr. Hook: Tokio Woes, Bob Clampett, 1945, 4' (USA)
You're a Sap Mr. Jap, Dan Gordon, 1942, 7' (USA)
Strike the Enemy on the Front Lines and At Home. A Mighty handshake, O. Khodataeva, I. Ivanov-Vano, 1941, 4' (USSR)
The Ducktators, Norman McCabe, 1942, 7', (USA)

Saturday, October 20

Not recommended for children under age 7

George Orwell conceived his novel Animal Farm during the Spanish Civil War as an anti-Stalinist allegory. It was published in 1945 and became an instant best seller. Orwell condemned tyranny in hopes of opening up an alternative route towards democratic socialism. However, the American secret services saw his work as ideal for breaking away from old allies. 1948 saw the creation, under the umbrella of the US Department of Defense, of the OPC (Office of Policy Coordination), an agency that was to control the activities of the USSR and other Communist groups that could potentially discredit the United States. The OPC created a unit, known as the "Psychological Warfare Workshop," to fine-tune anti-Communist marketing techniques in America. The project was connected to the "Campaign of Truth," which President Truman started in 1950 in order to maintain faith in the "Free World" and destabilize Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. Film was central to this campaign and Animal Farm was its manifesto.

Animal Farm, Joy Batchelor y John Halas, 1954. 72' (Great Britain). Dubbed in Spanish

Saturday, November 3

After WWII, each side had to justify the supremacy of the New Order. The silver screen and schools were flooded with educational and highly propagandistic films about capitalism. In the United States, the focus was on its virtues as a system, while the Soviets propagated the exact opposite, supporting Communism. This session has been conceived as a never before expressed dialogue between pieces.

Lenin's Kino Pravda, Dziga Vertov (attributed), 1924, 1' (URRS)
Results of the XII Party Congreso, 1925, 3', (USSR)
Make Mine Freedom, 1948, 9' (USA)
Prophets and Lessons, V. Kotonochkin, 1967, 9'32'', (USSR)
Albert in Blunderland, (1948) 10' approx, (USA)
Great Rights, William Hurtz, 1963. 13', (USA).
The Millionaire, 1963. 9'57" (USSR)
The Littlest Giant, Carl Urbano, 1948, 10' approx. (USA)
The Share Holder, R. Davidov, 1963, 10' (fragment) (USSR)

Saturday, November 17

All of the films in this session are American cartoons. Despite Russia's rich tradition of animation, it was America that maximized the medium's potential to exploit and parody Cold War obsessions. This propitiated the creation of subgenres and archetypes, which dealt with the unease generated by those in power: alien invasions, spies in Outer Space, and beautiful women from behind the Iron Curtain, to name a few. Cartoons were an ingenious and fresh take on a world divided between "us" and "them."
This promises to be an enjoyable session for all.

Roger Ramjet: Robot Plans, Fred Crippen, 1965, 5' (USA)
Haredevil Hare, Chuck Jones, 1948, 7' (USA)
Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ th Century, Charles M. Jones, 1953. 7' (USA)
Under the Counter Spay (Secret Agent F.O.B.) , Don Patterson, 1947, 7' (USA)
Superman: The Mechanical Monsters, Dave Fleischer, 1941, 7' (USA)
Roger Ramjet: Big Woolf, Fred Crippen, 1967, 5', (USA)

Saturday, December 1

Until well into the 1980's, fear of a possible nuclear catastrophe on the World's population was a reality, and was reflected in fiction. During the Reagan Era, these fears resurfaced, fueled by the anti-nuclear movement that found a way to universalize by capitalizing on the accidents at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobil (1986).
The session will open with one of the most emblematic animated shorts for Americans who lived the Cold War. It is about an instruction manual for children on what to do in case of a nuclear explosion. The contrast, both artistic and conceptual, could not be greater when compared to the following projection.

Duck and Cover, Federal Civil Defense (Prod.), 1951, 10' (USA)
When the Wind Blows, 1986. 80' (Great Britain).
Animated films, dubbed into Spanish. Not recommended for children under the age of 7.
MACBA Public Programs
Tel. (+34) 93 481 43 58
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Son[i]a #51. Carolina Caballero